There are 66 books in all, of which 39 are in the Old Testament and the remaining 27 in the New Testament, according to these Bible Facts and Figures. It can be extremely intimidating to study the Bible based just on the numbers for this reason. Perhaps some people are unsure if it is possible to read the Bible from beginning to end.
It’s also fascinating to learn that “Lord”, “God”, “man”, “Israel”, and “people” are among the Bible’s most often used words. Do you want to know where Jesus places in the list? Number 18!
Most probably, this will give you motivation to start reading the Bible since you will not only learn many things about God’s teachings, but also discover how wonderful God is using different prophets and people as instruments of love towards his people.
It’s possible that every Christian is thinking about how and where to begin reading the Bible. Because interpreting the Bible is difficult, we should always seek out the explanations of individuals who have thorough insight and knowledge of the Sacred Scripture. So, the common question is where to start reading the Bible.
It is critical to understand that the Bible is a collection of writings authored by various individuals, rather than a single book. It is also beneficial to select the approved church translation of the Bible to gain a consistent comprehension of its teachings.
What to Read First
Beginners who wish to read the Bible often ask about the best order to read it in, or which book they should pick as a start. Since what we would like to study and learn about the most actually relies on us, we have complete freedom in terms of where to begin.
But of course, playing Bible roulette is discouraged. “Bible roulette” means choosing a book without planning (for example, just out of nothing you open the Bible to seek inspiration or guidance). This may not work sometimes.
When we have many questions, we sometimes just pick up the Bible and start playing Bible roulette, which is not the best course of action. Keep in mind that we desire to speak with and learn more about God, so it’s best to avoid this method. Instead, go back to your goal and ask yourself, “What am I hoping to gain by reading the Bible?”.
Numerous biblical experts advise beginning with the gospels because they detail Jesus’ life from his birth through to his ascension. The four gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — did more than just recount the events in Jesus’ life; they also provided readers with an interpretation and a visual of how Jesus came and lived on earth with his disciples, and how he lived his life when preaching about his Kingdom.
Since Jesus is the main subject of the Bible, reading the gospels will also aid newcomers in their quest to understand him better.
Jesus’ life and ministry are the main topics of the book of Matthew. Additionally, Matthew used the Old Testament as a point of reference for the Jews to underline that Jesus is the realization of God’s promises to send a messiah.
The main subject of Mark’s book are Jesus’ actions, including the miracles he did while still with his disciples and the manner in which people learned about them. More than half of the gospel of Mark is about the works of Jesus. Thus, this book is considered unique in comparison with the three gospels.
Luke’s gospel contains a few of Jesus’ teachings that aren’t included in the other gospels. This contains well-known parables. Luke also stressed the fact that Jesus was not an opponent of the Roman Empire. He wasn’t, in actuality, criticizing the Roman authorities in any way. Luke describes Jesus as being exceedingly kind and never putting other foreign nationalities down just like how Jews treated Samaritans.
The most recent work on Jesus to be published in the New Testament is the gospel of John. In order to evangelize both Jews and Gentiles, this book’s primary motivation was to do so. This book focuses on a few miracles that Jesus performed, but not to highlight his deity as the Son of God, but to demonstrate what it means to be one with God while doing miracles. We learn about the Holy Spirit in this book as well.
These books are merely recommendations for beginners. You can always pick whichever book you feel most comfortable reading initially. Examples include the Book of Genesis, which explains how God created humanity; the Book of Psalms, which contains songs of inspiration and hope; Paul’s letter to the Romans, which focuses on a number of human limitations and explains how Christ’s death frees us from sin; and so on.
Steps to Consider Before, While, and After Reading the Bible
Pray before you open the Bible.
We ask God to give us the wisdom we need to completely understand the Bible’s verses. For many of us, comprehending and interpreting the Sacred Scripture can be mind-boggling and perplexing. As a result, appealing to God for knowledge will enable us to read it with confidence.
Here’s a sample prayer before reading the Bible:
“O Most Holy God, I offer this moment to you to read the Holy Bible. Give me the wisdom to bear your words in the chapters I’ll read and aid me in internalizing your teachings so that I can pass them on to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Choose the Bible version that is friendliest to read.
Since our main purpose is to read the Bible, we must have the tool and that is, the Bible itself. There are a number of Bible versions to choose from.
It is best to choose the best version of the Bible that can be easily understood. Reading the Bible is not just an ordinary reading hobby. The Sacred Scripture is a collection of books and picking the easiest to read would be a good way to start.
Remember that we are reading books by various authors, so we should select the version with which we are most comfortable.
Consistent time of reading and the location are important.
