Summary of Books of the Bible
Welcome to our Synopsis of Bible Books page.
Here you will find a one paragraph description for every book of the Bible.
Currently, we have incorporated book summaries for the first 20 books of the Old Testament and several in the New Testament.
More summary of bible books will be added soon!
Old Testament – Synopsis of Bible Books
Books of the Law (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Genesis Summary—Genesis is the book of origins or beginnings. It is a record of creation (the universe, earth and man), humanity’s fall from grace, the story of Noah’s flood and the tower of Babel. The second part relates the story of God’s plan to redeem both man and the world beginning with a covenant with Abraham. The rest of Genesis relates the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, ending with the people of God living in Egypt.
Exodus Summary—A new pharaoh enslaves the people of God, who cry out for deliverance. God raises up Moses through whom he delivers his people from Pharaoh through a series of plagues. God then guides his people to Mount Sinai where he gives them a set of laws, a constitution by which to live. The people of God become the nation of God. The 10 commandments are part of that law and represent the law’s essence. God orders the building of his tabernacle so that he can dwell amongst his people.
Leviticus Summary—God gives laws to his people, governing their sacrifices and festivals. In addition, God gives a set of purity laws to his people, including dietary restrictions to keep them holy.
Numbers Summary—Israel lacks faith in entering the Promised Land. God punishes Israel by making them wander in the desert for forty years until all of the adult generation that came out of Egypt has died. The book of Numbers takes its name from the census that is conducted at the beginning of the book to count the number of men in order to determine the size of God’s army that would have conquered the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy Summary—“Deuteronomy” means “the second law” and basically, it is a recounting of the laws that God previously gave to his people at Mount Sinai. The reason the laws are repeated is because the adult generation that came out of Egypt has passed away and a new generation must renew their covenant with God.
Historical Books (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Joshua Summary—After Israel’s renewal of the covenant in Deuteronomy (at the foot of the promised land), the Book of Joshua narrates the conquest of this land and the division of the land among the twelve tribes of Israel.
Judges Summary—After Joshua’s death, the people of God began a cycle of sin which included: idolatry, judgment of God by an invading army, the people’s repentance and clamor for deliverance, raising of a judge and the peace of God’s people. This cycle repeats itself twelve times in the Book of Judges.
Ruth—Occurring during the time of the judges, this book tells the story of a foreigner called Ruth, who becomes part of God’s people through marriage.
1 and 2 Samuel Summary—Narrates the establishment of the ministry of the prophet Samuel who anoints Saul as the first king of Israel and is witness to the rise of the united kingdom in Israel. These books then trace Saul’s demise and David’s ascendance and kingship.
1 and 2 Kings Summary—Narrates Solomon’s kingship, the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah, and God’s judgment of his disobedient people into exile.
1 and 2 Chronicles Summary—Narrates David and Solomon’s kingship as well as a selection of southern kings and Judah’s judgment into exile. First and Second Chronicles is written for the people who returned from exile as a way to encourage them in their faith.
They were spiritual heirs of David and Solomon and God would not forget the promises he made to David and to his people. Thus, David and Solomon are portrayed in a more positive light, and only the southern kingdom (Judah) is highlighted.
Ezra and Nehemiah Summary—These two books should be seen as one volume. They narrate the return of the exiles from Babylon in three different groups. One is lead by Zerubbabel, who begins to rebuild the temple. Another is lead by Nehemiah, who rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem. A third is lead by Ezra the scribe, who teaches God’s people the law and reestablishes the worship of God and Israel’s festivals.
Esther Summary—Occurs during the exile of Israel and retells the story of Queen Esther, a Jew who saves her people from an evil plot to destroy them.
Poetical / Wisdom Books (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Job Summary—The Book of Job traces the story of the character by the same name. The setting of the story is a test of Job’s faith by removing everything that is of value to him (wealth, family and health).
