A Word to New Bible Readers
While it's important to read the whole Bible, it's also a little intimidating. With a typical Bible reading plan, you won't read about Jesus for nine months! In their book Begin, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge have arranged some of the most important texts for new Bible readers: Genesis 1-11 (The Foundation), Exodus 20:1-17 (The 10 Commandments), John (The Gospel), Romans (An Epistle from Paul to the Christians), and Revelation 21-22 (The Fulfillment in Heaven). These texts are interspersed with easy-to-read commentary and summaries of in-between events. We recommend purchasing a copy (approx. $2.50 on Kindle or under $12 for a paperback copy). If you cannot afford one, contact us and we will be happy to help!
"What Version Should I Read?"
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek; therefore, we must read a translation or learn the original languages. No translation is perfect, but we recommend reading in the King James Version (KJV), English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Version (NASB) or a similar more literal translation. For serious Bible study, avoid less literal translations like the New Living Translation (NLT) or The Message and The Living Bible which are essentially paraphrases. To learn more about Bible translations, click here (coming soon).
Recommended Online Resources
- To read the Bible for free online, try Bible Gateway or download the YouVersion App on your phone. After creating an account, you can save your notes and highlights. For $3.99 a month, Bible Gateway Plus is ad-free and provides access to over 40 books, commentaries, and Study Bibles.
- A limited number of study tools are available for free on sites like Bible.org and Bible Study Tools, or with free Bible software like E-Sword.
- For an extensive index of free online Bible commentaries, see here.
- For serious, lifelong study, consider investing in Logos Bible Software. Priced at approximately $265, the Starter Package offers access to 241 resources and nearly 43,000 pages of searchable content.
- For a massive collection of historic Christian writings, search Christian Classics Ethereal Library. For example, the entire text of John Wesley's book A Plain Account of Christian Perfection may be a helpful companion to a Biblical survey on the doctrine of holiness.
- For video summaries of major Biblical themes and books of the Bible, check out The Bible Project.
Get the Most Out of Your Reading
- Use a Pencil and Highlighter. Engaging and interacting with the text is a valuable habit. This crayon-like Bible Highlight Kit is priced at under $12 and offers four pastel colors that do not bleed through thin pages. Try using the recommended color code or create your own to mark key themes throughout Scripture (e.g. red for salvation). Make notes in the margin of your Bible or on separate notebook paper.
- Keep a Notebook Handy. When you come across a new word, are confused by an unusual passage, or simply want to dig deeper, make a note (e.g. "who are the 'sons of God' in Genesis 6:1-4?"). Online resources may be helpful, but feel free to ask a pastor any question. Guiding God's people through His Word is one of our greatest joys!
- Follow a Bible Reading Plan, like the one provided below.
- Download a Bible App on your Smart Phone, like the one from YouVersion. Take advantage of your spare minutes and read ahead on your Bible Reading Plan. It's never been easier to be addicted to the Bible!
Bible Reading Plan
The following Bible Reading Plan is just one of many available options. It is broken down into both daily and monthly goals, as most people tend to either read ahead or fall behind throughout the calendar year. Alternatively, try this Reading Plan from The Bible Project, with video introductions to each new book of the Bible.
Principles of Biblical Interpretation
While the Holy Spirit may guide our mind through His Word, Biblical interpretation is hard work! God intends for us to apply all of our faculties to the study of His Bible. Consider these four important steps:
- Analyze the Biblical Text. Read the text carefully. Look, look, look. Then, look again! The longer you look, the more you’ll see. Identify key words, figurative language, repetition, literary form, tone, key characters and symbols in the story. Identify the speaker and the audience. Interact with the text. Prioritize the literary and historical context. Never isolate a single verse! Context is key to understanding the intended meaning…
- Consider the Intended Meaning. Find out what the Biblical text meant to the people to whom it was originally written (the Biblical audience). Consider the Biblical culture. How is it different from ours? You may need to consult outside resources. If your interpretation would not have made sense to the Biblical audience, it is wrong.
- Look for an Underlying Principle. Cross the “principle bridge” from the Biblical culture to our culture. What principle underlies the text which is applicable in every culture? The principle must be (1) found in the text, (2) include every key dynamic in the text, and (3) be consistent with the rest of the Bible. If reading in the Old Testament, ask yourself how the passage is modified or fulfilled by New Testament revelation.
- Make a Specific Application. Make an application of the text that specifically describes how the Biblical principle can be lived out in our everyday lives. Be careful! This too must be consistent with the rest of Scripture. Do not elevate your application to the same level as the principle. There will always be someone with a stricter or looser application! Pray and ask God to help you actualize the truth in your life.