How many chapters and verses are there in the Bible?
What about books and words?
As a pastor for many years, I sometimes like to nerd out on technical and factual details.
Today, I’m going to give a straightforward answer.
I will only focus on the Protestant Bible, not the Catholic Bible, which contains the Apocrypha.
After years of studying the pastor, I will give you a straightforward answer.
Let’s jump right into it.
How Many Books Are in the Bible?
The Bible contains 66 books.
The Old Testament has 39 books, while the New Testament has 27.
You can easily count them in the table of content if you don’t believe me.
How Many Chapters Are in the Bible?
There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible.
The Old Testament has 929 chapters, while the New Testament has 260.
It may be easy to count the chapters in the New Testament.
But if you have patience, counting the Old Testament chapters should take just a short time.
Of course, the chapters in the Bible are way longer than Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter combined.
How Many Verses Are There In The Bible?
Now, this is a tricky one.
Modern Bibles may omit some verses because those texts are not found in the earliest manuscript.
But the King James Bible should have more verses than the modern translations.
Overall, there should be 31,102 verses.
The Old Testament has 23,145 verses, while the New Testament has 7,957.
My primary Bible is the English Standard Version.
But I need to take the time to count the total number of verses because I’m lazy.
How many words are in the Bible?
Who in the world has time to count the number of words in the Bible?
I certainly don’t!
But there is yet to be a definitive or objective answer to this question.
The reason is that Bible translators translate Scripture from the original language differently.
On average, the English Bible has around 75,000 to 80,000 words.
If you have time, feel free to count the words in the English Bible, Original Hebrew Bible, and Greek New Testament.
The Longest And Shortest Books In The Bible
Many of you would assume that the book of Psalms is the longest in the Bible.
But Psalm is not the longest book regarding content or word count.
Indeed, Psalm contains the most extended number of chapters. One hundred fifty chapters, to be exact.
The longest book in the Bible is actually the book of Jeremiah.
With only 52 chapters, Jeremiah gives us a lot of prophecies.
Many of the chapters and verses have long content regarding judgment and salvation.
It also contains a narrative portion regarding Jeremiah and King Zedekiah.
The shortest book (or letter) is 3rd John.
The Apostle John only wrote 15 verses in this short letter to the elder who loved Gaius.
The Longest And Shortest Chapters In The Bible
The longest chapter is Psalm 119.
It is also known for being an acrostic Psalm.
Acrostic Psalm means that every eight lines would begin with the same Hebrew letter from Aleph to Tav.
Since there are only 22 Hebrew alphabets, you can multiply 22 by 8 and get 176 verses.
The shortest chapter is Psalm 117.
You can learn 13 fascinating facts about this Psalm.
In short (no pun intended), there are only two verses.
The Longest And Shortest Verses In The Bible
The longest verse is found in Esther 8:9.
The English Standard Version (ESV) says, “The king’s scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month, which is the month of Sivan, on the twenty-third day. And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews, to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to each province in its own script and to each people in its own language, and also to the Jews in their script and their language.”
Esther was the chosen queen of Persia. She wanted to stop Haman’s plot to wipe out the Jews in the Persian empire.
And so she did. Haman is now dead.
The context shows us how Esther tries to change the king’s edict and prevent the Persians from killing the Jews.
So, this verse teaches us that the Jews were given the right to defend themselves and take action against their enemies.
The shortest verse is John 11:35.
I have preached the context of this verse numerous times, either during Sunday sermons or funerals.
If you know the story of John 11, the whole context tells us about the death of one of Jesus’ friends, Lazarus.
This verse describes Jesus Christ weeping for Lazarus.
This Bible verse only says, “Jesus wept.” The English Standard Version (ESV), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB) would affirm that translation.
The New Living Translation says, “Then Jesus wept.”
It appears that he weeps for at least two reasons.
First, Jesus deeply cares for those mourning their loss, such as Mary and Martha.
Second, Jesus sheds tears because he personally grieves when he witnesses the impact of death brought by sin.
The next shortest verse could be 1 Thessalonians 5:16, which only says, “Rejoice always.”
Fun Fact About Chapters And Verses
Did you know that chapter and verse were not included in the original manuscript?
Lucky us, we have chapters and verses to help us find Bible references when we need them.
For example, isn’t it much easier to tell the congregation to find Romans 5:8 in their Bibles than to find “But God demonstrated his love for us”?
Of course, some people still need help finding the reference (without even looking at the table of content).
You may have seen a new believer would flip through the Bible quickly to find the exact book. Too bad they may easily miss Obadiah or Jude since they’re only one chapter!
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Divided The Bible Into Chapters?
Who’s the genius behind this idea?
Well, verses and chapters were developed separately by different people.
Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury, was the one who developed the modern chapter divisions that we commonly use today.
He lived in the 13th century and started to put chapter divisions around 1227.
Who Divided The Bible Into Verses?
There was a Jewish Rabbi by the name of Nathan who divided the Hebrew Old Testament into verses around the year 1448.
Afterwards, Robert Estienne was the first to divide the New Testament into verses in the year 1555.
Because of Langton and Estienne, we benefit from their fruitful labour in having Bible references.
But we should never take it for granted!
Without Bible references, it encouraged Christians to read their entire Bible and be familiar with it so that they would be able to find the text.
I don’t think knowing the number of books, chapters, verses, and words in the Bible is the most important thing in the Christian life.
Although it’s fun to know them!
Nonetheless, I hope you can still glorify God for giving us His word.
You can be grateful to God for the men who made sacrifices so that we can read and know His word, whether from different Bible translations, studying the entire Hebrew alphabet outlines, or memorizing Greek grammar.