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The Bible in 66 Verses

I am (if nothing else) a curious person.

Sometimes that gets me in trouble, like when I decided to find out what would happen if I jumped over a college balcony. I discovered—too late—it was almost two stories high. (Yeah, I impressed the girl…but I also limped around campus for a week!)

Other times, my curious nature is an unexpected blessing. Take today for instance: I was trying to remember a certain Scripture, couldn’t get it right, and suddenly wondered, “What if I could never again open my Bible? What would I do then?”

I’ve known some rare folk who’ve memorized entire books of Scripture. I also know that’s not me. But:

What if I tried to memorize just one key thought from each of the 66 books of the Bible? What would those 66 verses be?

That made me curious. So, here are 66 key verses that may help you remember the story, message, or meaning inherent in each of the 66 Bible books.

I hope these 66 key verses serve as a helpful—and hopeful—reference for you, too.

§ § §

Key Verses: Genesis to Joshua

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” – Genesis 1:27 KJV

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me.” – Exodus 20:2-3 NLT

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” – Leviticus 19:18 NIV

“God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man, that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” – Numbers 23:19 CSB

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” – Deuteronomy 6:5 CSB

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 ESV

§ § §

Key Verses: Judges to 2 Kings

“The Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers. Yet Israel did not listen to the judges …” – Judges 2:16-17 NLT

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” – Ruth 1:16 NIV

“The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer.” – 2 Samuel 22:2 KJV

“Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below, who keeps the gracious covenant with your servants who walk before you with all their heart” – 1 Kings 8:23 CSB

“And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.” – 2 Kings 4:44 NLT

§ § §

Key Verses: 1 Chronicles to Job

“Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” – 1 Chronicles 29:12 NASB

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

“Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it.” – Ezra 7:10 NASB

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 KJV

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14 NIV

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” – Job 13:15 KJV

§ § §

Key Verses: Psalms to Jeremiah

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5 ESV

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

“He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” – Song of Songs 2:4 NASB

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 KJV

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight.” – Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

§ § §

Key Verses: Lamentations to Amos

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” – Lamentations 3:22-23 CSB

“As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live.” – Ezekiel 33:11 NLT

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” – Daniel 12:3 NLT

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 NIV

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Joel 2:32 NKJV

“He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The Lord God of hosts is His name.” – Amos 4:13 NASB

§ § §

Key Verses: Obadiah to Zephaniah

“As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.” – Obadiah 1:15 ESV

“I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness.” – Jonah 4:2 NKJV

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8 NIV

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” – Nahum 1:7 NIV

“The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.” – Habakkuk 3:19 NKJV

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.” – Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

§ § §

Key Verses: Haggai to Luke

“Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: ‘I am with you, says the Lord.’” – Haggai 1:13 NLT

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey.” – Zechariah 9:9 NIV

“But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.” – Malachi 4:2 NKJV

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17 ESV

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” – Mark 10:14 NIV

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11 KJV

§ § §

Key Verses: John to Galatians

“Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:68 CSB

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 NLT

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NIV

“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 CSB

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28 NASB

§ § §

Key Verses: Ephesians to 1 Timothy

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6 NASB

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.” – Colossians 1:15-16 NLT

“Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV

“But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:13 CSB

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

§ § §

Key Verses: 2 Timothy to 1 Peter

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

“He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy.” – Titus 3:5 CSB

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.” – Philemon 1:4-5 ESV

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16 KJV

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17 CSB

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

§ § §

Key Verses: 2 Peter to Revelation

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” – 2 Peter 1:3 NLT

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1 CSB

“I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.” – 2 John 1:5 NLT

“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” – 3 John 1:11

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” – Jude 1:22 NIV

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 KJV

§ § §

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How do the names given to Jesus in the Christmas story fit into our faith?

Scripture: Matthew 1-2; Luke 2

If the gospel writers are any indication, it’s entirely possible that our December 25 holiday could’ve been called “Immanuelmas.” Or maybe “Consolation-of-Israelmas.” Or one of a dozen other options besides “Christmas.”

Fact is, the accounts of Matthew and Luke assign the blessed baby in the manger no fewer than 16 names and titles as they tell about his birth and early life! Why so many? Let’s look at some of those names and titles in our Christmas story and see what we can discover.

