Reading the Bible: A Guide for Beginners

By Dr. Bob Martin III
Published 4 years ago

Reading the Bible is the place to begin to learn about Christianity. And as you understand God’s word, you will

  • Be more intimate with God
  • Have a better perspective on life
  • Be better prepared to evangelize
  • Be better able to help your struggling friends


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I.   Where to Begin Reading the Bible?

Like many challenging opportunities, the toughest part is knowing where to begin.

And the Bible is unique. It is God’s personal communication with you. God speaks to us through it and uses it to transform our lives.


II.   Which Bible Translation is Best?

When reading the Bible, you must comprehend the text. So choose a Bible translation with two characteristics.

First, it must be faithful to the original languages.

Second, it must also be readable.

For example, three excellent English translations are:

  • English Standard Version (ESV)
  • New International Version (NIV)
  • New American Standard Bible (NASB)


But other Bible translations are also excellent.


III.   Where Do I Begin Reading the Bible?

The next question is, “Where to begin reading the Bible?”

The Bible is not a novel but a library. It is a collection of sixty-six books by forty different authors written over 1,500 years.

As a library, there are different literary genres and historical circumstances.


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1.   Start With the Gospels

As a Christian, start by learning about Jesus. The first four books of the New Testament are the Gospels. These four books are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

They tell about Jesus’ birth, life, teachings, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension. Each Gospel gives a different eyewitness account for a particular audience.

Start with John’s Gospel. John is “the disciple that Jesus loved” (John 13:23). His Gospel is a great place to appreciate who Jesus is as the perfect God-man.

After John read Luke. Luke was a first-rate historian and chronicler, then read Acts, also written by Luke. The Book of Acts narrates the story of the early church after Jesus ascended back to heaven.


2.   Reading the Epistles

After Acts, it makes sense to read some of the letters or “epistles.” Six eyewitnesses (Paul, James, John, Peter, Jude, and the unknown author of Hebrews) wrote them.

The letters addressed various issues occurring to Christians. They also stressed living faithfully in their church community and local culture.

Since Paul wrote most New Testament books, it makes sense to read his letters first. Begin with Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians.

Then tackle Paul’s challenging book of Romans. This masterpiece profoundly affected some of history’s most famous Christians. These included AugustineMartin Luther, and John Wesley.


3.   Reading the Bible for a Broader Perspective

So far, you have only read New Testament books. Take a break by reading the Old Testament books Genesis and  Exodus.

Return to the New Testament and read James, 1, 2, and 3 John, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude.

Then return to the Old Testament books of Joshua through Job. These are the Israelite’s faith journeys.

After this, you can finish Paul’s letters. These are Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

As you return to the Old Testament, read Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.


4.   Now It’s Your Turn to Choose!

At this point, you have a good grasp of the Bible and can decide what you want to read or re-read!

Some of the harder-to-understand books include:

  • The Old Testament books of Leviticus through Deuteronomy
  • The seventeen “Major and Minor Prophets” books (Isaiah through Malachi)
  • The New Testament books Hebrews and Revelation.



IV.   What About Other Reading Guides or Aids?

Our recommended order for reading the Bible starts with more accessible books. Then you graduate to more challenging books.

Nevertheless, you may want to use study aids. For instance, a “study Bible” or commentary lets you dig deeper into the text. These aids provide a valuable interpretation of Scripture.

One of my favorite study aids is the “The One Year Bible” (online or in a printed Bible). This resource breaks down the Bible into 365 entries.


V.   How Do I Prepare for Reading the Bible?


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To maximize your time with God’s Word, find a quiet spot to read. Have a notebook (and commentary) to write insights and questions while reading.

Before reading the Bible, pray. Ask God to illuminate his word by preparing your heart and mind to receive what his Spirit wants to show you (John 16:13).

After praying, read a few verses from Proverbs (wisdom for the day) and Psalms (worship songs you can use as a prayer). And then move into your Bible study.


VI.   How Much Do I Read?

Set realistic goals to help you maintain a daily schedule.


VII.   When Should I Start Reading the Bible?

The best way to begin reading the Bible is to start today!

Commit to reading God’s word every day for the next thirty days. By the end of just one month, you will:

  • Feel nearer to the Lord.
  • Be more at peace.
  • Be more confident in your faith.
  • See God working in your life.
  • Be living a more Christ-like life.



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