Best Place to Start Reading the Bible for a New Christian

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible is composed of 66 books written by 40 authors. So where does a new Christian begin when they start to read the Bible?  Do they read it from Genesis to Revelation?  What do pastors, theologians, Sunday school teachers, and even seminary professors recommend a new believer to start reading the Bible?  Are there better places to start than others and some books to be avoided at first? Here are my recommendations for the best place to start reading the Bible for a new Christian and an unbeliever.

Where Not To Start

I have actually had non-believers ask me this more than new Christians and this is a great question.  The Bible is not strictly written in chronological order.  For example the book of Job belongs in the time frame of the book of Genesis.  Some have tried to start at Genesis and begin through the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, then Deuteronomy, but when they get to certain sections of the Old Testament they can get bogged down in the lengthy genealogies.  A good example is found in I Chronicles 9:11-12:  “Azariah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the official in charge of the house of God; Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah; and Maasai son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer.”  You get the idea.

Where to Start

Since the Old Testament foreshadows Jesus Christ and the New Testament is sharply focused on Jesus Christ, it makes good sense for a new Christian or a non-believer to start reading the Bible with any of the four gospels.  My personal preference is the Gospel of John.  He emphasizes the love of God as found in Jesus Christ and if you read the first chapter and first few verses of John, you will discover that it starts God’s plan for man even before the creation in Genesis One.  Even the book of Mark is a great introduction to Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Matthew is slightly more technical in the beginning but would be helpful for those who are Jewish since it emphasizes the historicity and Jewish lineage of Jesus Christ.  The book of Luke is also more intricate since he was a physician.  But any of the four gospels would be a great beginning point for a new Christian because they focus on the centrality of Jesus Christ which the entire Bible actually points toward since He is the sole means of redemption and salvation.

So begin by reading one or all of the gospels and then I would recommend Genesis.  Genesis reveals God’s dealings with the nation of Israel and shows the origins of the people of God and deals with the fall of mankind and the consequences of disobedience.  In actuality, the gospel is foreshadowed in Genesis and the Old Testament.  When you read the New Testament book of Hebrews and then Genesis, you can see that Melchizedek the high priest and Jesus Christ were one and the same.

A Guide for New or Non-Believers

When believers and non-believers ask me where to begin to read the Bible, my recommendation is my own personal preference.  Others may give you other books to start with in reading the Bible.  I would recommend that they do not start in the book of Revelation or in Genesis and start reading it through from start to finish.  For a seasoned Christian, reading through the Bible is an excellent learning tool but for a new believer, it can be cumbersome and confusing.  Revelation is difficult to understand, so for a beginner to start out in that book  is asking for confusion and mistranslation of the verses since much of it is written in symbolic language.  Here is a preferred order for a new believer or a non-Christian who wants to start to read and understand the Bible:

Best Place To Start Reading the Bible

John emphasises the love of God as found in Jesus Christ

The Gospel of John

The Gospel of Mark

I John

II John

III John

Genesis

Ephesians

Galatians

The Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Matthew

I Corinthians

II Corinthians

Romans

Psalms

Proverbs

Now where you go from there is wherever you like.  I suggest that you repeat the four gospels at this point because you can never go wrong with the very teaching of Jesus Christ Himself.  And the book of Mark, written by John Mark, is actually what can be termed as the gospel of Peter since most theologians agree that the Gospel of Mark is actually the work of Peter.  The words represent Peter’s eyewitness accounts as transcribed by John Mark.  Remember that John Mark was not an apostle and was never a witness to the living Christ while on earth or the resurrected Christ and that by definition is what makes one an apostle.

Where Biblical Knowledge Comes From

The most important element when reading the Bible is to not be in a hurry.  Stop and meditate on the words.  And pray for the Holy Spirit to open up the meanings and understanding of the Bible  It is the Father that reveals spiritual knowledge through the Holy Spirit and He reveals these truths to those whom He calls.  If you are wanting to read the Bible, believer or not, this may be strong evidence that God the Father is calling you (John 6:44).   Spiritual truths are not actually acquired by human thought alone but as Jesus told Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven“ (Matt. 16:17).  The point is that biblical knowledge is not gained by rote memorization or from academic head knowledge but by God the Holy Spirit.  As Jesus said in John 16:13, “But when he, the [Holy] Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

Do You Have Other Suggestions or Questions?

