Are you wondering where to start reading your Bible? Should you start in Genesis? Ephesians? Proverbs? This post will help!
When I was a kid, I had the notion to read all the Encyclopedias from A to Z.
My beloved Encyclopedia set lined the bottom of my closet, and I would curl up in there with a flash light and read until someone told me to go to bed.
No matter how many times I set out to accomplish this goal, I never made it past Johnny Appleseed.
I sometimes wonder how far I would have made it if I hadn’t insisted on starting at the very beginning of the set every.single.time. If I had just picked up where I left off the first time, I might have finished the A’s at least.
Nevertheless, I was (and often still am) a perfectionist, and I like things done the right way if it’s going to be done.
If I say I’m going to read through all of the Encyclopedias, then I should read through them all – front to back, cover to cover, never missing a line or getting out of order.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when I became a Christian and wanted to get to know the God I served through His written word, I thought starting at the very beginning and reading straight through was the only way to “do it right.”
Genesis to Revelations here I come!
Time and time again, I’d set the goal of reading the entire Bible beginning to end, and no matter how many times I tried, I never made it past the list of Noah’s descendants in Genesis 10.
I felt like such a failure. What sort of Christian can’t even read the Bible – let along study it?
In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney says:
“Regardless of how busy we become with all things Christian, we must remember that the most transforming practice availabe to us is the discipline intake of scripture” (page 29).
Studying God’s Word is of paramount importance for the Christian.
But let’s be honest, it’s a really big book.
There are 66 books in the Bible – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. When you’re just getting started reading the Bible, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start.
Especially when you start going deeper in your study of God’s Word.
How in the world are we supposed to read it all, let alone actually understand it?
It’s true. The Bible can be really overwhelming when you’re just getting started. But you have the rest of your life to get through it.
If you’re just getting started reading the Bible, no one expects you to know the entire Bible right this second.
For all of us, we should be faithfully and diligently training ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) through the disciplined intake of God’s word.
We do this one book at a time. One study at a time. One day at a time.
If you’re just getting started studying God’s Word, below is my recommended order for reading your Bible and studying the scriptures.
Note: There is a difference between Bible reading and Bible study. You can read more about the difference here.
The Order I Recommend Studying the Books of the Bible
The Gospel of Mark – Mark is said by some scholars to be the original gospel. Meaning it was written before the other three gospel accounts. It’s also the shortest gospel, so it’s a great way to get into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus quickly.
The Gospel of John – John gives more details about Jesus’ life. If we are to live as He lived, then knowing more about how He lived is helpful. The Gospel of John also gives more details leading up to the crucifixion of Christ.
The Gospel of Matthew – Matthew gives more history regarding the lineage of Christ. It also gives more details around the events taking place during the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
The Gospel of Luke – This Gospel is written by the traveling companion of the apostle Paul. The beauty of this gospel is that it was written so that all may know the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for them. It’s not just for the Jews. As a woman, I really love this particular gospel account because it gives more details about the women in Jesus’ life.
Acts – The purpose of this book was to record the early church’s history following the resurrection of Christ. It was also written by Luke who wanted to give an “orderly account” of what took place so that there was no doubt about what occurred as a result of Jesus being the Messiah.
Romans – The theme of Romans is the revelation of God’s eternal plan of salvation for sinners in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is said that this book puts forth the fullest expression of Paul’s theology.
Genesis – Once you’ve read these New Testament books, I would hop back to the beginning, starting with Genesis. It is quite literally the very beginning. If you can believe the very first line in this book, you can believe everything else the Bible has to say.
Exodus – I love this book. It is truly riveting if you ask me. There are some parts that are thick to get through, but keep plowing through and over time more and more will make sense. This book records the fulfillment of God’s promises you read about in Genesis, that He would make Israel a great nation.
Psalms – While you’re studying Genesis and Exodus, you might consider adding in a Psalm a day. Or you can just study a Psalm a day when you’re done. The Psalter is essentially the overflow of worship in the people of God. The Psalms take the themes of the Old Testament and turns them into song. Click here to checkout our free Psalm Bible Reading Plan.
Once you have studied these books in the Bible, you’ve laid a pretty good foundation upon which you can begin studying the remaining books.
At this point, you can choose how to proceed.
You might want to study the rest of the New Testament before going back to the Old Testament. Maybe you want to hang out a bit in the New Testament and then go back to the Old Testament. It’s entirely up to you.
Below are the remaining books left to study if you want to be able to track what you have left.
The rest of New Testament –
- 1 & 2 Corinthians
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 1 & 2 Peter
- 1, 2, & 3 John
The rest of Old Testament –
- 1 & 2 Samuel
- 1 & 2 Kings
- 1 & 2 Chronicles
- Song of Solomon
Studying the Bible is a discipline.
Bible intake is the most transforming practice available to us. At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than being in the Word of God.
Studying God’s Word is work. There’s no way around it.
But it is noble work. It is work that brings transforming grace and the knowledge and wisdom of God.
Don’t let the feeling of inadequacy keep you from studying God’s Word.
Don’t let the sheer size of the Bible keep you from soaking in His Word.
Don’t let the things of this world distract you from spending regular time in God’s Word.
“Go on reading [the Bible] until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you for ever to His eternal home.” ~Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible
What about you? What books of the Bible have been your favorite to study? What books are you most looking forward to getting into this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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