How to Read the Bible in a Year
The Bible is a classic among classics - a book that has shaped culture and literature for centuries. According to Guinness World Records, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with around 5 billion copies having been sold and distributed.
You, like many people, may see a book as important as the Bible as required reading. The only question left is: how are you possibly going to read the whole thing?
As it turns out, there's a simple method to reading the entire Bible, and you can read the whole Bible in a year or less.
How long is the Bible?
The biggest challenge with reading the Bible is that it's a huge book.
Technically, the Bible is an anthology of 66 books, which were written over a period of perhaps 1500 years by at least 40 different authors. Those 66 books were later organized into chapters and verses, with a verse being basically a sentence.
The Bible contains a grand total of 31,102 verses. Although the word count of the whole Bible will vary based on the translation you're reading, it easily contains over 750,000 words.
That sounds like a lot of reading, but the popular Harry Potter book series contains over 1,000,000 words - that's over 30% more words - and plenty of people have read those seven books. In fact, many people have read them all in a single year.
When you put it into perspective, the Bible is long, but it is absolutely reasonable to read it in a single year.
How much of the Bible should I read each day?
To read the Bible in a year, we just need to break it down into 365 pieces and read one piece a day. So, how big is one day of Bible reading?
Since the Bible is organized into verses, let's use them to see how much reading we need to do. There are 31,102 verses in the Bible. If we divide that by 365 days and round up to the nearest whole number, we get 86.
If you read 86 new verses each day, you will finish reading the whole Bible in a single year.
How many chapters should I read each day?
We can also read a certain number of chapters each day. This approach is popular with people who only read a printed paper Bible and track their reading with a physical bookmark.
There are 1,189 total chapters in the Bible. If we divide that by 365 days and round up to the nearest whole number, we get 4. If you read at least 4 chapters a day, you will finish reading the whole Bible in a year.
One thing to keep in mind is that the math isn't as smooth when we read whole chapters. For example, chapters come in many different lengths. If you read 4 short chapters one day and 4 long chapters another day, you could end up reading twice as much on certain days!
Additionally, if you read 4 chapters each day, you will finish reading the Bible in just under 300 days... that's in under 10 months! Taking that approach could result in extra stress and not getting as much out of your reading.
To better pace yourself, you can read at least 4 chapters a day for 6 days of the week, and take one day off from reading each week (or use it to catch up on reading you missed). If you take that approach you'll be reading 24 chapters each week, and even though you won't have to read every day, you will still be able to finish the Bible in a year.
How many pages of the Bible should I read each day?
If you want to read straight through your Bible from cover to cover, you can choose to read a certain number of pages each day to read the Bible in a year.
To accomplish this, find the total number of pages in your copy of the Bible and divide that by 365. That's how many pages you need to read each day to finish the Bible in a year. Be sure to round up to the nearest whole number so you don't fall short at the end of the year.
How should I keep track of my Bible reading?
People keep track of their Bible reading in different ways.
Some people only use a paper Bible to read, which means they can just use a bookmark to track their progress. However, there are disadvantages to this approach:
- If the bookmark falls out or you misplace your Bible, you lose your progress
- You have to read the books of the Bible in their published order, which many people will find boring or tedious (most reading plans try to give you a variety of different books so you don't get bored)
To improve on that approach, some people print out a Bible reading chapter checklist. These printouts show a list of all the chapters in the Bible so you can check each one off as you read it, and you can read them in any order you choose.
However, paper checklists share one key disadvantage with paper bookmarks: if you misplace the checklist, you lose all of your progress.
One great way to keep track of your Bible reading is to use an app that was specifically designed for it. These apps might have chapter checklists that work just like paper checklists, but you don't have to keep track of a piece of paper.
If you use the chapter checklist on My Bible Log to track your reading, you'll be able to see additional insights on your reading. My Bible Log can answer many questions about your reading progress, like:
- How many verses did you read today?
- Have you met your reading goal every day this week?
- Which books have you finished reading?
- Based on your reading habits so far, how much longer until you finish reading the Bible?
- How many verses do you need to read each day to finish reading the Bible by the end of the year? What about next month?
