Where Should I Start Reading the Bible? - Radical

Where Should I Start Reading the Bible?

At some point, every follower of Christ, asks themselves, “Where should I start reading my Bible?” This is a legitimate question, because the Bible can be daunting at first glance. When we started reading the Bible, we felt overwhelmed and uncertain where to start.

Whether you are a new Christian or wanting to grow in your relationship with the Lord by reading his word, remember why you read the Bible. We read the Bible to grow in our knowledge of God. We read the Bible praying our hearts will be transformed and our lives conformed to the image of Christ. Remember, we do not read the Bible to earn the love of God and practice a ritual. We read the Bible to know and love God.

Where Should I Start Reading the Bible?

If you haven’t committed to a specific plan or have little to no experience with reading the Bible, we’ve provided three great places to begin reading the Bible.

Start with the Book of John

One of our favorite recommendations is starting with the Gospel of John. John is probably the easiest gospel to read, understand, and see who Jesus is. John presents Jesus as the One who died on our behalf, rose three days later, and ascended to God’s right hand. This is the Jesus that we worship. If you are new to reading the Bible, it’s vital that we have this picture of Jesus throughout the whole Bible.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to walk through the book of John with a friend named Matthew who recently came to saving faith in Christ. During the few weeks that we spent in John, I watched as Matthew grew in his understanding of and affection for Jesus. By the end of our study, it was clear that Jesus was the second person of the Trinity who is both truly God and truly man. As Matthew read through the book of John, he began to understand the Savior who covered his sins on the cross.

Read the Book of Mark

After reading the book of John, consider reading through the Gospel of Mark. In his Gospel, Mark presents the fast-paced nature of Jesus’ gospel ministry before slowing down to highlight the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Like John’s Gospel, the Gospel of Mark helps us see Jesus clearly.

Like John’s Gospel, the Gospel of Mark helps us see Jesus clearly.

We worship a Savior who cares for the poor and marginalized. Mark consistently presents Jesus as a servant who sacrificed those around him. But he also makes it clear that Jesus is the Messiah, the one who has saved us from our sins.

Read the Whole Bible, 5 Pages at a Time

When I was 15, I distinctly remember sharing the gospel with an agnostic college student. During our conversation, I shared the way that the Spirit had transformed my heart and brought me to saving faith in the work of Christ. After I presented my testimony and shared the gospel, as well as I, knew how, the college student began to ask me if I had even read the whole Bible. He began to quote sections of the Bible that I had never read. He challenged me by saying that the God of the Old Testament could not possibly be loving and must be a different god than Jesus.

As a 15-year-old, I was stumped. I had read the gospels. I could recite some verses from Romans and Ephesians, but I hadn’t spent much time reading the Old Testament. Shortly after, I committed to reading through the whole Bible and found it to be one of the most life-giving experiences in my life. As I read through Leviticus, I began to see the holiness of God clearly. I wrestled through the problem of evil as I read Habakkuk. In short, I began to see God’s beauty and sovereignty more clearly.

The goal of Bible reading is not to speed or volume. The goal is to grow in faithfulness, delight, and knowledge of God.

If you want to read the entire Bible, consider starting with five pages per day. If you read five pages a day, you’ll finish reading the Bible in a year. I’ve had friends who maintained a more rigorous schedule and finished in six months by reading ten pages per day. Remember, we read the Bible to know and love God. The goal is not to speed or volume. The goal is to grow in faithfulness, delight, and knowledge of God.

3 Tips for Reading the Bible

Reading the Bible can seem like a great undertaking. No matter where you are in your relationship with the Lord, our heart is for you to love God more deeply as you learn more about him.

Use a Study Bible

As you read through the Bible, questions will often arise that cannot be quickly answered with the surrounding context. We have found that using a study Bible can be a helpful tool for understanding the meaning of a passage. If you are looking to purchase a study Bible, we would recommend using the CSB Study Bible or the ESV Study Bible. These study Bibles are trusted resources that can help you grow in your understanding of the Bible.

Try Using a Commentary

Another helpful way to understand the Bible is by using a Bible commentary. Bible commentaries can be overwhelming because of the volume and length of many texts. We recommend starting by using one or two commentaries such as those included in the Christ-Centered Exposition series or the Tyndale Bible Commentary set. If you’re looking for a free commentary online, consider using one from Matthew Henry or John Calvin.

Focus on Being Consistent

When you’re starting to read the Bible, it can be easy to set high expectations with low follow through. Don’t overwhelm yourself. We would encourage you to start small by reading a chapter of the Bible a day and slowly working your way through the Bible. When you consistently read the Bible, you will be consistently spending time learning to know and love the God that created, cares, and saved you.

An Encouragement from Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon, a renowned Baptist preacher from the 1800’s, once famously said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” In reading your Bible, remember the goal is to find rest and comfort in Christ. Remember, the goal is to know and love God.

Isaac Karpenske serves as the Associate Pastor of Apple River Community Church in Amery, Wisconsin. He earned a Bachelor of the Arts in Pastoral Ministries and a Master of Divinity from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul.

Cole Shiflet is the Editor at Radical. He is the Founder of Accelerate and Multiply Groups. He is a member of Redeemer Community Church and an M.Div. student at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama.

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