6 Simple Steps for How to Start Reading the Bible for the First Time

Valerie Riese
Victory Through Surrender
5 min readSep 24, 2020


I browsed aimlessly looking at Bibles again, getting more confused with each click. Why do I have to make so many choices just to read the Bible? Is NIV easier to understand than HCSB? Why is there a Bible for women and a different Bible for moms? Isn’t the Bible the same for everyone? If the Bible is supposed to give me peace, then why is getting started so complicated? I’m obviously not smart enough for this Bible thing.

6 Simple Bible Basics for Beginners

Overcoming anxiety through faith begins with getting into God’s word, but I know just getting started can make your head swim. I wrote this guide to help answer the questions I had before I could begin reading the Bible. My Friend, if you struggle with how to start reading the Bible for the first time, then this beginner’s guide is for you.

I hope to help by sharing what I’ve learned along the way. I’ll introduce the different formats, versions, and types of Bibles, and I’ll outline how the Bible is organized. I’ll also offer Bible reading plans as well as lists of websites and apps I’m familiar with.

Grab a notepad, my friend. After a few quick notes, you’ll be spending time with the Prince of Peace in no time!

1.) What are the different Bible formats?

Throughout most of history, the only way to get God’s Word was to buy a Bible, sit down and read the Book. Now we have many formats to bring the Word of God into our lives.

You can read the Bible online for free. There are countless free Bible apps for iPhone, Android, and laptop, and many free offline Bible apps. You can even take the Bible in the car using free audio bible apps for iPhone and Android.

What I use and why

I use all the different formats for different purposes.

I cherish the experience of holding the Bible in my hands. I love how it feels and how it smells. I love the sound of the thin pages turning. And the words seem different to me in print. Scripture speaks to me more when I experience the Bible with my senses.

I have one Bible app on my phone: YouVersion. I use it in church during the sermon, and I listen to it while I work, especially when I’m anxious.

2.) What are the different versions of the Bible?

Abbreviations such as NIV, KJV, and NLT refer to the Bible version, also called the translation. The Bible was first written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Only believers who knew these languages could read the Bible until scholars translated it into other languages.

There are many English translations because the original text does not translate word-for-word into English. There are countless ways to convey the same idea to English, and many words have no direct English equivalent.

My favorite is the New King James Version (NKJV) because it is close to the original text, but without all the “thees” and “thous”. Even though I think the New King James Version is the most beautiful, sometimes I don’t understand it.

My 2nd favorite is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) because it’s still very close to the original text, but the language is more plain.

When I just need regular, every-day English for comprehension, I use the New International Version (NIV).

3.) What are the different types of Bibles?

Choosing what type of you want in your Bible is fun after you learn the differences between them. Each type is designed for a certain experience or audience. For example, reference Bibles and journal Bibles have practical features. Devotional Bibles and study Bibles include supplemental text to help a particular audience relate to scripture.

What type of Bible do I have and why?

I love study Bibles and journal Bibles because they help me learn. Unfortunately, these Bibles are not made in a comfortable print size for my compromised vision. So I improvise.

I found the largest print Bible on the market (Holman NKJV 18-pt font), and I use a page magnifier. I bought clear, round packaging labels and tiny notepad paper. I journal on the notepad and then stick it to the page.

I have a Holman HCSB Study Bible that I use for reference, along with my magnifier of course!

4.) How is the Bible divided up?

The Bible is made up of different sections. Each section contributes to the next to make up the whole, similar to Russian Nesting Dolls.

The Bible is first divided into the Old Testament (before Jesus) and the New Testament (Jesus’ life and after). Think BC and AD.

The entire Bible is not just one book, but a collection of 66 books. The books of the Bible are grouped into 9 different genres, such as history, law, and poetry. The chapters of each book are further divided into verses. Verses are a way of referencing a specific portion of scripture.

5.) In what order can I read the Bible?

There are many ways to read the Bible. For example, you can read the Bible in order from beginning to end, or you can read the New Testament first and then go back and read the Old Testament. You could focus on a specific book or topic you are interested in. You could also use any variety of Bible reading plans.

In what order did I read the Bible for the first time and why?

I read it cover-to-cover the first time. I’d heard so many bits and pieces of Scripture growing up, so I wanted to get the Story from Genesis to Revelation in order.

6.) How can I study the Bible for the first time?

There are many Bible study tools for beginners. A commentary, a Bible dictionary, and a concordance are some of the most common. Many more resources are available for free online and for purchase in bookstores. It takes an initial time investment to learn how to use the resources, but you’re not alone. There is a lot of help available both online and from others around you.

Bible Study Apps and Websites How did I study the Bible for the first time and why?

I love David Guzik’s commentaries on BlueLetterBible.org and GotQuestions.org for specific questions, because I found both resources are reliable and easy to understand.

My Friend, God’s Word will free your soul and give you peace. But before you can overcome anxiety through faith, you must breathe in His Words of Life. I pray this guide, and one of my (many) favorite Jeremy Camp songs will get you started.

Word of Life by Jeremy Camp



Valerie Riese
Victory Through Surrender

Co-director of Candidly Christian. After suffering years of debilitating anxiety, I learned that victory over anxiety comes only through surrender to Jesus.