Every year it seems that Christians resolve to read their Bible more. Seasoned Bible Reading Plan veterans know what to do and how to do it but may lack the willpower or passion for keeping with it all year. However, novices could use some advice on the best Bible reading plans for the new year. So, here’s our best advice for how to read the Bible on a regular schedule in 2023.
1. Pick a Good Translation for Your Bible Reading Plan
What’s the best Bible translation for your Bible reading plan in 2023? That’s a loaded question.
Many people already have a favorite translation that they understand and enjoy reading. Some read the Bible in a community and share a single translation with friends, family, or your church family. In those cases, stick with what you like and know. For other people, consider the following…
Pick a translation that you know you can understand and will keep reading. The more modern translation usually offer the best results.
Unless you’re comfortable with the KJV, consider a more modern translation. They use contemporary language instead of terms that have changed since the translators of the KJV completed their work.
Don’t use a paraphrase despite how easy they are to read. They’re not as accurate, and you’ll need something more accurate as your Bible study grows more in-depth.
What are the Best Translations in 2023?
So what translations should the new Bible reader consider? Let me share one important trait of modern translations. We judged them from the most literal to the least. That doesn’t mean that a translation that’s not as literal will be worse than a more literal translation. Translators often choose to go with a less literal translation because it confuses modern readers or makes it harder to read in a flow.
The Greek and Hebrew writers didn’t put words in a rigid word order like we do in English. They often emphasize the most important word by placing it at the beginning of a sentence. But our modern English rules say that’s not the right way to do things. Here’s an example:
The man drove that car right off the cliff.
What’s the most important word? The writer of the sentence may want to emphasize the danger put, so “cliff” is the most important word. She might want us to focus on “car” instead. Either way Greek writer might write it as follows:
The cliff the man drove the car right off.
That’s awkward in English but makes perfect sense to an ancient Greek reader, except for not knowing what a car is.
My Recommendations for the Best Translations for Your Bible Reading Plan
I use the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). It’s a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). The team that translated sought to make it accurate, consistent with conservative, Evangelical theology, but equivalent to modern English so that readers in 2023 and beyond could easily understand it.
In 2022 the Legacy Standard Bible came out. The LSB fits in the family of the New American Standard Bible, which I grew up reading and studying thanks to my home church pastor. He preferred its accuracy and literal translation emphasis. It’s not as flowery as more modern translations but fits great in a serious Bible student’s toolbox. The NASB first hit the Christian world in 1977 and received an update in 1995 and in 2020. Unfortunately, from 1995 to 2020, it changed in a way that made people think the translators were less interested in literal translation and more in modern terminology. I don’t know if that’s true, but I prefer the LSB because the team that produced it continued the firm emphasis on making as literal an English translation as possible in 2022.
Other great options include…
NKJV – The New King James Version isn’t as modern, but it’s still very good and comforts people who grew up reading the KJV.
ESV – The English Standard Version comes from the line of the first American English translation, the ASV. It later received an update and the name RSV. The ESV translators worked to stay in that line and produced an excellent translation.
2. Don’t Start at the Beginning
Readers start most books on page one, but the Bible’s a unique kind of book. So, don’t start on page one if you want to get through it.
When I counsel new believers, I suggest they start reading the book of John. It’s simpler to read than Genesis. You don’t deal with complicated and strange passages like the legal code in Leviticus or genealogies in Genesis 5 and 10. Finally, the stories about Jesus are more familiar than the Old Testament stories.
Combat the boredom of reading these difficult passages in the first five books of the Bible by using a different reading plan than going verse by verse, as many new Bible readers often choose. See the next section below for the best Bible reading plan recipes to help you succeed.
3. Follow a Recipe for Success in Your Bible Reading Plan
When we call a Bible reading plan a recipe, we mean what passages or what genre of passages you should read in each reading session. Your Bible or Bible app can help you find a good Bible reading plan that helps readers succeed in getting through the entire Bible and keep reading without giving up after a few days, weeks, or months.
Does your Study Bible include a Bible reading plan? The Bible app also includes hundreds of Bible reading plans. Those plans range in scope, including a topical plan that offers a week of reading plans and devotions to go with the daily topics. Alternatively, you can choose a plan that reads the entire New Testament in 30 days. Most of us will choose something between these two extremes.
See the hue scope of reading plans at the Bible app’s site. You’ll also find these in the Bible app on your phone or tablet. Other apps offer Bible reading plans, including the Logos Bible app on mobile or desktop.
Open the Library in Logos on a desktop. Type in your translation in the search box that pops up. Then click on the three dots at the right of the translation entry in the Library list. Choose Start reading plan from the drop-down list.
Other apps with reading plans include Olive Tree, Accordance, and more. You’ll get the best digital Bible reading plans from the Bible app or Logos.
4. Set a System to Remind You to Read
A digital Bible reading plan helps keep you reading because you can set a reminder on your phone, tablet, or computer. We don’t have time to explain how to set these reminders in each app, so check with your chosen Bible app to learn how to set them.
Even if you don’t plan to use a digital Bible reading plan, you can still use your phone’s reminders or To-Do app to remind you to read the Bible daily. In iOS, you have Reminders, and on Android phones, you can find a number of options.
At the very least, write a note and keep it somewhere you won’t miss it. Keep a Bible on your nightstand or near your morning breakfast spot in the kitchen or dining room. Make it conspicuous so you won’t forget.
5. Share What You Learn With Others
The four previous strategies will help with your Bible reading plan. This fifth strategy helps the most. Find a friend who will keep you accountable. This person can help with more than your Bible reading plan. They can keep you accountable for your moral choices, personal discipline, and relationship behavior. Who should you choose? You might have a name in mind without much thought. Let me suggest a few things to help you select the right person.
Same Gender – don’t enter into this spiritually intimate relationship with a member of the opposite gender. A man picking a woman or a woman choosing a man can cause problems, especially if you’re in a committed relationship (marriage, engaged, or long-term committed romantic relationship).
Trustworthy – the worst thing you can do is admit your failures to someone who will gossip about your private sins. You can get hurt, embarrassed, or if you know they’re not reliable, then you could lose trust and not openly admit your failures.
Reliable – you can trust some people to keep your secrets, but they don’t respect your time. You end up without an accountability partner because they won’t keep the schedule you made.
Answer Below in the Comments
What do you recommend regarding daily Bible reading plans? Which plans work best for you? What apps or websites help? Who do you have to help you stay true to your commitment to reading the Bible regularly?
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.