Sometimes in our quest for higher levels of knowledge we forget to learn the basics. I have been guilty of this many times. But, we cannot, nor should we, neglect learning the basics of Bible study, no matter how trivial they seem. Instead of diving into the deep, let’s start at the beginning, like the very beginning. Let’s start with the table of contents.
The Bible’s table of contents is one of those things we often forget is there. Yet, it can help us more than we like to admit. Today, I want to spend some time looking at this underutilized tool & show you why it’s not to be ignored.
Know What’s Inside
When you pick up a new book, what’s the first thing you do? After reading the back cover, you turn to the book’s table of contents. Why there? What makes the table of contents so important? Because you want to know what’s inside the book!
The table of contents in your Bible is no different. If you want to know what’s inside your Bible, it’s the place to go. Sure, you can expect to find the books of the Bible, but what else is hidden away between the front and back cover? If you don’t look at the table of contents you may never know.
As I write this, I have a couple Bibles sitting in front of me. One is a premium Bible and the other is a study Bible. Each contains a different table of contents, but each is just as important. In my premium Bible there’s not a lot listed; but, it still shows me what’s inside & where everything is located. In this Bible I find: a preface, an explanation of features, a table of weights & measures, abbreviations, a concordance, and maps. It was through looking at my Bible’s table of contents that I found the information about the ESV’s cross-reference system.
Now, what about my study Bible? In this case it’s an ESV Study Bible. This Bible’s table of contents is more detailed. It has all the above, but also has things like: a separate table of contents for maps, charts & illustrations, introductions for the literature sections, articles between the Old and New Testaments, and more. This is a wealth of information! If we didn’t look at the table of contents, we likely wouldn’t know half this stuff was there.If you want to know what's inside your Bible, the table of contents is the place to go. Click To Tweet
Like any book, you’ll never know what’s inside your Bible unless you first consult the table of contents. You may be surprised with what you find or helps you in your studies.
Learn the Book Order
One thing I’m prone to overlook when glancing at the table of contents is the list of Bible books. Yet, for a new Christian, this material is invaluable. When we become Christians the Holy Spirit doesn’t gift us with the knowledge of how to find everything in the Bible. We must learn it.
If you’ve never used a Bible before and I tell you to turn to the gospel of John, you’ll have no idea where that is. Are the books in alphabetical order? Is it near the front or back? Well, with the table of contents you can skip such questions and find the page number.
Plus, you can memorize the order of the books of the Bible from using the table of contents. And don’t feel bad, even as someone who’s been a Christian for two decades, I still have to say the Minor Prophets’ order in my head when opening to those books. Other times, my brain freezes & I’m forced to use the table of contents to get the page number. There’s no shame in using it because that’s what it’s there for.There's no shame in using the table of contents to find a book of the Bible. Click To Tweet
What’s in Your Bible?
There may not be a lot to the table of contents, or this tip, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. A book’s table of contents shows you that a book is worth reading. Even without a table of contents the Bible is worth reading, but it helps to know what’s inside.
Take some time today and examine your Bible’s table of contents. Familiarize yourself with it and all the features your Bible has to offer.
Are you surprised by what you found? How will you utilize the table of contents going forward?
Weekly Study Prompts
Study, meditate, and journal on these passages this week.
- Monday – Genesis 18-19
- Tuesday – Genesis 20-21
- Wednesday – Genesis 22
- Thursday – Genesis 24
- Friday – Genesis 25:19-34; Genesis 26
- Memory Verses: Romans 4:20-22; Hebrews 11:17-19