Are you considering reading through the whole Bible in this year? If so, I highly recommend reading chronologically. While I’ve written in the past about why this is my favorite way to read the Bible, I thought I’d share some actual chronological Bible reading plans I – and others I know – have used in the past (and the one I’ll be using for my Rapid Bible Read Thru).
Whether you want a reading plan for your phone or tablet, a plan you can print and use with a Bible you already own, or a physical Bible that’s already laid out for you in chronological order – this post will get you headed in the right direction.
Every year, I ask the people who are participating in the 4-Month Bible Read Thru what questions they have before we begin. A question I have already heard several times this year (and I hear it every year) is…
What Bible – or reading plan – should I use?”
First…The “What” and “Why” of a Chronological Bible
If you already know about what chronological Bibles are and why they’re helpful, go ahead and scroll down to the next heading for my first recommendation. Otherwise…
In general, the Bible IS written in chronological order (the order the events actually occurred).
Specifically, however, there are many exceptions. You might be asking “Why would they put the events out of order?” A few reasons:
- Some books cover the same time period. The simplest examples are I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and I & II Chronicles in the Old Testament or the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. There is a lot of overlapping content within those books. Reading the different accounts of the same event is helpful to gain different perspectives.
- Some books cover a much wider timeframe than others. This analogy might help: Let’s say you and I went to high school together. You decide to write a book about our four years together. I also choose to write a book – but only about the soccer season of our junior year. Reading my book after completing 50-75% of yours would be the way to go.
- Some books are poems, prophecies, or letters written by people whose stories are told in other books. If you’re reading about the life of David in I & II Samuel, it is pretty cool to read a Psalm he wrote immediately after reading the event that inspired it. The same is true when reading one of Paul’s letters – to the people in Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, etc. – while reading the account of his missionary journeys in the book of Acts.
Now…my four recommendations…
1. The Chronological Bible Reading Plan from YouVersion
I am listing this one first simply because this is the plan I am going to use this year. (FYI – The second recommendation is the one I’ve used the last few years.)
There are lots of Bible apps and online plans out there. YouVersion is my favorite when it comes to just reading. You can hide all the notes, turn off sharing, and have nothing but the text on the screen.
If you are reading this on a computer right now, here’s the direct link to the page on the YouVersion site where you’ll find the Chronological Reading Plan. Here’s a screenshot of what you’re looking for:
If you’re on your phone, install the free app (here’s the link), click “Plans,” scroll down to “Whole Bible,” and select “Chronological” near the bottom of the list.
WARNING: This app – and almost every Bible reading plan you’ll find – is laid out to read through the Bible in a year. If you’re participating in a Rapid Bible Read Thru (or anything shorter than 365 days), simply ignore the dates. Set an amount of time and read however many days you can in that amount of time.
2. The Printable Chronological Bible Reading Plan
I have put together a short eBook outlining every chapter in the Bible chronologically. You will find a deeper overview of this process in the opening pages.
For me, it’s helpful to simply print the two pages with the chapter breakdowns and tuck it in my Bible.
Feel free to print it, copy it, or share it.
3. Chronological READING Bible (fewer notes) – Physical or Kindle
The Bibles recommended in this section, and the next one, are perfect if you who want a Bible that is already laid out for you chronologically.
They are all pretty much the same, except for where you find the extra notes and commentary. The Bibles in this section have a few notes within the Bible text, but a vast majority of the notes and commentary will be found at the beginning of the Bible and at the beginning of each book.
This makes these Bibles a good choice if you have a hard time resisting the urge to read every note, look at every map, or pour over every chart when you’re reading. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with this!)
Here are links to five major translations:
- CSB Day-by-Day Chronological Bible – Christian Standard Bible (Hardback, Paperback, or Kindle)
- The One Year Chronological Bible – New International Version (Hardback, Paperback, or Kindle)
- The One Year Chronological Bible – New Living Translation (Hardback, Paperback, or Kindle)
- The One Year Chronological Bible – New King James Version (Hardback, Paperback, or Kindle)
- The One Year Chronological Bible – King James Version (Kindle ONLY)
4. Chronological STUDY Bible (more notes) – Physical or Kindle
These Bible are the same as the ones above, except they have a whole heap of notes, charts, graphs, maps, and commentary embedded right into the pages alongside the Scripture.
One of the guys who has done the BRT with me the past several years bought the one for the New King James Version (link below) and he loved it! The only drawback he found was that he was spending more time than he intended because the notes were so interesting. (There are certainly worse problems to have than spending too much time in the Word!)
Since these Bibles also have a reference built in to help you find things in the “normal order,” many people will buy one of these Bibles and use it as their primary study Bible.
Here are links to four major translations:
- The Chronological Study Bible – New International Version (Hardcover or Kindle)
- Day-by-Day Chronological Bible – Christian Standard Bible (Softcover or Kindle)
- Chronological Life Application Study Bible – New Living Translation (Hardcover or Kindle)
- The Chronological Study Bible – King James Version (Hardcover or Kindle)
There you have it. If you have never read through the Bible chronologically – or at all! – give it a try. It will give you a fantastic perspective and help you enter fully into God’s big, amazing, challenging, beautiful story.
What chronological Bible reading plan are you going to use?