8.26.2006

law & prophets

Q. Which books in the Bible are called the Law and which are called the Prophets?
A. The books of the Bible are grouped by topic, and are not necessarily in chronological order of the dates they were written.

The first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, which includes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These are the books of the Law. The laws within these books were to be followed absolutely prior to Christ's atoning death and resurrection. Since living by the letter of the law was impossible, sacrifices were to be offered to atone for sin as they looked forward to the coming of Messiah.

While we are not "under the law" in this era due to Christ's sacrifice, some of these laws still apply to the way a follower of Jesus should behave today. Jesus did say, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) However, while lifestyle may be a reflection of true salvation, salvation is never insured by lifestyle. Other laws were either specific to the nation of Israel to set them apart, or became obsolete after Christ's completed work. Animal sacrifice is no longer needed because He became the atoning sacrifice for all.

The Prophets are divided into two categories; major and minor. The Major Prophets are those books from Isaiah to Daniel. The books from Hosea to Malachi are the Minor Prophets. This is not an indication of how important the writings are, but of how much text is included in the book. The writings of the so-called Major Prophets is much longer than that of the Minor Prophets.

The rest of the books of the Bible are categorized by History, Poetry, Pauline Epistles and General Epistles. Revelation stands alone as a New Testament prophecy book.

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