Unlike my writing partner @proproseworldwide I don’t have a solid understanding of the Bible. My hunger to learn more about God has only recently begun. I talk about this briefly in my article, First Steps in Having a Relationship with God. I also I mention how I have always felt like reading the Bible is intimidating.
Every time I picked up the book, it felt as if I was holding something foreign. This to some extent is true. The Bible was written several thousand years ago; and for the modern reader it can be hard to understand the nuances of what life was like for it’s authors. Personally, I wasn’t able to comfortably approach reading the Bible until I purchased a second hand study bible. I would actually recommend that you get two Bibles. Most study Bibles are fairly large so having a travel sized one is nice.
What I like about study bibles
As I mentioned before, a lot of references or passages in the Bible do not translate well for the modern reader. The side notes in study Bibles give more context to help with understanding. It is also important to note that the side notes also link Old Testament passages to New Testament passages.
Here is an example of what the side notes look like in my personal study Bible. In Luke chapter 6 it says,
“And his disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?”Luke 6:1 NKJV
For the modern reader who doesn’t have to practice Jewish law, this passage doesn’t make sense. However, the side notes explain that plucking grain is considered work, which is unlawful according to the Old Testament ().
In addition to side notes, sometimes the editors include detailed maps, study plans, and descriptions of the people in the passages. My Bible has additional content specifically for Women. Each of these features helps reduce confusion by filling in knowledge gaps. This is incredibly useful for making the Bible more approachable to first time readers.
Where Do I Begin Reading?
The most intimidating thing about the Bible is how large it is! Naturally, for a first time reader the most important question is, “Where do I even begin?”
Like most things, there are a lot of different opinions on how to answer that question. However as someone who used to be in the same shoes, I believe the answer is simple.
Your curiosity has just been peeked and your hunger beginning to grow. For you, the most impactful way to read the Bible is to begin with the Gospel. The word gospel translates to good news. The Gospel books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do exactly that. They cover the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For someone just starting their walk in faith, the Gospel books give an overview of what Christianity is and how it is applied in day to day life. Each of the four Gospels covers the same story of Jesus from the perspective of different authors. I found the book of John to be the most approachable out of the four followed by Luke.
Long Term Reading Plans
Once you have read through the Gospel, there are many different Bible study plans you can follow. As mentioned above, most study Bibles actually have plans in them. Which study plan you choose depends on what information you want to get out of the Bible. Here are some examples of Bible study plans and their descriptions. Hint: To view the plan just click on the title. 😉
Read the Bible according to the order it was published in starting with Genesis.
Read the Bible in order by when it was written
Chronological New Testament
Read only the New Testament in the order it was written
Read one Psalm a day.
For the complete list of plans you can visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/