Did you know: The Bible is the bestselling book of all time! More than 5 billion copies have been sold and distributed around the world.
It is a non-fiction book that consists of 66 smaller books. The first 39 books of the Bible are called The Old Testament. These books include historical records of events that roughly took place from the time of creation to a few centuries before Jesus was born, depicting reigns of kings and the lives of prophets of that time.
The latter 27 books of the Bible are called The New Testament. These books focus on the life and death of Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus’ followers in the years following His death.
So, what’s the big deal about the Bible? Isn’t it just a really old, outdated history book?
Even though the 66 books were written by around 40 authors over the span of about 1,500 years, the Bible is characterised by one central message: God loves man and desires to have a relationship with him.
This is consistent because, ultimately, the Bible has one Author: God Himself. Billy Graham, a renowned preacher, once even described the Bible as “God’s love letter to us”.
The Bible reveals who God is, what He’s like and what His desires for us are. At the same time, the Bible also reveals to us who we are and who we should aspire to be.
Much like having a conversation with a person, the Bible is one of the ways we build our relationship with God. Reading the Bible is like sitting at God’s feet and listening to what He has to say to us.
When we read the Bible, we should do so with an open heart that’s willing to listen to what God has to say to us through His word.
While reading the Bible, be open to what thoughts and questions come to your mind as you read. Have a journal, notebook or a stack of Post-It notes nearby to jot down these thoughts and questions.
Take time to reflect on what you read through and reach out to friends in the church to talk through your questions and thoughts. God reveals things personally to you but His word and teachings were also created to be enjoyed in a community, so don’t be scared to reach out!
Even though the Bible is not arranged in chronological order, a good place to start your first Bible journey would be at the beginning, with the book of Genesis.
Genesis, which means the beginning or origin, starts with an account of the Creation of … everything. It shows how God first made the Earth, the animals, man and woman. It is here that sin first came into the world, and hence how man became separated from God.
Another good place to start will be in the book of Matthew, the first book in The New Testament. Matthew is one of four Gospels in the Bible that follows Jesus through His life, death and resurrection on earth. It’s a good place to start as it will introduce you to who Jesus is, what He taught in His own words, and why He chose to die on the cross for our sins.
Having been originally written in either Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, the Bible has been translated into several versions.
If you are more comfortable reading in your mother tongue, the YouVersion Bible app offers over 1,200 translations, including Chinese, Thai, Hindi and Tagalog.
Among the English versions available, the New International Version (NIV) as well as the English Standard Version (ESV) are two of the easier versions to understand.
Or if you’re interested to read the version said to be closest to the original translation, you can read the New King James Version (NKJV). That’s like the King James Version without the thee’s and thou’s!