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Reading Plans


I would encourage you to have a regular plan for Bible reading.  This will give you encouragement and nourish your spiritual life.  The world and your fallen human nature will discourage your spiritual life and urge you to do things on your own.  Jesus promised that the Spirit would lead us into truth and God's words are truth (John 16.13; 17.17).  

If you don't feel like reading on a given day or you are too busy; this is when you need it most.


You should also consider trying a readable Bible translation.  While I prefer to study with a more literal translation like the New American Standard Bible (NASB); it does not flow well for reading, especially if you are new to studying the Bible.  

If you are new to reading the Bible I would recommend the New Living Translation (NLT) which explains many new concepts to the reader.  Today's New International Version (TNIV) is also a good version; it is a bit more updated than the NIV, and like the NLT it better explains some difficult passages.  Some groups prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or the NIV, these are also good.  Others insist on the King James Version; I prefer something with more accurate and modern language for today, the King James was translated in 1611.  The Message is also very good at putting things in today's language.  

Click on any of the links in the above paragraph to try out these versions online.  
Biblos and Bible Gateway both have several versions online as well as other resources.

I also recommend a leather bound (or simulated leather) version since it will hold up better over time and the binding is more flexible to lie open while you are reading.  The Bible is so thick that hardcover versions often become difficult to read.  

After you know which translation you want to purchase, you can save a lot by shopping at Costco or Sam's Club but selection is sometimes limited.  I typically buy from Amazon because the price is better and the service is much faster than other online stores...I've tried all of them.  I have some ideas at the bottom of this page.


I currently use a plan that I created myself because I could not find anything like it.  I like to read the New Testament 3 times a year and the Old Testament once every two years.  This will edify your Christian life more and continue to remind you of the background or prelude to the New Testament.

Reading Plan (Reading the NT 3x a year and OT in 2 years)

If you have never read through the New Testament.  Consider a 40 Day Immersion Plan.  The following book-mark is color coded to show you the different sections of the New Testament. 
     The Gospels tell the story of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).
     Acts tells the history of the early church.
     The Epistles or Letters give direction or correction to the early church.
     Revelation is mostly about the future (and filled with imagery open to different interpretations).

New Testament in 40 Days Reading Plan (Bookmark Instructions: cut 1" away, then cut every 2 1/4").

At times, I have also enjoyed reading a Chronological Reading Plan.  There is a One Year Bible that lays it all out for you below.  You can also find Chronological Reading Plans and other helpful ideas at BibleYear.com.




After reading a section of your Bible you will often have questions you would like to have answered.

One of the most helpful things to quickly answer questions is a Study Bible.  Although I sometimes find it distracting to do my regular reading in my study bibles, I will later pick up a study Bible to quickly answer questions or suggest some key life applications.  Re-reading the entire context will sometimes help answer your question.


There are many aspects to interpreting the meaning of a given text.  In short, we must consider:

  1. The historical and cultural context.  Why was it written?  What else happened that the author may assume the reader knew?

  2. The literary context.  It is important to read the whole book (ideally in one sitting).

  3. The word meanings (more on this later),

  4. The style or genre of the text.  

    Is the text literal history or a poetic song to God like Psalms?   Is it an Old Testament law that we are no longer bound to keep; or was it renewed in the New Testament Gospels by Jesus; or is it a parable that Jesus told (not a literal event, but a story to convey a spiritual meaning).  

    The most common potential errors come from New Testament letters or epistles because they give us the answers without always telling the original questions or circumstances.  Epistles were not primarily written as exhaustive theological treatises.  They are task theologies, written to accomplish a specific task.  

Commentaries often help us navigate interpreting passages.  But we must look at a few since it may be one person's opinion.  Better commentaries will discuss multiple interpretive options.  Others focus mainly on application, which is certainly important.  The great puritan commentary by Matthew Henry is a free E-Sword download.  Others are listed for free and for purchase on the E-Sword web site.

A good overall guide on interpreting the Bible is How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart.  You know a book is useful when it is in its third edition.  You will find this in my link to recommended books later.


Here is one of the greatest advantages to the NASB for study.  You do not have to know the languages of the Bible to do word studies.  You can pay a mere $20 from E-Sword for the NASB+ which gives a number for each word.  You click on that number and it will show you the word, then you can quickly search for other occurrences of that Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word.  It will list them for easy reading and further study.  E-Sword comes with a free KJV+ so you can practice with this to see if you want to spend the $20.

These word numbers come from the original Strong's Concordance...but they have been updated from the NASB Exhaustive Concordance.  A Concordance is an alphabetical listing of every word in the Bible.  The numbers are attached so a beginning student can learn to do some more serious studies without having to learn a new language.  The Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek words can be looked up and it will tell you how many times they occur and the various possible definitions.

Another great word study download for E-Sword is Vines Expository Dictionary.  The cost is only $15 or you can get it from Amazon for about $26 (850 pages covers more than 6,000 words).  Vines is arranged by topics or words in English and the Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek words are listed with detailed definitions, Strong's numbers, and a list of major occurrences and often all occurrences.

I have used the Logos PC program for years and I love it (they now have a MAC version).  It is a very robust program and the most basic version will work fine for the beginner ($112 at Amazon). For those who want to get into Hebrew and Greek language studies there are countless searchable resources available through logos, and as always you will save by ordering through Amazon.


A Concordance can be used for topical studies.  There are also other resources like Naves Topical Index (free E-Sword download).  You look up a topic and it gives you Bible chapters and verses and related sub-topics as well.  It's a great way to learn more about what God has to say on a given topic...as long as you consider the entire context of each passage.

I also like the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (free E-Sword download; TSK Tab is installed).  You can look up any verse in the Bible and it will give additional verses related to various words within a given text.  For example, what other Bible verses talk about the beginning of time before God created the heavens and the earth.  Look under Gen 1:1, beginning and you will see 6 verses listed.  Hover over the verses and they appear before your very eyes.  Bible study has never been so efficient.  It is efficient, but we still have to do the work of thinking, praying and applying it to our lives.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
Let me know if you have any questions about these resources.
Equipping for Eternity, Ray Maurer Ray@NewLifeWithGod.com.