Outline of the book of Daniel


Daniel, whose name means “God is Judge,” is the sole author of the book. A youth at the beginning of the book and an old man at the end, Daniel’s life spans the entire period from the preexilic to the postexilic eras of Judah’s history. No doubt because of the book’s many predictions, the English Bible locates Daniel as the fourth of the Major Prophets. The Hebrew Bible, which is divided in three principal sections (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings), however, places the book in the Writings section because the criterion for inclusion in the second section was occupation in the prophetic office. Prophets were more than “tellers of the future”; they were principally preachers of God’s Word. Although inspired by the Holy Spirit to record a divine message that included revelations of the future, Daniel was not a prophet by profession. Rather, he was a bureaucrat, who, in the providence of God, was so entrenched in the government system that he kept his job throughout the entire Babylonian Empire and even into the Persian regime. Unlike modern caricatures of bureaucrats, Daniel served his Lord with integrity and virtue as he served the state. Ezekiel, for a while his contemporary in Babylon, linked Daniel with Noah and Job and identified him as a model of righteousness (Ezek. 14:14,20). This should be an encouragement to laymen, as well as ministers, to live godly lives in whatever occupation God has placed them. One does not have to be an ordained minister to be used by God.


Conservatives date Daniel to the sixth century BC, most likely about 530 BC, toward the end of Daniel’s career and life. Most liberal scholars date the book to the second century BC, usually 168 BC, in the Maccabean period of Jewish history. This late date would obviously preclude the historic Daniel from being the author. The significant discrepancy reflects a fundamental difference in presuppositions regarding the nature of supernatural inspiration and prophecy. Particularly troubling for those who deny inspiration is Dan. 11, that so minutely predicts events involving the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties of the divided Greek Empire that occurred in the third to second centuries BC. The liberal critics refer to this as vaticinium post eventum (prophecy after the event), claiming that whoever wrote it deceptively portrayed it as prediction. Those who believe in supernatural inspiration and revelation have no difficulty accepting Daniel’s predictions and are not surprised at the accuracy of fulfillment.


God’s sovereignty over time, circumstances, nations, and individuals. Daniel 4:34-35, Nebuchadnezzar’s confession, is a key text summing up the theme.


To inspire God’s people during difficult or uncertain times, whether nationally and individually, to have confidence in God’s unfailing purpose to govern the world to the end of His glory and their good.


The Contribution of Daniel to Redemptive Revelation
Daniel is a theology of time. Since all history (the progression of time) is redemptive in its purpose, Daniel’s message contributes significantly to God’s revelation of His redemptive plan, His unfailing purpose. A theology of time centers on the divine work of providence, the temporal operation of the eternal God whereby He preserves and governs His creation to the designed end of His glory and the good of His people. The inviolable truth is that God is the sovereign King whose kingdom is universal, subsuming every earthly kingdom regardless of how powerful and hostile it is. Daniel’s tracing the kingdoms of the world from Babylon to Persia to Greece to Rome was designed to show that God’s kingdom is coming and His will is being done in earth just as in heaven. From every human perspective, it appeared that the pagan powers of the world would triumph over righteousness and redemption. In reality, God was manipulating them and using them to set all in place for the fullness of time when He would send His Son into the world. So the affairs of the world do not happen by blind chance; they happen as the all-wise God, who knows and determines the end from the beginning, orchestrates them in perfect harmony. Not only was that a reassuring message to Daniel’s contemporaries that all was on track for the coming of Christ, it should be a reassuring message that even today in spite of appearances to the contrary all is divinely under control and on course to the second fullness of time when Christ will come again.

In addition to Daniel’s overarching contribution to the redemptive message, the book has significant specific texts with Christological focus. Christ is the stone cut without hands that smashes the kingdoms of the world (Daniel 2:34); He is the Son of Man who receives the everlasting kingdom from the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:13-14); He is the Messiah that would be cut off but not for Himself (Daniel 9:26), a reference to His atoning death. The preincarnate Christ appeared with the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:25). The closing chapter’s revelation of the certain resurrection of both the just and unjust underscores Daniel’s evangelistic focus as well.


