Don’t Just Turn to Genesis! Consider this first…
It does not matter if you are a seasoned saint, or a newcomer who has just visited the church for the first time, learning how to read the Bible can feel challenging at best and overwhelming at worst.
The Bible is a complex living Book filled with smaller Books that feature various literature styles and characters. So many times you can be reading a chapter you have read before, yet a spiritual concept will jump out at you in a way you have never noticed before. This is an example of how God’s Word is living and is always there to give us guidance no matter the situation.
When wanting to deepen your walk and understanding with God, reading the Bible can often feel like an overwhelming task. With sixty-six Books, it can be easy to flip to the first page and just start reading. While this approach can be taken and any Bible reading can be beneficial, we’ve created a few tips to help guide your reading through the Bible.Get your mind focused on God and what you are about to read. Click To Tweet
How to Read the Bible
- Get your mind focused on God and what you are about to read.
- Start with a chapter from Psalms.
- Next, move on to read something out of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John).
- After you read from the New Testament, read from the Old Testament.
- Reflect on what you’ve read.
- Keep a journal handy for writing down any thoughts, questions, or insights you run across during your study time.
- Don’t stress yourself out by trying to bulk read the Bible. Take your time. Scripture is “alive,” (Hebrews 4:12) and you will get different things each time you read it.
Books of the Bibles
The Bible is composed of sixty-six mini books, thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament. Several of the authors of the Bible wrote multiple books, but then there are some who only wrote one. For example John wrote the following books:
- Gospel of John
- I John
- II John
- III John
In contrast, the prophet Micah only wrote one book: the Book of Micah.
It is important to understand the literary genres to best understand the style and content while reading them. The Bible is composed of the following:
- Biblical Law: Scriptures that outline God’s commands to His people, which include Moral Law, Ceremonial Law, and Civil/Judicial Law.
- Historic Narrative: Scriptures that give a narrative to real events that occurred.
- Wisdom Literature: Scriptures that encompass the wisdom of generations of God’s people, composed of principles versus promises.
- Prophecy: Scriptures that document visions or specific messages God gave for the future.
- The Gospels: Scriptures that record testimonies during the life of Jesus.
- The Epistles: Scriptures written as letters to the church that could be read as sermons.
- Poetry: Scriptures that are beautifully created to express feelings and symbolic language.
- Apocalyptic Literature: Scriptures that give insight about the end times.
When you begin reading a Book in the Bible, taking note of the genre will help you understand the context of the Scripture.
How to Start Reading the Bible
1) Get your mind right
First, begin with focused prayer. Before you begin reading, you need to have the right mindset to receive the Scripture as it is intended. Start with prayer, first thanking God for His Word, and repenting of anything that could keep you from hearing His voice during your reading.
2) Start with praise (the Book of Psalms)
To get your mind focused and as a biblical “warm up,” start your devotion time with a chapter from the Book of Psalms. The chapters in Psalms are typically short, with the exception of Psalms 119—literally the longest chapter in the Bible. The Psalms can be easily read prior to digging a little deeper.
The Book of Psalms was largely written by King David and offers a variety of poems, prayers, and songs to help elevate the reader’s thinking and provide focus on the Lord. This will set the tone for quality Scripture reading and will lead the reader to the proper mindset needed to receive instruction and direction from God throughout the rest of their reading.
Once the individual has read some Scripture from Psalms and feels as though they have developed a spiritual focus or mindset, they can then move on to a systematic approach to reading Scripture that includes both the Old and New Testament.
3) Determine how long you want to read the Bible each day
A great resource for reading the Bible all the way through is the B.R.E.A.D. chart, which takes you cover to cover in one year.
Determining how many chapters or how long to read your Bible is going to depend on your study goals. If you have a goal of reading through the entire Bible in a set period of time, you will need to make sure you read the number of chapters recommended by the plan you are following. A great resource for reading the Bible all the way through is the B.R.E.A.D. chart, which takes you cover to cover in one year.
However, if you are looking for more of a study approach for your Bible reading time, typically it is recommended you focus on “subchapters” within the chapters. Read the titled section within the chapter, take a few minutes to reflect on what you’ve read, journal any thoughts, and then move to the next section.
How many chapters, or how long should I read the Bible?
If you are looking for a time recommendation, typically it is good to read your Bible for fifteen to thirty minutes. Of course, if you cannot stay focused, start out with shorter time periods and work your way up.
Try not to become obsessed with the amount of time you spend. Any time spent with God studying His Word is not wasted.
Do you Read for Quantity or Quality?
Individuals tend to approach their reading of the Bible in two ways:
- One way to approach reading God’s Word is with the quantity or amount of chapters or verses of Scripture read each day.
