If you’re an Evangelical or Charismatic Christian, reading the New Testament cover to cover is likely an important goal for you. The New Testament contains the foundations of the Christian faith – the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as the growth of the early church. Reading the 27 books of the New Testament provides invaluable insight into God’s plan of salvation and how to live the Christian life.
But the New Testament is not a small collection of books. Altogether the New Testament contains about 181,000 words. For many Christians, finding the time to read the New Testament from start to finish can seem like an impossible task.
The good news is that with a plan and consistency, any Christian can read the New Testament in its entirety. Here are some key takeaways:
- The average reader can read the New Testament in 15-20 hours if reading at a moderate pace. This translates to about 12-17 minutes of reading per day.
- There are many different reading plans available, ranging from 90 days to 1 year. Choose a plan that fits with your schedule.
- Reading just 3-5 chapters a day will help you finish the New Testament in under 6 months.
- Approach the reading with intention and allow time to reflect on what you’re reading. Taking notes and praying through the passages is time well spent.
- Pairing your reading with an audio version can help when time is limited. You can listen while commuting or doing chores.
- Stay encouraged! There are great spiritual benefits in store for those who dedicate time to reading the New Testament.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all aspects of reading the New Testament – practical tips, suggested reading plans, the benefits, and how to stay motivated when working through this important collection of Scripture. Our goal is to provide the information and inspiration you need to succeed in reading the New Testament cover to cover.
How Long Does It Take to Read the New Testament?
The most straightforward way to estimate how long it will take you to read the New Testament is to calculate your reading speed and then divide the total word count by your speed. Let’s walk through the math:
Total words in the New Testament:
- There are approximately 181,253 words across the 27 books of the New Testament in the New King James Version (NKJV).
Average reading speed:
- The average reading speed for most adults is 200-400 words per minute. This varies based on reading comprehension and if reading silently or out loud.
- For our estimate, let’s assume an average pace of 300 words per minute. This would be considered moderate speed with good comprehension.
Reading time for the New Testament:
- 181,253 total words
- Divided by 300 words per minute
- Equals about 604 minutes to read the full New Testament
So reading at a moderate 300 words per minute pace, it would take about 10 hours to read the entire New Testament.
This doesn’t include any time for reflection or referencing passages. It’s simply the raw time for your eyes to take in all the words.
Most people don’t have a 10 hour time block available for reading Scripture! But thankfully, reading can be broken up over days, weeks, or months.
If your goal is to read the New Testament in one year, you would need to read just over 16 minutes each day. Over 3 months, you’re looking at about 47 minutes of reading daily.
We’ll explore some specific reading plans and tips for scheduling your reading a bit later in this guide. First, let’s look at how reading speed impacts your total reading time.
Reading Speed and Comprehension
Reading speed varies greatly depending on your reading ability and comprehension. The average pace might be 300 words per minute, but many readers fall well below or above that, from 150 to 500+ words per minute.
Where you land within that range determines how long it will take you to read the New Testament. Use this simple chart as a guide:
|Reading Speed||Time to read NT|
|150 wpm||20 hours|
|200 wpm||15 hours|
|300 wpm||10 hours|
|400 wpm||8 hours|
|500 wpm||6 hours|
At the lower end, reading at 150 words per minute it will take you about 20 hours to complete the New Testament. Toward the top end at 500 wpm, you could potentially read the entire New Testament in only 6 hours!
Keep in mind that reading and comprehension have an inverse relationship. The faster you read, the less you will comprehend and retain.
When you’re studying Scripture, you want to aim for maximum comprehension. While a faster pace is great for getting through other books and materials, the Bible deserves a thoughtful, engaged reading.
For Bible study, it’s best to aim for the middle ground of 200-400 wpm. This allows you to absorb the text well without getting bogged down. The 10-15 hour timeframe to read the New Testament at a moderate speed is reasonable for most readers.
Here are some tips to find your optimal Bible reading pace:
- Take a 1-minute test. Time yourself reading a passage for 1 minute and count the number of words. This will give you a general idea of your natural reading speed.
- Experiment with different paces. Try increasing your speed slightly and see if you can still comprehend well. Or slow down if you’re struggling to absorb the content.
