How to Read the Bible

If anyone wants to read the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible, he should first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough resources to complete it. Your reading strategy should consider some helpful facts about the Bible.

Consider reading an English translation.

The original texts of the Bible were in Hebrew and Greek[a]with a smidge of Aramaic in some places. There have been many ancient manuscripts that help scholars understand more about the original text. As the number of ancient manuscripts increases, our understanding of the Bible increases. Choose an English translation that a) is based upon good scholarship and b) is readable to you.

In our modern Bibles, there are 39 books of the Old Testament. Before Christ, there was no “new” testament, so the Scriptures were not called “old” testament.

They were written in Hebrew and called the Scriptures.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” [b]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Ti 3:16–17.)

I sometimes call the first 39 books “The Hebrew Scriptures” because of the original language and the authorship by Jewish writers.

There are 27 more books in the Bible. These were originally written in Greek by Christian writers. I sometimes call them “The Christian Scriptures” because of their authorship.

Consider reading one book at a time.

The Bible is a library of books. It contains 66 books in the two sections noted above. Many readers are encouraged to read the whole Bible. I encourage you not to take on a task so vast that you will most likely fail to reach your goal. Read a verse or a chapter at first. Then grow into reading an entire book. Small books, like Colossians, can be read in one session. Bigger books, like Matthew, might require more time.

Consider starting in the New Testament.

It contains quotations and citations and allusions and images from the Hebrew Scriptures. As you continue to learn and grow, add in the Hebrew Scriptures for greater understanding of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. However, I don’t recommend that readers begin with Genesis and hope to make it to Revelation. The Bible was not written that way. It is not intended to be read that way.

Consider using a digital Bible.

Some excellent Bible apps are available.

  • YouVersion has many translations/versions available for free, other free tools for individuals or churches.
  • BibleGateway has many translations/versions and reading/study tools available for free. BG also offers a paid upgrade for deeper study.
  • Logos Bible from FaithLife has a free app, but works best as a subscription service for everyone from novice to scholar.

Consider listening to the Bible.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” [c]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 10:17.

Before the widespread printing of Bibles, public reading of the Scripture was perhaps the most important method of hearing God’s Word. A modern individual can own as many printed Bibles as they want, but may not actually read any of them. Over the years, recordings of the Bible have been available on vinyl discs, cassette tapes, compact disks, and other formats. I like to listen to the Bible app through my phone blue-toothed to my car receiver. 

Consider tracking your progress. The Bible has 1,189 chapters, so you can read the entire Bible just remember that Psalm 119 is as long as 20 chapters

Consider taking notes.

RCA Read Comprehend Apply – Personal Bible Study Worksheet