Read Bible Effectively – Aug 2


Statisticians tell us in America 2015 the most read translation of God’s Word was the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) 53% of readers, followed by the New International Version (NIV) 19%. Bearing in mind the KJV is over 400 years old, you may wonder why it remains most read? Whilst there are more modern translations, it is mainly because more people are familiar with the KJV than any other translation.

The KJV is generally accepted as one of the most accurate English translations. A skilled committee of 54 translators worked for 7 years to carefully complete the King James translation project. However, being in 17th Century English, its powerful, majestic style whilst making it a literary classic, can be difficult to read and understand.  So, sometimes reference to the next most read modern version is helpful.

The Bible is a very big book, especially for some one about to read it seriously for the first time. The King James Bible has 783,137 words compared to the average novel like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” which contains 76,944 words!

If you are new to the Bible, or don’t know too much about its contents, we offer you a little background to it’s writing.


The Bible is a collection of 66 different books and letters. The first 39 are called the Old Testament, completed about 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The remaining 27, written after the death of Jesus over a period of about 100 years and focussing on his life, death, and resurrection, are called the New Testament.

The Bible is God’s revelation about Himself and His purpose in creating the Earth and humanity and how He wishes His relationship with people to work. It also provides evidence of ‘The Truth’ of God’s existence and the certainty of the fulfilment of His promises.

It is not, as it might seem, simply a history, but it has an application to every age of mankind, including our own, and records God’s dealings with individuals and nations. It contains God’s laws, relevant to every age and vital records for the government and the organisation of the day-to-day affairs of Israel, God’s chosen nation. It has even survived determined efforts to alter it to better suit human desires that are contrary to God’s purpose. The rule is simple.

32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.                            Deuteronomy 12

The consequences of teaching things that contradict God’s word in the Bible are huge.

18  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.             Revelation 22

A prophet and his prophecies are simply his teachings. These can involve telling the future but are not limited to that.

Oxford Dictionary of English on the Mac App Store


  1. ​[countable] (in the Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions) a person sent by God to teach the people and give them messages from God.
  2. A person who supports a new system of beliefs and principles.

Guiding principles

So here are some first important principles to help you to “read the Bible effectively”. 

  1. Take care how you use the Bible. Be sure you read it for yourself and don’t accept what others tell you because the penalties for misrepresenting God’s word are high.
  2. Context is key. Never assume a meaning of a passage without checking what is going on in the chapter.
  3. Look for a simple passage to explain a complex subject. Never take a view on a doctrine from one passage, especially if it appears obscure, use the simple verses to carefully check your conclusions. 
  4. Be patient. Don’t expect to solve the more difficult passages in the Bible on first or second reading. The Bible is a living book that requires constant study, reference, and discussion with other Bible readers you trust.
  5. Listen for echoes. As you get more familiar with the Bible lok for themes, phrases and symbols that appear elsewhere as they will enhance and support your understanding.

Perhaps that last principle is not too easy to understand so let’s give you an example. Here is a summary of what you can read in Genesis 22 so you can follow the analysis table that follows in which the lives of Isaac and Jesus are compared.

The following is a brief summary of what that chapter tells us.

About 4,000 years ago Abraham and his wife, Sarah, who was barren, were promised a son by God whose descendants would become a great multitude of people. Finally, Abraham being one hundred years old and Sarah being ninety, well after child-bearing age, they had the promised son that they had been waiting for, named Isaac. His parents loved their son. His parents loved their son

After many years, Abraham was told by God to take Isaac to the land of Moriah and there offer him as a burnt offering. Isaac was about thirty years of age at the time. He went with his father only knowing they were to offer a sacrifice. After three days, they arrived at the appointed place where Abraham built an altar. It would have gradually dawned on Isaac that he was the intended offering as they were only carrying the wood and a firebrand. Nonetheless, he allowed his father to tie him up and lay him on the altar. Abraham raised his knife to kill Isaac when suddenly the voice of an angel stopped him. The angel said that because he was prepared to offer his greatly loved son upon whose survival God’s promises depended, God would bless him and his offspring.

The lives of Isaac and Jesus compared 

Isaac and his father Jesus and his Father
Isaac’s birth was outside the natural order of things (his parents were both too old to have children naturally) Jesus was born to a virgin and so also born outside the natural order.
Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son who was essential to the fulfilment of God’s promises vital to the future of the world God did sacrifice his beloved son, Jesus who is also essential to the fulfilment of promises vital to the future of the world.
Isaac cooperated with his father in going to his death when in the prime of life. Jesus also when he was 33 years old went to his death in willing obedience to his Father
Isaac’s journey to Moriah took three days Jesus’ journey to the cross took three years from his baptism to his death
Isaac was raised from the dead “in a figure” on the third day when an Angel stopped Abraham at the very last minute and a ram replaced Isaac on the altar. Jesus actually rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion
Both events took place in the region of Moriah – probably the same hill top
God provided Jesus, his son, as a sacrifice for sin;  he also provided the ram in the pattern in Abraham and Isaac’s lives.

