Join us live for Church Online in 60m 00s • Watch Now »

What is the Best Order to Read the Bible for the First Time?

Have you ever wondered what is the best order to read the bible for the first time? You're not alone! Check out this article for answers.

Growing Faith
Share This Article

Have you ever wondered where to start reading the bible, or how not to read the bible? Reading the entire Bible can often feel like an overwhelming task, but it does not have to be. You just need a map. Starting with the right map, you can read the entire Bible, understand it, and have it affect the quality and direction of your life.

Before jumping in, you must know that The Bible is not just a single book although it is bound together as one. There are 66 books of the Bible, that as a collection, form a library. Just like your life is made up of individual moments that you collect to the story of your life, the Bible is made up of individual writings that were collected to tell the story of Jesus. As one author notes, “The Bible is the unified story of Jesus.” This library is filled with different styles of writing like poetry, narrative, history, and even old literature like prophecy and apocalyptic. Written over the course of 1500 years, the plot line has all the twists and turns of life. Filled in the pages of the scriptures are what it means to be truly human.

However, the Bible ultimately is not about you… but it is for you. The Bible is a story about God and how he, through Jesus, is restoring the world. But through it is a story for us and how we can be changed through a restored relationship with Jesus.

What is the best order to read the bible for the first time?

So, because the Bible is about God, let’s jump into reading it from that perspective. A great place to start is with Jesus.

Who is Jesus?

Read: John, Matthew, Mark, Luke + Acts

Always start by asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” Get to know him through his biographies (called The Gospels) – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The book of Acts is a very exciting story of how the good news of Jesus spread by the work of the Holy Spirit through the first churches.

How do I follow Jesus?

Read: Romans 1 + 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 + 2 Thessalonians, 1 + 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 + 2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude

After you learn a bit about Jesus, read the letters written by a few of the leaders of the earliest days of the church to the first Christians who are trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus. All these writings are letters. So, picture yourself reading a letter from a friend or mentor of yours! You would hang on to every word, just as the first Christians did, looking for what to do next.

Why did Jesus have to come?

Read: Genesis – Malachi

Although God had certain intentions for the world, our sins broke everything. God, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, began to rescue the world and put everything back together again.

Up to now, all the readings have been in what is called the New Testament. However, there is a section that was actually written first, aptly titled the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written before Jesus but it points us to Jesus through the history of the nation of Israel. At the core of Israel’s relationship with God was a deeply held hope that God would come to save them and put the world back together again. God was going to do this through “a suffering servant” known as “the Messiah.” Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus acknowledges that Old Testament is about him when he says:

“When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” - Luke 24:44-49

Although it will be harder and take longer to read and study, The Old Testament is helpful (especially Genesis 1-11) to understand how much of a problem our sin truly is, the struggle it creates in us and the world, why need Jesus to save us and the world we messed up.

The Introduction

Read: Genesis 1-11

Law of Moses

These books tell the story through Israel, God is going to be a “blessing to all the nations.” Israel often thinks that they themselves will be the blessing and receive the blessing, but God has Jesus in their mind the whole time. Jesus is ultimately born into a Jewish family from a Kingly Line – the Line of David.

  • Israel’s Laws – Genesis 12-50, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  • Israel’s History - Joshua, Judges, 1 + 2 Samuel, 1 + 2 Kings, Esther


Israel’s story is ultimately one of struggle. In fact, the name of their nation “Israel” means to, “wrestle with God.” The people of Israel ultimately wrestle to keep their covenant with God and hold him to be first in their life. This forces them to fight with themselves, splitting the nation into two kingdoms – Northern and Southern. The split makes the nation weaker, ultimately forces both into exile when neighboring nations of Assyria and Babylon conquer them. The worst part is Israel’s temple, the place central to their relationship with God, was destroyed.

The Old Testament Prophets are split into three sections based off this monumental event in Israel’s history.

  1. Pre-Exile: Warnings that they are off course and in danger
  2. Exile: Writings from within the struggle of exile
  3. Post Exile: Affirmations to rebuild the temple and keep their covenant

Pre-Exile Northern Prophets: Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah

Pre-Exile Southern Prophets: Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel

Exilic Prophets: Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah

Post-Exile Prophets: Obadiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Joel, Malachi, Ezra, Nehemiah


Read: 1 + 2 Chronicles

A summary of most of the Old Testament and the history of Israel. 1 + 2 Chronicles is the last book in the Jewish Bible, and it ends with a fragment, “He must go up…” ultimately pointing to the coming of Jesus.

How do I do life well?

Read: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, Lamentations, Ruth

All the scriptures offer a lot of wisdom when it comes to following Jesus and living life the way God intended us to. There is a smaller collection of writings specifically known by the wisdom it offers, appropriately called Wisdom Literature. Although these writings fit into the overall arc of God’s story in unique ways, and still ultimately point to Jesus, they don’t rely on knowing the backstory nearly as much.

Psalms – A prayer book for staying faithful to God through life and expressing emotion

Proverbs – General wisdom covering many themes and topics

Ecclesiastes – A wise view on the arc of life

Song of Solomon – Wisdom about marriage/dating through the story of a couple

Job – A story about a man’s excruciating grief and how God stays at the center of his life

Lamentations – A collection of Israel’s laments where they passionately express grief and sorrow

One great way to fit Wisdom Literature into your overall reading plan is to read one chapter from one of these books – especially a Psalm and a Proverb. In fact, Proverbs has 31 chapters – you could read one chapter from proverbs every day each month!

How does it all get put back together?

Read: Revelation

The Bible wraps up with a truly confusing yet hopeful book. The back half of Daniel (chapters 7-12) and Revelation are part of a genre called apocalyptic literature. “Apocalyptic” is just a big word that means, “revealing” or “revelation” and it was written as an encouragement to churches while they were struggling with yet another hostile takeover. Ultimately, the message of Revelation is that Jesus is going to overcome and fully restore the world back to what God intended it to be. This will happen when he returns.

Sometimes having an outline of the overall narrative helps you read. Here is an outline, zoomed way out, so you remember where you are in the overall arc of the Bible’s story:

  1. Creation: Genesis 1 – 2
  2. Fall: Genesis 3-11
  3. Struggle: Genesis 12 – Malachi
  4. Redemption: Matthew – John
  5. Church: Acts - Jude
  6. Restoration: Revelation

Where to start reading the Bible daily?

Sometimes the best place to start reading the Bible is with a Bible Reading Plan. On our website we have dozens of options. Everything from Mothers of the Bible to Stories of Mental Health in the Bible.

You can also use these video book overviews before you start a book to get an idea of what you are about to read! We also created an article to dive deeper and find out what Version of the Bible to use.

LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!

Share This Article

More Growing Faith Related Content

What is Communion & Why Would You Do it?
What's the big deal with Christians eating pieces of bread and drinking cups of wine or juice? What is communion & why would you do it?
Why Baptism Weekend is the Best Time to Invite Someone to Church
Check out three reasons why Baptism Weekend is one of the best times to invite someone with you to church.
What Does Baptism Have to Teach Us About Being Remarkable?
The stories we hear during Baptism are remarkable. But the steps that led to each person being baptized are just as remarkable.
7 Ways to Grow in Your Faith
No matter where we are on our faith journey, we all have next steps.
5 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life
Being intentional about our time with God strengthens our relationship with him