I think the first time I read through the Bible cover to cover, I was in high school. I read in my NIV Student Bible.
The second time, I was nearly 30, living in Kazakhstan. I had my Logos Bible Software design a schedule for reading the whole Bible in a year, which I then read in the ESV using Laridian PocketBible on my Dell Axim Pocket PC.
A couple years ago, I tried to read through the Bible in a year using Crossway’s ESV Study Bible Reading Plan. I found the four book-marked groupings very agreeable, however, in August of that year I returned to finish my seminary studies and ditched the plan in favor of keeping up on seminary-related reading and study.
Now, out of seminary, it’s high time to develop a structured Bible reading plan again. For the OT, I’m still letting my Logos software give me a plan to read through the OT in a year. But for the NT I wanted to do something different.
In his sermon entitled “How to Study Scripture,” John MacArthur recommends reading the New Testament through by spending a month in each book, reading that book through in its entirety each day for 30 days. This way by the end of 30 days, you’ll really know the book. Larger books can be divided into sections, for example the Gospel of John, can be divided into three sections of seven chapters each. The Old Testament does not need to be read this way. Just read it straight through, and then start over.
I’ve tried this New Testament plan before. Usually what happens is I spend a very profitable first month in, e.g., Ephesians. Then, at the end of the month, I flounder because I don’t know where I’m going next.
So here I have developed a plan for reading the whole NT, reading each book or section daily for 30 days:
The books started more or less in canonical order and then I rearranged them to alternate short books with long books, which are divided up into groupings of five to eight chapters. I grouped Colossians and Philemon together as well as 2 Peter and Jude. Then I promoted the Pastorals and Philippians to the front end of my calendar just because I want to study them first.
It should take just under four years to read the whole NT this way. Seems daunting, but I make two observations: 1) Seminary was daunting–but profitable. This will be will be a cake walk compared to seminary–and most assuredly profitable. 2) Now I know what I’ll be reading for the next four years–no floundering at the end of the first month.
I will use a variety of print and online tools as I read and study each book, including my Logos software, and the ESV Study Bible online. I’m not opposed to occasionally doing a day’s reading in my Laridian PocketBible, now on my HTC Touch. But my “home base” for my reading will be my NASB UltraThin LeatherTex Bible. The idea being this will be the Bible that collects my margin notes and that will be “imprinted” on my mind’s eye when I want to go back and find that reference that is “on the left-hand page, right column, about half-way down.”
The Bible reading calendar above started as an Excel spreadsheet. If anyone would like to try something like this, I can e-mail you the spreadsheet for you to customize to your own needs.