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Reading the Bible

"How do I read the Bible? Can you give me some pointers?"

Reading the Bible helps you to get to know God and Jesus Christ. it is NOT just a history, it is about a living faith in a living God.

"The Bible was written in the light of the Holy Spirit and must be read in the same light." - George Fox, founder of the Quakers.

This means we need to read prayerfully. Ask God to show you, in your heart, what He means while you read. What is He trying to say to you through it?

Why's it printed funny?

When you first pick up a Bible, you'll notice that it isn't like other books. Many Bibles have the words printed in two columns side-by-side on the page. And each sentence or two seems to have a number beside it. And there are sometimes lots of footnotes at the bottom of the page, or funny markings in a narrow column down the middle.

Well, there's an awful lot of writing in the Bible, so they have to use a fairly small type size to fit it all in. When you do that, you get too many words on one line to make for comfortable reading, so they make two columns.

When you get a narrow column down the middle, that usually contains references to other places in the Bible, so that you can find something related to the word or sentence you can see in front of you. This is important when you want to see if a statement is supported somewhere else in the Bible, or to look up further information from another book.

And anyway, who wrote it?

The Bible was written by lots of different people over a period of several hundred years. Of course, lots of old manuscripts have been found over the past two thousand years or so, but only certain books seem to fit together and each tell a part of the same story.

And what's Old Testament and New Testament mean?

The Bible isn't just one book. It's more like a Library of books printed in one volume. In fact, there are 66 different books in the Bible, and each has its own name. There are lots of funny names like "Habakkuk" and "Obadiah", and old-fashioned names like Ezekiel. They may refer to the name of the person who wrote the book, like "Isaiah" or "Matthew"; or refer to the person or subject that the book is mainly about, like "Proverbs" and "Kings".

The Old Testament refers to a group of 39 books about God and the tribes of Israel from the story of creation up to before the birth of Jesus.

The New Testament refers to a group of 27 books about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, from the time of the birth of Jesus.

So, where do I begin?

I recommend you start reading the book of John (some people refer to it as Saint John). It's in the New Testament end of the Bible. Look it up in the index at the front.

Then try the book of Mark. Then the book of Acts.

While you read, try to ask God to reveal the meaning to you as you go.

Once you get the feel of it, or if you get stuck, you may like to find a Christian friend and ask them. Don't be surprised if they don't know - some Christians don't read their Bibles as much as would be good for them!

God bless you!


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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

- from the Bible, book of John, chapter 3, verse 16.

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
- Colossians 3:17 (NIV).

May God bless your reading of these pages. Philip Tory