The 5 shortest books of the Bible, in order

Spoiler alert: the shortest book of the Bible is 3 John, just about 200 words long in its original Greek language.

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 within 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 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 750 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.)

Get the infographic

Here’s a link to the printable PDF. You can save it for future reference or send it straight to the printer.

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.

13 John219
22 John245
3Philemon335
4Obadiah440
5Jude461
6Titus659
72 Thessalonians823
8Nahum855
9Haggai926
10Habakkuk1,011
11Jonah1,082
122 Peter1,099
13Zephaniah1,141
142 Timothy1,238
15Malachi1,320
16Joel1,447
171 Thessaonians1,481
18Colossians1,582
191 Timothy1,591
20Philippians1,629
211 Peter1,684
22James1,742
23Song of Solomon2,020
24Ruth2,039
25Micah2,118
261 John2,141
27Galatians2,230
28Lamentations2,324
29Ephesians2,422
30Amos3,027
31Hosea3,615
322 Corinthians4,477
33Ecclesiastes4,537
34Zechariah4,855
35Esther4,932
36Hebrews4,953
37Ezra5,605
381 Corinthians6,830
39Romans7,111
40Nehemiah8,507
41Daniel9,001
42Revelation9,851
43Proverbs9,921
44Mark11,304
45Job12,674
46Judges15,385
47John15,635
48Joshua15,671
491 Chronicles16,664
502 Samuel17,170
51Matthew18,346
52Acts18,450
532 Kings18,784
54Leviticus18,852
55Luke19,482
561 Kings20,361
571 Samuel20,837
582 Chronicles21,349
59Deuteronomy23,008
60Numbers25,048
61Isaiah25,608
62Exodus25,957
63Ezekiel29,918
64Psalms30,147
65Genesis32,046
66Jeremiah33,002

 

I used my favorite Bible study tool, Logos Bible software, to do research that made this post possible. If you're a Bible geek like me, you might want to check it out.

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