Sunday School Bible Survey:      JOB

Theme: The problem of pain and suffering.

Key verses: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him" (Job 13:15).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Job is in form a dramatic poem. It is probably the oldest of the Bible books, and was certainly written before the giving of the law. It would have been impossible, in a discussion covering the whole field of sin, of the providential government of God, and man's relation to Him, to avoid all reference to the law if the law had then been known. Job was a veritable personage (Ezekiel 14:20; James 5:11), and the events are historical. The book sheds a remarkable light on the philosophic breadth and intellectual culture of the patriarchal age. The problem is, Why do the godly suffer?

Job is in seven parts:

  1. Prologue (1:1-2:8).
  2. Job and his wife (2:9, 10).
  3. Job and his three friends (2:11—31:40).
  4. Job and Elihu (32:1—37:24).
  5. Jehovah and Job (38:1—41:34).
  6. Job's final answer (42:1-6).
  7. Epilogue (42:7-17).

The events recorded in Job cover a period within 1 year.


  1. The book of Job is a magnificent poem. The other poetical books include Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations.
  2. The Scofield Study Bible says these poetical books "supply examples of literary expression unmatched in uninspired literature."
  3. Thomas Carlyle, the great 19th century Scottish writer, said this about the book of Job, "I call the book of Job, apart from all theories about it, one of the grandest things ever written with the pen: grand in its sincerity, in its simplicity, in its epic melody."
  4. Furthermore, Carlyle said that "nothing written in the Bible or out of it is of equal merit."
  5. Martin Luther described the book of Job as "magnificent and sublime as no other book of Scripture."
  6. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson called the book of Job "the greatest poem of ancient or modern literature."
  7. Victor Hugo, the great French author, said, "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job."
  8. Daniel Webster, the American statesman, said, "The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language."
  9. The British preacher and author G. Campbell Morgan said, "This is not a book of solutions; it is rather a revelation of human experience."
  10. It has been pointed out that except for God, everyone is wrong in the Book of Job.
  • Satan was wrong in thinking that Job only served God for material gain (1:8-11).
  • Job's wife was wrong when she encouraged Job to "curse God, and die" (2:9).
  • Job's three friends were wrong for assuming Job was a hypocrite who deserved to be severely punished for his sins.
  • Elihu was wrong for thinking he was the only one who knew what was going on.
  • Job was wrong for thinking God was unjust.


  1. The Book of Job deals with the profound question which has always perplexed mankind — why do the righteous suffer, and how can their sufferings be reconciled with an omnipotent and loving God?
  2. Though Job could not understand what God was doing, he did believe that God was too wise to make a mistake, and too good to do wrong.
  3. Job chapters 1 and 2 give a fascinating view of the unseen spirit world. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them" (1:6).
  4. Satan struck Job severely, with God's permission (1:12; 2:6).
  5. Job did not know what transpired in chapters 1 and 2, and neither did his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.
  6. Though they did not really know why Job was suffering, Job's three friends were convinced it was because Job was guilty of some terrible sin. They held to the popular view that suffering was always the result of unconfessed sin.
  7. "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:1-3).
  8. We have already been told that Job was "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (1:1). This was Job's reputation and his friends knew it.
  9. Job responded to their cruel accusations (chapters 6, 7, 9, 10, 12-14, etc.). "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all" (16:2).
  10. Job consistently protested his innocence and claimed God was treating him unfairly.
  11. Nevertheless, Job kept his faith and believed that God would eventually vindicate him. He admitted he may have unknowingly committed a sin, and he wanted God to reveal it to him so he could confess it and forsake it.
  12. Elihu appears in chapter 32, angry with Job and Job's three friends as well. "Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu...against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job" (32:2, 3).
  13. Elihu pointed out that afflictions often used by God to chasten and purify believers. He criticized Job for accusing God of being unjust. And he criticized Job's three friends for accusing Job of being a hypocrite who deserved to be punished for his hidden sins.
  14. Though Job responded to his three friends, Job did not say a word in response to Elihu's lengthy discourse.
  15. The LORD answers Job in chapters 38—41. Job is humbled and says, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further" (40:4, 5).
  16. And again in 42:5 and 6, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
  17. Job's repentance prepared the way for his restoration and blessing (42:7-17).


  1. In Job 2:13 we are told that Job's three friends "sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great."
  2. In chapter 3, Job speaks. He tells of his great misery and despair, declaring that he'd be better off dead than to go on living in such pain.
  3. Eliphaz is the first friend to speak up, and in chapter 4 he bluntly tells Job he deserved his punishment. "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same" (4:7, 8).
  4. Job responded to Eliphaz (6, 7), and then Bildad spoke up (8). He too was firmly convinced Job was guilty. "How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?" (8:2, 3).
  5. Job refuted Bildad (9, 10), and then it was Zophar's turn to attack Job. He accused Job of being a liar and a mocker (11:1-3). And then Job defended himself again (12—14).
  6. "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you" (12:2).
  7. Then began a second cycle of discourses (15—21), followed by a third (22—31).
  8. Eventually all three gave up, having nothing more to say. "So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes" (32:1).


  1. Elihu was a younger man who came nearer to the truth than the others. He politely waited until the other men had finished speaking (32:4-7).
  2. Elihu understood that Job's sufferings were remedial and he urged Job to humble himself under the chastening hand of God. "Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters" (33:13).
  3. His lengthy discourse can be divided into four parts:
  1. God instructs men through suffering (32, 33).
  2. It is unwise to question God (34).
  3. Godliness is profitable whether or not God blesses us (35).
  4. Elihu exalts the greatness and majesty of God (36, 37).

IV. GOD SPEAKS (38—42:6).

  1. Job could not comprehend what God was doing (38:1-3).
  2. Job had to see God's greatness and his own puniness. He had to be literally brought to the end of himself. "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (42:6).
  3. John Phillips wrote, "If Job could not understand God's government in the natural realm, how much less could he understand the principles of God's government in the moral and spiritual realms...Job's life had been a stage upon which a titanic struggle had been enacted. The struggle ended in the complete triumph of God and the overthrow of Satan" (Exploring the Scriptures).

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  —