Sunday School Bible Survey:      NEHEMIAH

Theme: Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem

Key verses: "And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" (Nehemiah 6:3).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Fourteen years after the return of Ezra to Jerusalem, Nehemiah led up a company (B.C. 444) and restored the walls and the civil authority. Of those events this book is the record.

It is in eight divisions:

  1. The journey to Jerusalem (1:1-2:20).
  2. The building of the wall (3:1-6:19).
  3. The census (7:1-73).
  4. The revival (8:1-11:36).
  5. The census of the priests and Levites (12:1-26).
  6. Dedication of the wall (12:27-43).
  7. Restoration of the temple worship (12:44-47).
  8. The legal order restored (13:1-31).

The moral state of the time is disclosed by the prophet Malachi. This book affords many instances of individual faith acting on the written word (e.g. 1:8, 9; 13:1). It is the principle of II Timothy 2.

The events recorded in Nehemiah cover a period of 11 years (Ussher).

John Phillips outline:

  1. The Prayer (1)
  2. The Place (2)
  3. The Plan (3)
  4. The Problems (4, 5)
  5. The Prize (6)
  6. The Poll (7)

  1. The Conviction (8)
  2. The Confession (9)
  3. The Covenant (10)

  1. How It Was Commenced (11:1—12:26)
  1. The distribution of the population (11)
  2. The descendants of the priests (12:1-26)
  1. How It Was Completed (12:27—13:21)


  1. Nehemiah is the author (1:1).
  2. Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem 12 years after Ezra.
  3. Zerubbabel came to rebuild the temple; Nehemiah came to rebuild the city walls. The book of Nehemiah recounts the building of the walls and the establishment of civil authority under Nehemiah as governor.
  4. Dr. McGee wrote, "The word so occurs thirty-two times. It denotes a man of action and few words."
  5. Nehemiah had been the cupbearer for the king of Persia (1:11).
  6. He was appointed by King Artaxerxes to be the governor (Tirshatha — Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65, 70; 8:9; 10:1) of Jerusalem, and received his permission to rebuild the walls of the city.
  7. His book is a sequel to the book of Ezra, and they were one book in the Hebrew Bible.
  8. Despite fierce opposition, Nehemiah completed his task in seven weeks. Sanballat was the leader of the troublemakers who tried to hinder the work (2:10, 19, 20; 4:1, 2, 7; 6:1-14).
  9. Another prominent adversary was Tobiah the Ammonite (2:10, 19; 4:3, 7; 6:1, 12-19; 13:4-9).
  10. There is a great emphasis on prayer (cf. 1:4; 2:4; 4:4, 9; 5:19; 6:9, 14). The book of Nehemiah begins and ends with prayer (1:1-4; 13:31).
  11. The book of Nehemiah shows how God answers prayer and providentially rules in the lives of His people.
  12. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah show God's faithfulness in restoring the children of Israel to their land through Gentile kings Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, and through their own godly leaders Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Zerubbabel, and Jeshua.

  1. After the exile, Jerusalem had to be repopulated and protected (7:4). The men built the walls with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other (4:16, 17).
  2. The Lord guided Nehemiah into a good plan to repopulate the city (7:5). That is why he took up the census (7:5-73).
  3. The rulers dwelt in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots, so that one of ten would dwell in Jerusalem (11:1).

  1. A great revival brought the people back to God and back to the Word of God (8:1—9:38).
  2. Soul searching, fasting, prayer, and repentance led to a renewal of their covenant with God (9:38; 10:1-39).

  1. In their backslidden condition, the people were not tithing; they were working on the Sabbath; and they were intermarrying with the heathen (13:10-31).
  2. There is a great hymn called "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," written by a Baptist pastor named Robert Robinson who understood the danger of backsliding.
  3. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.

  4. One day, Robert Robinson en-count-ered a wo-man who was stu-dy-ing a hymn-al, and she asked how he liked the hymn she was hum-ming. In tears, he re-plied, "Madam, I am the poor un-hap-py man who wrote that hymn ma-ny years ago, and I would give a thou-sand worlds, if I had them, to en-joy the feel-ings I had then."
  5. Nehemiah had to leave Jerusalem for a time, and when he returned he found the people in a backslidden condition (13:7ff).
  6. The remainder of the book of Nehemiah deals with Nehemiah's efforts to get the people right with God (13:8-31).

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  —