I understand that reading the Bible can be a difficult and intimidating endeavor, so let me give you some tips to help you get started.
(1) Get a Translation You Can Read
I know some of you grew up reading the King James Version and the Early Modern English doesn’t bother you, but I also know that for others, myself included, reading the KJV is difficult. Instead of doubling down and pressing through, I encourage you to get a translation you can read.
Personally, I read the ESV. It’s literal enough to confidently study from and it flows well enough that you can sit down and read it for extended periods of time.
(2) Read Literarily, But Also Read Literally
By “literarily” I mean that we are to read each selection based on its literary genre. Not every book or section of the Bible is written in the same genre, which is what makes the Bible such an interesting yet difficult at the same time. The genre’s in the Bible include:
- Epistles or Letters
- and Apocalyptic Literature
In order to grasp the meaning of the Bible, we have to read each book or section according to its literary genre.
Along with reading the Bible literarily, we also have to read it “literally.” Meaning we are to take the Bible at face value. While it is popular in some circles to look behind the text for a hidden Bible code, one doesn’t exist, which means we shouldn’t come to the Bible expecting to find one. Nor should we attempt to spiritualize every passage. Instead, we should read the Bible at face value.
So read literarily, but also read it literally.
(3) Read Large Chunks at a time
It’s tempting to read a verse or two and set the Bible aside. Honestly, at times, that might be all we need or can handle. But we shouldn’t make reading a verse or two our main Bible reading practice.
Think about a novel. You don’t typically read a sentence or two and put the book down. No, you read a chapter or two at a time, if not more. The reason you can do that is so you can follow the story. If you are constantly starting and stopping every sentence or two and days go by between each reading, it going to be hard to understand what’s happening in the novel.
That’s the same with the Bible. It’s a book. It’s a story. If we want to understand its characters, it’s plot, it’s narrative; if we want to make connections within the story, we have to commit to reading it more like a novel than our Twitter feed. We have to read large chunks at a time.
(4) Ask Questions of Observation
Who? What? When? Where? and How? are good questions to ask. They not only help in understanding the characters, time, and place, but they also help keep the context straight so that we know what’s going on around the text we are reading as well.
(5) Read the Bible in Community
Every Friday a group of us from the church get together at IHOP for our weekly Men’s Breakfast. The point of that breakfast is to help one another understand God’s Word. Attending the study week in and week out for the last 4 years+ has been immensely helpful. Not only have my questions been answered, but I’ve been able to bounce ideas off the others to see if what I’m thinking is right. As well as it’s given me the opportunity to talk through Scripture, which helps me process what I’ve been reading.
There’s value in reading the Bible in a community, which is one reason I am encouraging everyone to use the Read Scripture plan this year. I’m hoping it’s going to give us the opportunity to have conversations about God’s Word with one another that we might not otherwise have.
(6) Use the Cross References
While not a part of the original text, they’re useful. They’re there to help us understand the passage better and make connections to other parts of the Bible that we might not have otherwise. So use the cross references.
(7) Ask Application Questions
- What does this text teach me about God, myself, and the world?
- How does this text point to Jesus or show me my need for a Savior?
These are simple questions you can ask that will help you get more out of your daily Bible readings.
So those are some quick tips that will hopefully help you as you are reading the Bible this year.
Question for Reflection
- What tip(s) would you add?