Want to know how to read the Bible? The BEST way to read the Bible? I’ll let you in on a little secret… there is no one right way!
The best way to read the Bible is simply the way that works best for YOU.
After all, the Bible is a HUGE book, and there are a lot of ways to approach it.
- Some Christians love starting at the beginning and reading straight through, while others prefer starting in the New Testament or with the book of Psalms.
- Some Christians prefer reading physical copies of the Bible, while others prefer to look up individual verses on their phones via Biblegateway.com
- Some Christians love using Bible study apps like Youversion or the First5 App, while others prefer to read on their own.
All of these can work well!
This is because, while learning how to read the Bible can seem very overwhelming when you’re a beginner, the good news is that it’s pretty hard to mess it up.
Sure, you may not understand every single verse the first time you read through (no one does–even those of us who have been reading it for years), but that’s okay!
The good news is: You can still get a lot out of the Bible, even if you don’t know what every single verse means.
And the even better news is: Today I’m sharing a ton of tips to help make learning how to read the Bible as easy as possible!
The FIRST thing I always recommend is downloading your free copy of my Quiet Time Planning Guide:
Perfect for both beginning Bible readers and seasoned readers who have fallen out of the habit, the Quiet Time Planning Guide will walk you step-by-step through creating the PERFECT quiet time for you — no matter how busy you are.
With 8 very user-friendly pages of encouragement and helpful worksheets, this free printable pack is JUST what you need to making daily Bible reading a consistent habit. It’s free, and so, so helpful! Grab yours today!
Then, be sure to check out these related posts as well:
*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the many costs of running this site and allows me to help provide for my growing family. Thank you!
How to Read the Bible — The Easy Way!
Whether you don’t know how to start reading the Bible or you don’t know where to start reading the Bible, if you’re ready to learn how to read the Bible on a regular basis, this post is for you! I promise, it will make learning how to read the Bible a LOT easier and less intimidating!
1. Choose a Study Bible in a User-Friendly Translation
Did you know: Originally, the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek? In other words — not in English.
The English Bibles we have today are all just translations of the original language, and some are easier to read than others. And while it is true that some translations are more accurate than others, if you’re just starting out reading (not diving into deep theology), any of the common translation should be fine.
So which Bible translation should you choose?
The New Living Translation (NLT) is a good one to start with, since it’s pretty easy to read. And The Message is also a great choice if you’re looking for something super easy to read. It is a paraphrase, so it’s not as accurate to the original text, but if you find the Bible difficult and intimidating, it’s a very user-friendly version to start out with.
Personally, I typically read some combination of the New International Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB). They’re all pretty middle-of-the-road.
You will definitely want to make sure the Bible you choose is a “study Bible.” Study Bibles are super common, and you can find them in just about any translation.
Study Bibles are great because they contain a lot of additional information to make your reading and studying easier — even if you’re just learning how to study the Bible for yourself for the first time.
For example, a typical study Bible may contain:
- Quick summaries at the beginning of each book
- Additional information right next to the text
- Answers to common questions
- Word definitions
- Lists of key verses by topic
- Lists of key miracles and parables and where to find them
- Maps of the time period
- And much more
Don’t worry — this doesn’t make your reading more difficult or complicated. These resources are there to help you find what you’re looking for and to help explain things you might otherwise miss or not understand. They’re super helpful! And chances are, you’ll find yourself referring to the extra notes in your Bible quite a bit. (I still do!)
Or you may appreciate something like “Know Your Bible.” This super short but super helpful book gives a great overview of all of the Bible books — how they fit together, what they’re about, what the key take aways are…
With thousands of positive reviews and “best seller” status on Amazon, this popular little boo is a great one to have on hand. (And it’s SUPER cheap)
2. Choose Where to Start Reading the Bible
Okay, you have a good Bible and you’re ready to dig in. But where do you start reading?
One thing it’s important to know: You don’t have to go in order. And if you’re just learning how to read the Bible for the first time, I’d recommend that you don’t. Instead, you might want to start with an easy portion and work your way up to the harder parts.
Use this guide to help you decide where to start reading the Bible:
Quick (& Over-simplified) Overview of the Old Testament:
- Genesis – Exodus: Bible stories of the first people God created. Easy reading.
- Leviticus – Deuteronomy: Long lists of Old Testament law that we are not required to follow today. Very difficult reading.
- Joshua – Job, Isaiah – Malachi: Longer, more complicated stories of the Israelites (God’s chosen people) and their “on again off again” relationship with following God. Moderately difficult reading.
