The Plan Bible (Book Review)

The Plan Bible

This is unlike any chronological Bible you’ve seen before!

Jeff Swanson spent over 20 years developing The Plan: The Chronology of God's Word from Creation to Completion, and the result is quite intriguing.

You’ve no doubt at least heard about Bibles that have been arranged chronologically. But this one goes much further than I have seen in any other examples.

Everything Is Chronological

Rather than just moving the passages around, The Plan meticulously places every single verse in Chronological order. Many times it actually breaks up the verses to place the different phrases in order.

It’s hard to just explain what this looks like, so let me show you a brief sample, taken from the creation account.

5. ORIGIN OF CREATION, ALL THINGS CREATED THROUGH CHRIST JESUS

Jhn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jhn 1:2 He was with God in the beginning.

Jhn 1:10b …and though the world was made through him,

Heb 2:10b …for whom and through whom everything exists,

1Co 8:6c …and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came…

Rom 11:36a For from him and through him and to him are all things.

Col 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

Jer 51:19b …for he is the Maker of all things,

Jer 51:19d …the LORD Almighty is his name.

In one sense, this can be tremendously helpful. It allows you to see at a glance every verse that references a particular time in history (or the future). However, that does come with a drawback.

Everything is taken out of context.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing in this case. I don’t mean that the verses are always applied incorrectly.

I simply mean that the context of the original passage is no longer present for many key verses. So you’ll have to be diligent to look up and read the original passages for yourself if you intend to use The Plan for study.

Prophecies Linked to Fulfillments

Did I mention that this is an eBook? That allows for some helpful linking.

Every verse containing a prophecy is linked to the reference where that prophecy is fulfilled. The links are all color-coded.

The blue links are the spoken promise of prophecy and the red links are the fulfillment of the prophecy. The green links are prophecies that are being fulfilled currently today. The links of prophecies that will be fulfilled are in orange.

This could be a tremendous resource for those studying prophecies in the Bible.

Outline of History and the Future

If you are familiar with Answers in Genesis, you probably know of their “Seven C’s of History” (Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation).

The Plan seems to have taken this concept and expanded it to a full fourteen “C’s.”

  1. Creation
  2. Corruption
  3. Catastrophe
  4. Confusion
  5. Covenant
  6. Commandment
  7. Conquest
  8. Captivity
  9. Christ
  10. Cross
  11. Consternation
  12. Consummation
  13. Condemnation
  14. Completion

As the The Plan’s full title suggests, this Bible does indeed sequence everything “from creation to completion.”

Obviously, the future parts had to entail a bit more interpretive liberty than did the past.

If you happen to be of the dispensational premillennial pre-tribulational persuasion, then you’ll probably be pretty happy with how future events have been organized.

Personally, I lean more toward the view of historic premillennialism (post-tribulational rapture). So I found that I agreed with the majority of The Plan’s future chronology while disagreeing in certain areas.

The whole thing is quite well-done, given the eschatological presupposition.

For amillennials, postmillennials, and preterists, read with an open mind, but you’ll probably just disagree with Swanson here.

This Passage Is Missing Something…

It’s cool that verses are placed chronologically where the event occurred. However, The Plan does include the entire Bible, yet every phrase of each verse is used only once.

This leaves many passages with glaring holes in them, where select verses were ripped out and placed elsewhere. That can make for some odd reading.

For example, the actual passage of 1 Corinthians 15 leaves out verses 3–11, 20–28, and 35–57.

The Appendix

As for the overall approach of this Bible, I think it can be an excellent tool taken for what it is. However, my biggest problem with the whole thing comes in the appendix.

It starts off with the “Prayer of Salvation.”

You need to pray this prayer aloud: … Once you have prayed this prayer and believed it, you have the Holy Spirit living within you.

I have a huge problem with this approach. Salvation has nothing to do with reciting a prayer. It has everything to do with a changed heart of repentance and submission to God.

The appendix goes on to inform readers how they should begin speaking in tongues.

You will start with just a word or two. Keep saying these over and over until you get more words. Eventually your prayer language vocabulary will increase into an entire language. … You must do this spiritual discipline every day.

It’s one thing to hold to the charismatic view of tongues—that they are “angelic tongues” which the Spirit allows believers to speak.

However, if the Spirit is the one giving the gift, then it’s not something that would need practice to obtain. This idea goes against everything that makes a spiritual gift a gift. It cannot be something we produce by our own efforts or abilities. God must give the gift.

Conclusion

I don’t want to sound like I am being too negative about The Plan. All-in-all, I really do like it.

Jeff Swanson has done an incredible job compiling all this together, and I have no doubt that I will reference it often in my studies of the Scriptures.

There are parts with which I disagree, but the tool as a whole is so helpful, I can’t help but recommend it.

Just skip the appendix.

The Plan is available in both the NIV and the KJV. At the moment, it is only available as an eBook.

You can find out more at the website, www.planbible.com.

Jeff Swanson sent me a free copy of The Plan for review.

What Do You Think?

Have you used The Plan, or do you intend to? What other chronological Bibles have you used?

Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.