Note: Beginning in Daniel 2:4 and continuing through Daniel 7:28, Daniel writes in Aramaic. Aramaic was the international language at this time and was the appropriate vehicle for communicating the message with worldwide significance. Note also the concentric symmetry: Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 concern the world; Daniel 3 and Daniel 6 concern righteous individuals; Daniel 4 and Daniel 5 concern pagan kings. The message converges on the pagan kings who represented what appeared to be the greatest threat to God’s purpose but were in reality subject to God’s sovereign rule.

  1. Introduction to Daniel (Daniel 1:1-21)
    1. Daniel’s Predicament (Daniel 1:1-7)
    2. Daniel’s Purity (Daniel 1:8-16)
    3. Daniel’s Wisdom (Daniel 1:17-21)
  2. The Message for the World (Daniel 2:1-7:28)
    1. The King’s Dream about the World (Daniel 2:1-49)
      1. The Dilemma of the Magicians (Daniel 2:1-11)
      2. The Decree of the King (Daniel 2:12-18)
      3. The Deliverance through Prayer (Daniel 2:19-30)
      4. The Description of the Dream (Daniel 2:31-35)
      5. The Details of the Interpretation (Daniel 2:36-45)
      6. The Declaration of the King (Daniel 2:46-49)
    2. Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3:1-30)
      1. The Pressure of Compromise (Daniel 3:1-7)
      2. The Courage of Convictions (Daniel 3:8-18)
      3. The Experience of Vindication (Daniel 3:19-30)
    3. The King’s Dream about Himself (Daniel 4:1-37)
      1. The King’s Reflections (Daniel 4:1-9)
      2. The King’s Dream (Daniel 4:10-18)
      3. Daniel’s Interpretation (Daniel 4:19-27)(2:19-30)
      4. The King’s Humiliation (Daniel 4:28-33)
      5. The King’s Confession (Daniel 4:34-37)
    4. The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5:1-31)
      1. The King’s Feast (Daniel 5:1-4)
      2. The Lord’s Message (Daniel 5:5-9)
      3. Daniel’s Interpretation (Daniel 5:10-28)
      4. The Message Fulfilled (Daniel 5:29-31)
    5. Deliverance from the Den of Lions (Daniel 6:1-28)
      1. The Preeminence of Daniel (Daniel 6:1-3)
      2. The Plot against Daniel (Daniel 6:4-9)
      3. The Prayer of Daniel (Daniel 6:10-11)
      4. The Punishment of Daniel (Daniel 6:12-17)
      5. The Vindication of Daniel (Daniel 6:18-28)
    6. Daniel’s Vision about the World (Daniel 7:1-28)
      1. The Four Great Beasts (Daniel 7:1-8)
      2. The Ancient of Days and Son of Man (Daniel 7:9-14)
      3. The Interpretation of the Vision (Daniel 7:15-28)
  3. The Implications of the Message for God’s People (Daniel 8:1-12:13)
    1. The Vision of Persia and Greece (Daniel 8:1-27)
      1. The Ram and Goat (Daniel 8:1-7)
      2. The Little Horn (Daniel 8:8-14)
      3. The Angelic Interpretation (Daniel 8:15-27)
    2. Daniel’s Prayer and God’s Answer (Daniel 9:1-27)
      1. The Prayer (Daniel 9:1-19)
      2. The Answer (Daniel 9:20-27)
    3. A Personal Revelation to Daniel (Daniel 10:1-21)
      1. The Circumstances of the Revelation (Daniel 10:1-4)
      2. The Revelation (Daniel 10:5-9)
      3. The Encouraging Explanation (Daniel 10:10-21)
    4. History to the Fullness of Time and Beyond (Daniel 11:1-45)
    5. Final Prophecies and Instructions (Daniel 12:1-13)

Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).

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