Where to Start Reading the Bible as a New Believer

by Tony Reinke, contributed by our Friends at Crossway
| Time: 2 Minutes

Start With the Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is celebrated as a good place to start, given that its purpose is clearly to introduce the life and work of Christ (John 20:30–31). But you can go broader and begin with some sense of familiarity with the New Testament. The Bible is meant for a lifetime of exploration and daily discipline. John Piper’s sixty years as a believer have been sustained by this discipline of daily Bible reading. “Wherever you start, you are going forever in the Bible. This is not about merely starting.”

Start With an Overview of the New Testament’s Structure

Another place to start is with an overview of the New Testament’s structure. It begins with four Gospels, “the books about the historical foundations of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” And then comes the book of Acts, “the story of how the early church got started and launched by the power of the Holy Spirit after Jesus went back to heaven, and how the church took root because of what Jesus had done.” Next comes a bunch of letters written by “the authoritative apostles—the spokesmen for the risen Christ—teaching the church how to live in the church and in society.” Finally, the “strange book” of Revelation finishes the New Testament with “the victory of God at the end of the age.” 

Start With Luke and Acts

Or you can start with Luke and Acts, one book in two volumes. See the opening of the book and their united purposes as “one man writing a double volume about the foundations and then about the expansion of the church” (Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1–3). Then move to Paul’s letters.

Every reader brings different intellectual capacities and reading abilities. Some will struggle to read, and that’s okay. Essential to Bible reading is also finding a church “with solid preaching, vital corporate worship, and a small group of relationships where you can ask lots of questions” and “get all the help in the world” as you make your way through the canon “little by little.”[1]

Start With Jesus

Another consideration. If you’ve never read the Bible, start with Jesus. Begin with two books about his life and work. Start with the Gospel of Mark and then read the Gospel of John. Then read an epistle that puts all the implications of Christ’s life and work together, particularly Romans. Then consider a historical book about the early church, called Acts. And then read from the middle of the Bible, the Psalms, ancient songs that “capture all the moods and the ups and downs and the struggles of God’s people.”[2]

. . .


[1] APJ 284: “Where Should a New Believer Start in the Bible?” (February 24, 2014).

[2] APJ 464: “I’ve Never Read the Bible. Where Should I Start?” (November 3, 2014). 

Content taken from Ask Pastor John by Tony Reinke, ©2024. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, crossway.org. 
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How to Read the Bible
Ready to start reading the Bible? All you'll need is a time, a place, and a plan. Remember that the Bible is a spiritual exercise not just an intellectual one—God is speaking to you in his Word. Ask for his help, and for his Holy Spirit to increase your desire daily to hear him speak. Welcome to the adventure.