1. Messiah / Christ

(Matthew 1:18, 25, 2:4; Luke 2:11, 26)

The names “Messiah” and “Christ” are interchangeable, with the former derived from Hebrew and the latter adapted from Greek. Other than the generic term, “the child,” this is the title most often assigned to Jesus in the gospel records of his birth. The literal definition means “Anointed One” or more specifically, “God’s Anointed One.”

What’s interesting to discover here is that, in Jewish history, “Anointed Ones” were those chosen by God to lead in three significant roles: prophets, priests, and kings. Unlike others, though, Jesus is THE “Anointed One”—meaning the baby of Christmas was destined to be ALL those things for us: our supreme and eternal Prophet, Priest, and King.

2. Jesus

(Matthew 1:21, Luke 1:31, 2:21)

This is the name commanded by the angelic visitation. It’s our English transliteration of the Greek version of the Hebrew name, Yeshua (or Joshua). Jesus literally means, “Yahweh (God) is salvation.” According to the angel who spoke to Joseph in a dream, this name communicated the purpose for God’s human incarnation: “Because he will save his people from their sins” (NIV).

It’s significant that the angel didn’t say, “He will save his people from their enemies,” which would’ve required the overthrow of Roman overlords. This salvation of Jesus wouldn’t be simply a regime change, a temporary rescue at best. Instead Jesus would bring, once and for all, at long last, full emancipation from the spiritually devastating consequences begun in Adam’s original sin.

 3. Immanuel

(Matthew 1:23)

The famous Christmas name is a quote from Isaiah 7:14, first revealed by God and written as prophecy some 700 years or so before the birth of Christ. In the original context, it referred to the military downfall of two kingdoms that were enemies of the Hebrew nation of Judah—something that actually happened within a lifetime after the prophecy was made. However, like many messianic prophecies, this promise had dual application—one that was imminent, and one that was to come. The second application was fulfilled when Jesus was born.

The literal meaning of Immanuel is exactly what Matthew explained in 1:23: “God with us.” The practical understanding, though, is much, much more. “God with us” doesn’t simply convey “God is nearby” or “God is passively watching.” It’s a statement of active, dynamic involvement in all aspects our everyday existence. It could almost be rephrased as this:

“Because God has chosen to be with us, it means that God is actively for us.”

 4. King of the Jews

(Matthew 2:2)

At Jesus’ death, Roman governor Pontius Pilate irked Christ’s enemies by calling him, “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). Pilate was repeating the title that Magi (wise men) assigned to Jesus not long after his birth.

Claiming this title for Jesus was controversial at best, and deadly at worst. King Herod saw it as enough justification for the mass murder of toddlers (Matthew 2:16). Jesus’ enemies in adulthood used this claim to provoke Rome into crucifying Christ. In both instances, “King of the Jews” was interpreted to mean a political and military ruler. But the eternal King of the Jews saw it differently:

“My kingdom,” Jesus said, “is not of this world … Now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36 NIV).

 5. Ruler

(Matthew 2:6)

At first glance, the title “Ruler” in Matthew 2:6 gives the same meaning as “King of the Jews.” However, as is often the case in Scripture, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

At this moment in the birth narrative, Matthew quotes Micah 5:2—a well-known prophecy of the coming Messiah. It was widely believed that this messianic “Ruler” Micah spoke of would be 1) a descendant of King David, the founder of Israel’s greatest royal dynasty, and 2) Born in Bethlehem, just like his forefather David.

So when Matthew wrote the words of 2:6, he wasn’t simply calling Jesus “a ruler,” but “THE Ruler”—the beating-heart fulfillment of God’s ancient messianic prophecy. It was both an apologetic argument and a challenge to faith for all who would one day read Matthew’s gospel—including us.

 6. Shepherd

(Matthew 2:6)

Calling Jesus a “Shepherd” hearkened back to King David’s pronouncement in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd …” (NIV). This image of God was instantly understood in the agrarian society of Jesus’ time. It conveyed the idea of trustworthiness, of care, of intimacy, and hope.

Jesus emphasized this title when he later said, “I am the good shepherd …” (John 10:11 NIV) So our Christmas promise here is this: Like an ancient shepherd, Christ knows each of us personally, by name; He guides us faithfully toward safety and provision; He stands between us and true danger; He provides peace and rest; He willingly lays down his own life in order to save ours (John 10:11-18).