The bulk of the story is a conversation between Job and his three friends who argue about why Job is suffering and conclude that it is due to a sin in Job’s life. Job defends his innocence before his friends.
Elihu enters the picture and suggests to Job that he needs to be more humble since God is not required to explain himself.
God finally answers Job but offers no explanation for the suffering. Instead God humbles Job and seeks to remove any sense of self-righteousness in order that he might find his purpose in God. The book ends with God restoring everything that Job had lost.
Psalms Summary—The Book of Psalms is essentially a hymnbook for the Hebrew nation. It contains 150 songs and prayers that focus on Israel’s religious life. There are 70 Psalms attributed to King David, many of which detail Saul’s vengeful pursuit of the would-be king David.
There are different types of Psalms: Laments / praises; royal Psalms (where God’s kingship is celebrated); thanksgiving Psalms; and messianic Psalms that the New Testament writers used in speaking about Jesus (for example Psalm 22). One of the most beloved parts of Scripture is Psalm 23 while Psalm 119 celebrates the goodness of God’s word. It is also the longest Psalm.
Proverbs Summary—Proverbs are short sayings that communicate a moral truth or principle. The goal of the Book of Proverbs is to communicate wisdom for godly living, a wisdom that originates and comes from God. Wisdom is more precious than gold and only a fool is not interested in receiving its instructions.
Ecclesiastes Summary—The Book of Ecclesiastes is attributed to Solomon and is a biography that examines the meaning of life. One of his conclusions is that all of men’s actions are essentially transitory and meaningless. Therefore one should enjoy life’s simple pleasures including work which is God’s gift to humans. The author’s final conclusion on life’s meaning however is the most noteworthy: Fear God and keep his commandment for that is the whole duty of everyone (Eccl 12:13).
Song of Solomon Summary—A passionate love poem that presents the ideal love that should exist between a man and a woman in marriage. The song celebrates intimacy, sexual desire and the marital love of man to woman and woman to man. At the same time, the song serves as a metaphor for the covenant love that exists between God and his people. Indeed, marriage is the appropriate picture that describes our relationship with God.
New Testament – Synopsis of Bible Books
Gospels (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Summary of the Gospel of Matthew – Presents the birth, ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This gospel is characterized by the high level of Old Testament citations which seek to prove that Jesus fulfills the long-awaited expectations of a Jewish messiah. To this end, the initial sentence gives us a clue to the contents of the gospel: The genealogy of Jesus the Messiah (or the Christ), the son of Abraham, the son of David (Mat 1:1).
In addition, the book is interlaced with 5 large teaching sections in order to present Jesus as a New Moses.
Summary of the Gospel of Luke
Presents the birth, ministry, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as close parallels to the gospel of Matthew and Mark. Luke makes sure to emphasize Jesus’ Jewish roots (the initial chapters take place in the temple) in order that Luke might present Jesus Christ as the Jewish messiah for a Gentile world.
Another noteworthy feature of Luke is the emphasis he places on the poor, marginalized, women, outcasts and sinners as special recipients of God’s mercy.
Historical Books (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Summary of Acts – Narrates the beginning of the Christian church on the Day of Pentecost and the expansion of the church through the apostle’s Peter (Jerusalem), Phillip (Samaria) and Paul (Gentile world). The last 8 chapters deal with Paul’s trials before Jewish leaders and Roman magistrates and Paul’s voyage to Rome to stand trial before Caesar.
Paul’s Epistles to Churches (Synopsis of Bible Books)
Romans Summary—Romans is Paul’s most elaborate definition of the gospel written in anticipation of his visit to the Roman church on his way to Spain. Paul summarizes that both Gentiles and Jews cannot escape the judgement of sin, but that through Jesus Christ and his death, both are now justified by faith. Paul also provides a long response to why Israelites did not embrace their Jewish messiah.
1 Corinthians Summary—Paul’s first correspondence with the church in Corinth deals with the divisions and multiple problems this church was experiencing. The members of the church were following after particular leaders. In addition they were: involved in sexual immorality, taking their brothers / sisters to court, boasting about their wisdom and superior spiritual gifts and conducting themselves in a disorderly manner in worship services.
