How to Read the Entire Bible in One Year

How to Read the Entire Bible in One Year

By Dave Bullock from Derby, UK (Bible Original) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
They were probably the most trendy couple I’d ever joined in marriage.  He was an airline pilot; she, a flight attendant.  In their mid-30’s, they had probably been in every city in the world that had a large airport.  I don’t remember why they wanted to have their wedding in my church.

Months before their ceremony they worked a meeting with me during those rare days that they were in the country.  The three of us filled out wedding paperwork.  And then we had a little bit of time together to talk about being husband and wife.  I wasn’t much older than they were.  The conversation turned to marital quarrels and making up.  I wanted to say something edifying about the importance Christian faith assigns to forgiveness.

First time readers of the Old and New Testaments never regret the effort they’ve put forth to cover the material.

“Like the father in the Prodigal Son story…” I said.   The two of them just kind of sat there without response.  “You know, that story where the youngest son takes his inheritance and blows it in wild living.”  They looked bewildered and intrigued.

I realized that these two sophisticates had never heard of the story of the Prodigal Son.  Sensing a teachable moment, I simply launched in: “There was once a man with two sons…”

They listened transfixed.  But I think I was more thrilled by the moment than they were.  Here were two bright adults listening to the greatest of all of Jesus’ parables–arguably the greatest of all stories–for the first time.  They may have known the Christmas story.  But otherwise the entire content of Christian faith was foreign to them–until the moment of that conversation.

Knowing What’s in the Bible

Most people don’t know what is in the Bible.  Eye-poping statistics about biblical illiteracy abound.  We’re well beyond the stage when virtually the entire population knows something from the Bible.  In fact, I’m seeing studies that reveal only a fraction of evangelical church attenders possess rudimentary biblical knowledge.  When I, back in 1976, took the somewhat challenging 100-question Bible content exam required for ordination in the Presbyterian Church about half of my classmates did not pass it the first time around.

I’ve learned in my years as a parish minister that people, especially church-goers are curious about what is in the Bible.  For them, reading the Bible from cover-to-cover is on their “bucket list” of aspirations.  When I’ve held classes that make reading the whole Bible a group activity, I find that attendance remains stronger than anyone might predict.  What’s more, class members keep up with the pace of reading several chapters a day in order to cover the hundreds of pages of material.  First time readers of the Old and New Testaments never regret the effort they’ve put forth to cover the material.  They’re always surprised by what’s in there.  I’ve heard dozens of times variations of, “That just doesn’t seem like something that belongs in the Bible.”

I’m Glad I’ve had a Chance to Explore the Scriptures

I’m not sure that I’d be much of a Bible reader if I didn’t need to prepare a sermon on some portion of Scripture week in and week out over four decades.  Now I feel like the cab driver in the metropolis who has found so many addresses in out-of-the-way places that he possesses an intuitive feel for the quirks and pulse of the city.  Familiarity with the Bible is like living in a special world–the world of the Bible.  I’d never want to lose that.  Here are a couple of benefits I’ve gotten because I’ve been privileged to get to know the material:

  1.  I feel a little bit more independent of what the church or teacher is telling me about my faith.  The blunt truth is that what churches teach is always at some variance with what’s in the scriptures.  It’s liberating to know a bit of what that is.

  2. My esteem for both Testaments has risen steadily over the course of my adult life.  I don’t happen to believe in the Fundamentalist doctrine of inerrancy–the idea that the Bible is literally and historically true on all points.  Curiously, however, the more I study, question, and understand, even with no agenda to prove it all true, the more I appreciate or even love what it says.

  3. The stories and ideas of the Bible have a kind of life to them.  Something that I don’t understand or even dislike will lie dormant for years.  Then suddenly it’ll come alive for me and blaze with God’s truth.

  4. I’ve gotten to a place in my thought life when stories and phrases from all parts of the Bible are forever poping unbidden in my thoughts and weaving in with whatever I’m experiencing or wrestling through.  I’m guessing that this is one of the ways that God speaks to us–simply by bringing up something in the Bible in our thoughts.

