How to Read the Bible

by Samuel Brooks

While this is an elementary topic, it’s important to get back to the basics and to also provide a basic guide for those that are new to the faith. Furthermore, I didn’t learn any of this until later in life – 2-3 years before I went back to college to be exact – even though I grew up attending church. So, if you’re like me, you may find this to be especially helpful.

So, why is it important to read and study the Bible? As believers, we believe that the Old and New Testaments are the inspired and infallible Word of God, as well as, the authority for salvation and Christian living.
Here’s a basic background of the Bible, and some tips to reading and studying scripture:

  • There are 66 books in the Bible – Genesis through Revelation – that have been written by about 40 people over a 1,500 year period.
  • When reading scripture, the name of the particular book will be listed, the chapter and then the verse within that chapter (i.e. Job 19:25); others will be the book and verse because there’s only one chapter (i.e. Jude 25).
  • The books of the Bible are split between the Old and New Testaments (‘testament’ is also another word for ‘covenant’).
    • The Old Testament contains the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), History (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther), Poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon), Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel), and Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi).
    • The New Testament contains the Gospels and Acts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts of the Apostles), Paul’s Epistles (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon), General Epistles (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude), and Prophecy (Revelation).
      • It’s important to note that there are different writing styles to the books (wisdom, poetry, apocalyptic, psalms, historical narrative, letter (epistle) and prophecy) and contains fables, parables, riddles, maxims, monologues and dialogues. Not to mention, some books contain a mixture of these styles. When reading and studying scripture, you need to understand the context within each book.
  • Find a Bible that’s easy for you to read and understand, as well as, a version that you’ll enjoy! If the language in King James is difficult for you to understand, I recommend New King James and New Living Translation as these are only two versions that contain a modern language translation.
    • I also recommend purchasing a couple different versions (e.g. KJV with NLT) or a parallel bible so you can get more out of your reading.
    • I strongly recommend downloading both the YouVersion Bible and Blue Letter Bible apps onto your smartphone and iPods.
  • It’s also important that you pray for guidance prior to reading and studying scripture – including writing your thoughts down in a notebook – as you’ll get the most out of your time. Personally, I prefer using the SOAP method.
  • It’s also important to study the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew meanings of the words found in scripture in order to better understand its context.
  • If you don’t enjoy reading, there’s always the option of listening to the Bible on audio; or even better, following along in your Bible with the audio. So there’s really no excuse!



Photo Credit: Anonymous

I hope you either learned something new and/or picked up a couple tips to assist you when reading and studying the Bible. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

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