You want to read the Bible but don’t know where to start. With 66 books and over 1,100 chapters, the Bible can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are helpful ways to approach Bible reading so you can understand God’s Word. In this post, we’ll explore the most effective reading orders for comprehension and transformation.
Why Read the Bible?
Before jumping into Bible reading orders, it’s important to understand why we read the Bible in the first place. Here are some key reasons:
- To know God better. The Bible reveals God’s character and truths about who He is. Through reading it, you can deepen your relationship with Him. As Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) says, “For the word of God is living and powerful.”
- To grow spiritually. The Bible transforms us to be more like Jesus as we apply its teachings to our lives. As 1 Peter 2:2 (NKJV) says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
- To find guidance. God promises wisdom and direction for those who seek it in the Bible. As Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
- To learn God’s plan. The Bible contains God’s grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. Reading it shows how God has worked throughout history.
- Read the Bible to know God better, grow spiritually, find guidance, and understand God’s plan.
- Different reading orders suit different purposes like understanding the grand narrative or studying specific books.
- Reading plans help when starting out, especially a blend of Old and New Testaments.
- Both repetition of key books and reading straight through have benefits.
- Reading with others keeps you accountable and provides new insights.
- Prayer and meditation help Scripture sink deeper.
Choosing a Bible Reading Order
With so many options, how do you choose a Bible reading order as a beginner? Here are some common methods to consider:
Read Select Books Repeatedly
Many Christians focus on reading key books over and over. For example, new believers often start with the Gospel of John, as it emphasizes God’s love and the call to believe. Other repeat books include Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, and Romans.
Re-reading select books allows you to:
- Absorb favorite passages completely
- Understand context better each time
- Meditate deeply on meaningful verses
If you choose this approach, aim to read longer books like Genesis over several weeks. Also expand to new books occasionally to broaden exposure.
Follow a Reading Plan
Scripture reading plans provide built-in daily structure. Plans usually mix Old and New Testament readings to give both backstory and instruction for Christian living. Here are some top options:
- The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan – two daily readings for 25 minutes total
- Biblica Bible Reading Plan – one chapter from different sections each day
- Chronological Bible Reading Plan – readings arranged in chronological order
- 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan – read through the New Testament and Psalms 5 times and the rest of the Bible once
Plans keep you on track and expose you to various writing styles and genres. Over time, you can alternate between different plans.
Read Straight Through the Bible
Reading straight through from Genesis to Revelation allows you to see the Bible’s overarching story unfold. This immersive approach helps you observe connections between Old and New Testament themes and texts.
Aim to read 2-3 chapters a day to finish in under a year. Taking notes or journaling after each reading will help you retain key information. Consider studying difficult prophetic sections like Daniel and Revelation in more depth too.
While long books like Psalms and Isaiah remain, the variety keeps readings interesting. You can use a Bible with guiding headings to grasp the storyline clearly.
A blended approach combines the above methods. For example, you might:
- Read the Gospel of John repeatedly for the first two months
- Follow the 5x5x5 plan for the next year
- Read through the whole Bible over the following three years
Varying your reading order avoids ruts and expands your Scriptural intake. Over time, find combinations that allow steady progress through different sections.
Read With Your Church or Group
Reading along with others is motivating and insightful. Many churches and small groups read the same passage or book during the week and discuss it together. You glean new perspectives and stay accountable.
If your church doesn’t follow a set reading plan, study the same book as your small group or friends. Set a shared schedule and talk through questions and applications regularly.
Digging Deeper with Different Reading Orders
As you become more comfortable with reading Scripture, consider tailoring your approach to suit your goals:
Read Chronologically for the Grand Narrative
Reading the Bible in chronological order helps you understand God’s historical plan of redemption. Following the events as they occurred reveals theological connections.
For example, reading Job between Genesis and Exodus lets you see how God was present even before the Law. Resources like The Chronological Study Bible rearrange all texts chronologically.
Read by Genre to Observe Literary Styles
The Bible contains various literary genres – history, poetry, prophecy, gospel, letter, and more. Reading books grouped by genre helps you see common patterns and techniques.
For example, read all the Psalms together to compare how different poets praise God. Or study all the Gospels side-by-side to glean distinct theological emphases from each author.
Read Whole Books for Immersion
Reading whole books instead of fragments emphasizes the distinct message of each book. This approach equips you to learn more in future studies.
For example, read all of Romans over 2 weeks to grasp Paul’s full justification argument before studying passages alone. Let the book speak as a whole.
Alternate Old and New Testaments to Bridge Them
Since Christians believe one unified truth underlies both Old and New Testaments, reading from each section together enhances understanding.
For example, reading Exodus and Hebrews simultaneously highlights parallels, as Hebrews references the Exodus frequently. Alternatively, you could read 2 Kings and Acts to see how God worked in ancient Israel and the early Church.
Matching the testaments aids application by connecting stories and instructions.
Re-read Favorite Sections for Transformation
Revisiting your most meaningful or challenging sections provokes personal growth. For example, re-read the Sermon on the Mount when struggling with anger or the Proverbs on laziness when unmotivated.
Ask yourself how favorite passages remain relevant and difficult texts apply today. Re-reading with new questions uncovers fresh insights.
Tips for Getting the Most out of Reading
Here are some additional tips to enhance your comprehension and transformation when reading Scripture:
- Pray for openness to God’s Word before reading. Ask the Holy Spirit for insight.
- Read poetry and narrative aloud to grasp the emotion and imagery.
- Take notes and underline key verses for later meditation and application.
- Use commentaries for information on context, terms, and history.
- Discuss passages with others to gain new perspectives.
- Study relevant topics like covenant, justification, or sin when they arise.
- Memorize favorite verses to carry transforming truth always.
- Apply lessons immediately with journaling, prayer, and conversations.
- Review often to retain what you learn and revisit applications.
The right mindset and tools can take your Bible reading from dutiful to delightful. Approach God’s Word with readiness to encounter him.
Start Your Bible Reading Journey
While no perfect Bible reading order exists, many helpful approaches allow you to read broadly and deeply. Consider your spiritual goals and start where you can build consistency. You may be surprised how God’s Word comes alive when you spend regular time in its pages.
The journey may feel intimidating initially, but take it step-by-step. The time invested leads to radical growth in knowing God, finding purpose, and sharing truth with others. Approach the Bible with expectancy – God wants to reveal Himself to you. His Word stands ready to speak. Open your Bible and listen.