Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2
Most Christians would agree that it is a good and helpful thing to read the whole Bible through every year. But saying is easier than doing. How many of us have begun on January 1 full of good intentions, and by January 18 we have given up?
The Bible reading plan that follows is offered to you as an encouragement not to give up, but to try again.
1. 5 days per week
Unlike many Bible-in-a-year reading plans, this one schedules only five days per week rather than seven. So, although each day’s readings are a little longer, it provides a way of catching up for those who fall behind in their readings. Or if you get ahead, you can take time out for a deeper study of some part of scripture without getting behind.
2. A Redemptive-historical approach. Instead of reading the Old Testament from beginning to end in the order in which the books appear in our Bibles, the readings are arranged in such a way that the reader can follow the unfolding story of God’s redemption of his people.
3. Chronological order
The readings are arranged as much as possible in chronological order. Parallel readings, for example in Kings and Chronicles, are read alongside one another. The prophets are slotted into the reading of the historical books according to the time in history when the prophet was ministering (as far as we can determine). Some of the chapters in Jeremiah and Daniel are read out of biblical order so that they follow a more chronological order.
4. One Gospel each quarter
Instead of reading all four gospels one after the other, each quarter includes one of the gospels, in the order they were most likely written: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John.
5. New Testament phases of revelation
The remainder of the New Testament readings are arranged in the following order: Quarter 1: Early apostolic witnesses: Acts 1-12, James, Hebrews, 1 Peter, Acts 13-28. These books record the actions and writings of the apostles as the early church was first being established - initially with Jewish converts, then increasingly with believers from all the other nations. In coordination with Acts 1-12, James appears to have been written early in the life of the church, while Hebrews seems to have been written for Jewish Christians while the temple in Jerusalem was still standing (i.e. before AD 70 when the temple was destroyed). According to tradition, 1 Peter was written from Rome before his martyrdom in the AD 60s. Acts 13-28 provides the background for Paul’s early letters.
Quarter 2: Early Paul: 1&2 Thessalonians, Romans, Galatians, 1&2 Corinthians.
These earliest of Paul’s letters lay out Christian doctrine and practice for the young church.
Quarter 3: Middle Paul: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Prison Epistles). These letters were all written by the apostle Paul when he was in prison in Rome for the sake of the gospel. Quarter 4: Late Paul: 1&2 Timothy, Titus (Pastoral Epistles) and concluding apostolic witnesses: 1,2&3 John, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation.
1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were written to provide directions for the governance of the church, with 2 Timothy composed near the end of Paul’s life, and the close of the apostolic age. 2 Peter and Jude anticipate the last days before Christ’s return. 1, 2 and 3 John are letters to God’s people from the beloved disciple. The book of Revelation concludes the writings of the New Testament with messages to the church and a vision of the eternal age to come.
6. Psalms coordinate with other readings
The Psalm readings are as much as possible chosen to resonate with either the Old Testament or the New Testament reading. The whole Psalter is covered, but some Psalms are read more than once during the year.
7. Irregular length readings
Some days the readings are longer, and other days they are shorter. You could perhaps use one of the free days of the week to break up longer readings.
8. Time of day
Many people find that first thing in the morning is their best time for reading God’s Word. But that doesn’t work for everyone, or for every season of life. The more important thing is not ‘when you read’ but ‘that you read’. If lunchtime, or break time or bedtime works best for you, go for it. The important thing is to have a regular, consistent habit of reading God’s holy, inspired, infallible and inerrant Word, so that it becomes part of the rhythm of your life, for the rest of your life.
9. Bible Project Bible book overviews
The Bible Project (www.bibleproject.com) has developed short (usually less than 10 minutes) videos enabling you to ‘Visualize the shape and core themes of every book of the Bible through an illustrated outline.’ You can also download a free poster for each book of the Bible for reference as you read through.
This Bible reading plan is offered to you with a prayer that however you read the Bible it will be a joy and a delight to you, and will build you up in your most holy faith.