 7. Nazarene

(Matthew 2:23)

Nowadays we celebrate Matthew 2:23 with songs and grand sermons saying, “… he would be called a Nazarene” (NIV). In first century Israel, though, that name was more insult than honor. Nazareth then was today’s equivalent of a “backward, hick town”—a small, insulated place that was easy to overlook. Even Jesus’ disciples viewed people living there with open disdain (John 1:46).

Yet Matthew included the insult in the account of Jesus’ early years without complaint. God, he seems to say, is not ashamed to be associated with even the lowliest of his children—and Jesus the Nazarene is proof that.

 8. Son of the Most High/Son of God

(Luke 1:32, 35)

“Son of the Most High/Son of God” is perhaps the most important title ever ascribed to Jesus. It’s only because Christ is God’s Son that he can be called “Immanuel,” or “King of the Jews,” or “Messiah” and so on. If he were only a human son of Joseph and Mary, then none of those other Christmas titles (except “Nazarene”) would be applicable, or even possible.

In ancient Israel, to name one a “son” meant more than only a familial relationship, and in the case of Christ that was remarkably true. To declare this baby to be “Son of the Most High” or the “one and only Son” of God (John 3:16) was to say that Jesus was of the same substance as God, equal with God—the human incarnation of God himself. Theologian Lawrence O. Richards explains Christ’s sonship this way “His unique position is based on his coexistence with God and as God from the beginning.”

In fact, it was this “Son of God” concept that incited religious leaders to pursue the death penalty for our Christ: “For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18 NIV)

And so then, this is the real reason for our annual holiday traditions, and the meaning behind all those Christmas names of Jesus:

The Son of God has come

For Further Reflection

If you’re curious, here are the other names and titles ascribed to Jesus in the gospel accounts of his birth and earliest years. Take time to read the accompanying Scriptures below, and meditate on what those names might mean for you today.

  • Holy One (Luke 1:35)
  • Lord (Luke 1:43, 2:11)
  • Savior (Luke 2:11)
  • Consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25)
  • Salvation (Luke 2:30)
  • Light for Revelation to the Gentiles (Luke 2:32)
  • Glory of Israel (Luke 2:32)
  • Sign that will be Spoken Against (Luke 2:34)


TTW 240-241; EDB 360, 573; BKB 47

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Does Jesus want me to give away all I have to the poor?

Scripture: Matthew 19:16–30

Here’s exactly what Jesus wants of you: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).

For the rich man in this passage, this meant selling all he had and giving the proceeds to the poor. In Scripture, he’s the only one of whom that total financial sacrifice was asked, and that request appears to have been mostly to make a point rather than a real demand (see previous commentary above). For others in the Bible, giving is a natural part of the Christian faith—particularly giving to the poor—but the amount given is a matter to be determined between the giver and God: “You must each decide in your heart how much to give,” the apostle Paul instructed in 2 Corinthians 9:7. “And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’”

That was also the standard for the early church. Around ad 150, Justin Martyr reported that the weekly Christian practice was this: “They that are prosperous and wish to do so give what they will, each after his choice. What is collected … gives aid to the orphans and widows and such as are in want.”

Generosity is a hallmark of Christian people, an expression of gratitude in response to what God has given us, and a means through which God increases joy in his children. Giving is also intended to be more than simply money: time, talent, encouragement, effort, advocacy—all these things and more are included in the act of giving.

As to what that means in your particular economic and social situation, that’s something you’re going to have to discuss with God and then “decide in your heart.”


DCC 71; Proverbs 3:27; 11:25; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; 1 Timothy 6:18–19; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27

“Does Jesus want me to give away all I have to the poor?” is reprinted from Bible-Smart: Matthew © 2023 Nappaland Communications Inc. Published Tyndale House Publishers/Rose Publishing. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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Jesus clearly promises “you will receive what you ask for” in prayer. So why do so many prayers go unanswered?

Scripture: Matthew 7:7–11

Christ’s exhortation to “keep on asking … seeking … knocking” in prayer appears to be a carte blanche promise that God will give anything you or I ask for. The normal Christian life, on the other hand, seems to discredit this promise on a daily basis.

