With the new year well under way, many people are trying to keep their goal of reading their Bibles more. This is an incredible goal for each of us to have. There are many different reading plans available on-line, through the various Bible apps, and even in the backs of some of our “old fashioned” paper Bibles!
What I have noticed in my many years as a pastor, though, is that too often people get bogged down trying to read through the whole Bible in a year and eventually give up. Their intentions were good. They meant well. The reality is, the Old Testament can be difficult to understand.
As a New Testament scholar, I have found that people who master the New Testament first, have a much easier time of working their way through the Old Testament. Don’t get me wrong. I think that the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish Bible, etc., is very important. For the Christian, however, a thorough knowledge of the New Testament must come first.
This is why I propose that for those who are new to Bible reading, read through the New Testament a few times before trying to tackle the Old Testament. There are two main reasons for this.
1. It is shorter than the Old Testament. The New Testament contains 260 chapters compared with the over 900 chapters in the Old Testament. Even if someone only read one chapter a day, they would read through the New Testament one and a half times in the space of a year.
2. It is easier to understand. For the novice Bible reader, much of the Old Testament is difficult to understand. Leviticus and Numbers are two of the first five books of the Bible and have claimed many a soul who was trying to read through the Bible for the first time. The New Testament, as a whole, is much more familiar to most people. There are many familiar stories and narratives. In fact, the first five books of the New Testament, the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, are collections of stories from the life of Jesus and the early Church.
How have you done this past year with your daily Bible reading? What is one way that you feel like you could improve?
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