Job is perhaps the oldest book of the Bible. Set in the period of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph), it tells the story of a man who loses everything—his wealth, his family, his reputation, his health—and wrestles with the question, “Why?”
The book begins with a heavenly debate between God and Satan, moves through three cycles of earthly debates between Job and his friends, and concludes with a dramatic “divine diagnosis” of Job’s problem. In the end, Job acknowledges the sovereignty of God in his life and receives back more than he had accumulated before his trials.
Job’s name is also the Hebrew title for this book. The name is thought to mean “persecuted.”
Themes: God is sovereign, even in the face of life’s very worst trials. He will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to withstand whatever adversity confronts us.
Author: Unknown. (Job, Moses, and Solomon have been suggested.)
Time: When was the Book of Job written? Scholars have debated this question for generations. Many scholars regard it as the oldest book in the Bible, while others believe it was written as late as the time of the Babylonian exile.
Structure: The first part of the book (1:1–2:10) describes the identity of Job, what happened to him, and who caused it. The second part (2:11–31:40) covers the arrival of Job’s three friends and the conversations that took place between them and Job. Part three (chapters 32–37) describes Job’s instruction from a younger man named Elihu. Part four (chapters 38, 39) gives God’s reply to Job’s questions about his suffering. Part five (40:1–42:9) covers Job’s two confessions, as well as God’s rebuke of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, and His demand that they make sacrifices for their sinful words. The final scene (42:10–17) describes Job’s prayers for his friends and the restoration of his wealth and position.
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Job.