Paul responds with various answers: Jesus and his cross are God’s answers to the wisdom of this world. No other leader or philosophy can provide that. Love between brothers and sisters should reign supreme in their relationships. The church is a body with many members and all gifts are important. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and will be resurrected. Therefore, what you do with your body is important.
2 Corinthians Summary—In this second correspondence with the Corinthian church, Paul defends his apostleship against the false 0r “super” apostles who have infiltrated the church. Paul’s apostleship (unlike that of the false apostles) is characterized by God’s power and not persuasive words; by boasting in his weakness so that God and not man would be glorified and by suffering on behalf of the gospel. In a separate section of his letter, Paul asks the Corinthians for a generous offering to help those who are experiencing hardship in Jerusalem.
Galatians Summary—This is most likely the first book written in the New Testament. Shortly after Paul returned from his first missionary journey (50 A.D.) he received word that a Jewish-Christian group had infiltrated the church in Galatia and was demanding that the Gentile brothers become Jews in order that they might be saved.
Paul wrote his strongest letter condemning the Jewish brothers and reprimanding the Galatian church for so quickly abandoning the faith that Paul had planted in them. “O foolish Galatians,” he calls the church reminding them once again that no one is justified (made right with God) by the works of the law but rather by faith in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians Summary – In his only correspondence with the church he founded in Ephesus, Paul elaborates on the so-called “mystery of God.” This “mystery” is that before the foundation of the world, God would form the church from among Jews and Gentiles through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Paul reminds the Ephesians that they have inherited many spiritual blessings as a result of being a part of this glorious church body. For this reason they are to walk in a manner worthy of this holy calling imitating God in his love.
In the final chapter, Paul reminds the Ephesians that they are in a spiritual battle between good and evil and that they must put on God’s full armor in order to have complete victory. (Check out our Ephesians Bible Study to learn more about this wonderful book.)
Colossians Summary—In his letter to the Colossians Paul is responding to heretical teaching that is making its rounds in the church. This teaching has Jewish, mystical and ascetic tendencies including: a worship with angels, a keeping of festivals and Jewish holy days, a secret wisdom and a mortification of the body.
What is Paul’s response to this falsehood? Jesus Christ is God’s express image, he is firstborn over creation and the resurrection, he is over all principalities and human wisdom and he is head of the church. Christ also fulfilled the law and therefore there is no longer a need to keep Jewish feasts and holy days.
1 Thessalonians Summary—Paul’s first correspondence with the church in Thessalonica expresses his pastoral concern for the church he planted on his second missionary journey. Paul expresses his profound gratitude for the church’s fruitfulness despite the persecution it is enduring. Paul reminds the Thessalonians about his ministry among them and calls them to holy living.
In Chapters 4 and 5, Paul provides a sustained teaching on Christ’s second coming as a way to comfort those whose loved ones have passed away. He ends the letter by reminding the Thessalonians that no one knows when Christ will return. Thus, they must always remain alert.
Check out our 1 Thessalonians Bible Study to learn more about this wonderful book.
2 Thessalonians Summary—This is a follow-up to Paul’s first correspondence to the Thessalonian church. Apparently, the church was still confused about the Lord’s second coming. Paul provides additional details regarding the timing of that event (the son of perdition must come first and lead many into deception) and encourages the members of the church not to be idle.
General Epistles (Synopsis of Bible Books)
1 Peter Summary – This is the Apostle Peter’s first epistle written to Jewish-Christian communities living in Asia Minor. It is at once a letter of encouragement and exhortation for how to live as a Christian and as an oppressed minority within the Roman Empire. Peter uses various terms to describe the churches’ sufferings throughout the epistle, which he identifies with the sufferings of Christ.
Check out our 1 Peter Bible Study to learn more about this fascinating book.
More Coming Soon!