You may have heard snippets of Bible stories during sermons, Bible study groups, or through popular media, but how many have you read for yourself? The Bible holds a wealth of engaging, enlightening, and immensely gratifying books that can deepen your faith and strengthen your spirituality. Most Christians find that reading the books not only brings them closer to God, but it is an enjoyable and entertaining activity. If you want to rejuvenate your faith journey, ease your way into reading the Bible, or simply find out about the Bible’s best verses, try these books this year.
Psalms is a collection of 150 poems and songs. Psalms is a great place to begin your reading of the books if you aren’t going in order; you can easily break them down into several sessions. Psalms imparts priceless wisdom, giving us such mainstays in Christianity as, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23), “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46), and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118). Reading through Psalms gives Christians peace and comfort, with many poems and songs that resonate with people. If you are looking for encouragement, light in times of darkness, promises of God’s protection, or assurance of God’s presence, Psalms is the right book for you.
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is one of the most famous. It describes how God created heaven, Earth, and man. Almost every Christian can quote at least one line of Genesis, but a great many have never actually read the book. Genesis describes the Creation, and the story of Adam and Eve (chapters 1–3). It includes the well-known description of the Fall, or Eve eating an apple from the forbidden Tree of Wisdom, as well as the story of Noah and the Ark (chapters 6–8). Genesis also has God’s promises to Abraham (chapters 12, 15, and 17) and Joseph, his coat, and his dreams (37–50).
Genesis is replete with fascinating and informational stories, giving Christians the beginning of everything and some of the most major occurrences in the first years of the Earth’s creation. Genesis is often one of the first – and only – books Christians read. However, it is not only for newcomers to the faith or for people reading the Bible for the first time. Reading Genesis from beginning to end can give you fresh perspective on familiar teachings. You will likely discover something you’ve never heard before or look at a part of the story in a new light.
The Gospels include four books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are not biographies, per se, but rather stories that serve to evoke images of Jesus. The Gospels strive to convey a message about Jesus’ significance to the audience. The Gospel of Mark describes Jesus beginning in Galilee and ending in Jerusalem. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are based on the Gospel of Mark, with all three being easily understood together. The Gospel of John, however, is a departure. The Gospel of John places Jesus mostly with the Jerusalem ministry, not in Galilee.
The Gospels are great books to read from start to finish, instilling the sense that Jesus is alive in everything we do, and not just a historical figure. The Gospels help readers discover Jesus, learn of his miracles, and see how he lived his life. Read the Gospels as a newcomer to the Christian faith, to gain a basic understanding of what Jesus teaches, or as a seasoned veteran to further expand your faith.
Acts is a critical book in understanding the New Testament and Christianity as a whole. It continues Luke’s historical account, after Jesus has risen from the dead. It describes the Holy Spirit spreading the church throughout Rome. In Acts, we see how the church functions, how the apostles preach the gospel to the people, and we meet the Apostle Paul. Acts begins in Jerusalem and moves back and forth between there and Antioch, as well as from Europe to Asia. The book ends with Paul in Rome. Luke’s goal is to show the audience how Christianity moved from its foundation in Jerusalem to spread throughout the world. Acts is a work of history, not of Christian law.
Many Christians believe Romans to be the best book in the Bible. Romans gives a clear depiction of all views the Bible affords. Scholars say that in a way, all the books of the Bible lead to Romans. Romans is a book of truth about God, taught by God. Paul wrote to the Roman church to explain how the gospel works. In Romans, Paul explains Jewish law, grace, salvation, and more. Every Christian should read Romans at least once in their lives to get an idea of the main themes of the Bible: God, sin, judgment, faith, grace, the Christian hope, and the nature of the church. Romans is a comprehensive doctrine, a book of life, and a book of the church.
Get Started On Your Journey
If you find it hard or overwhelming to sit and read the Bible, don’t worry. There are alternatives that work very well for many Christians. Download an audio Bible or Bible app instead, and listen to the books while driving, taking a walk, doing household chores, or relaxing. If you’d love to read the books but fear you don’t have time to absorb them in one sitting, take heart. Here are a few books with short approximate read times:
- Obadiah: 4 minutes
- Malachi: 11 minutes
- Philippians: 14 minutes
- Ruth: 15 minutes
- Song of Solomon: 20 minutes
- Galatians: 20 minutes
- Esther: 30 minutes
There are plenty more books on the read list with read times under half an hour for people on a tight schedule. Ignore chapter or verse references to save additional time. This can also help you absorb the text, eliminating distracting and sometimes inaccurate references.
If you are ready to start reading the Bible or you want to renew your faith by rereading old favorites, begin with one of these great books. You may be surprised at how much you grow as a person, Christian, and believer.