When a person sees a bible for the first time, he is amazed at its size and the number of books inside it. If a person wants to read the Holy Book, the question arises, is it worth reading the Bible from the First book to the last, or is it possible to break the order?
What are the most important books that will be useful to read? In this article, we will discuss these issues.
The Order of The Books in The Bible
The Bible doesn’t always follow a strict chronological order, that is, if the books go in a row, it doesn’t mean that they tell about the time that went from earlier to later ages.
This is done because the Bible is distributed according to the genre of books, and not in the order in which it should be read.
The Old Testament begins with the Pentateuch, which includes Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Then there are the historical books, the poetic books and the prophetic books.
Which Book Should I Read First?
We have already determined that these books may not be in chronological order. Then which book should I start reading the Bible from?
If you are going to read the Bible for the first time, then many priests advise to start reading from the Gospel of Mark, since this is the shortest of the four Gospels and it was written in simple language for the Romans.
With the help of this Gospel, you can learn about the life of Christ and about his preaching.
However, many priests don’t advise to start reading the Bible from the Old Testament, because these books were written thousands of years ago and many of them describe ancient Jewish laws.
If you are unprepared, you may not understand anything from what you have read or even turn away from Christianity without reaching the truth described in the New Testament.
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The New Testament
The New Testament begins with 4 books called the Gospels. They were written by the apostles, the disciples of Christ, and as mentioned earlier, they tell about his life and preaching.
Here is a complete list of the Gospels:
- The Gospel of Matthew,
All of them tell about the same events, they may differ only in minor details, but they complement each other.
After reading the Gospel of Mark, you will understand the general meaning, and get acquainted with the life of Christ for the first time, but for a full understanding after that, it’s advised to read all four books.
Then after the Gospel comes the Book of Acts. It’s followed by many Letters or Epistles in which the apostles address people, give useful advice, explain the meaning of faith and teach them to solve problems that arise.
The last book is the book of Revelation written by John the Theologian, it contains a prophecy about the end of the world and for a full understanding of faith it’s also worth reading.
All Gospels contain important and useful information, so you can read them in a row or in different orders.
After reading the four books of the Gospel, you can read the acts of the apostles to find out how the apostles lived and preached after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the epistles of the apostles to read explanations of how to live, and then turn to the first two books of the Old Testament.
Reading the Old Testament
After you have read part of the New Testament, you should read the Old Testament to learn the history before Christ, to see the numerous predictions about the coming of the Messiah.
Many people begin to read the first two books of the Old Testament: the Books of Genesis and Exodus, they tell us about the history of the creation of the world and the first people, as well as about the history of the Jewish people and their interaction with God.
The third book of the Old Testament, the Book of Leviticus describes the religious side of the life of the Jewish people and the Law by which they lived. However, to get acquainted with the main plot of the story, you can start reading the Book of Joshua.
If you continue to read the historical books in order, you may temporarily skip the Chronicle books. They describe the history of Israel and its rulers.
To get acquainted with the history described in the Old and New Testaments, it is advised to read the following books:
- 1 Samuel
- 2 Samuel
- 1 Kings
- 2 Kings
- Mark or Luke
This list is arranged in chronological order and will allow you to learn about the entire Biblical history if you decide to start reading the Bible starting with the Old Testament.
Important Books of the Old Testament
At the same time, the other books of the Old Testament are also useful for life as they are inspired by God, that is, written under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
After getting acquainted with the main Biblical history and the New Testament, the priests advise getting acquainted with the rest of the books, for example, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, the Proverbs of Solomon, the Book of Job, and the Psalter.
In the Old Testament, the prophetic books are considered the most difficult for understanding, and in the New Testament – the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. You can read these books after reading all the books described above.
How to Read The Bible?
The Bible should be read with interpretations, not only the Old Testament, which is sometimes incomprehensible to modern society, but also the New Testament, to correctly understand the essence of Scripture.
Some of the parables of Christ can be understood without interpretation since they were made to be understood by all people, but for confidence, after reading them you can also delve into the interpretations of the Church Fathers.
It’s also worth looking at the historical context and for who each book was written.
Start With A Prayer
Priests recommend starting each reading of the Bible with a prayer so that God will cleanse your mind and heart and help you understand the Word of God.
Orthodox Christians use the interpretations of the Church Fathers because God enlightened their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit and they felt the truth written in the Bible with the help of God’s Grace.
The Apostle Peter writes: «We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.» (2 Peter 1:19)
The Apostle Peter urges us to constantly turn to the holy Scripture so that its text can be a guide in our lives.
«Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.» (2 Peter 1:20-21)
This passage from the Epistle of the Apostle Peter tells us that all the holy books were written by prophets and evangelists under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and to understand them correctly, the Holy Spirit must also be with us.
That is why patristic interpretations and prayer before reading serve as a great help in understanding.
We have considered the possible options for reading the Bible based on a gradual understanding of complex and ancient texts and on reading books in chronological order, but the final decision should always be yours, there is no strict order of books to read, but for a person unfamiliar with Christianity, it is advised first of all to read the Gospel.
Also, when thinking about the order of reading books from the Bible, we shouldn’t forget about turning to interpretations and prayer for a better understanding of the Word of God.
CharalamposCharalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.
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