Sunday School Bible Survey:      EZRA

Theme: Rebuilding "according to the commandment of the God of Israel"

Key verses: "And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia" (Ezra 6:14).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Ezra, the first of the post-captivity books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), records the return to Palestine under Zerubbabel, by decree of Cyrus, of a Jewish remnant who laid the temple foundations (B.C. 536). Later (B.C. 458) Ezra followed, and restored the law and ritual. But the mass of the nation, and most of the princes, remained by preference in Babylonia and Assyria, where they were prospering. The post-captivity books deal with that feeble remnant which alone had a heart for God.

The book is in two parts:

  1. From the decree of Cyrus to the dedication of the restored temple (1:1-6:22).
  2. The ministry of Ezra (7:1-10:44).

John Phillips, like most expositors, also has a two-part division:

  1. REBUILDING THE TEMPLE WALLS (1-6) Under Zerubbabel (20 years).
  1. The Restoration (1)
  2. The Registration (2)
  3. The Reconstruction (3)
  4. The Resistance (4, 5)
  5. The Revival (6)
  1. RESTORING THE TEMPLE WORSHIP (7-10) Under Ezra (1 year, about 80 years later).
  1. His Exercise (7)
  2. His Experiences (8)
  3. His Example (9)
  4. His Exhortation (10)

The events recorded in Ezra cover a period of 80 years (Ussher).


  1. According to the Scofield Study Bible, Ezra's name means "help."
  2. Ezra, who is called "a ready scribe in the law of Moses" (7:6), continues the narrative where II Chronicles leaves off (II Chron. 36:22, 23; cf. Ezra 1:1-3).
  3. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book. In the Hebrew Bible the two books were called, "The Book of Ezra."
  4. It was not until 1448 that the book was divided into two books.
  5. The book of Ezra records the return of the exiled Israelites to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. In the book of Ezra we see the altar erected and the temple foundations laid.
  6. Then comes opposition and the work is delayed. Finally the work is resumed and the building is completed and dedicated to the LORD.
  7. The last four chapters of Ezra deal with his reforms, the names of his companions, his fast, and his travels.
  8. Emphasis is placed on Ezra's stand for separation (cf. Ezra 9, 10).
  9. Ezra was a descendant of Hilkiah the high priest (7:1). This is the Hilkiah who found a copy of the law during the reign of King Josiah (II Chron. 34:14).
  10. There is a great emphasis on the Word of God in the book of Ezra. Ezra 9:4 says, "Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel."
  11. Ezra was a priest but he was not able to serve as a priest during the Babylonian Captivity because the temple had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's army.
  12. Ezra probably wrote I & II Chronicles and the book of Ezra. Some think he also wrote Psalm 119.
  13. There are six books in the Bible that are referred to as "post-exile books" — three are historical, and three are prophetic — Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
  14. Ezra 5:1 says, "Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them."
  15. The next verse, Ezra 5:2, says, "Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them."
  16. Ezra 5:2, says, "Zerubbabel...began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem." This is why that temple is often referred to as "Zerubbabel's temple." It is also referred to as "the second temple" (Solomon's temple was the first temple.)
  17. Around 19 BC, King Herod began a massive renovation and expansion of the second temple complex. The temple itself was torn down and a new one built in its place. The resulting structure is sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple, but it is still called "the second temple" because the sacrificial rituals continued uninterrupted throughout the construction process.
  18. Zerubbabel was descended from King David. He is in the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 1:12, 13). Zerubbabel was the political leader at this time (cf. 2:2; 3:2, 8; 4:2, 3; 5:2; 7:7; 12:1, 47).
  19. Jeshua the high priest was the religious leader during this period (cf. Ezra 2:2, 6, 36, 40; 3:2, 8, 9; 4:3; 5:2; 8:33; 10:18).

  1. The remnant returns from exile (1, 2).
  1. The edict of King Cyrus (1)
  2. The list of the exiles (2)
  1. The restoration of public worship (3—6).
  1. The rebuilding of the temple (3:1—6:15).
  2. The dedication of the temple (6:16-22).

  1. The second return of the exiles (7, 8).
  2. The dissolution of mixed marriages (9, 10).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —