“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothey 3:16-17). The Word of God comes to us through inspirations or being literally God breathed. The New Testament was given by inspiration in the First Century so that the Lord’s church in general and Christians individually would know how to be pleasing to the Lord. The Word was given to provide faith (Romans 10:17) and in having that faith (Jude 3) be able to come into a saving relationship with God (Hebrews 11:6). It has often been said that the church needs to hear book, chapter, and verse preaching. In principle that is very true because that saying or phrase places the authority in the Word of God and not in man. However, it is important to remember that the original inspired authors did not write with chapter and verse divisions.
The first English printed Bible to be divided into chapters and verses was in 1557 or 1560 depending on who is cited. The books of the Old Testament had various divisions originally, although not into chapters and verses as we know them, and the New Testament letters were written in that manner of the First Century without chapters and verses. For the most part, the chapters and verses in the Bible are coordinated throughout the various languages, although there are some language translations where the division of chapters and verses are not completely coordinated with English translations. For the casual or serious Bible student the division of the Bible books into chapters and verses has been a wonderful aid in studying the Bible and, also in being able to quickly locate a sentence or phrase. Children, young people, and adults have learned the Bible in a very effective manner by memorizing specific verses in the Bible such as John 3:16, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, etc. Obviously must memorizing a Bible verse is not the end. The Bible verses learned must eventually put into their proper context and teaching, and, also put into practice in one’s life.
What about this book, chapter, and verse teaching or preaching? Some have belittled it saying that it does not see the whole context of the book or message being taught by the original author. That may be the situation in some cases, but it certainly does not have to be. When one understands the context of the Bible itself and how each book of the Bible relates to that context and the chapter and version divisions within the book relate then it is possible to preach book, chapter, and verse and completely teach the truth with modern application. The church does need the Book. The church does need it to be preached and taught in an authoritative manner, not the authority of the preacher, but with the authority of the Bible itself.
Let’s be thankful for the work of those that divided the Bible into chapters and verses. We may not always agree with where it should have been divided, but it is certainly a blessing as we study the inspired Word of God.