- You want to read it all the way through in a year.
- You want to spend more time in it than you did last year.
- You just want to read it, period.
I’m a fan of all these goals, mostly because they’ll get you into the Word. But if you’ve made a goal like one of these, where should you start reading the Bible?
Most people begin at the beginning: the book of Genesis. And although I think that’s a good place to start reading the Bible, I don’t believe it’s the only place to start. Here’s why:
- The Bible wasn’t written like a modern novel. It’s not a story that can only be appreciated when read from page one to the final chapter. Rather, it’s a collection of histories, biographies, letters, prophecies, poems, visions—all explaining the relationship between God and humanity.
- Different books of the Bible were written to different people. Some of these books were written to strong Christians (example: Second Timothy), some were written to people who did not yet believe in Jesus (example: the Gospel of John). Genesis is written as an origins story for the nation of Israel—which puts most modern non-Jewish readers a little outside its original target audience.
That being said, let’s look at a few other smart places to start reading the Bible.
Four entry points for reading the Bible
- For new believers or those curious about the Faith: the Gospel of John. This is an account of Jesus’ life and ministry, one that particularly focuses on Jesus’ signs. Of course, John has a motive: the miracles recorded in John are written that you would believe in Jesus and find life in His name (Jn 20:30–31). Therefore, much of John’s material directly states who Jesus is, not just what He does or says.
- For Christians who have grown up in church: the Gospel of Luke (and then Acts). Luke wrote a chronological account of Jesus’ life so that another Christian would better understand the things he’d been taught (Lk 1:4). Acts is “Luke part two”: the followup that explains what happened when the Holy Spirit came to the church.
- For those interested in full-time ministry: Titus (and then First Timothy and Second Timothy). Paul wrote the pastor Titus a quick letter about leading a church that completely stood out from its culture. Of course, Titus is a short book, and you’ll want more of Paul’s advice when you’re through with the three chapters. That’s why I’d recommend reading the letters to Timothy next. Actually, go ahead and read all Paul’s letters.
- For those who are making some big decisions in the new year: Proverbs. It’s thirty-one chapters of straight-up wisdom. In Proverbs, you’ll learn the principles for making smart decisions: decisions based in justice and truth.
This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of starting points, but it should give you a little freedom to start somewhere other than Genesis this time around.
This post is also part of SynchroBlog’s January 2014 series on new beginnings. Synchroblog is a community of bloggers who write on shared topics. It was a neat thing to participate in, and here’s what they put together:
Jen Bradbury – Enough
Abbie Watters – New Beginnings
Cara Strickland – Bursting
Carol Kuniholm – Acorns, King, Beloved Community
Done With Religion – A New Year, A New Beginning
Kelly Stanley – A Blank Canvas
Dave Criddle – Get Some New Thinking
David Derbyshire – Changed Priorities Ahead
J A Carter – The Year of Reading Scripture for the First Time
Damon – New Beginnings: Consider These 5 Questions Before Tying The Knot
Joanna990 – On survival – my one word for 2014
K W Leslie – Atonement
Happy – my One Word 365 surprise
Michelle Moseley – Ends and Beginnings
Matthew Bryant – A New Creation
Edwin Pastor Fedex Aldrich – Foreclosed: The beginning of a new dream
Jennifer Clark Tinker – Starting a New Year Presently
Loveday Anyim – New Year New Resolutions | New Year Resolution Dreamers | New Year Resolution Specialists
Loveday Anyin – New Year Resolution Planners and Achievers
Jeremy Myers – Publish Your Book with Redeeming Press
Amy Hetland – New Beginnings
Phil Lancaster – New Beginnings
Mallory Pickering – Something Old, Something New
Margaret Boelman – The Other Side of Grief
Kathy Escobar – One Image