Reading the Entire Bible

If any of this is intriguing to you, you may welcome some ideas on how you might become familiar with the Bible yourself–or even read it in its entirety.  Below is a chart with a schedule that guides you through the whole Protestant Bible in one year.  This is my own work and like all such charts, I could have taken other approaches.  A few observations:

  1. Someone figured out that if you read 3 chapters a day and 4 on Sundays that you can get through the Bible in a year.  I use that insight with some flexibility.  The readings are close to equal length.  I don’t end one book and start another on any given day.

  2. I’ve worked some catch-up days into the chart because it’s difficult to find time to read 3 or 4 chapters every single day.

  3. In working this up, I discovered that the Old Testament can be read in the span between Easter and Christmas; the New Testament can be read between Christmas and Easter.  That’s an approximation.  Easter’s adjustable date influences how that works out.

  4. The sequence of readings roughly follow canonical order.  I’ve arranged Paul’s letters in some chronological order.  I’ve gathered the “Five Scrolls” together in the Old Testament and like materials elsewhere.  Even canonical order in the bible is a puzzlement.  Readers may have better ideas.

  5. I use this chart daily for devotional reading.  I don’t manage to read all of the lessons day in and day out, but when I’m looking for something to read from the scriptures, I want to be freed from my subjective tendency to consult the little circle of my favorite stories or verses.  Typically, I  go to the day of the year and let my reading be whatever is listed for that date.

  6. Each of the Bible Readings is linked to the full text (NIV, New International Version Translation).  I’m thinking that some readers may wish to do their daily readings on phone, tablet, or computer.  Others may wish to do their reading without electronics.  A paper printout of the reading schedule can be found  here:  Through the Bible in One Year.


