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The Bible is the main source of our knowledge about God. It is His
inspired and authoritative Word that has the power to build faith , hope
and truth into our lives. The following Daily Bible Reading Program will
help you to work through the Bible systematically so that the Word of
God dwells richly in your life and produces joy in your heart.
About The Bible
The Bible was written over 1500 years between about 1400 BC and
95AD. The Old Testament is God's dealings with Israel and consists of 39
books written and collected together over 1000 years from 1400BC to
400BC. Then there was a big gap of 400 years until Jesus was born. The
New Testament consists of 27 books written between about 50AD and 95AD
and is the record of the life and gospel of Jesus Christ. The Old
Testament was originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic while the New
Testament was written in Greek. Thus the Bible you read is a translation
of these original ancient manuscripts which were very carefully
preserved and translated.
The Index /Table Of Contents
Because the Bible was written by many people over a long period of time,
the books of the Bible are not arranged alphabetically but topically,
chronologically and by the type of writing. It is a bit confusing at
first. So most Bibles have an Index or Table of Contents in the front.
This will give you the page numbers of the various books of the Bible.
So if your pastor says to look up the book of Romans, you go to the
Index and find it there,and then go to the page it
The Structure Of The Bible: Testaments, Books, Chapters and
When you open your Bible and look at it you will notice it is not
structured like most other books, it is written more like a legal
document in which everything is numbered. It is important to understand
The Bible is divided into two Testaments,
(a Testament is like a will or contract), the Old Testament which mainly
details God's dealings with the nation of Israel and the New Testament
which contains material about Jesus and the Church.
Each Testament contains many separate "books" which
were originally bible scrolls written by various prophets and apostles.
The Old Testament contains 39 books and the New Testament contains 27
Each book is divided into chapters -
which generally are about one or two pages long. Each chapter is then
divided into "verses" which
are short sections of Scripture, generally about a sentence or a
paragraph in length. The verse numbers were put in there to help people
find their place in the Bible.
Eventually people came up with a shorthand notation to refer to bible
verses that describes the book, chapter and verse. The shorthand
consists of the name of the book, followed the a space, then the number
of the chapter, a colon, and then the number of the verse like this:
John 3:16 or Romans 8:1
So John 3:16 indicates the book of John, chapter 3, and verse 16
and Romans 8:1 indicates the book of Romans, chapter 8, and verse 1
So when someone says something like "please find James 3:16" this is
what you do:
1. Go to the index and find the book of James (it is in the New
2. Go to the page number for the book of James indicated in the index.
3. Then turn the pages until you get to chapter 3
4. Then look down until you find verse 16
It is good to practice this for ten minutes or so until you get really
used to it.
A Bible Reading Method You Can Use
The following is the bible reading method developed by the
Scripture Union movement that promotes daily Bible reading in over 120
countries around the world. It is very simple: Pray, Read, Think, Pray
God to open up His Word to you. "Lord open my eyes that I may see
wonders from your Word".
a short passage of Scripture about ten to fifteen verses or a chapter.
Start with the New Testament first and read it in order from Matthew to
about what you have just read and ask some of the following questions:
What does the passage say about God? What does it say about the
Father, about the Son and about the Holy Spirit?
What does the passage say about life? Does it teach some important
principles? Is there a command to obey, a warning to heed, some wise
advice for living?
What does the passage say about your daily situation? Is there
something you should be doing? Does it shed light on your
professional life, family life or church participation?
Has Jesus spoken to you in a special way through the Bible today? If
so what did He say to you?
out a prayer to God based on what you have learned from your Bible
reading. Something like "Lord help me to love my neighbor as myself." or
whatever lesson you have learned that day.
Where To Start
Where should you start when reading the Scriptures? With the material
about Jesus. That is the New Testament and especially the gospels. Here
is my suggested order for reading the whole Bible. It will take about
three years to finish if you read one chapter per day and one year to
finish if you read 3 or 4 chapters a day.
Read the New Testament in order, starting with Matthew and going
book by book until you reach the last chapter of Revelation. This
will give you a good idea bout Jesus, the Church and Christian
Then go back to the beginning of the Bible and read Genesis, Exodus
and Deuteronomy which tells you how things began and God's order for
Creation, mankind and society.
The read the Psalms in order from 1 to 50 then take a break (there
are 150 of them).
Read Isaiah 40-66, Daniel, Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Haggai, Zechariah,
Lamentations and Malachi which should help you grasp the prophets.
Then read Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and Song of Solomon - known
as the Wisdom Literature.
Joshua , Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1& 2 Kings, 1& 2 Chronicles -
this will give you a good grasp of the history of Israel.
Then go back and read the New Testament from start to finish all
Then go back and read another 50 Psalms (51-100)
Then tackle the Old Testament laws in Leviticus and Numbers.
More prophets - Ezekiel, Isaiah 1-39, Jeremiah these are the "major
Finish with some less known books Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Joel,
Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, &Zephaniah
Then finish the last 50 Psalms (101-150)
What Is The Best Bible To Use?
