Where Should I Start Reading the Bible?

Bible FAQsQ: Where should I start when reading the Bible?

A: In general, any Bible reading is better than no Bible reading.

Probably, the least effective way to read the Bible is to start on page 1 and read straight through to the end. The different sections, or books, of the Bible are grouped by category more so than in chronological order. Therefore, a sequential reading doesn’t always make sense.

However, to have a specific Bible reading plan in place allows for the systemic method of reading the Bible. This website offers several Bible reading plans for you to consider.

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When is the Best Time of Day to Read the Bible?

Bible FAQsQ: When is the best time of day to read the Bible?

A: There is no specific best time.

The best time for you to read the Bible is whenever you are going to be able to give it your full attention, focusing on it, blocking out distractions, and not being rushed to finish.

Many people like to read their Bible in the morning, before they begin their day. Others feel Bible reading is a great way to conclude their day and focus their thoughts before going to sleep. Some find that arriving at work early and reading before others arrive best prepares them for the workday. Other options include reading during your lunch hour or coffee break, on your morning commute (providing you’re not driving), while savoring a cup of coffee, or even enjoying a hot bath!

Ultimately, the best time to read the Bible is whenever you can get the most return out of your investment of time and energy.

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Why Should I Read the Bible Every Day?


Q: Why should I read the Bible every day?

Bible FAQsA: Just as we eat regularly to maintain our physical health, regular Bible reading helps keep us on track and healthy in a spiritual sense.

Just as it would be ludicrous to eat a big meal on Sunday and expect it to hold us for a week, reading the Bible sporadically – or not at all – is equally unwise from a spiritual standpoint.

In addition to regular Bible reading, other components of spiritual health include regular prayer and meditation, along with periodic fasting.

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I Know Very Little About the Bible; What Are the Basics?

Bible FAQsQ: I know very little about the Bible; what are the basics?

A: The Bible is actually a collection of books, written by various authors over a period of several hundred years. Think of the Bible as a diverse anthology of godly communication to us. It contains historic accounts, poetry, letters of instruction and encouragement, messages from God sent through his emissaries (prophets), and future prophecies.

Altogether, the Bible contains 66 books*. They are grouped into two sections. The Old Testament contains 39 books that precede and anticipate Jesus. The New Testament contains 27 books and cover Jesus’ life and the work of his followers.

Some Bibles, as well as the original King James Bible, include additional books that cover a gap in time between the Old and New Testaments.*

The Hebrew Bible includes the same writings of the 39 Old Testament books, but combines some books together, resulting in 24 books.

* see Apocrypha for more information

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Don’t Add to or Subtract From the Bible

Most people who read the Bible are careful – or so they claim – not to add anything to God’s written word or to take anything away from it.

A commonly cited verse to support this practice is Revelation 22:18-19, which pronounces plagues for those who add and implies eternal death to those who subtract. However, John isn’t referring to the entire Bible but only to the record of his dream. Applying John’s warning to all of scripture is taking these two verses out of context.

A similar warning against adding or removing words occurs in Deuteronomy 4:2 and Deuteronomy 12:32. Again these passages only apply to laws God gave to Moses. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day would have done well to follow what Moses said in these two verses, because over centuries of time, religious leaders added thousands of rules and regulations beyond God’s original words. Their efforts at clarification may have been well intended, but in doing so, they directly violated what God prohibited.

These verses, while narrow in scope, offer a principal applicable to the whole Bible: don’t add to it or take away from it. Yet people do this all the time, elevating personal practices and opinions to the authority of biblical mandate.

Earlier in my life, I spent time with people who, with godly fervor, decried drinking, smoking, dancing, and playing cards. Never mind that the Bible never said these were of the devil, yet our pastor proclaimed them to be so. More recently, I visited a church with odd requirements for women to wear dresses and not cut or color their hair. Where did that come from? I could go on.

If we’re going to follow what the Bible says, let’s actually follow what it says and not interject our own ideas or delete our own biases.

[Revelation 22:18-19, Deuteronomy 4:2, and Deuteronomy 12:32]


Hear God

Once when Jesus was wrapping up a teaching, he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” What exactly does he mean?

