A Few Quick Tips on How to Read the Bible

It’s like eating an elephant

Open Bible
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The Bible is a big book. It is War and Peace big. Reading the whole thing is a significant commitment. Regardless, many people read it all the time. The Bible provides insight, comfort, encouragement, and love.

Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Christians read the Bible to strengthen their faith. Non-believers read the Bible out of curiosity. What’s this religion all about?

I can’t imagine being a Christian without reading the Bible. How can you say you follow a religion if you don’t know what it requires? That’s like saying you are a vegan while eating a juicy hamburger (think of the animals)! It is the same with Christians. You can’t be a Christian while you spread hate, envy, and evil (Jesus was against these sorts of things).

Everybody dislikes hypocrites.

The Bible is a collection of separate sections called “books.” Each book divides into “chapters.” Chapters are further broken down into single groupings of one or more sentences. These groups are “verses.”

The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9…

At once the royal scribes were summoned, and on the twenty-third day of the third month ( the month of Sivan), they recorded all of Mordecai’s orders to the Jews and to the satraps, governors, and princes of the 127 provinces from India to Cush — writing to each province in its own script, to every people in their own language, and to the Jews in their own script and language.

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35…

Jesus wept.

The Bible has 66 books in all. Any way you slice it, that’s a pretty big book. If you read a chapter every day, it would take you three years! That’s quite the undertaking.

But remember…

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

This is true of any big, important goal. You lose weight one pound at a time. You start walking one step at a time. You write a novel one word at a time. You make friends one person at a time.

Will you be my friend?

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I get it, the Bible is big. How are we going to do this?

The whole Bible is important, but some of the content can distract a new reader. I recommend reading the most important bits first. After you get a gist for the story, you can go back and fill in the cracks of your knowledge.

You can read a paper version if that feels more natural. Let me know where I can send you a FREE Bible. Shoot me an email. I’ll hook you up.

I like to read my books on a phone or Kindle. A great app for reading the Bible is YouVersion (also FREE). It contains every translation. It can even read to you. I find that if I read and listen at the same time, I get more out of it.

The Bible is half instruction manual and half love letter. It teaches you to live a good life. It tells you how much God loves you. You will learn about His character and how to please Him.

You cannot fathom the depths of His love.

Even after reading the book, you won’t understand. You can get closer, but you will never understand (on this side of eternity). That’s how much God loves you.

The Bible splits into two main sections. The first half is The Old Testament. The second half is The New Testament.

I usually tackle big books from front to back. That’s how I tackled the Bible for my first reading. It was definitely what I would call a slog. I didn’t understand half the things I was reading. I powered on. It wasn’t until The New Testament that I said, “Oh!” After reading The New Testament, I went back to read the Old Testament again. I made much more sense the second time around.

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The Bible reading plan for beginners

If this is your first time around, I recommend the following order. Many thanks to OverviewBible.com. They provide a concise, one-sentence summary of each book.

1 Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. This is the story of Jesus Christ, the son of God, and our Lord. It is retold four times from different perspectives. This is the most important story of the Bible. Even if you think you know it, you should read it again.

Some people prefer one book over the other. Just pick one and read it. Have time? Read another one.

2 Acts. After the death and rebirth of Jesus, his disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. They travel the world and begin to set up churches. Most of the remaining chapters of The New Testament are letters to these different churches.

3 Corinthians. One of the churches from Acts is set up in the city of Corinth. They aren’t doing so hot. The author has some stern things for them. Even today, I can take instruction from these difficult teachings.

4 Genesis. After reading the important parts of The New Testament, turn all the way back to the first book of the Bible. God creates the universe, animals, and man. Man messes up. God helps them. Man messes up again. God helps them. Man messes up. God helps them. Are you starting to see a pattern?

5 Exodus. We follow mankind as it starts filling the Earth (and messing up a lot). We meet Moses, who leads his people (Israelites) out of Egypt. They are heading for The Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Spoiler Alert: Man messed that up, too.

6 Proverbs. This is a book of wise sayings. There is some good stuff here! Many attribute this book to King Solomon. It doesn’t matter. I hereby dub this book, “Wisdom From Some Old Dead Dude.”

The whole Bible boils down to two sentences… 

Man messes up. God loves us too much to let us fall.

You’re done! When you have completed the above, you have completed the Bible (at least the Cliff Notes version). You can now hold your own in a biblical discussion or make a decision about your faith.

What do you believe?

Where are you going after you die?

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Alternate reading plan

I spoke earlier about the YouVersion app for your phone. Inside, there are many “devotional” reading plans. A devotional is a reading plan revolving around a single theme. These are great ways to get encouragement and guidance from the Bible.

There are two devotionals from The Bible Project. One is for The Old Testament in a year. The other is for The New Testament in a year. You can cover either (or both) in a few minutes every day.

I like The Bible Project (linked here on YouTube). Each book of the Bible has a large comic that explains the concepts. It was very helpful to my understanding of what I was reading.

The Bible became a deep, rich experience.

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Are you ready?

I said before that the Bible is a big book. Being a Christian is a marathon, not a sprint.

Take a deep breath.

We can do this together.

You can buy a Bible on Amazon. If you would like one for FREE, shoot me an email. If you need one right now, your local church would love to give you one.

May God bless you in all you do.


Matt is a Christian trying to be more like Jesus, who was perfect. Matt is not perfect. He is trusting God to make him into a new creation. That’s kinda the point.

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