Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How to Read the Bible the First Time

If you've never read the Bible before, don't just start at the beginning and read straight through. Here's my advice. Go in this order.

  • Genesis (all)
  • Exodus 1-20
  • Numbers 11-27
  • Psalms: 1, 18, 22, 23, 32, 34, 36, 42-43, 45-46, 51, 69, 70, 72, 87, 93, 95, 98, 10, 110-134
  • Isaiah: 4-9, 14, 25-26, 40, 42, 49-56, 59-66
  • Matthew through Jude
  • The rest of the Old Testament
  • Revelation
  • Apocrypha (optional)

My reasoning is that for someone to understand the full significance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT Scriptures, as well as the solution to man's predicament of sin and God's wrath, the parts of the OT need to be read first which deal with creation, sin, God's law, and who the people of Israel is. Then we also need to get some of the clearest prophecies of Christ from the Psalms and Isaiah. After that, the Gospels bring you to the heart of the matter--Jesus Christ and His work for us. Acts and the epistles then unpack this truth and life. After that, you can finish up the OT, knowing now what all the sacrifices and prophecies are pointing forward to. Finally, read Revelation, which I think is best understood after you have the entire context of the Bible in your mind. Finally, reading the Apocrypha (books between the Old and New Testaments)--which Martin Luther considered not equal to the Holy Scriptures but nevertheless useful and good to read--is helpful for understanding the background of the New Testament, and the culture of the church.

The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the heart of the Bible. The prophets and apostles did not just write about God, they wrote about "God with us" (which in Hebrew is "Immanuel"), that is, about how God created us and interacts with us, condemning sin, but also sending His own Son to save us, and bring us back to Himself.

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