- Use your finger or a guide to track your place. This helps prevent backtracking and improves focus.
- Practice reading out loud for better retention. Or read silently and summarize passages in your own words.
- Pray before you read and ask God to open your mind. Approach the text seeking understanding, not just completion.
The right reading pace allows you to maximally benefit from time in God’s Word. Be sure to give the Bible reading the focus it deserves by setting an engaged, comprehension-focused pace.
Typical Reading Plans
To make reading the New Testament in a year manageable, most plans break up the text into small daily readings. Here are some of the most common reading plan options:
Chronological plans read through the New Testament in the order the books were written and events occurred. This allows you to see how the church progressed and built on the gospel accounts.
Advantages: Provides historical context and lets you follow Jesus’s life clearly.
Drawbacks: Jumps around between books and passages.
These plans go through the New Testament in the traditional Biblical order. The gospels come first, followed by Acts, the epistles, and Revelation.
Advantages: Reads in the familiar Scriptural sequence. Groups books by genre.
Drawbacks: Can feel disconnected between gospels and epistles.
Thematic plans focus on specific topics or themes each week or month like love, fellowship, evangelism etc.
Advantages: Focuses your attention on targeted spiritual growth areas.
Drawbacks: Less emphasis on full comprehension and context.
These plans divide each book into 5 days worth of reading per week. This provides more repeated exposure compared to a 1-year plan.
Advantages: Allows you to read longer books in manageable sections.
Drawbacks: Only covers 1 or 2 books per week, so takes much longer overall.
The most common approach is to break up the New Testament into 7 daily readings per week. This completes the full New Testament in 9 months to a year.
Advantages: Manages the entire New Testament in daily increments. Easy to keep on track.
Drawbacks: Daily readings can be long depending on the plan. Easy to fall behind.
When choosing a reading plan, consider your available time, ability to stick to a routine, and any goals you have around order of reading. Pick a plan that fits with your lifestyle and needs.
You can find pre-made reading plans through apps like YouVersion and She Reads Truth, study Bibles, or online searches. Or create your own plan! Just divide up the New Testament into daily segments that work for you.
Staying Motivated to Read Daily
Once you’ve chosen a reading plan, the next challenge is sticking with it! Here are some tips to stay motivated and consistent:
Set reminders and alerts
Use your phone, calendar, or app alerts to remind you when it’s time to read your daily portion. Making it automatic takes the effort out of remembering.
Find an accountability partner
Ask a friend to join you on the same reading plan. Check in with each other to report progress and keep motivation high.
Link reading to existing habits
Tie your reading to habits like morning coffee, lunch break, or evening wind down to make it seamless.
Vary your reading routine
Switch up when and where you read to keep it fresh. Read aloud one day and silently the next or bring your Bible along on your commute.
Pray for discipline
Ask God to give you consistency in spending time in His word and the encouragement to persevere.
Track your progress
Check off each day on a calendar or app to visualize your accomplished reading. Watching your progress grow keeps you engaged.
Stay focused on the “why”
When motivation lags, remember why you started – to grow closer to God, become more like Christ, and nurture your spiritual life.
Celebrate finishing a book or milestone day with a special treat, update on social media, or high five from a family member.
Persevering over months and years develops discipline and deepens the rewards of Bible reading. Set up a support system and reward plan that will help you maintain consistency.
Tips to Maximize Comprehension
In addition to finding the right reading pace and plan, you can boost comprehension and retention of Scripture using these study methods:
Don’t just passively read. Underline key verses, write comments and questions, look up cross-references, and research contexts. Engage with the text.
Define unfamiliar words
Look up any words you don’t know and make sure you understand exact meanings. Use a Bible dictionary or online resource.
Pray before you read
Ask God to open your mind, speak through the text, and show you how to apply it. Approach humbly seeking to learn.
Reread difficult passages
If a verse or passage is unclear, read it over slowly 1-2 more times. Let it soak in further.
Summarize after each chapter
Recapping the main points in your own words helps solidify the concepts.
Visualize the scenes
Picture yourself as an observer in the stories and events. Imagine the sights, sounds, and emotions.
