If you are asking “Where do I start reading the Bible?” this post was written for you. There are so many ways we get to this question like maybe we are seeking direction from God, or we want to grow closer to Him, or we have questions about who He is. Well I love sharing my passion for Scripture with others and this is a simple guide to get you started reading the Bible.
How to Grow with God by Reading the Bible
Reading the Bible is the number one way I recommend people start seeking to hear God speak. If you’ve met God and are ready to go deeper, hear Him speak & interact with Him on a daily level then Scripture is the best place to start.
Sometimes we want God to speak to us individually and verbally. We want Him to be very clear in the way He approaches us with truth.
I’ve found He doesn’t often do that. He often wants us to seek to spend time with Him MORE than to seek Him simply to hear something or get something from Him.
God’s already spoken. A lot. He has said many things, He has performed many miracles, He has loved in many ways and His people wrote those down for us.
The Bible is a book full of letters written by imperfect humans inspired by God and used by the Spirit to share truth.
These humans were in different time periods and in different situations yet our God remains the same through it all.
These stories and instructions are extremely important for us!
They teach us things like
- who God is
- who God created us to be
- what He needs us to do
- how He loves us
- how we are called to love Him & others
- how to find wisdom
- the truth of heaven
- how God used (and uses!) imperfect people to impact the world
- how God desires us to live an abundant life
When you read the Bible you will grow in your relationship with God.
Whether you know and understand the Bible well OR you are absolutely clueless and new, keep reading because YES you can begin to understand the Bible and go deeper with God today!
If you want to understand the Bible it’s simple, you have to read the Bible.
The more you read it, the more you ask questions, the more you interact and learn, the deeper your understanding of God will be.
That understanding is the launch pad into a passionate relationship with God.
If you are ready for that kind of relationship, read on! I share tools you need to start reading the Bible as well as where to start reading the Bible & practical tips to understand it better!
The Tools you Need to Start Studying the Bible
Let’s not overcomplicate this.
The only tools you need to start studying the Bible is your Bible.
& your eye glasses if necessary.
You don’t need a fancy large study Bible. You don’t need an entire set of commentaries. You don’t need 50 books to teach you how to read the Bible.
You just need a Bible (which I know you probably already have on your phone) and a desire to read it.
If you don’t have a desire to read the Bible then ask yourself this…
“What am I making more important than time with the God of the Universe?”
Sometimes desire doesn’t come until after life changing revelations that come from spending time with our awesome God.
>> YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 8 Steps to Reading the Bible Confidently for the Beginner
The Best Order to Read the Bible for the First Time
Now I am not going to make a blanket statement and say you HAVE to read this book first and then give you an order.
I am going to give you a few different book ideas since it’s your first time reading the Bible.
If you don’t want options and are just ready to be told where to start reading the Bible, I’ve made a seven day video course just for you. Join right here!
Before that let’s dive into a few facts about the Bible so you can understand the book a little better.
Facts about the Bible
- The Bible is split into two sections: the Old Testament & the New Testament.
- There are 66 books total. 39 in the Old. 27 in the New.
- The original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew (with two books in Aramaic) and the New Testament Greek!
- The Bible was written by about 40 different people of different times & backgrounds.
- These people were used by the Holy Spirit to write all these words to use to lead us to God and through this life!
Okay I want to share a little more about the first fact because that was the biggest mind altering subject I dove into when I started reading the Bible.
God is the same throughout the entire Bible. You may be thinking “Then why was He so violent in the Old Testament?”
That is a deep question I am not going to answer today BUT we can still get more understanding of the differences.
In general, the Old Testament is more stories & the New Testament is more direct teachings.
The Old Testament can be more difficult to apply to your everyday life because it isn’t as direct and when looking at context we realize many of those Old Testament laws don’t apply to us after the cross.
BUT it is still important to study!
You know why?
Because you learn more about WHO God is throughout the entire Bible. You can’t pick and choose what to focus on.
I don’t recommend ONLY spending time studying the New Testament.
I am not saying to ONLY study the Old Testament either.
I believe you need to find a balance because God will use both sections to teach and lead you.
I realize many people favor the New Testament because it’s easier to read and to find takeaways but those people are missing out on so much!
- God split the Red Sea
- God used a Donkey to verbally speak
- God stopped the sun from setting during a battle
- Many people do dumb things ?
There is so much to be gained from reading the whole Bible and now I will rest my case.
Another difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is God’s relationship with us.
The Old Testament people were separated from God because of their sin. After Jesus died all sins past, present & future were forgiven. With His resurrection came a new connection we can have with God untainted by sin.
That’s just something to keep in mind when reading about the laws in Leviticus.
There are two options you have for getting started reading the Bible (I mean technically you have 66 but I am going to make this more simple)
I have created a course that is a 7 day video course to guide you into reading the Bible. In this course we use Philippians as our jumping off point. Join here!
If you would rather do it on your own here are a few ideas!
It’s a relatively short but joyful book written by Paul to the Philippi people.
- Start with a Gospel
The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. These are four different accounts of the time Jesus walked the Earth. These include amazing stories, truths about God’s character, and instructions directly from Jesus!
- Read a Letter from Paul
Man! If you are ready for some strong encouragement and teaching Paul’s letters don’t disappoint. He is always on an adventure to share the truth about Jesus to the world no matter the cost. He has written many letters but a few you could start with are: Romans, Galatians, Ephesians & Philippians (this we dive into in the course!)