- Psalms – Ecclesiastes: Quick, general Biblical advice for godly living. Fairly easy reading.
Quick (& Over-simplified) Overview of the New Testament:
- Matthew – John: Bible stories about Jesus’s time on earth. Very easy reading.
- Acts: Bible stories about the early church. Very easy reading.
- Romans – Jude: Letters from early Christians to the churches, encouraging and instructing them in their faith. Easy reading.
- Revelation: A vision of what the end times will be like. Difficult reading.
*Note: Catholic Bibles contain 7 books that are not in Protestant Bibles. These books (all of which come from the Old Testament) are known as the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. I would read the books above first, and then come back to these later.
Personally, I’d probably the following as the best order to read the Bible for the first time (for ease of reading ONLY):
- John (this is a great first book to start with!)
- Matthew – Luke
- Romans – Jude
- Genesis and Exodus
- Psalms – Proverbs
- Joshua – Job, Isaiah – Malachi
- Leviticus – Deuteronomy
This isn’t in chronological order by any means. But it should allow you to hit as many of the popular and helpful “highlights” as possible while saving the most difficult books for last.
For example, “His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours” is a great companion for reading through John chapters 13-17.
And don’t be intimidated! Most modern women’s Bible studies really don’t go super in-depth and over your head. They simply provide additional, explanatory information alongside the text so you understand what you’re reading better.
There are tons of women’s Bible studies out there — you can find them on just about any topic or for any book of the Bible. Just choose a book or topic that looks good to you, read the Amazon reviews for a good one, or ask a friend or women’s ministry leader for a good recommendation.
They really do help!
3. Take Your Time! Learn How to Read the Bible Slowly
If you have the time to sit and read the Bible for hours on end, that’s great! Most people don’t, though. Most people read just a little bit at a time, and actually prefer it this way. And if you’re just starting out learning how to read the Bible, that’s what I would recommend for you as well.
The Bible is not a speed reading contest, and if you try to read through it too fast, there’s a lot you are likely to miss.
Don’t be afraid to take it slow and really seek to understand what you are reading, not just skim over it. It’s okay if you have to go back and read portions more than one time or if you stop to look something up. That’s a good thing!
Depending on the difficulty of the book you are reading and the amount of time you have to read your Bible each day, you may only read a chapter, a couple chapters or even just a part of a chapter (chapters are usually very short, and they’re all numbered, like Genesis 1 or Matthew 5).
**Want a free Bible journaling sheet to help you stay on track when you’re learning how to read the Bible? Grab this one for FREE on our Subscriber Freebies page!
4. Reflect on What You’re Reading in the Bible
Another reason why you want to read the Bible a little more slowly is because it gives you time to stop and reflect on what you’re reading and how it applies to your life.
You may want to ask yourself questions like:
- What is this passage mostly about?
- What does this passage reveal about God/Jesus?
- What does this passage reveal about humankind?
- What message or key point is the author trying to express?
- How does this short passage fit in context with the rest of the chapter?
- Are there any lessons I can learn from this passage?
- Are there any changes I need to make in my life after reading this passage?
The questions you ask will vary based on which portion of the Bible you are reading, but these seven questions to ask while reading the Bible should get you off to a good start.
5. Use Helpful Bible Tools and Resources as Needed
While you definitely can read the Bible cover to cover all by yourself, you can learn SO much more by taking advantage of some of the amazing Bible resources out there that are available to you — many of them for free!
I share all of my favorite Bible reading resources in my post: Create Your Own Bible Study Basket.
And of course, there’s always the Quiet Time Planning Guide to help you determine what your Bible-reading time should look like, logistically speaking.
It contains 8 pages of worksheets, tips and encouragement to help you:
- Plan the best quiet time for you
- Stay focused despite distractions
- Hold yourself accountable
- Experience real spiritual growth
And — it’s free!
Or, you could check out some of these great resources:
- Not sure what to read? Here’s a collection of Easy Bible Reading Plans to help you know what to read each day. Most of them come with a community aspect as well — so you aren’t just reading the Bible with yourself, but going through it with a group! Super helpful.
- Having trouble understanding the passage (section) you’re reading? Look up the verses on Biblehub.com. You can read the same verse in a variety of different translations, and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can read several summaries and explanations written by various Bible scholars (commentaries).
- Having trouble staying on track? Check out these 7 Reasons You’re Struggling to Read the Bible Consistently. Maybe one will ring a bell?
Seasoned Bible readers — do you have any more tips for people just learning how to read the Bible for the first time? Newbies — what’s holding you back? Tell us in the comments below!
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