Read the first post in this series, Quiet Time help: Three Reasons to Read One Book of the Bible at a Time.
Reading God’s Word should change us. It should make us more like whom we’re reading about!
But change is more likely to happen in our lives when we’re intentional about what we’re reading.
Reading one book of the Bible at a time enables us to better understand, interpret and apply what we’re reading.
Want to get started but don’t know how? Here are 3 tips for reading one book a time.
1) Start out small
If you’re just starting out going through one book a time, then begin this method by reading smaller books. Try one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) which are narratives and comprised mostly of stories. Try one of the shorter epistles (letters in the New Testament) like Jude or Titus.
Although no less important to the biblical story-line, starting with shorter books will allow you to build your skills in summarizing and mentally categorizing what you’re reading. Bite-size pieces are always easier to digest.
2) Read complete sections
Don’t read a verse a day; read entire sections, usually divided up in the text by subtitles and note how the text is divided.
Although subtitles were added by later editors to Bible, it is helpful to follow their lead as they group stories and narratives together under one subheading. Reading complete sections will give you a better understanding of the book’s overall meaning.
After you’ve read a few sections, go back and put them all together and try to understand why the author put those sections side by side in his book. He ordered them in a meaningful way for a reason! Sometimes, how an author ordered a passage will help you better understand the book’s meaning and what it means for you today!
3) Read some letters and books as one unit
Many books of the Bible have been split into one or more books. For example, the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts were both written by Luke and are chronologically ordered. Reading these books together will offer you great insight into Jesus’ mission for us today.
Paul and the Apostles wrote many letters to the early churches – often sending multiple letters to those churches needing more direction.
Reading letters like 1 and 2 Corinthians or 1 and 2 Peter together provides you with a fuller context of the letter’s overall message. John wrote 1, 2, and 3 John to churches in Asia Minor who were buckling under heretical teaching. When viewed together, the importance of clinging to the Truth rings clearer.
4) Alternate between Old and New Testaments
I love reading the Bible from beginning to end. But when reading the Bible chronologically, it is easy to lose steam when you hit difficult passages. For this reason, try alternating between Old and New Testaments when you read through entire books.
For example, read Genesis and then flip to the New Testament and read the book of John.
When you alternate between the Testaments, you get a better sense of the fulfillment of prophecy. You’ll also grow in appreciation for God’s faithful working in his people throughout the ages.
Alternating between Old and New Testaments also gives insight into how the first century Jews – including Jesus! – understood, interpreted, and applied the Scriptures.
Reading one book of the Bible at a time (or groupings of letters) is an easy method to increasing the intentionality and effectiveness of your Bible study time. I pray it will change you as it has changed me!
Melissa’s motto as a Christian journalist and creative writer is to “tell of God’s marvelous works” (Ps. 9:1). And with almost 15 years experience in print and editorial services, God has embedded Melissa with passions gleaned from stories and experiences from the field. But helping women fall in love with the sweetness of God’s Word truly makes her heart sing. Two years ago, she launched HiveResources.comto help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, missions resources, and more. She recently published a 10-week Bible study, Daughters of the King, to help women find their place in the biblical story. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Jonathan, are currently part of a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah, who are unwittingly and joyfully shaping them into the image of Christ.
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9/15/2014 09:23:36 am
I love this method, especially for the epistles and especially when reading a more modern translation. Thanks for linking with Unforced Rhythms.
9/17/2014 05:40:36 am
These are great tips for getting into the Word. Though it can seem hard at times to understand and persevere, it is crucial to our faith!
I like that you talked about how it would be helpful to read the few sections and put them together to understand why the author put those sections side by side in the book. I guess there is so much to learn and consider when understanding the bible and when you want to pursue this kind of career. With that in mind, I guess it would be best to go to a theological seminary and get the training and education you need to give the best service to people and to the higher being by sharing the good news correctly.
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