Many people are confused by the large number of different bible
translations available. This has come about because the Bible was
written in three original languages Hebrew (most of the Old Testament)
Aramaic (some of the OT) and Greek trade language of the 1st century
known as koine Greek (the New Testament). There are basically four types
of bibles depending on how they choose to do the translation process:
Literal translations: These
translate the bible with word by word and are very accurate. While they
are very faithful to the original text they can be somewhat clumsy when
put into English. Literal translations include the King James version,
The New King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, the New
Revised Standard Version, and the New American Standard Bible. My
favorites here are the New American Standard Bible and the New King
Dynamic translations: Are
translated phrase by phrase or concept by concept. They are still quite
accurate but not as literally accurate as those above. They are much
easier to read and understand. They include the Good News Bible, the New
international Version, The Contemporary English Version and many others.
The NIV is the best dynamic translation. For people using English as a
second language the Contemporary English version is excellent.
loose translations of the bible they rearrange the material within each
paragraph so it flows smoothly and put the bible into very contemporary
concepts. They should not be used for in-depth bible study but are very
easy for daily bible reading. Many find them helpful but personally I do
not use them. They include the Message, the Living Bible, the New Living
Bible, and many others.
Wrong or Misleading Translations: These
include the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses and other
versions produced by cults. It also includes the Amplified Bible which
includes words in brackets that can seriously mislead some readers.
From all the above here are my recommendations:
should use the most accurate version available in your heart language.
It should also be sufficiently modern for you to read it easily. The
King James or Authorized Version is a very accurate Bible but was
written four centuries ago in a different form of English known as
Elizabethan English. Many of the words it uses are now obsolete or have
changed meaning for instance the word "prevent" means "to go before" in
the King James Version and the word "handsome" means sly and tricky -
not attractive. So because it can confuse people I do not generally
recommend the King James Version. The New King James Version is an
equally accurate translation with more modern English and is the main
one I use. Other good translations include: NASB (New American Standard
Bible), NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), and the NIV (New
International Version). Some easy to read but not so accurate
translations include The Living Bible (LB) , The New Living Bible (NLB),
The Message, The Good News Bible(GNB) and the Contemporary English
Version (CEV). Avoid some poor translations such as the New World
Translation by the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Amplified Bible - both
contain serious errors. I mainly use the New King James Version and the
New American Standard Bible as they are very accurate translations.
Study Bibles: A
study bible is a bible translation plus footnotes that explain the text
and help the reader to grasp its message. They are very useful and every
Christian should own one. The NIV Study Bible is the bible I give to
people when they are converted. The NIV translation is easy to read,
quite accurate and the notes and helps in the NIV Study Bible are
excellent. The Open Bible with a New King James Version translation
would also be a very good choice. If you want just one Bible version the
ones I recommend are The Open Bible, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible
and the NIV Study Bible. The Open Bible and the Thompson Chain Reference
have the advantage of having a variety of translations available in
Finding The Time
Fifteen minutes is about all you need to read a chapter of the Bible,
think, take a few notes, then pray. I do my daily bible reading first
thing in the morning as I wake up with my first cup of coffee for the
day. Other people have their 'quiet time" on the train on the way to
work or at lunch on a bench in the park. For many years I had my bible
reading time at night just before I went to bed. Any time that you can
carve out as a habit on every day of the week is the best time. Find a
quiet place where you can pray and read and think in private and follow
the Scripture Union method above. We "find time" for those things that
are important to us and surely meeting God in His Word should be the
most important thing in our lives. You do not have to use special words
or kneel down or adopt a special bodily posture, it is the attitude of
your heart that counts. I like praying as I walk.
Books and Resources That Can Help You Understand The Bible
How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by
Gordon Stuart and Douglas Fee is a truly excellent book that will
help you understand how the Bible should be read. IVP press I think.
Available in most good Christian bookstores. Other good books about
the Bible include: Evidence
That Demands A Verdict by
Josh McDowell, The
New Testament Documents Are They Reliable? by
F.F. Bruce and The
Canon of Scripture by
these analyze passages of the bible in-depth. The Tyndale commentary
series is good enough for most people while pastors and bible
students might want to use the Word commentaries or the New
International commentaries on the OT and NT. Some good one volume
commentaries that treat the whole Bible in one volume are available
- just ask your Christian bookstore. An excellent older devotional
commentary is Matthew Henry's commentary.
Maps and Archaeology/Bible Lands -
Knowing a bit about the life and times, history and culture of
people in Bible lands can be fascinating and very helpful. The New
Bible Dictionary is a modern up to date compilation that helps you
find all you need to know about the life and culture. Good material
is also available on the Internet and on CD-ROM.
Concordances/Bible Programs -
a concordance is like an extensive index to the Bible that lists the
words in the Bible and where they can be found. They are very
helpful in bible study so that you can easily find all the verses on
"money" or some other topic and find out all the Bible has to say
about it. Bible programs allow you to do this very quickly on a
computer and have many other helps as well. Good concordances
include Strong's, Young's and Crudens while good bible search
programs include Quickverse, and Logos. You can also search the
Bible and use commentaries and other resources online at our Bible
Study Tools section.
Copyright GlobalChristians.Org 1997
may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be
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