Sunday School Bible Survey:      ZEPHANIAH

Theme: The Day of the LORD

Key verse: "The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly" (Zeph. 1:14).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
This prophet, a contemporary of Jeremiah, exercised his ministry during the reign of Josiah. It was a time of revival (II Kings 22), but the captivity was impending, nevertheless, and Zephaniah points out the moral state which, despite the superficial revival under Josiah (Jeremiah 2:11-13), made it inevitable.

Zephaniah is in four parts:

  1. The coming invasion of Nebuchadnezzar a figure of the day of the Lord (1:1-2:3).
  2. Predictions of judgment on certain peoples (2:4-15).
  3. The moral state of Israel for which the captivity was to come (3:1-7).
  4. The judgment of the nations followed by kingdom blessing under Messiah (3:8-20).


  1. The prophet's name means, "The LORD hides" or "Whom the LORD hid."
  2. Zephaniah traced his lineage back to the great King Hezekiah (spelled Hizkiah in 1:1).
  3. That would make Zephaniah a distant cousin of King Josiah, the last good king of Judah.
  4. Zephaniah was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, and he ministered "in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah" (1:1).
  5. By this time, the ten northern tribes had already been in exile for nearly 100 years, and soon Jerusalem would be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army.
  6. Since Zephaniah makes no mention of them, he probably preached before King Josiah's reforms were put into place. It may have been the preaching of Zephaniah that led to the reforms (II Kings 22 & 23).
  7. Merrill F. Unger said, "It is likely that Zephaniah had access to the court and was influential in helping to bring about the revival under Josiah" (Introductory Guide to the Old Testament).
  8. John Phillips said, "Josiah's valiant attempts to bring the nation back to God represented the last flicker of the nation's candle before it was finally extinguished" (Exploring the Scriptures).
  9. Zephaniah was a prophet of judgment (1:2).
  10. All of the prophets prophesied about the coming Day of the LORD, but Zephaniah uses the term more than the others.
  11. Zephaniah prophesied about the coming judgment, but looked beyond it to the last days. "As in the other Prophets, the approaching invasion of Nebuchadnezzar is treated as an adumbration of the true day of the Lord in which all earth-judgments will culminate, to be followed by the restoration and blessing of Israel and the nations in the kingdom" (Scofield Study Bible).


  1. God will judge the wicked (1:1-7).
  2. God will punish all classes of people — the princes, and the merchants, and people from all walks of life (1:8-18).
  3. God will judge all the nations (2).
  4. God will judge Jerusalem, the "filthy and polluted" city (3:1-7).


  1. Israel's regathering (3:9, 10).
  2. Israel's repentance (3:11-13).
  3. Israel's rejoicing (3:14, 15).
  4. Israel's Redeemer (3:16-20).

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  —