Using an app like My Bible Log also makes it easier to take notes on your reading so your personal Bible study time is more effective.
Which Bible translation should I read?
There are a handful of translations that are popular and widely recognized. Use one of those.
To put it simply, there's a reason those translations are so well-known and have such broad approval. A lot of people have put a lot of work into translating the original texts into clear modern language.
Also, there are several places in the Bible where people are warned about trying to obtain secret knowledge and follow conspiracy theories to understand the true nature of the spiritual world. The books of the Bible generally make it clear that they are trying to be very straightforward and easy to understand. They aren't trying to send secret messages or hide the truth.
With that in mind, it wouldn't make much sense to go looking for a strange new translation that claims to have a special understanding of what the authors were saying.
Where should I start reading the Bible? Which book should I read first?
Since the Bible is a collection of 66 different books that were not originally written to be published together, we have some freedom to read them in whatever order we choose.
Of course, some orders are better than others, and some books are better to start with than others. A few books stand out as good places to start reading:
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all gospels. Each of them tells the story of Jesus and his disciples, but from somewhat different points of view. The life and message of Jesus are the heart of the Bible, which will help put everything else into perspective. Start with Luke if you want a more historical account of Jesus' life and works. Start with John if you're looking for a more mystical perspective.
- Genesis begins with the story of creation and also includes Abraham and the origin of the Hebrews, God's chosen people. These are important beginnings, making Genesis a solid place to start reading the Old Testament.
- The book of Acts is a record of the early church written by Luke, the same man who wrote the gospel of Luke.
- Romans is a letter, also known as an epistle, written to the early church in Rome. This letter lays out the history and current relationship between God and all of mankind, and what that means for us as individuals. It includes instructions for how to be reconciled with God and how we should live once we are reconciled.
What order should I read the books of the Bible?
There are many types of literature in the Bible, so if you read out of different books and sections of the Bible, you are likely to enjoy your reading more. For example, some books contain history, some contain poetry, some contain proverbs or songs, some are full of rules and laws, and some are letters written to specific churches or people.
Since many similar books appear side-by-side in the Bible, reading the Bible straight through from cover to cover can be boring and tedious. Who wants to read two or three books of rules one after the other? Instead, it's more interesting to read something else after reading a book of law, and then return to other law books later.
One way to manage this is to follow a year-long or whole-Bible reading plan that balances out reading in different parts of the Bible and tells you what to read each day. This is a great way to keep things interesting while still making sure you don't skip anything important.
There are several different kinds of whole Bible reading plans:
- Chronological plans are based on when events took place
- Some plans are based on the order that the books were written
- Other plans are based on the order in which early Christians or Jews would have received and experienced the books of the Bible
These plans can be great tools for some people, and they solve the problem of having to read the Bible from beginning to end.
If you're not following a specific plan, then read whatever you haven't read that you find most interesting right now!
How can I stay motivated to read the whole Bible in a year?
Reading the whole Bible is a huge assignment. Don't forget how big this project is! You deserve credit for taking it on, and you should congratulate yourself for seeing it through day by day.
Keeping up with a huge goal can be difficult. It's almost guaranteed that you'll miss a day or fall behind for one reason or another. That's okay! Catch up as soon as you get a chance.
A great way to stay motivated is to track your progress as you read the Bible. It's rewarding to watch your progress grow over time, from 1% of the Bible to 10% to 100%. Using a Bible reading tracker like My Bible Log is a great way to stay motivated.
Another great way to keep moving toward your goal is to talk about it with friends. We all feel rewarded when someone else knows about our goals and how much progress we're making. Share your plan with a friend or even a group, and ask them to check in on how you're doing from time to time. Better yet, ask them to join you in reading the whole Bible! It will be rewarding and encouraging to have someone you can talk to about what you're reading.
Finally, take advantage of anything that makes you interested in reading the Bible. If you find an interesting passage during a Bible study, a sermon, or your daily devotional, keep reading! You don't have to stop at a certain number of verses or chapters each day. When you really find a book or section of the Bible inspiring, take advantage of your momentum and read as much as you want!