Search the Scriptures
It’s a long weekend for many, and I hope you’ll spend some time today or tomorrow thinking about reading through the Bible this year. I’ve been a Christian for over 50 years, and I find my awareness of my need to be reading and studying the Scripture has only grown.
There are numerous plans online for reading the Bible through in a year. Some begin in Genesis and go straight through, others arrange the Bible in chronological order of events, and there are those that mix readings from different sections of the Bible.
Whatever you decide to use Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s introduction to his classic reading plan is very encouraging. I’ve posted on why we need to read the Bible2, but in his short introduction M’Cheyne includes insight into the dangers of using a scheduled plan. It is not at all meant to discourage us, but is rather pastoral advice to help us to be aware to guard against these things. He has some thoughts on these four dangers.3
(3.) Careless reading
(4.) A yoke to heavy to bear
In Reading the Bible, Geoffrey Thomas explains the benefit not only of reading the entire Bible, but of reading large sections at a time:
In whatever ways we adapt the suggested plan to our own particular needs we must aim at reading two or three chapters at a sitting, or a whole book or epistle. There are many precious things we shall never see unless we read the Word of God in large chunks. We would never read fifteen lines of any other piece of literature and then set it aside, believing that we had thus satisfied the author’s original intentions. To see the whole massive movement of biblical thought, the Scriptures need to be read frequently and from Genesis to Revelation. The Christian must be content with nothing less. He will not understand the individual verses unless he has the framework of knowledge which a larger acquaintance with Scripture provides. The more he reads the more comprehensible the Bible becomes.4
You can read the text of Thomas pamphlet online at the above link. The hard copy also includes books for suggested reading, the J. C. Ryle quote, and Thomas’ introduction to his reading plan with dates and references to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a year.
Ligonier Ministries lists numerous online plans, including M’Cheyne’s.
Each day Grace to You posts daily Bible readings from The MacArthur Daily Bible. Passages are given to read from the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, and New Testament along with some brief comments by John MacArthur.
The Blue Letter Bible site offers several different plans from which to choose as well as different translations to use.
Professor Grant Horner has designed a unique plan in which he has divided the books of the Bible into ten lists and one chapter from each list is read every day. Tim Chailles has some suggestions on using it.
Michael Coley has developed a plan that divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. I really like this plan because of these different categories. It can be hard going through some books, and it helps to switch to a different one the next day. I also found that it’s helpful to see how one part of the Bible provides insight into another section. He has listed the chapters on a one-page pdf document you can print and carry in your Bible, and he also offers various formats for reading online and by email.
Of the available phone apps, my favorite Bible app is Literal Word. It’s very clean and simple, but it does have cross references and brief explanations of Hebrew and Greek words. I also like Legacy Standard Bible, and I use My Bible Tracker to check off readings. None of these contain a Bible reading plan. I’ve yet to find one that combines a plan I like with a translation I want to use.
Choose your translation with care—there are some translations out today that change the words in the original languages, while some paraphrases obliterate the text and meaning. The New American Standard Bible 1995 5 is a translation I have used for years. I also highly recommend the Legacy Standard Bible is a new translation that builds on the work of the NASB. If you’re interested there’s a Facebook group on the Legacy Standard Bible with many helpful discussions on the translation.
In 2011 I decided to use Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print). I also started posting my thoughts and reflections on what I read. (Links to those posts can be found in the heading as pages under the main Bible page). As the year went on there were some gaps in my posting. I’ve since filled in some of them. Because his plan begins with the Epistles on a Sunday, and New Year’s Day this year is also on a Sunday, I’ve decided to take those old posts, edit them as needed to add new thoughts and work toward finishing posts on the entire Bible during 2023.
Here’s an overview of Coley’s plan:
Sunday: Epistles ◊ Romans–Jude
Monday: The Law ◊ Genesis–Deuteronomy
Tuesday: History ◊ Joshua–Esther
Wednesday: Poetry ◊ Psalms
Thursday: Poetry ◊ Job–Song of Solomon
Friday: Prophecy ◊ Isaiah–Malachi, Revelation
Saturday: Gospels ◊ Matthew–John, Acts
As I used his plan in 2011, I found I loved the way he divided Bible readings into one category for each day of the week. I liked the change from one book to another, and I was intrigued to learn more of how Scripture itself gave insight from one section to another.
I also liked the idea of beginning with Romans because it’s my favorite book in the Bible. I’ve again printed out Foley’s chart to keep in my Bible. Having the chart on a piece of paper I can keep with me will also help me know what to read next if I’m not at home. There are no dates, so I think that helps take off some of the pressure of keeping up. If you miss a reading, you can go on to the next day of the week and catch up with the other reading later.
My posts aren’t comprehensive in covering the chapters; what I’d like to happen is for the posts to whet your appetite to read and study God’s Word for yourself. I’ll include a small amount of background material from various commentaries or pastors, but for detailed explanation of a passage after you’ve read it, I recommend talking with your own pastor or, if you have difficulty finding someone with whom to discuss a passage, look at John MacArthur’s sermon archive at his Grace to You ministry site. You can listen to or read his excellent expository preaching of the Bible. I keep a link to this site in the right sidebar under Bible Study & Encouragement.
If you’re not familiar with the Bible, you might want to use the MacArthur or M’Cheyne reading plan. I’ll be updating links in the right sidebar.
May God’s Word be a lamp and a light this year to all your paths, wherever they may be. May the Lord be with you and bless you in 2023, granting you a greater love and knowledge of Him through the reading of His Word.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
1J. C. Ryle as quote by Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible (The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle PA: 1980) 25. This is from my hard copy of the pamphlet. The hard copy also includes books for suggested further reading as well as Thomas’ introduction to his reading plan with dates and references to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a year. As of this writing it’s available on sale for $1.80 at The Banner of Truth Trust in English and Spanish. The rest of the text of this brief pamphlet is available to read at the link below.
2See House on the Rock, In the Jungle of Jordan, and The People Who Know Their God.
3Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne calendar from the Robert Murray M’Cheyne site. You can find more information about M’Cheyne and his life at the site.
4Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible, Tony Capoccia’s Bible Bulletin Board. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
5I prefer the New American Standard Bible 1995 update or earlier.
Copyright ©2023 Iwana Carpenter