Context

The first step in COMA is “Context.” In order to understand any particular passage in a book, we need to understand the context of the book as a whole. For any given book, don't feel like you have to consume everything provided.

Daniel

NIV Study Bible Introduction: Daniel

Overview

In our Old Testament readings, we are currently reading books that come out of the context of the Exile. In 586 B.C., the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians. Decades after this event, the people were permitted to return to their land. However, the kingdom of Israel was never fully restored. They remained under the thumb of empire after empire, even up to the time of Jesus. 

The book of Daniel begins with the Babylonian invasion, in which some of the young members of Jerusalem elite were taken captive. The story picks up in the Babylonian court with Daniel and his three friends. Their stories are some of the more famous stories in the Bible, involving a fiery furnace, giant statues, a lion’s den, and more. We like to tell these stories to kids, but they have a very serious message about how to live in a world that holds different values that are at odds with the kingdom of God.

What do we know about the author of the book of Daniel?

When was Daniel written? 

Who was the original audience of the book of Daniel?

Watch the overview video about Daniel from The Bible Project. Pick out a couple of themes to look for as you read. (If you have time, you may also want to watch the additional videos on “The Way of Exile” and “The Son of Man” which both cover key themes in the book.)

1 Peter

NIV Study Bible Introduction: 1 Peter

Overview

In our Old Testament readings, we are focusing on the books that come from the era of the Exile. In his first letter, Peter picks up on some of these same themes. He is writing to people who are a minority religious group in a world that is often at odds with them. That is why addresses them as “God’s elect, exiles” who have been “scattered” around the Roman Empire (1 Peter 1:1), which Peter symbolically calls “Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). His message to them is summed up in 1 Peter 2:11-12, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” As you read 1 Peter, you may want to try and identify ways this book helps us live as people who are “not the home team” in our society (or any society until Jesus returns). 

What do we know about the author of 1 Peter?

When was 1 Peter written?

Watch the Bible Project video about 1 Peter. Write down a few themes that you will look out for as you read the letter.

1 Peter is a letter (often called an “epistle”). Look at the guide to “Literary Setting” in the back of this journal, and write down the rules for interpreting epistles in the Bible.

2 Peter

NIV Study Bible Introduction: 2 Peter

In his first letter, Peter wrote to strengthen Christ-followers when they faced pressure from the outside world. In his second letter, his concern is internal threats to the Christian community. False teachers have arisen in the church, and Peter offering a stern warning about the danger they pose. 

Watch the Bible Project video about 2 Peter. Write down a few themes that you will look out for as you read the letter.

2 Peter is a letter (often called an “epistle”). Look at the guide to “Literary Setting” and write down the rules for interpreting epistles in the Bible.

Esther

NIV Study Bible Introduction: Esther

Overview

In our Old Testament readings, we are currently reading books that come out of the context of the Exile. In 586 B.C., the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians. Decades after this event, the people were permitted to return to their land. However, the kingdom of Israel was never fully restored. They remained under the thumb of empire after empire, even up to the time of Jesus. 

The book of Esther is set in the empire of Persia, which took over after Babylon. Esther is a young Jewish woman who finds herself caught up in a crisis that threatens to wipe out God’s people. It is a story of courage, but even more, it is a story of how God is at work behind the scenes, even in places where he seems completely absent. In fact, God is never mentioned once in this book. However, you may notice some “coincidences” that seem a little too coincidental. I wonder who is responsible for those?

 

What do we know about the author of the book of Esther?

When was Esther written? 

Who was the original audience of the book of Esther?

 

Watch the overview video about Esther from The Bible Project. Pick out a couple of themes to look for as you read. 

Zechariah

NIV Study Bible Introduction: Zechariah

Overview

In our Old Testament readings, we are currently reading books that come out of the context of the Exile. In 586 B.C., the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians. Decades after this event, the people were permitted to return to their land. However, the kingdom of Israel was never fully restored. They remained under the thumb of empire after empire, even up to the time of Jesus. 

The book of Zechariah was written in this era, as the people wait for the full restoration of God’s kingdom. Zechariah confronts Israel’s present sin, but also offers hope for the future arrival of the Messiah. Zechariah contains some the strangest imagery in the entire Bible. These images are not literal, so you’ll need to engage your imagination to make connections between the symbols and the reality they are describing. Keep in mind that the prophets aren’t always predicting the future. More often they are giving God’s perspective on the present. As you read, focus on the question: how do these symbols address the issues facing Israel in their day?

What do we know about the author of the book of Zechariah?

When was Zechariah written? 

Who was the original audience of the book of Zechariah?

Watch the overview video about Zechariah from The Bible Project. Pick out a couple of themes to look for as you read.

Ezra & Nehemiah

NIV Study Bible Introduction: Ezra, Nehemiah

Overview

In our Old Testament readings, we are currently reading books that come out of the context of the Exile. In 586 B.C., the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians. Decades after this event, the people were permitted to return to their land. However, the kingdom of Israel was never fully restored. They remained under the thumb of empire after empire, even up to the time of Jesus. 

The books of Ezra & Nehemiah tell the story of the groups of Jews who returned to the land of Israel, even while the Persians were still ruling over them. (Originally, it was composed as one book, but it was divided because it didn’t fit on one scroll.) 