We usually find time to get things done, even if it’s harder to accomplish the activities we enjoy due to our tight schedules these days.
Finding the perfect time to study the Bible is never simple, therefore we must be consistent with the time we choose to read it. We should also aim for a calm environment in which to read it, as being interrupted when reading is the last thing we want to happen. When we find the right time and place, this is a good time to start reading the Bible.
Refer to other materials if needed for better understanding.
After reading, we may opt to look for some materials for better understanding. We can also watch videos of people explaining some contents of the Bible.
It is always sensible to validate whether we comprehend the Bible or not. While reading it is like conversing with God, understanding it is a different story. We may have a lot of questions at times and want God to answer them. Of course He will, through those people who are Bible experts.
While reading, we can jot down some useful notes regarding the content of the Bible verses or passages. We can write these notes down in our daily journals. If something is unclear to us, we can also write down some questions. It should be noted that queries are acceptable as long as they are directed at the proper individuals who have an extensive understanding of the Bible.
Reflect and pray after reading.
Yes, we must contemplate on what we have read. This implies that we must give ourselves permission to think deeply about the passages, so that we can develop a strategy for putting what we have learned from the Bible into practice.
Let’s say a little prayer of gratitude to God once more for enabling us to absorb His teachings with the wisdom he endowed upon us before we started:
“Holy Father, thank you for giving me the wisdom to understand your Word. There are some things I may not understand now but I completely trust your Word. I value the time I spent talking to you in peace. Help me understand my purpose in every way to fulfill your plan for me through the Sacred Scripture. Amen.”
How to Grow Spiritually with God
God knows each and every one of us, so as God’s children, we should know Him, too. As what the Bible says in Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Things that will support us as we develop spiritually in God
This must come first. Through fervent prayers, we put ourselves in God’s presence. While praying can be done anywhere and anytime, it also works when we close our eyes and visualize God by our side.
Read the Bible.
Another way to get to know God and grow spiritually with Him is to read the Holy Scriptures and become familiar with God’s ways or even with what occurred to the prophets and Jesus’ disciples.
We can also be motivated by the Bible’s teachings. If otherwise, we can learn more about God through prominent personalities referenced in the Bible. This will strengthen our relationship with God and follow His ways.
See God’s works in everyday things.
This is significant since most of us are preoccupied with daily activities like going to school or work, performing chores, attending to our family’s needs, and so on. These cause us to miss many of the wonderful things that God has designed for us. Beautiful sunshine, cool rain, a quiet and serene environment, and even the food on the table, are taken for granted.
We are too busy that we don’t notice our God’s presence in everything – just like the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
While these things will help us grow closer to God, we also desire to keep or deepen our relationship with Him. Talking to individuals in our community and sharing what we’ve learned, as well as listening to what they have to say about God’s kindness, allows us to get to know Him better.
How to Make a Bible Reading Plan
Determine the book you want to focus on.
If you want to read the New Testament, then you may start reading from Matthew. This is just an example; you can read any book from the New Testament depending on what you want to get acquainted with first. Your book, your choice.
Set your objective once you’ve decided the book you’ll read.
For instance, decide how much time you will devote to each book. Make sure that you must set a realistic deadline. When deciding on a goal, be reasonable.
This also includes how much time you should read the Bible, and you need be specific here – let’s say, 30 minutes per day. No matter how busy you are, you must stick to your routine to maintain interest and to be able to study the Bible continuously.
Summarize what you’ve read.
While writing down the summary, you can highlight some verses you want to study more. You can also use other references, too. To study the Bible more, it also helps to note down important names and popular verses.
Let’s Start Reading the Bible
We can now begin our own plans while keeping in mind that God is always delighted when we make an effort to know Him, and because of that, He will bless us. The Bible contains numerous well-known tales, including those of Samson, David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, and a number of Jesus’ parables. They’re all fascinating and will deepen our love for God more.
God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
Since God is the primary author of the Bible, He does not want to confuse us with His teachings. Thus, there are authors whom he guided to write the books consisting of the Old Testament and New Testament, like his prophets and disciples.
God speaks to us through the Bible. It includes history, motivational stories, and evidence of God’s promises and prophecies coming true. These are not just interesting tales to tell; most importantly, these carry good news that we ought to share.
We could be significantly impacted by daily news about global disasters, human catastrophes, and common diseases. Consequently, we could sometimes feel as though God is far away. Reading the Bible will therefore help us increase our faith in him. God’s unfailing love for His people was demonstrated in the Bible when God sent his Son to pay the price for our sins.
As Geoffrey Thomas, author of “Reading the Bible” says, “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.”