Through the Bible in One Year

A plan for reading through the entire Old and New Testaments in one year
January 1I Thessalonians 1-3
January 2I Thessalonians 4-5
January 3Galatians 1-3
January 4Galatians 4-6
January 5I Corinthians1-4
January 6I Corinthians 5-7
January 7I Corinthians 8-10
January 8I Corinthians 11-13
January 9I Corinthians 14-16
January 10II Corinthians 1-4
January 11II Corinthians 5-7
January 12II Corinthians 8-10
January 13II Corinthians 11-13
January 14Romans 1-3
January 15Romans 4-6
January 16Romans 7-9
January 17Romans 10-12
January 18Romans 13-16
January 19Philippians 1-4
January 20Philemon 1-25
January 21Catch-up
January 22Matthew 1-4
January 23Matthew 5-7
January 24Matthew 8-10
January 25Matthew 11-13
January 26Matthew 14-16
January 27Matthew 17-19
January 28Matthew 20-22
January 29Matthew 23-25
January 30Matthew 26-28
January 31Mark 1-4
February 1Mark 5-7
February 2Mark 8-10
February 3Mark 11-13
February 4Mark 14-16
February 5Luke 1-3
February 6Luke 4-6
February 7Luke 7-9
February 8Luke 10-12
February 9Luke 13-15
February 10Luke 16-18
February 11Luke 19-21
February 12Luke 22-24
February 13John 1-3
February 14John 4-6
February 15John 7-9
February 16John 10-12
February 17John 13-15
February 18John 16-18
February 19John 19-21
February 20Catch-up
February 21Acts 1-4
February 22Acts 5-7
February 23Acts 8-10
February 24Acts 11-13
February 25Acts 14-16
February 26Acts 17-19
February 27Acts 20-22
February 28Acts 23-25
March 1Acts 26-28
March 2Catch-up
March 3II Thessalonians 1-2
March 4Colossians 1-2
March 5Ephesians 1-3
March 6Ephesians 4-6
March 7I Timothy 1-3
March 8I Timothy 4-6
March 9II Timothy 1-2
March 10Titus 1-2
March 11Hebrews 1-4
March 12Hebrews 5-7
March 13Hebrews 8-10
March 14Hebrews 11-13
March 15James 1-2
March 16James 3-5
March 17I Peter 1-3
March 18I Peter 4-5
March 19II Peter 1-3
March 20I John 1-3
March 21I John 4-5
March 22II John 1-13
March 23III John 1-15
March 24Jude 1-25
March 25Revelation 1-4
March 26Revelation 5-7
March 27Revelation 8-10
March 28Revelation 11-13
March 29Revelation 14-16
March 30Revelation 17-19
March 31Revelation 20-22
April 1Catch-up
April 2Catch-up
April 3Catch-up
April 4Catch-up
April 5Genesis 1-4
April 6Genesis 5-8
April 7Genesis 9-12
April 8Genesis 13-16
April 9Genesis 17-20
April 10Genesis 21-24
April 11Genesis 25-28
April 12Genesis 29-32
April 13Genesis 33-36
April 14Genesis 37-40
April 15Genesis 41-44
April 16Genesis 45-48
April 17Genesis 49-50
April 18Catch-up
April 19Exodus 1-2
April 20Exodus 3-4
April 21Exodus 5-7
April 22Exodus 8-10
April 23Exodus 11-13
April 24Exodus 14-16
April 25Exodus 17-19
April 26Exodus 20-22
April 27Exodus 23-25
April 28Exodus 26-28
April 29Exodus 29-31
April 30Exodus 32-34
May 1Exodus 35-37
May 2Exodus 38-40
May 3Leviticus 1-4
May 4Leviticus 5-7
May 5Leviticus 8-10
May 6Leviticus 11-13
May 7Leviticus 14-16
May 8Leviticus 17-20
May 9Leviticus 21-24
May 10Leviticus 25-27
May 11Numbers 1-3
May 12Numbers 4-6
May 13Numbers 7-9
May 14Numbers 10-12
May 15Numbers 13-15
May 16Numbers 16-18
May 17Numbers 19-21
May 18Numbers 22-24
May 19Numbers 25-27
May 20Numbers 28-30
May 21Numbers 31-33
May 22Numbers 34-36
May 23Deut. 1-3
May 24Deut.4-6
May 25Deut. 7-9
May 26Deut. 10-12
May 27Deut. 13-15
May 28Deut. 16-18
May 29Deut.19-21
May 30Deut. 22-24
May 31Deut. 25-27
June 1Deut. 28-30
June 2Deut. 31-32
June 3Deut 33-34
June 4Joshua 1-3
June 5Joshua 4-6
June 6Joshua 7-9
June 7Joshua 10-12
June 8Joshua 13-15
June 9Joshua 16-18
June 10Joshua 19-21
June 11Joshua 22-24
June 12Judges 1-3
June 13Judges 4-6
June 14Judges 7-9
June 15Judges 10-12
June 16Judges 13-16
June 17Judges 16-18
June 18Judges 19-21
June 19I Sam. 1-4
June 20I Sam. 5-8
June 21I Sam. 9-12
June 22I Sam. 13-16
June 23I Sam. 17-20
June 24I Sam. 21-24
June 25I Sam. 25-28
June 26I Sam. 29-31
June 27II Sam. 1-3
June 28II Sam. 4-6
June 29IISam. 7-9
June 30II Sam. 10-12
July 1II Sam. 13-16
July 2II Sam. 17-20
July 3II Sam 21-24
July 4I Kings 1-3
July 5I Kings 4-6
July 6I Kings 7-10
July 7I Kings 11-13
July 8I Kings 14-16
July 9I Kings 17-19
July 10I Kings 20-22
July 11II Kings 1-4
July 12II Kings 5-8