What do we know about the author of the books of Ezra & Nehemiah?

When were Ezra & Nehemiah written? 

Who was the original audience of the books of Ezra & Nehemiah?

Watch the overview video about Ezra & Nehemiah from The Bible Project. Pick out a couple of themes to look for as you read. 

1 & 2 Chronicles

NIV Study Bible Introduction: 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles

Overview
In our Old Testament readings, we are currently reading books that come out of the context of the Exile. In 586 B.C., the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians. Decades after this event, the people were permitted to return to their land. However, the kingdom of Israel was never fully restored. They remained under the thumb of empire after empire, even up to the time of Jesus.

The books of 1-2 Chronicles (which was composed as one book, but divided into two books because it didn’t fit on one scroll) tells the story of Israel’s pre-exilic history, but from the perspective of the people who have returned to the land after the Exile. It covers the same material as 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings. Those books were written to explain why the Exile happened, so they emphasize the failures of Israel’s leaders. Chronicles, however, emphasizes the faithfulness of Israel’s leaders. By highlighting Israel’s glory days, Chronicles gives models and inspiration for a new generation seeking to renew the nation in the wake of the Exile.

Journal Prompts
What do we know about the author of the book of Chronicles?

When was Chronicles written?

Who was the original audience of the book of Chronicles?

Watch the overview video about Chronicles from The Bible Project and pick out a couple of themes to look for as you read.

Chronicles is a narrative book. Look at the guide to Literary Setting in the back of this journal or and write down the rules for interpreting narrative.

Fair warning: The first 9 chapters of Chronicles is a series of long genealogies (a.k.a. a list of names). We’re going to help you out by having you read all of them in one day so you don’t get bogged down. But here’s a tip: Don’t get too focused on individual names. Read the headings to identify the groups. Then ask which groups get the most space. Then ask, why would the author want to emphasize those groups? Could it be that people from those groups are the main characters in the rest of the book?

 psalms

NIV Study Bible Introduction

Overview
The book of Psalms is the songbook of the Bible. It is full of worship songs and prayers that have been used by the people of Israel and the church for thousands of years. These are the words God gave us to pray, and they teach us so much about who God is and how we can approach him.

Journal Prompts
Who wrote Psalms? What did you discover about them?

When were the Psalms written and collected?

Read the section on “Theology: Major Themes” and the “Theology: Summary” in NIV Study Bible Introduction to the Psalms. Jot down a couple of key themes to be on the lookout for as you read the book.

All of the Psalms are written in the poetic genre. Look at the guide to “ Literary Setting and write down the rules for interpreting poetry in the Bible.

Proverbs

NIV Study Bible Introduction

Overview
The book of Proverbs is all about wisdom—how to live life well in God’s world, under God’s rule. Proverbs is full of practical insight into ordinary things like work, relationships, money, leadership, words, family, and much more.

Journal Prompts
Who wrote Proverbs? What did you discover about them?

When were the Proverbs written and collected?

Read the section on “Purpose and Teaching” and “The Wise Man According to Proverbs” in NIV Study Bible Introduction to Proverbs. Jot down a couple of key themes to be on the lookout for as you read the book.

Proverbs is “wisdom literature,” and there is one very important rule for interpreting this kind of writing. Look at the guide to Literary Setting  and write down the rule for interpreting proverbs in the Bible.

1 John


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 1 John

EZEKIEL


NIV Study Bible Introduction

JOHN


NIV Study Bible Introduction

LAMENTATIONS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Lamentations

Jeremiah


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Jeremiah

The Gospel of MATTHEW


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Matthew

JAMES


NIV Study Bible Introduction - James

luke


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Luke

isaiah


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Isaiah

MICAH


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Micah

TITUS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Titus

2 Timothy


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 2 Timothy

1 Timothy


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 1 Timothy

jonah


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Jonah

 ephesians


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Ephesians

hosea


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Hosea

philemon


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Philemon

COLOSSIANS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Colossians

philippians


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Philippians

AMOS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Amos

romans 


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Romans

Joel 


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Joel

2 corinthians


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 2 Corinthians

SONG OF SONGS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Song of Songs

1 Corinthians


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 1 Corinthians

ecclesiastes


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Ecclesiastes

GALATIANS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Galatians

1 thessalonians


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 1 Thessalonians

JOB


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Job

ACTS


NIV Study Bible Introduction - Acts


1 & 2 kings


NIV Study Bible Introduction - 1 Kings

NIV Study Bible Introduction - 2 Kings

 

LUKE


NIV Study Bible Introduction

1 Samuel


NIV Study Bible Introduction

RUTH


NIV Study Bible Introduction

ROMANS


NIV Study Bible Introduction

JUDGES


NIV Study Bible Introduction

JAMES


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Joshua


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Deuteronomy


NIV Study Bible Introduction

HEBREWS


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Numbers


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Leviticus


NIV Study Bible Introduction

The Gospel of Matthew


NIV Study Bible Introduction

THE GOSPEL OF MARK


NIV Study Bible Introduction

ephesians


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Exodus


NIV Study Bible Introduction

Genesis


NIV Study Bible Introduction