Whether you’re a new believer or you were raised in the church, the Bible can be an intimidating book. Sure, we all know as an inherent part of our faith that the Bible is God’s word and is all true, but that doesn’t make it any easier to know where to start.

So, how do you get a foothold on the richest and most important book? Do you start at the beginning and read straight through? That might make sense, but the coherent narratives of Genesis and Exodus quickly turn into the detailed instructions of the Law in Numbers and Leviticus, and much of the Torah can be difficult to read and understand without more context and understanding of the Bible.

Many ministers and churches will recommend reading the Gospels and Paul’s epistles, then the Old Testament Narrative books. That method certainly has its benefits, but again, it has new readers jumping around a bit in the overarching message of Scripture and starting in the middle of the story, if you will.

While there’s nothing wrong with reading any part of the Bible in any order, focusing on a particular reading order can itself be confusing or frustrating at some points. Instead, try not to look at the Bible as one book, because it isn’t. One strategy to make the Bible less intimidating is to treat it not as a single work to be read from cover to cover, but as an encyclopedia (or even an entire library). Try reading the Bible by topic! What questions do you have about living your life, about God, about Creation? Maybe you heard a sermon that has you scratching your head and you want to know more about deep theological questions. Instead of reading through whole sections, read with a purpose and with a question in mind!

There are many wonderful resources for studying the Bible by topic. Books like Martin Hugh Manser’s The Complete Topical Guide to the Bible, the ESV Study Bible, and Perry Stone’s Study Bibles are excellent ways to delve into the Bible by topic and learn from experienced scholars and theologians. Websites like BlueLetterBible.org and EnduringWord.com provide excellent commentary and present the Bible by topic, word study, and historical context.

And of course, International School of the Word is proud to help students around the world study the Bible! Browse our course catalog at isow.org to see what topics intrigue you or fit your needs. Our instructors are world-renowned with years of experience in their fields, and we offer certificates in a variety of categories, including Theology and Ministerial Studies.

However you choose to do it, the important thing is that you start reading and studying your Bible! It’s critical that you soak in God’s Word every day.

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