God told us long after the event what gave Abraham the confidence to do what he did.

17  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.            Hebrews

What amazing faith and trust in God Abraham had!

However, bearing in mind that Abraham lived around 4,000 years ago and Adam and Eve around 6000 years ago, why should we be interested in their day and age? Let us think about that question.

Why we have the Old Testament.

Let us first remind ourselves of the Bible’s contents and structure. Really it isn’t one book – it’s a library of books focusing on different aspects of God’s message, as is now illustrated.


There is a scripture that sets us on the road to answering why we have the Old Testament.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.          2 Timothy 3

This letter to Timothy was written in about AD 67 and while all the gospels and probably many of the letters had been written, the New Testament was not yet complete. So the reference in this letter and elsewhere is mainly to the Old Testament scriptures. For example see these words of Jesus to the Pharisees,

39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.              John 5

He said that before a word of the New Testament had been written! Between them, these two scriptures, tell us the Old Testament scriptures are the foundation on which the New Testament was built, especially which uses the basic words defined in the following table.

Use Description
Doctrine Basic Beliefs
Reproof Proof and evidence that the beliefs are ‘’The Truth’
Correction Changing a person’s way of life
Instruction in righteousness Continuing in that way of life
Perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works *perfect” from the Greek: “artios” meaning ‘perfect’ in the sense of being complete in the knowledge of “the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.”

The New Testament is telling us that what is written in the Old Testament is essential to an understanding of the gospel Jesus was teaching; stating watch we should believe and giving practical advice on how we should live.

The following quotation gives is another essential link between the New and Old Testaments showing they are so entwined it is not possible to consider them separately and it demonstrates why you cannot understand the one without the other.

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.     Galatians 3 

Without the Old Testament we would not be able to discover what the promises to Abraham were and so would be able to understand one of the key aspects of the Gospel message!

Understanding the New Testament

We contend therefore that in considering the Old Testament it is impossible to separate it from the New Testament. It is there to complete the readers understanding of the Old Testament. Even the prophets who set down the Old Testament did not fully understand how it would be fulfilled, as the apostle Peter reveals.

10  Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.      1 Peter 1

They knew that the prophecies they were receiving from their Heavenly Father and recording for Him were important and related to the Messiah, but they did not know how and when they would be fulfilled. It was to remain that way until the apostles came and completed the revelation of the things that were not understood in the Old Testament alone. So Peter continues in his letter … …

12  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

and the apostle Paul tells us the same thing.

9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.         1 Corinthians 2

But now, he says, things are different because …

10  … God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

So the situation is that God has revealed progressively to men and women by His Holy Spirit His will and purpose according to His plan.

Here is a little more about the New Testament which starts with four books labelled Gospel’s and yet the Apostle Paul tells us, that 2,000 years before,

8  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.                                            Galatians 3

If we had more time and space we could describe how through Adam and Eve knew a saviour was to come to overcome the problem of death which by their actions had been introduced into the world.

But here is a simpler promise of the Messiah received and taught by Moses that was understood by faithful Jews.

17  And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.                            Deuteronomy 18

Most notable of all was the fact that the priests and scribes who rejected Jesus knew where the Messiah was to be born. Look at this amazing passage of scripture.

1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel         Matthew 2

Thus, many Jews were waiting for the Messiah – the Christ – and that is why the leaders of the Jews questioned John the Baptist to discover if he were the Christ.

19  … when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20  And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.         John 1

Sadly, many of them did not recognise him when he came. Therefore it is so important that people read the Bible for themselves and see how ‘The Truth’ is found throughout the Bible with scripture supporting scripture or as Paul said,

13  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.          1 Corinthians 2

The Holy Spirit is the power of God and he used it to guide the writers of His word, amongst other things, and that is why all scripture is consistent throughout in its teaching.

So far, we have established an understanding of what the Bible is and how a genuine seeker of knowledge about God and His plans for our future should approach it. So we are ready to start. However, this presentation has reached the limits of its length. So we hope to do that in the next presentation for September. However, we have a suggestion to enable you to begin reading the Bible constructively.

C O M I N G     S O O N