Read the Bible Through Every year

By Pastor Larry Ecton

Reading through the Bible each year is a practice that was urged on me when I was just a baby Christian, by the man who discipled me. He didn’t make a big deal of it (he is a wise man), but simply said that it would be a good habit to get into, and that it would help me to live as a Christian in many ways.

In the ensuing years, I’ve heard many people who haven’t done it even once giving all kinds of reasons why they don’t like the idea, don’t think it is a good practice, and other things they tell themselves because they don’t want that accountability. At the same time, I’ve spoken with lots of people who have continually read the Bible through, and who testify to the great value of doing it.

I’m one of those people. For most of the last thirty-six years I’ve gone through the Bible from beginning to end. I trusted Arlo, and I’ve discovered that he was right. Here are several reasons why reading the Bible through, every year, is a good practice.

Why Do It

We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Since “all” means just that, this verse tells us that every bit of Scripture is profitable for us – not just those parts we like, or that we hear often, or that somebody told us are “better” or “more important” than others. In this verse, God tells us that “all” Scripture is to be used.

In Acts 20:27, Paul told the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Paul didn’t declare some “partial” counsel of God when he established and discipled the Ephesian church, but the whole. Should we do any less for ourselves and our families? Should we accept a watered-down Bible – one that is no more than what we have heard from a pulpit or on radio, or that includes only those sections we are comfortable with or that we can easily understand?

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus was telling His disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit, and what He would do. In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” While we certainly understand this to explain the apostles’ accurate writing of the gospel record years after the events, it also explains what the Holy Spirit does for all believers – He brings to our “remembrance.” When we have read the full Bible, every verse, every word can then be brought to our remembrance by the Holy Spirit – often in just the perfect circumstance.

As believers, we experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He lives inside of us. He knows our every thought, feeling, mood, idea, and emotion. He knows the circumstances of our lives, including our future. As God, He also inspired the writing of the Bible. So as we read the word of God, we have the very Author Himself living within us to explain its meaning and highlight those areas He knows we most need at the time. Sometimes we will find our greatest need for wisdom and direction illuminated from what some would mistakenly call “obscure” parts of the Bible.

In addition, as we read through the Bible year after year, we will find that God brings different truths to our minds – often from the same verses – in order to apply them to our changed circumstances.

By reading through the Bible we are better able to understand the references the Bible makes to itself, whether by Jesus and the New Testament writers to books of the Old Testament, or by the Old Testament prophets to the books of Moses and the history books. Since we know that the Bible is a unified whole, that “Scripture interprets Scripture,” and that we are always to understand Scripture’s meaning in its context, by reading through the whole Bible each year, we are able to apply the full, broad context of the whole word of God to any Scripture we are studying.

How to do it

I’ve also discovered several different approaches to reading the Bible through in a year, that have enhanced my learning, provided variety, and helped me to know God better. Here are a few of those approaches. I hope they help you as they have helped me.

Use different translations. By selecting different translations (from the accurate and reliable ones that we know), we are presented with the results of the knowledge, insight, and wisdom of many different godly people, whose translations present the word of God each with a slightly different emphasis, or flavor, while at the same time carefully presenting the meaning of the original text. In addition, using different translations provides variety and may help to prevent our “reading ear” from becoming so familiar with God’s word that we begin to read right on past it without real understanding.

Use audio readings of the Bible, in various reliable translations. (No, this isn’t ‘cheating.’ The idea is to take in God’s word, not meet somebody’s “no pain, no gain” standard.) In Romans 10:17, Paul tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

You will find that taking in God’s word by hearing, provides a very different group of benefits.

  • Since we aren’t reading, we don’t stumble over unusual names.
  • When there are parts that are repetitive, our eyes don’t glaze over so quickly.
  • If we don’t stop the tape, CD or mp3, we aren’t as tempted to stop and pour over certain verses (I know – this is usually a good thing – but remember, we are taking in the full word here – this is not devotional or study reading.) By not stopping frequently, we are able to gain a sense of the broader flow of a chapter or book of the Bible, and you will find this to be extremely valuable.
  • By listening to a tape, CD, or mp3 we hear everything, and the temptation to skip any supposed (dare we say it?)“boring” or “unimportant” parts is reduced.
  • We can listen to the Bible many times when we cannot read: during walks or while jogging or exercising, while commuting to and from work, driving on long trips, doing house work, and more.
  • When you can, following along in your Bible can aid learning (by using both visual and audio input).
  • An approach that I have found useful, is to alternate the audio Bible with worship music and audio Bible teachings.

Reading the Bible through each year can be an exciting experience, and one that becomes more exciting and valuable each year. In doing this we enjoy variety while planting the whole counsel of God in our hearts and minds.

In Hebrews 4:12,13 we are told, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

For those who want to grow in their faith and knowledge of God, taking in the Scriptures in this broad way for a lifetime will strengthen your faith, as well as provide the solid foundation and perspective for devotional reading and in-depth Bible study.

However: Reading the Bible through each year should never be a substitute for devotional reading or in-depth Bible study. The Bible is a great and supernatural book, providing Truth and the knowledge of God at many different levels.


Time required:    72 hours at normal reading speed.

4,320 minutes

12 minutes/day for 365 days

17 minutes/day if you skip weekends

Think and Do – Philippians 4:4-9

Teacher: Peter Remmes

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