The Bible Book to Read First and Why

It is common for new believers or people who for the first time are getting serious about bible study to ask which of the Bible’s 66 book should they read first. People new to the Bible should begin in the Book of Romans written by Paul as “the Apostle to the Gentilesapplying specifically to us in today’s age in which we live.

Romans 11:13 tells us! “For I [Paul]speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify [honor] mine office.” Second Timothy chapter 3 contains the most well-known Bible verses Paul wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith:

“[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [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.”

The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” actually defines “given by inspiration of God” (v16 above).

God the Holy Spirit spoke words, and He directed men to write them down and preserved them for us in our language. In English, that is the King James Bible (or, “Authorized Version”). Other languages have their own version, but they do not concern us here.

Second Timothy 3:16 affirms three primary purposes of Scripture — “doctrine” that tell us what we should believe, “reproof” that show us what we are doing wrong) and “correction” to remedy our bad thinking.

These three elements will “instruct [teach] us in righteousness.” They will show us how God wants us to live, “that [purpose or intent] the man of God may be perfect, [not sinless but] throughly [inwardly] furnished unto all good works” (verse 17). The Holy Bible alone teaches us everything God wants us to believe in today’s age of the pure grace of God, and it explains how the Holy “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” in us equips us to do everything He wants us to accomplish.

God’s Authority is His word, it does not rest with church organizations, church councils, preachers, doctrinal statements, hunches, impressions, creeds, et cetera. The authority is in the written Word of God,” the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures alone.

The only “mediator” between us and God the Father is Jesus Christ, who by His Spirit lives in every genuine believer.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1 Tim. 2:5)

In light of God’s present-day dealings with mankind, there is a special way to use the Bible text. Failure to approach Holy Writ in God’s way will cause us more damage than had we never read the Bible. We must remember Romans 11:13 if we are to make sense of all Scripture. The very first word in Romans begins with a name — “Paul.” The Holy Spirit led this Paul to pen Romans 11:13. When we come to him in the Bible, especially Paul’s conversion in Acts  9; we read about how the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven reached down and saved a man named Saul of Tarsus and made him [Paul]… who would become His spokesman to all the world.

In Acts 26:16-18 we have these words of Jesus Christ to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus:

“[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [apostolos = “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Paul thus articulates in Romans 11:11-13:

“[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their [Israel’s] fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them [Israel] to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I [Paul] speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify [honor] mine office:”

With Israel’s temporary “fall” (cf. Rom. 11:10-11, 15, 25), salvation has coming to us believing Gentiles (non-Jews) through Paul’s ministry. Hence, we must go to Paul’s epistles, or letters of doctrine, to read about that salvation. While Paul’s ministry begins in Acts 9, we do not read his writings in the Bible until we come to Paul’s thirteen books in the Bible seen after Acts — beginning with the Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the most fundamental information that God gave to Paul to give us Gentiles.

It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well-meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. In it we see the account of Jesus of Nazareth’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John). We should note that Jesus’ ministry was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but [except] unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is to confirm to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles [as signs], in her midst (see John 20:30-31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

By contrast, Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (Romans 11:13). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates:

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….”

Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components.

25  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26  But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:25-26 (KJV)

In the above verses we have; (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).

Romans is divided into these four sections.

  • Chapters 1-5 deal with justification unto salvation, or how to have our sins forgiven.
  • Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from being “in the lineage of Adam” to being “in Christ.”
  • Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—explaining that we are not the nation Israel, but rather “the Church, the Body of Christ,” with Israel still having a future according to God’s Prophetic Program.
  • Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can be lived in glorification of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

You will not become mature in grace and knowledge if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans!

- portions Adapted from Justin Johnson-

Questions or Comment?

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