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Bible Biographies

Actors in the Drama Called Planet Earth

Editor's Overview
Principal Contributor
Discussion Groups


The Bible is the Word of God, the inspired account of the Lord's rescue of fallen humanity. It's a book about God, humankind, and especially about God's intervention with humankind. From the Genesis narrative of Eden Lost to Revelation's promise of Eden Restored, the plan of redemption unfolds through the lives of people.

Birthed full-grown into the Garden, Adam and Eve, through sin, lost their perfect environment. Were it not for the promise of salvation, they and their descendants would have existed with no hope of anything beyond the grave, which is no hope at all. Instead, through Christ and the promises fulfilled in Him, these fallen beings have the hope and assurance of eternal life in a world without sin and all its terrible consequences. They are, in a real sense, "children of the promise" found in Jesus and the salvation He has secured for us (Rom. 9:8).

Who are these children, and how have they responded to this promise of salvation? Saints, sinners, slaves, sovereigns, princes, paupers, pagans, even prophets-that's who they are. Lovely or loathsome, major or minor, courageous or cowardly, they and their stories are all included in the Bible.

Through sixty-six books that cover everything from the fall of Lucifer to life on the new earth, the Bible introduces its readers to just a few hundred characters out of possible millions. Some get scant treatment; others are fleshed out in considerable detail. Joseph, for instance, merits twenty-one chapters (Genesis 30 to 50); Job's wife, in contrast, gets only two verses (Job 2:9, 10). Yet, lessons exist for us from them all.

Of necessity, the Bible personalities selected for this quarter's study must likewise be a sampling: The characters were chosen because they could (sometimes) be paired with others who under comparable circumstances or in similar relationships made different choices, choices not unlike those that we, living on the same planet, often make.

They, like us, are all part of the drama, the last act even now building toward a spectacular climax. But no need for fearful suspense-the Bible tells how the play will end. However, and most importantly, individual destinies, including our own, await the final resolution.

Because the last curtain has not yet gone down, because we still act out our unscripted roles in the play ourselves, because we still can choose Christ or Satan, these lessons invite us all (1) to review the lives of the selected Bible personalities, (2) to analyze the reasons for their successes and failures, (3) to assess our role in the great controversy, and then (4) to apply what we learn to strengthen our own relationship with Jesus, who through His life and death has given us redemption.

"Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1 Cor. 10:11, RSV).

Though our lives are not recorded in Scripture, we are all characters in the same drama as those whose lives are revealed in the Book. Let us learn from both their triumphs and their failures. Because, in many ways, their stories are ours as well.

EDITOR'S OVERVIEW  "A Chemical Scum"

After the construction of a building at a famous university, some professors wanted these words, from an ancient Greek philosopher, placed on the main wall: "Man is the measure of all things." The president of the prestigious institution, however, had other notions, and the sentence that went up instead was: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

This story is a minor mirror of two contending world views. One makes humanity the creator and subject of truth, the other places God in that role. No middle ground exists between these two positions, no possibility of compromise, no potential for synthesis. It's either one or the other.

As Adventists, there's no doubt which view we take. God is Creator of truth, the Source of truth, and the Giver of truth. As humans, we don't originate truth; we merely receive it as a gift . . . and the greatest gift of truth, ever, was in the person of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer-the One in whom "we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28), the One "in whom we have redemption through his blood" (Eph. 1:7).

If the Bible is the story of redemption, then it is also the story of those who are redeemed, those who are on the receiving end of truth. The Bible, therefore, doesn't center on God in a vacuum; it centers, instead, on Him in His divine interaction with humankind, on those redeemed at such an infinite cost to Himself. British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking once said that humankind was nothing but "a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting round a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies." He couldn't be more wrong. Christ didn't die for "a chemical scum." He died to save beings created in His own image, beings so precious that they were bought with His own blood (1 Pet. 1:18, 19).

Thus, however much the gospel is the work of God alone, it's always the work of God for humankind. The gospel wouldn't be the gospel were it not "good news" for human beings. To learn about the gospel is to learn not only about God's unfailing love but about His unfailing love for His failing and unloving creatures.

This quarter's Bible Study Guide, Bible Biographies, deals with numerous people on the receiving end of this unfailing love, even those who failed in loving back. Special thanks to our principal contributor, Dr. Wilma McClarty, of Southern Adventist University, who carefully and thoughtfully looked at the question put on the college wall: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

The answer, thanks to God's gift of His Son, is "good news" indeed.

Clifford Goldstein

Contents:  (no frames, all lessons may not be posted)

No. Study


Apr 7 Christ and Satan: Contenders for Control  (KJV)


Apr 14 The Betrayers--Peter and Judas  (KJV)


Apr 21 Grace Under Pressure--Noah and Job  (KJV)


Apr 28 Wives as Advisers  (KJV)


May 5 Joseph: From Pit to Palace  (KJV)


May 12 Sibling Rivalry  (KJV)


May 19 Children Showcased  (KJV)


May 26 The Personal Factor  (KJV)


Jun 2 Powerful Pray-ers  (KJV)


Jun 9 Martyrs and Their Murderers  (KJV)


Jun 16 Giants of Faith  (KJV)


Jun 23 Women in Scripture  (KJV)


Jun 30 Tiny Sins, Huge Results  (KJV)

Giardina Sabbath School Study Helps

Jerry Giardina of Pecos, Texas, assisted by his wife, Cheryl, prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School lesson. He includes all related scripture and most EGW quotations. Jerry has chosen the "New King James Version" of the scriptures this quarter. It is used with permission.  The study helps are provided in three wordprocessing versions Wordperfect; Microsoft Word;  RTF for our MAC friends; and HTML (Web Pages).

Last updated on March 15, 2001

Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributors: Wilma McClarty
Editor: Clifford Goldstein
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti.
Editorial Production Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish.
Art and Design: Lars Justinen.
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey.

Copyright 2001 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.

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