Maybe you have some suggestions or question regarding the best place to start reading the Bible. Feel free to leave your comments below.

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

YouTube: “Bible Books” by Bigsby



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Krisha July 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm

Hello Mr. Jack,
I have a question. I have recently gave my life back over to Christ. I will be using the list of books to start with in my journey in becoming closer to Christ. Thank you for this article. Anyway my question… My husband & I have been married for 7 years now. I love him with all my heart & truly believe that God put him in my path. Don’t get me wrong we have had our troubles but we always come through I know with God in the center of our marriage things would be even better. I also understand that the devil tempts the ones that are trying to walk the path God laid out for them but at the same time where two or more are joined in his name He will be there. I was raised in the Assembly of God churches & my husband was raised Baptist. I believe in everything the Bible states for instance; speaking in tongues, dancing & being filled with the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t. I pray every day that he will open his heart & let all of God in not just parts. My question is with that being said does that make him & I unequally yoked? And if your answer is yes then what can I do if anything? I am already praying about it & I am soon to fix up an extra closet in our house for a pray room or what I like to call my war room.
Thank you in advance for your reply.
May God bless you in abundance.
Krisha

Reply

Jack Wellman July 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Am so very sorry for your heartache here Krisha. If you are unequally yoked, there is still nothing you can do about it. Only adultery is the reason you can divorce him. Just because you go to different churches has nothing to do with being unequally yoked. That is about a Christian and a non-believer being married. That’s what being unequally yoked means. To me, he doesn’t show much evidence of being saved. I would read 1st John chapter 3 to see why I say that. Whether you are unequally yoked or not, if there is no biblical reasons for a divorce, such as ongoing, unrepentant adultery, you must stay together. I will pray with you my friend for that is all but that is the most you and I can do. I wish I could have been more help.

Reply

Krisha July 21, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Thank you for your response. There is no adultery by no means, thank God. He does go to church with me so I can only pray that sometime soon a seed will be planted & flourish into a beautiful relationship between him & God. Thank you for your prayers for us.
Again may God bless you & yours,
Krisha

Reply

Jack Wellman July 22, 2015 at 8:39 am

Amen…I will pray for God’s seed, in the form of the Holy Sprit, to take root and create in him a new man in Jesus Christ.

Reply

Krisha July 21, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Hello Mr. Jack,
First of all if you get this twice please forgive me my laptop died.
I have a question. I have recently gave my life back over to Christ. I will be using the list of books to start with in my journey in becoming closer to Christ. Thank you for this article. Anyway my question… My husband & I have been married for 7 years now. I love him with all my heart & truly believe that God put him in my path. Don’t get me wrong we have had our troubles but we always come through I know with God in the center of our marriage things would be even better. I also understand that the devil tempts the ones that are trying to walk the path God laid out for them but at the same time where two or more are joined in his name He will be there. I was raised in the Assembly of God churches & my husband was raised Baptist. I believe in everything the Bible states for instance; speaking in tongues, dancing & being filled with the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t. I pray every day that he will open his heart & let all of God in not just parts. My question is with that being said does that make him & I unequally yoked? And if your answer is yes then what can I do if anything? I am already praying about it & I am soon to fix up an extra closet in our house for a pray room or what I like to call my war room.
Thank you in advance for your reply.
May God bless you in abundance.
Krisha

Reply

Mary August 10, 2015 at 12:00 am

Hello Mr. Jack. I need your help please. My husband and I are married just for for 3 months now . But he is filing the annulment because of the crime that i never did. I am filipina married to American citizen. We got married here in the Philippines . He always accused me being a whore and screwing somebody here. He is back now in the US to work and I am here in the Philippines . We met online. So the problem is he don’t trust me. Even if he don’t have any proof that i am cheating on him. I love my husband so much and my vows i made at the wedding are true and sincere. He is self righteous and judgmental. don’t talk to me anymore now, his last email to me was just saying the marriage is finished and will be annulled as soon possible. God knows that i am not cheating on him. I gave up everything for him. Please pray for me and my husband who is closed minded and hard hearted. He said doesn’t want anything bullshit about . He said he is a Christian but why he is so judgmental and no mercy. God knows i am devoted and faithful to my husband. I value him and my marriage more than my life. Please help me what to do. I am so crushed and devastated. I can’t function anymore now. I am so lost. I keep on praying to God for our marriage to be saved. I believe that God is powerful and He is the One that brought us be married and one. So help me God. Thank you so much for reading my story. God bless you and your family .

