This was a question I received today and I thought I would share my answer here:
Thanks for your email! It’s exciting that you want to begin this journey. Here is what I recommend. By the way, you can also supplement Bible reading with Bible studies. But if it’s less distracting I just recommend reading the Bible by itself and letting it speak for itself for a while. I recommend the ESV translation, though the NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, CEV, and NJKV are also good translations. YouVersion is a great Bible App for your phone.
1. Read Luke and Acts. I would read these slowly over 2-4 weeks. These two “books” record one long story from the perspective of doctor Luke, a man who traveled with the Apostle Paul, and who was asked to give his account of the events surrounding Jesus to a wealthy Roman magistrate.
2. Read John. This book is told from the perspective of Jesus’s closest Apostle. It starts the story again, but is very unique, recording the deepest theological words Jesus ever spoke.
3. Read Matthew. This book starts the story again. Matthew is written from the perspective of Matthew the tax collector, who became a Christian, and is showing his fellow Jew’s why Jesus is the Messiah they have been waiting for.
4. Read Mark. This begins the story again for the last time. This book is the shortest of the four, and moves quickly. It emphasizes that Jesus truly is who is said he was, the Son of God, confirmed by all of the miracles, his suffering, and his resurrection. Think of these witnesses to the same account like witnesses in a courtroom. They are asked to tell the same story. Listen to the differences and similarities.
5. The Rest of the New Testament. After this, simply begin with Romans and go all the way to the end, to Revelation in the order it is in your Bible. This will take you some time. The rest of these letters in the New testament are written by people like the Apostle Paul and other disciples who walked and talked with Jesus. Once you’ve finished the above, you have completed the New Testament.
6. The Old Testament. There are several reading plans out there you can search for. If you’re intent on reading the whole Bible you can do it every year, once a year by reading 3 chapters a day, and you can begin in Genesis. It may help to join a Bible study since the Old Testament can be confusing. If a book like Leviticus causes you to stop reading, I would just jump to the next Old Testament book and keep reading. The important thing is to never stop studying and reading. You’ll start to see little miracles that can only be explained by reading it for yourself and your life will never be the same.
I also highly recommend joining a local church if you haven’t already. The Bible teaches us that God gave us the gift of pastors who help us understand God’s Word and “keep watch over our souls.” Christians are also told by Christ and his apostles to be baptized and take communion together, which by definition can’t happen outside of the Church gathering together in person. Here are some church searches that may help you find a solid Bible believing church in your area. I don’t necessarily endorse every church that shows up on these sites so you will have to use discernment, but these searches will show many wonderful places to learn, worship God, and serve others.
- https://www.9marks.org/church-search *
- https://founders.org/church-search/ * (*these top two are generally Christ centered and Gospel centered searches and are what I personally recommend)
- https://churches.sbc.net/ (Baptist, and the largest group of Christians in the USA besides Catholics)
- https://www.pcaac.org/church-directory/ (Presbyterian, usually solid theologically, believe in infant baptism)
- You can see a chart and learn about all other Christian denominations here. Otherwise you can simply google search for independent churches, but make sure to check out their “what we believe” pages and consult with other Christians about them.