Have you ever wondered where in the Bible you should start reading? That is the subject of today’s Q&A.
Tia, from TN, asks, “One of the questions I always get is where do I start in the bible…read it front to back or just open and read. Can you give me your answer?”
This post is part of my new #SoundDoctrine series where you submit your questions about the Bible, and I answer them. If you want to know more about the series and my qualifications, you can read this.
You can read the Bible from front to back; there’s nothing wrong with that. Contrary to what a lot of us might think about the Bible, (and how it’s best left in the hands of theologians and priests), it really was written for the general population. Jesus spoke for the humblest of ears. The Bible is written for you.
However, the start-to-finish plan might not be the best way to begin. Genesis is full of interesting stories that a lot of you will recognise: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham going to sacrifice his son, Joseph and the coat of many colours (to name a few). And even Exodus is interesting with Moses, and the plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea.
But by the time you get to Leviticus, you’re starting to delve into all the rules God gave Moses on the mountain – in addition to the Ten Commandments – about things like what is considered clean, how worship should be performed, how to build the alter, what sacrifices are for which sins, etc. And then Numbers starts counting people and clans to keep a record of the Israeli genealogy. With all those details to plough through that have little bearing on your daily life, you might lose interest and lose heart if you start reading the Bible right from the beginning.
What I recommend is to start in the New Testament in the book of John. The New Testament is both a continuation of the Old, and a new promise – a promise of grace. What better place to begin than where you’ll find grace?
The reason I like John is because it was written by one of Jesus’ disciples who was really close to him. He spent a lot of time with him, even when other disciples were not necessarily there. The book of John has more of Jesus’ words than anything else. You get to see his heart through what he says and how he prays.
Don’t be intimidated by the first Chapter of John, which talks about the Word becoming flesh, etc. It’s only the first half-page that’s a little lofty and hard to comprehend (and we can talk about it another time). The rest of the book is very simple to read and understand. If you have questions, why not jot them down as you read, and ask someone you trust. Or come back here and ask me!
If you’ve read John, and want more, I recommend reading Luke and Acts, one after the other. They are written by the same guy – a Greek doctor, who was not with Jesus during his ministry, but who interviewed a lot of eye-witnesses to figure out what happened. Luke also tells of Jesus’ life, ministry and death, and some of the stories overlap with John.
Acts details the beginning of the church after Jesus was resurrected and went to heaven. When you’ve read Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the church, a lot of things begin to fall into place. Not bad for getting the whole picture of those early days, right?
After that, if you’re itching for some Old Testament stuff, I recommend 1 and 2 Samuel, which is about David and Goliath (starting in Chapter 16), and then about David’s life as the second and most famous king of Israel. It reads like a story. You’ll like it.
So that’s for some continuous reading to give you a bigger picture. But it is okay to skip around in other areas too. Like the Psalms. Whether you’re a seasoned prayer warrior or praying for the first time, you can also skim the Psalms and find one that speaks to you on that day and pray through it. Allow the Psalmist’s prayer and praise to become yours. It’s very effective in helping you form the words, particularly if you are having trouble praying.
And the Proverbs are just great. Those are also ones you can skip around and read here and there without reading them in order. They were written by David’s son, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. And the Proverbs are wise. And often funny.
If you’d like a basic tutorial on what each book of the Bible is about, you can read my post here. Otherwise, my advice is to keep it simple and start with JOHN.
Next week’s question is from Sarah in TN, and is about this Spirit. “I’d love information on the Holy Spirit. Does it only enter unto people once they have accepted and been saved.”
Hope to see you there, and don’t forget to leave me a question in the comments or by e-mail if there’s something about the Bible you’d like to know.