Reading the Bible can be hard to get into. It can seem pretty overwhelming at times. Following a reading plan can be helpful in overcoming some obstacles in reading. This plan was designed with high school seniors in mind, but anyone can follow and get a lot out of it. There are two tracks (1 being harder and 2 being easier). So there’s lots of flexibility. The study is split into sections based on genre, and both tracks follow the same genre for the same time period. Before diving in, here are my recommendations:
- Skip books you’ve read in the last six months. If you just finished reading through Genesis you don’t have to do it again just to say you did.
- Hop onto the other track if needed. If you have a little extra time then follow Track 1 for a section of reading. If you are struggling to keep up hop over to Track 2 when the section changes.
- Print off the PDF and check the boxes as you read to help you stay on track.
- Use the posted resources below to help you!
I will post resources below to help you follow along with the story and the bigger picture. I will also post resources specific to the books. I recommend digging into these resources a little before you read each book, and maybe glancing over it again afterward.
Before you starting reading, check out these resources to give you a better idea of the over-arching Biblical story and its importance.
The Pentateuch–also called The Torah– comprises the first five books of the Bible: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Traditionally the entire Pentateuch is believed to be written by Moses (this is affirmed by Biblical authors throughout the Bible). Torah means “the law,” and that sums up the general view of the first five books–its a bunch of rules. This, however, isn’t an accurate summation. The Pentateuch is a story of the beginning of God’s relationship with people. The law is a part of it because it plays a part in the story, but it isn’t in the Bible primarily as a guide to follow, it is there primarily as a story-telling device. In other words, as you read the Pentateuch, pay special attention to the storyline. To help you follow the storyline of the Pentateuch, check out the following resources:
The historical narrative books of the Bible are a large chunk of the Old Testament from Joshua through Esther. These are written by many different authors, but are all written in a story-book style. Simply put, the historical narratives are stories written down by people who wanted to keep track of what God was doing in the story of God’s people. Read these books with the meticulousness of a history book and the creative thinking of a novel. It’s not supposed to be confusing, it’s just a really compelling part of history.
Major & Minor Prophets
The major prophets are called “major” pretty much exclusively because of how big the books are (even though some minor prophets are actually longer—who knows). The prophets were people chosen by God to deliver messages to the people of Israel. God used the prophets in all sorts of way throughout their stories to deliver messages he had. Sometimes the messages were literal messages with words (like in the case of Jonah with Ninevah), and other times the prophets stories were more about showing a message through action (like in the case of Hosea). In all cases, the prophets were there to tell about God and who he is and often a specific plan he had for the people the message was pertaining to. Keep your eye out for prophecies pertaining to Jesus or the Messiah. It wasn’t clear to them at the time, but many prophecies were in reference to Jesus’ future coming.
The wisdom literature is a very poetic genre of writing in the Bible that mostly refers to wisdom. This is comprised of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Although poetry is always a little difficult to understand at first, these books are mainly about contemplating the character of God. By themselves they don’t say much about the historical story of the time—although they do tie into that if you cross-reference them—but are primarily for showing the heart and character of God and of the authors of the books. As a random heads up to both tracks: keep in mind that Psalm 119 is very long (longest book in the Bible), so don’t combine it with a lot of other reading that day.
Song of Songs
The Gospels are the first-hand account written about Jesus in the first century. These are written by friends and disciples of Jesus that followed him. The Gospels give us a unique and pretty detailed account of Jesus of Nazareth and his life on earth.
New Testament Epistles
Most of the New Testament is made up of epistles–which are just letters written by apostles to either churches or people. Epistles differ in author and in recipient, but are all written about living as a Christian in the first-century. Most of the letters are written by the apostle Paul.
Acts was written by Luke as a sequel to his written Gospel. It is primarily a story written about the early church and the amazing things done by God through the first believers in the youngest stage of the church. It is to be read as a first-hand letter account.
Revelation is a part of what is called “apocalyptic literature” which is a genre of literature that no longer exists in our world today. It is kind of exactly like what it sounds—a depiction of what the end will look like. Revelation was written when the apostle John received a vision sent from God. It is very confusing and strange and poetic so shouldn’t be taken literally in the word-to-word sense, but it can be read surprisingly straight-forwardly.