Did you know that the Bible is not organized chronologically?
The 39 books of the Old Testament are arranged by type:
- Poetry and Wisdom
To learn more about Old Testament structure, we recommend you check out the Our Daily Bread Christian University's Old Testament Basics course. By establishing an account, you'll be able to enroll in a free version of this course.
The New Testament is made up of 27 books. It begins with the gospels, which bring the good news of Jesus Christ. They are followed by the book of Acts, which brings the story of the early Christians after Christ ascended into Heaven. These are followed by the letters of Paul, for the most part organized from longest to shortest and with letters to the same city grouped together. Then come letters from other people, following a similar structure as the Pauline letters. The New Testament ends, fittingly, with Revelation, which is a prophetic letter that gives us a glimpse of things to come.
Many folks read the Bible from front to back or read a little of the Old Testament and New Testment each day, again moving front to back within each testament. Reading it chronologically can help provide new context. But no matter how you approach your reading, the important thing is to read it!
Translations of the Bible
The Bible is available in English in so many forms that it’s sometimes difficult to decide which version to read.Some versions are more difficult to read than others--and some hold more closely to the original text than others.
Translations verus Paraphrases
When deciding which version or versions you want to rely on on a daily basis, one thing to consider is that some versions are translations and some are paraphrases of the original language of the Bible.
- A translation tries to hold as true as possible to the meaning of the original language of the Bible. This is not always a one-to-one match, however. Sometimes English does not have an exact match for the original word. Sometimes the original language has a few ways it can be interpretted. However, in general, you should be using a translation as your primary Bible.
- A paraphrase of the Bible does not try to hold exactly to the meaning of the original language of the Bible, though it tries to represent the ideas in simple-to-understand ways. An example would be The Message, which puts a contemporary spin on the English of the Bible. Paraphrases can provide some interesting insight into meaning but should not be relied on as a primary Biblical source.
Pastor Ken uses a variety of translations in our worship services, including:
- New American Standard Bible
- New King James Bible
- New Living Translation
- New International Version
- English Standard Version
If you have read the Bible in one translation, reading it in another translation can help you to read it with new eyes.
Studying the Bible
Often, folks begin the year with a resolution to read the Bible in full over the course of the year. This is a great goal, as it is important to read the whole book! However, with this reading plan, you may find yourself just reading the words without really understanding them in an attempt to reach a quota. If this is the case, it may be better to slow down the reading plan--perhaps plan to read the entire Bible in two years rather than one. Or you may want to break up your reading time by reading part of your daily reading in the morning and part of it in the evening.
Here are some additional considerations for meaningful study:
- Keep a journal that records insights you've gained in your study as well as questions that you have. This helps you to actively engage the text rather than just passively reading. It also helps to underline passages and write in the margin of your Bible. You may even want to buy a Bible that has extra space designated specifically for such notes.
- There are different ways to study the Bible. You may want to study a particular book of the Bible. However, you may also want to do a key word or topical study. In this type of study, you find verses and passages that cover those key words or topics. In this case, of course, you should always remember the context of those passages. The Bible fits together as a whole.
- Get involved in a Bible study! No matter how well you know the Bible, it is always enriching to discuss the Bible with others and truly hear what they have to say.
- Make spending time with God a habit. If you give Him and His Word only your spare time or that time at the very end of the day when you are tired and just want to go to bed, you'll find an excuse to not spend time with Him. Make Him a priority in your life by reading and meditating on His Word and spending time with Him in prayer.