- Read the book of Genesis
Always a fun place to start, Genesis includes our origin story, some dumb human behavior and a loving God who still shows up.
- Read Ruth
It’s only a four chapter book and it’s an easy to follow story to get started with!
- BONUS: Want a little poetry thrown in? Real a Psalm a day with your other book reading or read through Proverbs!
I go into this even DEEPER in the Basic Bible Course – Check it out here!
Bible Reading Plan for Beginners
If you are ready to commit and dive into the whole Bible then you need a Bible reading plan. Then you don’t have to think of where to start reading the Bible, you read it all!
When reading the Bible all the way through there are two main ways to do it.
One way is just from cover to cover. This is often the easiest place to start.
*Sometimes Bible reading plans include the books in a different order to break up some of the longer story sections and make it easier to read!
You can also follow a chronological order of reading. The way the Bible is currently published is not necessarily the order the books were written in.
When looking at context we realize a few books actually repeat stories of others.
This kind of Bible reading plan is often as a way to go deeper after reading it through at least once cover to cover.
It’s good to mix things up and read the Bible both ways!
This year I’ve read the entire Bible all the way through for the first time. It taught me so much about the bigger picture of the Bible and how God’s plan was happening throughout.
I even took on a challenge that is only for those who are really ready for a big commitment – I read it through in 60 days. Check it out here!
If you are looking for a Bible Reading Plan for the entire Bible here it is! This one will go back and forth on the Old Testament and New Testament everyday!
How to Read the Bible Effectively
Don’t let intimidation hold you back from reading the Bible. The more you read and study the more you’ll understand.
You’ll learn and grow throughout your time in the Word so don’t focus on reading effectively but here are a few tips to help get you digging in!
Set Up Camp
If you really want to start understanding the Bible you can’t skip around. You’ll never grow in your knowledge by just reading a verse here and there.
You’ve got to commit. You have to choose a book and set up camp.
Setting up camp means you are choosing to read and reread until you understand it. It means you are truly dedicated to understanding that little part of the Bible which will build the foundational blocks of your Biblical understanding.
Choose a book. Set up camp.
Know what type of Writing it is
Different people use different categories for the types of Biblical writings but I am just going to share the broader types to help you get started.
The broad writing styles of the Bible are these:
Are you going to read poetry differently then you would American laws? Would you read a person’s memoir differently than a letter from a friend?
Yes, you would! You would be reading it differently expecting different messages and ways of translating. The same is true for Scripture.
For example, Leviticus is a book of law while Psalm and Proverbs are poetry. They are written differently, for different purposes and we must approach Scripture according to those differences.
After choosing a book to set up camp in, determine what kind of writing it is!
Dig into Context before Diving into Details
You may have heard the phrase context is key and it is!
I am going to dive deeper into this topic in the seven day Where to Start Reading the Bible Course but for now context is simply understanding facts around the book of the Bible.
It’s asking these questions so you can understand each book and unique verses.
- Who wrote this book?
- Why did he write it?
- What was his main points?
- What was going on in history?
These questions give us context so when we read the verses we understand the author which leads to us better grasping their truth.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
The only way you’ll understand God’s Word is if you ask questions.
You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you are a theology expert so I am going to assume you aren’t really sure about the Bible.
It’s complicated, weird and difficult to understand. It seems archaic and irrelevant. It’s intimidating.
Don’t fear not knowing and understanding. It’s the best place to start.
You’ve got to ask questions. If you really want to understand the Bible you do what you do in class and ask questions.
Then look for answers.
God’s Word has a lot to offer and it requires you to dig in and dig deep.
Promise me you’ll ask questions!
Dwell in Lessons throughout the Day
This is often the problem I see.
Someone will add “read the Bible” to their daily to do list and then they’ll do it just to check it off.
Don’t do that.
There are two problems.
1- it becomes something you have to do.
2- It limits your time to just those spare 5 minutes.
When you truly dive into God’s Word and He chooses to speak to you, you’ve got to chose to dwell in the message.
God speaks when He wants you to hear AND do something about it.
Every day is a new chance to become more like Jesus. It’s a daily act of choosing the Godly over the worldly.
That requires putting in some work and seeking God’s truth throughout the day not just in the morning.
This is my challenge.
Spend time in God’s Word then try to remember and reflect throughout the day.
Write a phrase on your wrist. Pray every time you are in the car. Talk to a friend about what God is teaching you.
Don’t stop spending time with God when you close His Word.
You’ve already gotten so far!
You found your next book to set up camp in, you’ve learned more about how to read it to understand it and you’ve grown in your relationship with God.
Don’t quit now!
The only way to truly know and understand the Bible is to keep reading and studying it. You’ve got to keep opening it up and diving in.
The more you read, the more you’ll grow to love it. The brighter your passion will burn and the deeper you’ll go with God.
Trust me, you’ve just got to keep studying and it is so worth it!
Now I hope you’ve found the answer to the question of where to start reading the Bible and are equipped to reading it effectively!
Before you leave I just want to mention The Basic Bible Course that I created for people like you who don’t have access to theology class but want to know more about the Bible.
This course is full of guides, facts, and teachings to equip you to study God’s Word well and grow deeper with God.
I hope that helped you decide where to dive in! Leave a comment below sharing what you’ll be reading next!