Welcome to our brand new Wednesday’s Word Bible study! Over the next several weeks, we’ll be studying the book of Ezra. Many of us feel like our knowledge of the Old Testament – particularly the post-exilic writings – could use some beefing up, and Ezra is a perfect book to study for that purpose.
But is Ezra relevant to us as Christians today? As we study, I think you’ll find the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Second Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
God’s people are God’s people, B.C. or A.D. We love God, love His word, and struggle with many of the same sins. And, of course, God Himself never changes.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and start digging in, shall we?
Introduction to the book of Ezra:
Before we begin studying a book of the Bible, it’s very important that we understand some things about that book. We need to know…
Who the author was and anything we might be able to find out about him or his background.
Who the audience of the book is: Jews or Gentiles? Old Testament Israelites or New Testament Christians? This will help us understand the author’s purpose and approach to what he’s writing.
What kind of biblical literature we’re looking at. We approach books of history differently than books of wisdom, books of wisdom differently than books of prophecy, etc.
What the purpose of the book is. Was it written to encourage? Rebuke? Warn?
What the historical backdrop is for the book. Is Israel at war? At peace? In exile? Under a bad king? Good king? Understanding the historical events surrounding a piece of writing help us understand what was written and why it was written.
When the book was written. Where does the book fall on the timeline of bibical history? This is especially important for Old Testament books which are not always arranged in chronological order.
So this week, before we start studying the actual text of the book of Ezra, we need to lay the foundation to understanding the book by finding the answers to these questions.
Read the following overviews of the book of Ezra, taking notes on anything that might aid your understanding of the book, and answer the questions below:
Ezra at Grace to You
Overview of the Book of Ezra at Reformed Answers
Book of Ezra at Got Questions
1. Who wrote the book of Ezra? What was his profession? His background and lineage? What do these things tell us about his position in society, his knowledge of Scripture, his approach to writing, or anything else about him?
2. Who is the intended audience of the book of Ezra?
3. Which genre of biblical literature is the book of Ezra: law, history, wisdom, poetry, narrative, epistles, or prophecy/apocalyptic? What does this this tell us about the approach we should take when studying this book versus our approach to books of other genres?
4. What is the theme or purpose of the book of Ezra?
5. Who are the leaders and significant personalities in the book of Ezra?
6. What is the historical backdrop of the book of Ezra? When did the events of the book of Ezra take place on the timeline of biblical history (ex: before the Flood, during the period of the judges, during or after the exile, etc.)? What are the historical events immediately surrounding the events of the book of Ezra? Where do the events take place? (Sometimes, a good Bible map like this one or this one can be helpful.)
7. What else did you learn about Ezra or the setting of his book that might help you understand the text of the book better?