So what gives? Was Jesus lying, or mistaken, or exaggerating for effect when he made his promises? Are we doing something wrong in the ways we “ask, seek, and knock”?

Perhaps the problem lies in a twenty-first-century perception that we’re entitled to immediate gratification, and in our assumption that God will override his good, eternal desires for us in response to the selfish, shortsighted desires we have for ourselves. Here’s how theologian Lawrence O. Richards explains it:

Jesus describes prayer as asking, seeking, and knocking. “Ask” is the act of prayer in its simplest form. “Seek” conveys intensity, and “earnest sincerity.” And “knock” pictures persistence. We knock on the door of heaven and keep on knocking!

It is important not to mistake what Jesus is saying as laying down conditions which, if met, will move God to respond to us. Jesus is not saying if you ask ardently enough, then God will answer your prayer. He is simply saying that when we feel a need so intensely that it drives us to the Lord again and again, we need not be discouraged even if the answer is delayed. God really does care about those things that matter to His children. And God responds to our requests by giving us good gifts.

Jesus promised that if we “keep on asking … seeking … knocking” then our heavenly Father will respond with “good gifts” (verse 11). Our job, then, is to keep asking with sincerity and persistence—and let him worry about when he answers and which good gifts he delivers in response.


NTL 41

“Jesus clearly promises ‘you will receive what you ask for’ in prayer. So why do so many prayers go unanswered?” is reprinted from Bible-Smart: Matthew © 2023 Nappaland Communications Inc. Published Tyndale House Publishers/Rose Publishing. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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So what exactly is the “unpardonable sin”?

Scripture: Matthew 12:22–37

In Matthew 12:31, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.”

This is a frightening truth, and one that’s been parsed in so many ways over so many centuries as to make it seem indecipherable. What does it mean exactly to commit “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”? Here are some of the theories that have been circulated over time.

Theory #1. It was a sin specific to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, committed when they claimed Jesus’ was empowered by Satan. This was the view of early church fathers such as Jerome and John Chrysostom. According to them, this sin could only be committed when Christ lived on the earth, and so would not apply to anyone after that time.

Theory #2. It is the stubborn unwillingness (the impoenitentia finalis) to repent, all the way until death. St. Augustine and other historic theologians were proponents of this view. Basically, this is the idea that the unpardonable sin is a refusal to accept Jesus Christ by faith for the entirety of one’s life.

Theory #3. It is a “conscious, malicious, and willful rejection and slandering … of the testimony of the Holy Spirit respecting the grace of God in Christ, attributing it out of hatred and enmity to the prince of darkness.” This is the perspective articulated by influential Reformed scholar, Louis Berkhof. He adds that this sin is, “the audacious declaration that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of the abyss, that the truth is a lie, and that Christ is Satan.”

Theory #4. It is a hardened, irrational, irrevocable decision to reject Jesus. The idea here is that of apostasy, of a deliberate and decisive rejection of Jesus as Lord. This is a popular view among evangelical theologians. Dr. Lawrence O. Richards sums up this thinking when he says, “Speaking against the source of Jesus’ power was, first of all, a recognition of its supernatural origin, and second, a hardened rejection of Jesus Himself.… Their choice, made in the face of all the unique evidence which Jesus Himself had presented to them, was irrevocable; they had chosen to step beyond the possibility of repentance.”

Theory #5. It is deliberately honoring Satan for the work of the Holy Spirit. This is also a common view, as articulated by Anglican Evangelical scholar, F. F. Bruce. He says the Pharisees were charged with blaspheming the Holy Spirit because “They deliberately ascribed the Holy Spirit’s activity to demonic agency.”

So what exactly is the unpardonable sin? I don’t think anyone has yet come up with a complete definition—and I think that’s OK. Bruce seems to speak for all opinions when he says, “The nature of this sin is such that one does not repent of it,” and thus “The very fact of [one’s] concern over having committed it proves that they have not committed it.”


ST 252–253; TC 561; HSJ 89–90

“So what exactly is the ‘unpardonable sin?” is reprinted from Bible-Smart: Matthew © 2023 Nappaland Communications Inc. Published Tyndale House Publishers/Rose Publishing. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

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