Any wise, seasoned Christian will have their own recommendations about the "best" place to start reading the Bible. Some say to begin with Jesus in the gospels of the New Testament. Some say to start with the history of Israel in the Old Testament. While these are great suggestions, and you may well follow this advice, we would like to propose a crazy idea:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." That means ALL of the Bible is valuable. It doesn't matter where you start reading; what matters is that you read at all. God uses the Bible to whisper into the hearts of His sons and daughters, and studying His Word is one way to open your door to Him (Revelation 3:20).
When a friend gave me my first Bible, I knew nothing about where to start investigating this Christianity thing. I decided to read it cover-to-cover and opened up to Genesis. The stories of how the world began, how the first people kept making terrible mistakes, and how God gave them more second chances than they deserved absolutely captivated me. I plowed on through Exodus but eventually got bogged down somewhere in Deuteronomy. (And admittedly, I only skimmed Numbers.)
The friend suggested that I skip ahead to the gospels and learn about Jesus, assuring me that it was OK to read the Bible in non-sequential order. And he was right! Those first books got me hooked but skipping ahead helped me make overarching connections.
Hebrews 4:12 says "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." No matter where I turned in the Bible, God had something to tell me about how His Word could affect my life. And the same is true for you!
Try seeing the Bible less as a single book and more as a library of love letters from God to you. In these letters, He tells you His story. He tells you how this beautiful universe came into being. He tells you how He created and cared for the first humans. He tells you how His people constantly wandered off the path when they should have been following Him. He tells you how He ultimately redeemed their inherent ability to mess up. And He tells you how all this applies to YOU and YOUR life today.
It's pretty wild if you think about it that way. Over the span of 1500 years, God spoke to different authors in several languages and brought these words together into the Bible for YOU—so He could have a redeemed relationship with YOU. For eternity. And that's just a tiny indicator of how much He loves you. (Also see: Why does God love me?)
If you're really lost or still unsure of where to start, like I was when I first picked up a Bible, we've got some suggestions for you! But remember, start where you feel inspired and excited to read, and don't be afraid to skip around. Keep in mind that this is just a sampling; it's not exhaustive. We're providing this for your reference as you begin to explore the library God made for you.
The real key to understanding the Bible is first talking to God and asking Him to help you grasp what He may be trying to tell you in that moment. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." Remember, God wrote these love letters for YOU, and He wants you to be able to understand what He's said.
If you're holding a Bible open in your hands (or on your screen) and reading the words to seek truth, you really can't go wrong. God will bless your time and energy as you get to know Him more. No matter where you start or what you decide to study, whether you go chapter by chapter or skip around, it doesn't make any difference to God.
Jesus taught that we need God's Word for life: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Psalm 19:7-11 paints some beautiful images of God's Word and how it can affect us: "perfect, refreshing the soul . . . trustworthy, making wise the simple . . . right, giving joy to the heart . . . radiant, giving light to the eyes . . . pure, enduring forever . . . firm . . . righteous . . . more precious than gold . . . [and] sweeter than honey." God's Word is the ultimate truth every human heart seeks, and knowing the truth can change everything (John 17:17).
The Bible is our personal library of love letters from God—letters that teach, encourage, and comfort (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12). It doesn't matter where you start reading; what matters is that you read at all. God will bless your time and energy as you get to know Him more. No matter where you start or what you decide to study, whether you go chapter by chapter or skip around, it doesn't make any difference to God. We need God's Word for life (Matthew 4:4) and knowing His truth can change everything (John 17:17).
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.