How can I begin to read the Bible?
The Bible is a big book. Maybe you’re like many other people who want to read the Bible but don’t known where to start.
In reality, the Bible isn’t just one book; it’s a collection of 66 books. Knowing a few things about some of the books may help you to have some idea about where to start. So let’s first take a quick look at subject matter of some of the books, then I’ll give a brief suggestion about how to get started in Bible reading. If you want to know more details about each of the books of the Bible, you can check out the articles which are included on this website. Look at Book by Book.
The Bible is divided into an Old Testament and a New Testament. The Old Testament contains books which were written before Jesus’ time and the New Testament contains books written after Jesus’ time. When you’re reading Old Testament books (like Genesis, the Psalms, Isaiah, etc.) you’re reading about events which happened before Jesus came. In those books God is telling us about his plan of salvation, how he brought Jesus the Savior to the world, about our need for the Savior, and prophecies about the Savior, so we could recognize Jesus when he came. Some of the books of the Old Testament are straight-forward history (like Genesis). Other books have many details about the worship life of the Old Testament Israelites (like Leviticus), and others address very specific time periods in the Israelite history (like Amos and Hosea); those can be a bit more challenging to read and understand.
The New Testament books were written after the birth of Jesus. The first four books, the “Gospels” – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – give us the account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts records the history of the early New Testament church and the spread of the gospel message. The majority of the books of the New Testament are letters, written either to churches or individuals, in which God gives us further insights into the truths he expects us to believe.
So where do we start? I’d suggest the following:
- Genesis and Exodus
- 1 & 2 Samuel or John or Acts or 1 Peter or some Psalms or Ephesians or Philippians – you decide! Or, re-read the first five suggested books again, and then go on.
That will allow you to start with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection – that’s the heart of God’s saving work for you. Then you’ll begin to broaden your knowledge by seeing the beginning of all things. Then you’ll study Jesus’ life again, then broaden your understanding of Bible truth by reading one of the New Testament letters.
“What translation should I use?” There are several good ones. I’d suggest that you use a New International Version (NIV). It’s written in modern-day, understandable language, and is an accurate translation. “What if I don’t understand what I read?” Two thoughts – try reading it again and think about it in light of what you have already read in the Bible. Or keep on reading – perhaps the next time the meaning will be clearer, because you’ll have learned more. “Should I just read each book once?” No! Feel free to read, to re-read, and then to read it again! Particularly the first five suggested books – read them often! “What if I get confused?” Why not use the church locator feature on this website to locate one of our churches? Our pastors would be happy to help!
So go ahead! Open your Bible to the book of Luke (check the Table of Contents) and begin to get to know Jesus up close and personal!