What are the Major Prophets in the Bible? What are the Minor Prophets?

The Major Prophets and Minor Prophets are terms used in regard to the Old Testament portion of the Bible to distinguish the generally longer books of prophecy from the shorter ones. The Major Prophets come first in English versions of the Bible and include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The Minor Prophets include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

To give an idea of the size difference between these sections of Scripture, the five books of the Major Prophets include 183 chapters. The 12 books of the Minor Prophets include 67 chapters. The longest book of the Major Prophets, Isaiah, includes 66 chapters, while the shortest book in the Minor Prophets, Obadiah, includes just one.

Historically, the Hebrew Bible (Jewish version of the Old Testament) arranged these works differently. For example, Lamentations was included as part of Jeremiah (as it was written by the same author). The 12 Minor Prophets were included as one large book called "The Twelve" or Trei Asar in Hebrew. In the Hebrew order, both the Major and Minor Prophets were considered part of the collection known as the Latter Prophets (Later Prophets) or the Nevi'im.

Jesus referred to this portion of the Bible. Isaiah was one of the books He quoted most in the Gospels. In Matthew 5:17 He taught, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." The Law and the Prophets included the entire collection of Old Testament books, including the Major and Minor Prophets. Clearly Jesus placed value on the collection of Old Testament writings and His work to fulfill their teachings regarding the Jewish Messiah.

In His instruction on the Golden Rule, Jesus also made a clear reference to this portion of Scripture, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). He also taught that all the Prophets prophesied until the coming of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13).

The Gospels often refer to the Prophets, largely in quoting Jesus (i.e., Matthew 15:7–9; 26:31; Mark 14:27; Luke 4:17–21; 22:37; John 6:45; 12:37–41). Matthew, specifically, points out the Prophets in his commentary (i.e., Matthew 1:23; 2:6, 15, 18; 8:17; 21:4–5; 27:9). So, too, do other New Testament books. See, for example: Acts 2:16–21; 7:42–50; 13:40–41; 15:15–17; Romans 2:24; 9:20, 25–28, 33; 11:26–27; 1 Corinthians 1:19, 31; 2:9; 15:54–55; 2 Corinthians 6:2, 16–18; Galatians 4:27; Ephesians 5:14; Hebrews 8:8–12; 10:16–17; 12:26; 1 Peter 1:24–25; 2:22.

The Major Prophets and Minor Prophets are often neglected by modern readers as being long or difficult to understand, yet they are part of God's inspired Word and should not be neglected (2 Timothy 3:16–17). They help us better know God. Indeed, they include many of the prophecies fulfilled in the earthly life of Jesus Christ, offering ample evidence for the claims of Jesus and reason to hope in His future return.

Related Truth:

Why should we read the Old Testament?

Where does the Old Testament prophesy the coming of Christ?

Were there different authors of the books of the Bible? Who were the authors?

Is the Bible still relevant today?

What is the basic timeline of the Old Testament?

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