July 13II KIngs 9-11
July 14II Kings 12-14
July 15II Kings 15-18
July 16II Kings 19-21
July 17II Kings 22-25
July 18Amos 1-3
July 19Amos 4-6
July 20Amos 7-9
July 21Hosea 1-3
July 22Hosea 4-6
July 23Hosea 7-10
July 24Hosea 11-14
July 25Isaiah 1-3
July 26Isaiah 4-6
July 27Isaiah 7-9
July 28Isaiah 10-12
July 29Isaiah 13-15
July 30Isaiah 16-18
July 31Isaiah 19-21
August 1Isaiah 22-24
August 2Isaiah 25-27
August 3Isaiah 28-30
August 4Isaiah 31-33
August 5Isaiah 34-36
August 6Isaiah 37-39
August 7Micah 1-3
August 8Micah 4-7
August 9Jeremiah 1-2
August 10Jeremiah 3-4
August 11Jeremiah 5-7
August 12Jeremiah 8-10
August 13Jeremiah 11-13
August 1Jeremiah 14-16
August 15Jeremiah 17-19
August 16Jeremiah 20-22
August 17Jeremiah 23-25
August 18Jeremiah 26-28
August 19Jeremiah 29-31
August 20Jeremiah 32-34
August 21Jeremiah 35-37
August 22Jeremiah 38-40
August 23Jeremiah 41-43
August 24Jeremiah 44-46
August 25Jeremiah 47-49
August 26Jeremiah 50-52
August 27Catch-up
August 28Habakkuk 1-3
August 29Isaiah 40-42
August 30Isaiah 43-45
August 31Isaiah 46-48
September 1Isaiah 49-51
September 2Isaiah 52-54
September 3Isaiah 55-57
September 4Isaiah 58-60
September 5Isaiah 61-63
September 6Isaiah 64-66
September 7I Chronicles 1-4
September 8I Chronicles 5-8
September 9I Chronicles 9-12
September 10I Chronicles 13-16
September 11I Chronicles 17-20
September 12I Chronicles 21-23
September 13I Chronicles 24-26
September 14I Chronicles 27-29
September 15II Chronicles 1-4
September 16II Chronicles 5-8
September 17II Chronicles 9-12
September 18II Chronicles 13-16
September 19II Chronicles 17-20
September 20II Chronicles 21-24
September 21II Chronicles 25-28
September 22II Chronicles 29-32
September 23II Chronicles 33-36
September 24Ezra 1-4
September 25Ezra 5-7
September 26Ezra 8-10
September 27Nehemiah 1-4
September 28Nehemiah 5-7
September 29Nehemiah 8-10
September 30Nehemiah 11-13
October 1Ezekiel 1-4
October 2Ezekiel 5-7
October 3Ezekiel 8-11
October 4Ezekiel 12-14
October 5Ezekiel 15-18
October 6Ezekiel 19-21
October 7Ezekiel 22-25
October 8Ezekiel 26-28
October 9Ezekiel 29-32
October 10Ezekiel 33-35
October 11Ezekiel 36-39
October 12Ezekiel 40-42
October 13Ezekiel 43-46
October 14Ezekiel 47-48
October 15Daniel 1-4
October 16Daniel 5-8
October 17Daniel 9-12
October 18Joel 1-3
October 19Jonah 1-2
October 20Nahum 1-3
October 21Zephaniah 1-3
October 22Haggai 1-2
October 23Obadiah 1
October 24Zechariah 1-4
October 25Zechariah 5-8
October 26Zechariah 9-11
October 27Zechariah 12-14
October 28Malachi 1-4
October 29Ruth 1-4
October 30Ecclesiastes 1-4
October 31Ecclesiastes 5-8
November 1Ecclesiastes 9-12
November 2Song of Solomon 1-4
November 3Song of Solomon 5-8
November 4Lamentations 1-3
November 5Lamentations 4-5
November 6Esther 1-3
November 7Esther 4-6
November 8Esther 7-10
November 9Job 1-3
November 10Job 4-6
November 11Job 7-9
November 12Job 10-12
November 13Job 13-15
November 14Job 16-18
November 15Job 19-21
November 16Job 22-24
November 17Job 25-27
November 18Job 28-30
November 19Job 31-33
November 20Job 34-36
November 21Job 37-39
November 22Job 40-42
November 23Psalms 1-5
November 24Psalms 6-10
November 25Psalms 11-15
November 26Psalms 16 - 20
November 27Psalms 21 - 25
November 28Psalms 30-35
November 29Psalms 36-40
November 30Psalms 41-45
December 1Psalms 46-50
December 2Psalms 51-55
December 3Psalms 56-60
December 4Psalms 61-65
December 5Psalms 66-70
December 6Psalms 71-75
December 7Psalms 76-80
December 8Psalms 81-85
December 9Psalms 86-90
December 10Psalms 91-95
December 11Psalms 96-100
December 12Psalms 101-105
December 13Psalms 106-110
December 14Psalms 111-115
December 15Psalms 116-120
December 16Psalms 121-125
December 17Psalms 126-130
December 18Psalms 131-135
December 19Psalms 136-140
December 20Psalms 141-145
December 21Psalms 146-150
December 22Proverbs 1-4
December 23Proverbs 5-7
December 24Proverbs 8-10
December 25Proverbs 11-13
December 26Proverbs 14-16
December 27Proverbs 17-19
December 28Proverbs 20-22
December 29Proverbs 23-25
December 30Proverbs 26-28
December 31Proverbs 29-31

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