The 5 shortest books of the Bible, in order

by | Bible facts, Books of the Bible, Infographics | 10 comments

What’s the shortest book of the Bible? (Spoiler alert: it’s 3 John, and I’ll explain why later.) The Bible is a pretty long book, and that might give the impression that every book of the Bible is long, too.

But good news! Not every book of the Bible is so long. It has some tiny documents in it. In fact, the shortest books of the Bible are shorter than this blog post.

The shortest books of the Bible

Here are the five shortest books of the Bible, beginning with the very shortest. These measurements are by words in the original languages. Each of these books is only one chapter long, and would take you a few minutes to read, tops:

  1. Third John (219 words)
  2. Second John (245 words)
  3. Philemon (335 words)
  4. Obadiah (440 words)
  5. Jude (461 words)

I got these word counts using Word Lists in Logos Bible Software. Again, these aren’t listed by English word count: this is from the underlying Greek and Hebrew.

“That’s a lot of work, dude! Why not just count the verses?”

Because verses vary in length, and with such brief books, it’s best not to risk it. And if we were going by verse count, we’d be dealing with a different ordered list. Philemon has more verses than Obadiah (the shortest book in the Old Testament), but fewer words. Second John has fewer verses than Third John, but more words. If we were going by verse count, we’d still know the shortest books of the Bible, but we’d have them out of order.

Contrast that with the longest books

Here’s an infographic comparing the shortest books of the Bible to the longest books of the Bible.

shortest-longest-books-of-bible

Read these books front-to-back

One of the best habits to form when studying the Bible is to read the entire book you’re working with in one sitting. It’s certainly helped me with this project.

If you’re setting out to study a book of the Bible, it’s best to try reading the entire book at once. Andy Naselli just wrote a nice bit on this at the Desiring God blog:

Have you ever read the Gospel according the Matthew straight through in one sitting? Or Romans? Or Job? Or Revelation? If not, you’re missing out. That’s the way they’re meant to be read.

He’s right. The Bible’s made up of letters and stories and oracles, but we tend to treat it more like a reference guide. Maybe that’s because the Bible’s so big—really, where are you going to find the time to read 150 Psalms?

Reading entire books of the Bible at once can be a tough habit to get into, but starting with some of the shortest books of the Bible might help you get the hang of it.

And by the way, this blog post is weighing in at around 450 words, so if you can read this sort of stuff, Third John, Second John, and Philemon will be no problem at all! 

In fact, here’s a challenge: set a timer for 15 minutes and read all five of these books. Not only will you have read five books in one sitting, but you’ll be able to say you read Obadiah—how many people do you know who can say that? (Probably not many … it’s the least popular book of the Bible.)

Download that chart for yourself

Plug in your email address and I’ll send you a copy on the infographic in this piece. You’ll also be first in line to hear about more cool stuff that happens around here. =)

What about the other books of the Bible?

So you know the shortest five books of the Bible (and the longest five, from that infographic). But what about the other 59 books in the middle? How do they line up?

Well, here’s every book of the Bible, lined up from shortest to longest, with word counts. I’ve linked each book to a brief summary that I’ve written.

1 3 John 219
2 2 John 245
3 Philemon 335
4 Obadiah 440
5 Jude 461
6 Titus 659
7 2 Thessalonians 823
8 Nahum 855
9 Haggai 926
10 Habakkuk 1,011
11 Jonah 1,082
12 2 Peter 1,099
13 Zephaniah 1,141
14 2 Timothy 1,238
15 Malachi 1,320
16 Joel 1,447
17 1 Thessaonians 1,481
18 Colossians 1,582
19 1 Timothy 1,591
20 Philippians 1,629
21 1 Peter 1,684
22 James 1,742
23 Song of Solomon 2,020
24 Ruth 2,039
25 Micah 2,118
26 1 John 2,141
27 Galatians 2,230
28 Lamentations 2,324
29 Ephesians 2,422
30 Amos 3,027
31 Hosea 3,615
32 2 Corinthians 4,477
33 Ecclesiastes 4,537
34 Zechariah 4,855
35 Esther 4,932
36 Hebrews 4,953
37 Ezra 5,605
38 1 Corinthians 6,830
39 Romans 7,111
40 Nehemiah 8,507
41 Daniel 9,001
42 Revelation 9,851
43 Proverbs 9,921
44 Mark 11,304
45 Job 12,674
46 Judges 15,385
47 John 15,635
48 Joshua 15,671
49 1 Chronicles 16,664
50 2 Samuel 17,170
51 Matthew 18,346
52 Acts 18,450
53 2 Kings 18,784
54 Leviticus 18,852
55 Luke 19,482
56 1 Kings 20,361
57 1 Samuel 20,837
58 2 Chronicles 21,349
59 Deuteronomy 23,008
60 Numbers 25,048
61 Isaiah 25,608
62 Exodus 25,957
63 Ezekiel 29,918
64 Psalms 30,147
65 Genesis 32,046
66 Jeremiah 33,002

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