In our culture, we often consider “the word of God” to mean the Bible. So the common understanding is we need to read the Bible and obey it. However, the part of the Bible about Jesus (the New Testament) didn’t exist at the time, so he couldn’t have been telling the people to read and obey something that hadn’t yet been written.

But since Jesus is both man and God, he could have used “hear the word of God” as a euphemism to mean “hear me.” While we can’t directly hear Jesus today, we can hear from the Holy Spirit he sent to us.

So maybe Jesus means he wants us to hear the Holy Spirit.

For some people this is easy and for others it’s nonsensical, while for the rest this is feasible but difficult and confusing and infrequent.

Yet, we may need to pursue listening to the Holy Spirit if we are to truly “hear the word of God.”

[Luke 11:28]


Which Version of the Bible is Best?

In the FAQ section of A-Bible-A-Day, one question is “Which version or translation of the Bible should I use?

The short answer is to pick whatever version you will actually read.

Unfortunately, there is much vociferous, albeit unwarranted, debate about this issue. With what seems like a countless list of versions to pick from, they are roughly divided into three groups, which exist on a continuum: word-for-word translations, thought-for-thought translations, and paraphrases.

While a word-for-word translation may seem to be the most pure and accurate, the true meaning of a text can be obscured or even misleading given the cultural and time differences between an ancient document written in another language and today’s English for a modern society.

Some see thought-for-thought translations as the answer to this dilemma and a means to minimize confusion. This helps to some extent, but doesn’t completely address differences in culture, era, and worldview.

To address this, paraphrases attempt to provide a modern understanding of the ancient texts, using more accessible phrasing and terminology. However, paraphrases are quick to become dated. Another concern is that the team doing the paraphrase has more latitude in the words they choose and must rely on their understanding of the original intent .

Hence, we go full circle, back to word-for-word translations, which takes me back to my original assertion to pick whichever version you will actually read.


In Summary…

While some may have been distracted — or irritated — by my series of posts about adding to or taking away from the Bible, I feel it is an important question to consider.

Here is a list of the relevant posts on this subject — in the order presented — in case you want to reread them or catch one that you might have missed:

Next up will be some thoughts on Nehemiah.


Definitely Out

In this series of posts on what should rightly be included in the Bible, several examples were given of items that, while not in all Bibles are in some.  Given that there has been historical and/or significant acceptance for these texts, I feel there’s reasonable justification for their inclusion in the Bible; I think that they are rightly part of the whole narrative.

But I don’t opt for inclusion in all cases.  There are other historical documents that could arguably be embraced and accepted.  Notably there are other gospel accounts and other epistles (letters to churches), which although seemingly similar to what is in the Bible, have never been included or deemed to be on par with other books in the Bible.  I feel that to embrace them, would be to commit the error of adding to the Bible.

Having purposefully never read these texts, I dismiss them because virtually everyone else does so — and has done so over the centuries.  I see no reason why I should deviate from this perspective.

Although a bit curious, the reason I opt to not read these non-Biblical texts is that I don’t want them to distract me from what is in the Bible — nor do I want to commit the error of the Pharisees by interjecting any possibly unwise or unwarranted teachings into my pursuit of God.  For me, these extra-Biblical writings are out.


How Do You Read the Bible?

How do you read the Bible?

Some people read the Bible like a text book — to amass knowledge.

Other people read the Bible like a book of law — looking for precedent and loopholes to justify themselves, ideas, and behavior.

Still others read the Bible like a “how to” book — noting the things that they should do and the things that they shouldn’t.

However, all of these approaches miss the point.  The people in Bible-times understood and appreciated it as narrative.  That has how it was written and is its best use — for them, and for us.

Not only should we pursue the Bible as narrative, but also with the knowledge that the narrative is best comprehended when it is experienced in community.

Although personal Bible study and reflection is helpful and enlightening, it is also ego-centric and intellectually narcissistic.  It is through the lens of community dialogue that a deeper and fuller understanding can best be discovered.

So, the Bible is best read as narrative and — whenever possible — in a group environment.