What is the Book of Job About?

Read this 3-minute introduction to help you find your bearings in the Bible story, and inspire you to read Job!


Historical Context

The unknown Israelite author of this book presents Job as a person living in Uz (see note on Job 1:1). Job’s godliness (Job 1:1) matches the ideals of Israelite wisdom literature. He clearly knows Yahweh (Job 1:21). The events of the book seem to be set in the times of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

—ESV Global Study Bible

Nobody knows who wrote Job. Nobody knows when it was written. Nobody knows where it was written. And there is probably a divine intentionality about that. It is universal. It is timeless. It is meant for you now. No particular time, no particular place, no particular kind of author. It is just there and we don’t quite know how it got there. We just know that the apostolic authority is on it. It coheres with the rest of the Bible and we embrace it as Scripture, as God’s Word and then we try to understand it. 

—John Piper

Source: John Piper, quoted from his message, “Holding on to Your Faith in the Midst of Suffering,” on Job 1:1-2:13 preached on July 14, 2000. 

From Remember that the ultimate author of every book of the Bible is the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:21). He has written this book to equip you for life, to help you know the true God, and to give you hope (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4). The Holy Spirit wrote Job for your good and to lead you into joy.

Job lived outside of Israel: the “land of Uz” (Job 1:1) is either close to Edom or is another name for that country (see Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 25:20). There are a variety of indications in the book that Job lived in the earliest stages of Old Testament history. For example, Ezekiel refers to Job as a well-known figure of remarkable piety (Ezekiel 14:14). Further, Job and his friends refer to God most often with the archaic name Shaddai (see Exodus 6:3). They know some truths about God but never refer to the covenants between the Lord and Israel. Job also lives to a very old age (140 years; Job 42:16) and sacrifices without a priest, as Abraham did (Job 1:5). For these and other reasons, this story seems to take place around the time of the early chapters of Genesis.

—Eric Ortlund

Source: Content taken from Suffering Wisely and Well by Eric Ortlund, ©2022. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  

Unless otherwise indicated, this content is adapted from the ESV Global Study Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2012 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Message Series

Job: When the Righteous Suffer by John Piper

Pastor John Piper walks us through the whole book of Job in these two messages with care, precision, and passion. He helps us grasp the message of the book, the role each character plays in that message, and addresses many of the puzzling aspects of this book. Most importantly, he leads us to consider the sovereignty, wisdom, and mercy of God.

Job Dictionary

As you read through Job, you might come across words and ideas that are foreign to you. Here are a few definitions you will want to know!

Heavenly beings created by God before he created Adam and Eve. Angels act as God’s messengers to men and women. They also worship God.

To praise or make holy. The word bless is used in different ways in the Bible: (1) When God blesses, he brings salvation and prosperity and shows mercy and kindness to people. (2) When people bless, they (a) bring salvation and prosperity to other persons or groups; (b) they praise and worship and thank God; (c) they give good things or show kindness to others.

A sacrifice, or gift, to God that was burned on an altar. The offering was a perfect animal, such as a goat, sheep, lamb, or ram. Burnt offerings were always given for cleansing, or atonement, for sins.

(1) To find someone guilty of doing something wrong and to declare or pronounce a punishment. (2) To be against or disapprove of something because it is wrong.

(1) A request that harm come to someone; (2) blaspheme. In the Bible, curse does not mean to swear or to use bad language. When a person cursed something, he or she wished evil or harm to come to it. When God cursed something, He declared judgment on something.

To be afraid of something or someone. The Bible often uses the word fear to describe the sense of respect or awe that sinful people (and we are all sinful, according to Romans 3:23) should have for God because of his perfection, sovereignty, and holiness.

That which is right and fair. Most of the prophets in the Bible emphasized that God is just and that he wants his people to act justly. Many of the prophets’ warnings were given because the leaders and people were guilty of injustice (such as cheating others, especially the poor).

Subject to death. All people, plants, and animals are mortal. God is not mortal; he lives forever and will never die.

Thinking and doing what is correct (or right) and holy. God is righteous because he does only what is perfect and holy. A person who has accepted Jesus as Savior is looked at by God as being free from the guilt of sin, so God sees that person as being righteous. People who are members of God’s family show their love for him by doing what is correct and holy, living in righteous ways.

The most powerful enemy of God and all people. Other names for Satan include the devil, the evil one, the prince of this world, the father of lies, the enemy, the adversary, and Lucifer. Satan is the ruler of a kingdom made up of demons. He hates God and tries to destroy God’s work. The Bible tells us that in the end, God will destroy Satan and the demons.

A miracle; a thing or event that causes surprise and awe. God did many wonders to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt.

This content is from What the Bible Is All About, written by Henrietta Mears. Copyright © 1953, 2011 by Gospel Light. Copyright assigned to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

Tough Questions