Reply

Jack Wellman August 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

I am so sorry Mary. Yes, I will pray for you. Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits and by our love for one another (John 17?) and if you read the fruits of the flesh (the unsaved) and the saved in Eph 5 and Gal 5 and read 1st John chapter 3 this man does not sound saved at all. Many will profess to be a Christian but find out that Jesus tells them “Depart from me for I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23) so this man needs to be saved. I will pray and I am sorry for such heartache for you.

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Michael Smith November 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I agree with your choice of John for the first Gopel to read.
John was an eyewitness to Jesus and his Gospel is one that paints a picture of the world against the Spirit, light vs darkness. These are things I think the new believer can quickly relate to. During these times of trouble and confusion it will be easier for them to see the steadfastness of God and clear choices of right and wrong.

The second book is Acts because it is entertains and fast paced. Here the new Christian will experience the power of God in the world.

Next I would pick the First Letter of John because the writer reinforces the love that God has for the Christian and again the either or choices the Christian has to make. There is his or her old life or the New Life in Christ.

Finally as part of the new Christian’s introduction I would pick the Book of Romans for grounding Christian Doctrine. It’s tough reading but the new Christian comes through with a good sense of the difference between law and Grace. It may take two or three readings but Paul lets the reader understand the difference between saved and unsaved as well as the beliefs one has to hold on to in order to be a Christian.

Genesis is a nice follow up if the new Christian is looking for something to understand the origins of the universe and the over arching plan of God and His dealings with man.

Thanks for letting me add my two cents worth. May God bless you in all your work.

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Nomsa January 13, 2016 at 3:12 am

hello Mr Jack, I am a bit confused about my relationship with the guy I am dating an God. the thing is I am not married and I’ve been seeing this guy for eight years now. he is the Muslim guy and I am a Christian, I decided to go back to church and find peace because the life I am leaving is too heavy for me. the problem is now an then when I pray and ask God to remove what he don’t like in me, me and my boyfriend we fight to break up, then in my heart I believe that is what God don’t want in me since we are not married. time will go by then I start not balancing financially, then I will call on God to help me get through it, out of the blue my boyfriend will be there to assist. I don’t really know if it is God who is sending him back or what. it is really confusing, I don’t know what to do I really love this man and I also want to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. I don’t want him to change me to become a Muslim also.that is why I refused to marry him because I don’t want him to change me. please pray for me and him to find our way in to the Lord’s house so we can also be together without me feeling a guilt.

thank you for letting me comment.

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Online Christian Magazine February 25, 2016 at 5:35 am

Great stuff. So mush to look into it. Thanks for the share.

Reply

Greg March 31, 2016 at 11:08 pm

Hello Mr Jack,

I have always believed in God and Jesus Christ and I have been putting off my relationship with Him. I finally have got my Bible (NIV) and have been going to church regularly. I am going to start reading the Bible from what you suggested to begin with. Thank you for this article sir. I do have one question though… How do I get my wife to have as much interest in the Lord as I do? Her mother and father and I seem to be more involved and I want to share scripture and how in pertains to our daily life. More so I want this to be something I can share with my 13 month daughter as she grows up. I look forward to your response.

God bless

Reply

Jack Wellman April 1, 2016 at 8:26 am

Hello Greg. I am glad you have connected back with God. As for your wife, all you can do is love her and be an example of a godly husband. If you push her to go to church, it might push her away. The Spirit of God reveals the things of God so trust God, pray for His Spirit to work in her and just leave the results up to Him. If you start making her listen to your Scripture reading, it may feel like you’re preaching to her since the Word of God cuts to the heart (Heb 4:12). You must trust God for He alone saves.

Reply

Isaac Gatorwu April 2, 2016 at 11:32 am

Please Michael Smith, is that Michael W. Smith the Gospel Musician???

Reply

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