Reading the Bible is an important part of our walk with Christ. But if you are new to the faith or unfamiliar with reading scripture, you may be wondering where to start reading in the Bible. Should you pick it up and begin with Genesis? Is it better to begin with the historical books? Should you start with the New Testament? As you begin this journey, you may have a lot of questions. This article is meant to help you create structure around reading the Bible, and begin in a way that will enrich your faith rather than hinder it.
God’s Word is Alive and Active
Hebrews 4:12 is a beautiful verse about God’s word. It is “alive” and “active.” This simply means that it has power to transform us and to help us become more like Christ. Technically, there is no wrong place to begin reading in the Bible. If you are a true believer in Christ and you have the Holy Spirit, you will be able to grow in wisdom and gain understanding of God’s word.
Of course, good technique and a willingness to learn will make it easier.
Where to Start Reading in the Bible
That being said, let’s dive in and look at where to start reading in the Bible. I’ll share some of the reasoning behind my suggestions and quick tips for the process.
Begin in the New Testament
The New Testament is the second part to a grand story about God that began with the people of Israel. In the New Testament, we learn about the life and ministry of Jesus, and how he fulfilled countless prophecies from the Old Testament. Jesus was the one that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David pointed towards. He is our Savior and through him, we know and understand God better.
As a new believer or someone starting to read the Bible for the first time, reading about Jesus’ life and ministry will help you to discover God’s original intention for humanity. While there are many characters in the scriptures that we can learn from, Jesus is the only one that God wants us to emulate completely.
During the Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John witnessed a miracle in which they saw Jesus on a mountain talking with Moses and Elijah. Holding Moses and Elijah in great honor, Peter asked that three tabernacles be made for each of them.
However, a voice came from heaven and said: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35 NIV)
My point is that even though the Old Testament should be held in honor, God chooses to speak through his Son, Jesus.
What Order to Read in the New Testament
Start with the Gospels. Some people will suggest beginning with the Gospel of John because it is the easiest to read. However, you can start with any of the Gospels. My personal favorite to begin with is the Gospel of Luke. Luke focuses on the universal reach of the Gospel and God’s call to the nations.
You can also begin reading the Bible with Matthew, then read Mark, then Luke, and then John. Each Gospel highlights a different perspective of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew focuses on Jesus’ ministry to the Jewish people, Mark highlights Jesus’ miracles and sovereignty over the spiritual world, Luke emphasizes Gentiles, and John prioritizes Jesus’ divinity.
After reading the Gospels, move on to the book of Acts. It documents the birth of the Church and explains how the gospel spread in the beginning. Next, the Pauline epistles are instrumental. Paul’s writing is practical and addresses questions and issues that the newly formed churches were facing. Many of the General epistles were written after Paul’s ministry and continue to address issues in the church. These books are important because we still face similar problems and even though we live in a different time than the early church, we still need the encouragement they needed.
The book of Revelation might seem scary but it reminds us of the beauty that will come after trials and the hope we have in Christ. You may want to read the Old Testament before approaching Revelation since a strong foundation in the Old Testament can help you to better grasp the themes of Revelation.
Don’t Neglect the Old Testament 
Many Christians begin reading the New Testament and never make it to the Old Testament. If they do read the Old Testament, they only read familiar stories like that of David and Goliath or they focus on the Psalms and Proverbs instead of the Torah or the Prophets.
Remember in Luke 9:35 where God tells Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus? One of the ways in which we can hear from Jesus is through the scriptures that speak about him. In fact, in Luke 24:27 Jesus explained to the Emmaus disciples that “Moses and the Prophets” spoke about him.
Read the Old Testament in Order
The Old Testament can feel daunting but I would recommend reading through it in order. Start with Genesis and learn about the history of the patriarchs of Israel. Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers (along with Genesis) is known as the Torah and contain the Law that God gave to Israel and the history of their start as a people.
Reading the Biblical History of Israel is Important
God’s plan for the salvation of the world began with Israel. Therefore, reading the biblical history of Israel is important in understanding the Bible and growing in your faith in Christ.
After the Torah, there are many historical books including Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. These can get tricky but the key is to go at a pace that is comfortable, take notes to help you remember the characters and the details, and use commentaries and Bible study tools where necessary.
Read the wisdom literature because it centers on how God’s people worshiped and honored God. The prophets contain God’s message of judgment and salvation to Israel as they struggled to remain faithful to God.
Diving into these sections of scripture will require time and effort but as you read, you’ll build up on the knowledge you’ve gained. However, each day will get a little easier and you’ll begin to develop a strong understanding of scripture. Thankfully, this is a lifelong journey and even if your first reading of scripture is rocky, by the second or the third you’ll be much more confident.
Before we wrap up, here’s a challenge for you: If you’ve read the New Testament and the Old Testament at least once, consider going through the New Testament again slowly. This time, the passages you read in the Old Testament will equip you to understand more in the New Testament.
Hopefully this article was able to provide some helpful insight for you on where to start reading in the Bible. Check out our Bible Study Guide in the DSP Shop if you would like to learn more about studying the Bible.
 While Christians refer to this section of scripture as the Old Testament, it is also known as the Hebrew Scriptures or the Tanakh.