The Bible has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. All 66 books, which many authors wrote at different times and for multiple reasons, come in varying lengths. Many of the longest books are well-known, like the Psalms, Isaiah, and Genesis. But sometimes people pay less attention to the shorter ones. Many people are curious to know what the shortest book of the Bible is.
The five shortest books of the Bible only have one chapter: Philemon, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Obadiah. One of those, 2 John, has the fewest verses of any book, with 13. 3 John is second with 15 verses. The book with the least amount of words is 3 John with 294. 2 John is second with 298.
What is the shortest book in the Old Testament? What is the shortest book in the New Testament? Who created chapter and verse divisions in the Bible? What is the shortest chapter of the Bible? What is the shortest verse? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
The Shortest Books of the Bible By Total Chapters
When writers, pastors, or teachers mention one of the five shortest books, they often don’t mention a chapter number, only the verse. Similarly, modern Bible translations don’t include a “1” for the chapter title like books with multiple chapters do. Instead, only the verse numbers are spoken or printed. So, for example, the correct way to cite the fourth verse of Jude is “Jude 4,” not “Jude 1:4.”
Who created chapter and verse divisions in the Bible?
Stephen Langton (1150-1228), a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, created the chapters and verse divisions that are still in use today. Several people created chapter and verse divisions before him, but they didn’t gain widespread use in churches because they were difficult to use.
For example, one version of the Gospel of Matthew had over 100 chapters, which is much more than the 28 it has in modern Bibles. Additionally, each chapter of Matthew contained as many as 100 verses.
For comparison, Matthew’s 28 chapters in modern Bibles have an average of 38 verses. The enormous number of chapters and verses in the Gospel made it challenging to read and study.
Just because a book has the same amount of chapters doesn’t mean they are equal in length. So please keep reading to see the books of the Bible listed according to the fewest verses and words.
The Shortest Books of the Bible By Total Verses
While Obadiah, Philemon, 2 and 3 John, and Jude have the same number of chapters (one), they don’t all have the same number of verses.
2 John is the shortest book of the Bible according to its total number of verses. The top five (or bottom five) are the same as the shortest books according to chapter length.
In the table above, six of the ten books are from the New Testament. All six are epistles. Jude wrote one (Jude), John wrote two (2 and 3 John), and Paul wrote three (Philemon, Titus, 2 Thessalonians).
The four Old Testament books on the list are all “Minor Prophets,” which is aptly a description of size, not importance.
Please keep reading to see the table that lists the shortest books of the Bible according to the total words they have.
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The Shortest Books of the Bible By Total Words
As stated above, 2 John is the shortest book of the Bible according to the total number of verses, but 3 John has four fewer words. Philemon and Jude have the same number of verses (25), but the former has 178 fewer words than the latter.
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What is the shortest chapter of the Bible?
Psalm 117:1 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. It has two verses. They read: “Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (ESV)
What is the shortest verse in the Bible?
John 11:35 — “Jesus wept” — is the shortest verse in English Bible with two words and nine letters. In the original Greek, John 11:35 is 16 letters. However, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 — “rejoice evermore” — while 15 letters in English is only 14 letters in Greek.
David McKenna has written, “Unless we read the Word of God, we cannot be instructed by the Spirit, and unless we are instructed by the Spirit, we cannot become godly and effective servants. To put it another way, loving the Word, learning from the Word, and living out the Word are interlocked in God’s plan for our spiritual growth.”
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