What I Learned Reading the Bible Cover to Cover
For the past 3 years I have done a bible study during the school year called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). It’s an in depth study of scripture where they spend a whole year digging into one book of the bible deeply. It’s a 4-layer approach to studying scripture. The first layer is individual study (I like to use inductive), then discussion with a small group, a lecture and finally commentary. I love it, and the kids love it too - their children’s program is amazing and so gospel-rich.
As the summer approaches each year, I begin looking for a bible study that will last the summer break. In the past I’ve done Jen Wilkin’s 1 Peter, or studied with the Give Me Jesus Journal. This year I kept desiring to read the whole Bible, to really gain an overall picture of the big story of the Bible. I realized that there were some books of the Old Testament I had never read in their entirety, or AT ALL, and I’ve been a Christian for over 10 years! Last summer one of the women I follow on Instagram read through the Bible cover to cover in just under 3 months, so this summer I knew I wanted to do the same.
I looked up how many chapters were in the Bible total and divided by the number of days in my summer (May 1-Sept. 13) which ended up being about 10 chapters a day of reading. My daily rhythm looked like reading about 5 chapters in the morning before the kids woke up, and then listening to 5 chapters throughout the rest of the day. I’d typically do this while my kids watched a show in the late afternoon and I washed dishes or finished up dinner - just plugged my headphones in and listened! Of course there were weeks where I fell behind a bit, so the last few weeks I was trying to catch up and listening to about 15 chapters a day!
I’ll be honest, reading the Bible this way was exhausting and definitely a challenge. I LOVE to dig deep into a passage, and struggle with feeling like I don’t understand scripture, even when I study it as thoroughly as I can. So reading it straight through without stopping to study was a challenge! My main goal wasn’t to understand every sentence or why something was stated the way it was, or who someone was and their entire background. My #1 goal was to get the main story line of the Bible down and to see the picture of Christ throughout the whole story. Though it was difficult at times, reading the Bible this way was so worth it. I wanted to share some of my main take away’s with you!
The word of God truly has something to say to all of us… Even the most of thick or dense of books. Nahum taught me to trust that God will bring down oppression, especially in such divisive times as we are living in today. Proverbs convicted me to finally find a place to tithe a portion of my business profits this year. Revelation broke my heart for those who are outside the faith, and comforted me in the midst of sorrow and pain, trusting that God will in fact one day avenge all His enemies.
All scripture is profitable for us. The biggest example I saw of this was from reading the first 16 verses of Matthew. Reading the genealogy of Jesus, usually a very boring section of Scripture that often times gets skipped, brought me to tears. Reading these names became way more than names - it represented a whole history of God and His people leading up to the promised Messiah. As I read each name and family line, I remembered the stories of faith, sin, redemption and struggle from the Old Testament. It made the fact that God used all those people purposefully in the line of Christ just that much more awe-inspiring.
The Old Testament is everything, y’all. It makes up the majority of the Bible and so much of the New Testament points back to events in the OT, so we must understand it and know it. I think cognitively I knew this, but reading it all straight through and not being able to just say “well I’ll tackle this later” brought it to life for me. As I read the NT, I kept thinking how much it all changes when you read it in light of the OT laws, prophets and history. It makes me sad to have ever read the NT without a better context for the prophesy that came before it. Jesus is that much more beautiful and the gospel that much more shocking and amazing when we read it in light of all the history and sorrow of the OT.
Two big themes emerged from the whole Bible: suffering and God’s faithfulness. Suffering played a much bigger role throughout the Bible than I gave credit to in the past. This was a huge comfort to me, to read the raw prayers and cries of God’s people, and to know that real talk is okay with Him. I also saw a theme that God will never leave or forsake us. Even when we don’t know He’s working, He is there weaving it all together for our good and His glory. I’m sure God pulled these themes to the surface for me because they so meet my current need, but it’s something that I’m taking with me in a big way.
I find myself listening to Scripture a lot more now, even after doing my BSF study in the morning. I found some apps that play Scripture in a beautiful way and listening has been so good for me in a tough transition time. Reading the Bible straight through really deepened my love of Scripture, which I’m so grateful for! Resources for the apps I use are at the bottom of this post.
All in all, it took me 136 days to read the full Bible, which included A LOT of listening on my phone. There’s no way I could have read it from the text in such a short amount of time. I liked doing it quickly over the summer because I had a clear start and finish date and to me, doing this in a year would have been too slow to keep me motivated. Seeing my progress really motivated me, as well as wanting to be done by the time BSF started again in the fall. I highly recommend doing it this way!
Below are some resources I found helpful while reading the Bible cover to cover!
She Reads Truth Bible - in the CSB version, this Bible is extremely readable and the layout makes it great for jotting down quick notes in the margins.
Bible.is - the app I used to listen to most of the Bible
Streetlights app - I found out about this app right when I was about to begin Revelation. I listened to all of Revelation in two days with it and WOW it was so powerful! This app takes the words of the NT and puts it to a hip hop beat and more of a spoken word format.
Dwell app - I found out about this app after finishing my reading, but I loveee it! It doesn’t have all the books of the Bible, but would be a great way to make listening more interesting for the books that it does have. The reading is set to calm peaceful music.