- The other way to approach reading God’s Word is with the quality of time spent reading Scripture each day.
Checkbox Readers May Not Develop Deep Roots
Many people set the goal of reading through their Bible each year, only to fall far short of ever meeting the set goal. Various popular plans and approaches such as “Read Your Bible in 90 Days” or “Read Your Bible in One Year” help readers divide their reading quantity evenly each day, but such plans are seldom completed with fidelity.
Although any reading of the Bible is considered to be beneficial, if the individual is simply reading the Word as a checkbox on their to-do list, it will not be as beneficial as a quality reading approach to Scripture.
Why Many Prefer Quality Bible Reading over Quantity Bible Reading
Focusing on quality Bible reading versus quantity Bible reading can help you:
- Develop a deeper understanding of who God is
- Gain clarity on the context of popular verses
- Increase your knowledge of the Bible overall
- Apply Scripture to situations in your life
- Love God more deeply
- Develop a more sincere relationship with Him
4) Start reading in one of the Gospels
Start with one of the Gospels in the New Testament.
The Gospels of the Bible are:
Reading these will introduce you to who the Lord Jesus Christ was as a man, explain His birth, ministry on earth, and His resurrection. It will also introduce you to what was accomplished at Calvary, and will lead readers through the various miracles He performed while He was on earth.
5) Move to the Book of Acts
Once you finish reading your selected Gospel story, you should move on to the Book of Acts.
The Book of Acts will provide you with knowledge of what the church looks like and will guide you through the plan of salvation as explained in Acts 2:38.
This will provide you with knowledge of what the church looks like and will guide you through the plan of salvation as explained in Acts 2:38 when Peter explained to those who were with him, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Readers will also notice that the ministry that Jesus Christ led on earth is still operational in the church today.
6) Next, read the Epistles
The next step is to move on to the Epistles. As mentioned above, the Epistles were letters written to the church. These could be read aloud as sermons to the people. Read them in the following order:
- The Pauline Epistles (written by Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome)
- I and II Corinthians
- I and II Thessalonians
- I and II Timothy
- The General Epistles
- I and II Peter
- I, II, and III John
For further study of the Epistles, the Pentecostal Publishing House offers several books to guide readers in a deeper understanding of these letters.
7) Incorporate some Old Testament with the New Testament
The Old Testament is read when you begin each Bible reading session with Psalms and then incorporate Proverbs as well. When the reader concludes the Book of Psalms, simply start the reading of this Book over again.
Additionally, for each New Testament Book you read, also include some readings from your choice of Old Testament Books as well.
Use these steps to get you started in your Bible reading journey. As you become a more experienced reader, challenge yourself to discover new ways and methods to better understand the Scriptures that help you achieve the goals in your personal walk with God.
Feel free to share with us in the comments some of your favorite ways or tips to study the Scriptures.
Bible Reading FAQs
1) How Many Chapters or Verses of the Bible Should I Read Daily?
Determining how much of the Scripture you should read every day is going to depend on your goals.
2) Where Should a Beginner Start Reading the Bible?
Start with reading a passage out of Psalms, next read some out of the Gospels, and then finish off with a few passages out of the Old Testament.
3) How to Read the Bible in One Year
The best way you can read the Bible in one year is by getting on a one-year Bible reading program such as our B.R.E.A.D chart. You can also find one-year Bible programs on most Bible apps. To complete the Bible in one year you need to plan to read each day for about fifteen minutes.
4) How to Read the Bible Effectively
The best way to read the Bible is:
- Set the atmosphere and get your mind focused; do your best to eliminate all distractions.
- Pray that the Lord will give you understanding and wisdom from the Word you are reading.
- Make a plan for how long you want to read, and then decide what parts of the Bible you will read during your devotional time.
- Start reading and read slowly. Don’t try to speed through reading the Bible. You will retain very little by speed reading such a complex book.
- Keep a journal handy and jot down any thoughts while reading.
- End with prayer. Ask the Lord to help you grow and apply what you have read to your life.
Additional Resources to Help You Understand the Bible
While there are several suggested programs offered online to guide readers’ direction on where to start reading the Bible for beginners, the Pentecostal Publishing House recommends two outstanding books considered a “must read” for anyone interested in better understanding the Word.
- Dr. Daniel Segraves’s book, You Can Understand the Bible, is useful in guiding readers through specific principles in understanding the Bible. His commentary The Holy Spirit will help you learn about the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts and throughout the Bible.
- Likewise Dr. David K. Bernard’s Apostolic approach to interpreting the Bible can be found in Understanding God’s Word. This book provides readers with direction on how to interpret Scripture properly and how to apply the Bible’s message to their lives.
Josh Gissel | Angela Johnson