Write down questions
When something confuses you or leaves you wanting to know more, write it down to research or ask later.
Discuss the reading with others
Conversing about passages grows your understanding. Get input from mature Christians.
Listen to audio
Hearing the Word can bring it to life. Listen while multitasking to take it in more.
Study related commentary
Consult study Bible notes, commentary, and Christian books for context and interpretation.
Using these tips alongside your reading maximizes the impact. Don’t let the minutes turn into empty reading – pursue true biblical engagement and learning.
The Benefits of Reading the Entire New Testament
Beyond just accomplishing a religious goal, what benefits come with reading the entire New Testament? Here are some spiritual gains you can expect:
You’ll know the whole narrative of Jesus’s life and ministry
Each gospel gives a unique angle on Christ. Together they combine to reveal the fullness of His teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection.
The early church comes alive
Acts provides a vivid history of the apostles, missionaries, conversions, miracles, and growth of Christian community.
You’ll gain context for the epistles
Paul’s letters address specific issues and questions arising in the churches. Understanding these situations brings the advice to life.
Theology and doctrine become clear
You’ll encounter the risen Christ
Revelation unveils the awe-inspiring glory, power, and majesty of the resurrected and ascended Christ.
All aspects of following Jesus emerge
The Gospels show Christ’s example. Acts models evangelism. The Epistles teach theology. Revelation displays ultimate hope. Together they paint the full picture of Christian faith and life.
Themes and connections emerge
Your knowledge deepens
Exposure to the breadth and depth of New Testament writings expands your biblical literacy and understanding.
You’ll gain tools for spiritual growth
Scriptural wisdom for relating to God, others, the world, and yourself equips you for daily life.
Your faith and awe will grow
Immersing yourself in the New Testament brings you face to face with Jesus and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Every book contributes unique value. Only reading the New Testament in its entirety reveals the unified story of God’s redemptive plan. Let the sweeping force of Scripture reshape your heart and mind.
Staying Consistent Over the Long Haul
Perhaps your enthusiasm is surging and tackling the New Testament seems totally manageable. But how do you stay consistent once the initial excitement wears off? Here are some strategies to help you go the distance:
Renew your purpose
Recall why you started. Reread this guide or reflect on what drives your goal. Reconnecting to your purpose boosts motivation.
Switch up the routine
Keep it fresh by varying your reading time, location, version, or plan structure. New approaches combat monotony.
Recruit an accountability partner
Ask a fellow Christian to check in and encourage you. You’re less likely to procrastinate when reporting to someone.
Pray for self-discipline
Ask God to strengthen your resolve when temptation strikes to shortcut your reading. Depend on the Spirit’s empowerment.
Marking progress milestones like finishing books or 25% completion keeps you aware of accomplishments.
Persevere through dry spells
Push through periods when the reading feels redundant or confounding instead of giving up. The blessings return!
Set a non-negotiable time
Treat your daily reading time like an important appointment. Make it non-negotiable no matter how busy your day gets.
Keep your mind from wandering by taking notes, asking questions, looking up words, and paraphrasing after each chapter.
Meditate on key verses
When you come across an especially meaningful passage, stop and pray through it. Let it sink deeper into your spirit.
Read together with family
Involve others by reading with your kids or discussing passages with your spouse. Surround yourself with support.
If you miss a day, pick up where you left off instead of feeling obligated to catch up. Adjust plans when needed.
Focus on building the habit rather than perfection. Recognize that you might struggle at times or need to adapt your approach. With commitment and God’s help, staying consistent gets easier over time.
Reading through the New Testament in its entirety is a worthwhile endeavor that every Christian can achieve with the right strategy and mindset. While it requires discipline and perseverance, the spiritual rewards make it well worth the effort. Allow about 15 hours total when reading at a comprehension-focused pace. Choose a reading plan that fits your schedule and stick to it through the use of reminders, accountability, flexibility, and engagement. Approach the text prayerfully seeking revelation with an open heart and mind. God will use His word to transform you as you encounter the breadth and depth of the Scriptures. Stay encouraged – you will finish well, armed with greater knowledge and faith!