Whether you’ve recently become a Christian or are interested in the Bible, you may be confused about where to start reading. Many people ask which testament of the Bible you should read first. The Old Testament is at the beginning of the Bible, but the New Testament is supposed to be more recent in Christianity. So, where is the best place to start? Keep reading to learn which testament to read first.
The Old Testament: People, Poems, and Prophecies
The Old Testament starts with the book of Genesis. Readers can begin reading here to learn how Christians believe God created the world, how sin originated, and what the first people were like.
From Genesis, you can continue through the rest of the historical books through Esther. Many of these books are narrative stories about people important to both Jewish and Christian faith. Readers who enjoy personal stories or are interested in other Abrahamic religions should start here.
The books of Job through Song of Solomon are considered poetic books because their writers recorded them predominately in verse. They speak on a range of subjects, from praising the Christian God to advice on finances and war. Some of the most influential Christian proverbs come from this section, along with other areas of scripture. Readers who enjoy poetry or are interested in a personal view of Christian morals should start here.
The last section of the Old Testament contains the prophetical books of Isaiah through Malachi. These books contain accounts of men chosen by God to prophesy the future of the nation of Israel. Readers interested in history should start here.
The New Testament: Jesus’s Life and Legacy
The New Testament is much shorter than the Old Testament and opens with the person who differentiates Christianity from other Abrahamic religions: Jesus, the Christian lord and savior. The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. The Gospels present the perspectives of Jesus and his ministry through the eyes of his disciples. New Christians who want to further develop their relationship with Jesus or those interested in how Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecies should start here.
The legacy of Jesus’s life and ministry continues with the Acts of the Apostles contained in the book of Acts. Those interested in how people first perceived Christianity and the first mission work should start here.
Following Acts, there are twenty-one letters called Epistles. Christian apostles wrote these letters to churches around the world, offering advice and encouragement. Christians looking for encouragement in their faith or those interested in the early church should start here.
The last book of the Bible, Revelation, is considered apocalyptic, as it explains how Christians believe the world will end, including the triumphant return of Jesus. Given the somewhat confusing imagery and metaphors of this book, it is not recommended that you start your reading here.
So, which testament of the Bible should you read first? It depends on what you’re hoping to get out of the reading. Within these testaments are specific sections that will be good starting places for different readers. Keep in mind that some of the subject material in certain sections, such as Old Testament prophecies, is fulfilled or clarified in parts of the New Testament. Be willing to read beyond a specific section for better context.