This help is adapted from an article from Ligonier Ministries (see link below). I have found over the years a common confession among folks who try to read through the Bible in a year – they get bogged down in lots of details that don’t always quickly make sense. It’s also a very thick book – with no pictures! So it’s easy to give up.
The following recommendations aren’t easy-peasy; but they’ve helped me and many others.
First, ask the Lord to help you understand. “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things in your Law” – Psalm 119:18. Saints in every generation find themselves crying out to the Lord for help to understand what He’s revealed.
Second, read the Bible in a way to get the big picture. The Bible has a plot; it tells a story. A fancy-schmancy term you might hear is ‘The History of Redemption.’ In the Bible the Lord unfolds His plan as to how He will redeem and rescue sinners from their sin and its consequences. He makes a promise to Adam and Eve that one day a male will come forth from the woman who will destroy the serpent who deceived them. Whereas Adam failed and chose to believe the serpent, this One who will come won’t bite! He will succeed in believing and doing what God had commanded. The rest of the Bible unpacks that promise – and of course how it’s fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
So get that framework – the flow of the story by reading the books below in the order they’re listed. You may have to do this more than once. But after you’ve started to get the big idea, then go back and read the other books.
The Old Testament overview:
- Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
- Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
- Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
- Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
- 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
- 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
- 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
- 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
- Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
- Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
- Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
- Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
- Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
- Psalmsand Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)
The New Testament overview:
- The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
- Acts (the early church)
- Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
- 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
- 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
- 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
- Hebrews (Christology)
- Romans (Paul’s theology)
By reading these books in this order, you’ll get a basic feel for and understanding of the scope of the Bible without getting bogged down in the more difficult sections.