How to Read the Bible with a Bible Reading Plan

Read the BibleHow to Study the Bible

The whole process can be intimidating, so we will publish a study of the book of Romans in the New International Version to help you get started.

Scriptural Text

Regardless of the translations, all Bibles have a general format to make it easier for everyone to read and study wisely.

The Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments each of which is divided into books; each book is divided into chapters, and each chapter is divided into verses.

Let’s drill these down. First, The Ryrie Study Bible provides introductions to both testaments. These are great helps and allow the reader to see the bigger picture. Before beginning the study of Romans, read the Introduction to the New Testament. If you have the Ryrie NIV Study Bible, turn to pages 1444 and 1445. Notice how I explain the arrangement, order, and message of the New Testament.

Drilling down further we encounter the 66 books of the Bible. The Old Testament contains 39 books and the New Testament contains 27. In The Ryrie Study Bible each book starts with an introduction. It will tell you when it was written and by whom. The book of Romans was written by Paul in 57-58 AD.

In addition, a brief overview, as well as an outline, helps the reader understand what they are about to read and why it is important. I also include a timeline for every book. The Bible is not chronological, but rather the history of salvation, consequently the timelines are helpful in understanding the sequence of events within the book itself and within the testament. Below is the timeline for Romans.

Timeline of Romans Study Bible

Moving further, we note each book is divided into chapters. For example, Romans has 16 chapters. Psalms, the longest book of the Bible, has 150 chapters while the second letter of John has 1 chapter and only 13 verses.

Finally, we arrive at the verse. A verse is generally a sentence or partial sentence divided in such a way to enable cross-references, notes, topics, and word studies. More on this later, but let’s first look at how a verse is presented.

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Ok, the reference Romans 5:8 means that this particular piece of Scripture can be found in the book of Romans, in chapter 5, and in verse 8. Turn to page 31 in this Sample of the Book of Romans. Can you find the verse?

After searching, you probably noticed that each page is set up into three distinct areas. The first and most important is the actual text in the middle, generally in 2 columns. I have defined every chapter with a headline. This lets you know what topic or topics will be addressed. The Ryrie Study Bible coordinates each chapter with its outline. Below is a comparison of the outline of Romans chapter 1 to the actual text.

Study Notes

When you were looking for Romans 5:8 did you notice a line about 2/3 down the page? This separates the text from the Study notes.

Below is a comparison of Romans 5:6-8 and the corresponding notes.

Romans 5:6-8 and Study Bible Notes

Cross References

We have looked at the scriptural text and the study notes. The last of the three areas of a study Bible is the cross references. From the Sample, did you notice all the Scripture references along the margins? These are the cross references. They point us to additional Scripture that expands, supports, or defines the designated verse. In the above example, do you see the “s,” “t,” and “u” in verse 6 and the “v” at the end of verse 8?

Romans Cross Reference Notes

Let’s look at Romans 5:8 again. This verse is highlighted with the letter “v.” In the above example, v tells us to look up Jn 3:16; 15:13; 1Pe 3:18; 1Jn 3:16; 4:10. WOW. Now the Books have been abbreviated! The traditional abbreviations are detailed in The Ryrie Study Bible but for our purposes here Jn is John, 1Pe is 1 Peter and 1 Jn is 1 John. So if you turn to John 3:16 in your Bible you will read “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Can you see how this verse supports Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”? How about John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Look at the remaining verses. The theme is consistent. Out of love, Jesus died for each of us.

There is more to learn about how to use a study Bible but this is a good start. Use the comments section below to tell us how you are doing in your studies.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness;” 2 Timothy 3:16

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About the Author

Charles C. Ryrie, also known as Dr. Ryrie to his students and Dad to his children, has both Master and Doctor of Theology degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He has also been awarded a Doctor of Letters degree by Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. So, what else has he been doing? Well, Dr. Ryrie has been the president of the Philadelphia College of Bible (now known as the Philadelphia Biblical University). He also has been the Systematic Theology Chair and Dean of Doctoral Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has also been known to write a book or two such as Dispensationalism, Balancing the Christian Life, and Basic Theology to name a few. He also likes to write Bible study notes.

18 Responses to How to Read the Bible with a Bible Reading Plan

  1. Pingback: Here is Your King: A Meditation and Bible Study

  2. Neal Schuerer says:

    When will the Ryrie Study
    Bible be avaiable in the NIV 2010 version?

  3. Neal, at this time MP is researching and evaluating its options concerning the Ryrie Study Bible and the NIV 2010 version. No final decision has been made.

  4. Robert Harmon says:

    I am a 49 y/o Hiv+ man that has just become a christian. I am in a church that has discipleship classes. However the leader of the class is using his Ryrie Study Bible. I would like to obtain a good Bible that I can keep for years. I have had to retire due to illness and have no christian family. Does you company ever have Bibles at a reduced price? I love the Ryrie Study Bible. Thank you and God Bless you.

  5. Betty Moore says:

    do you have the Ryrie Study Bible in the New King James version?

  6. catina claytor says:

    what is the best studybible to get.and i would like to know how can i win the ryier studybible

    • Catina,
      Everyone will have their own opinion as to what the “best” study Bible is. However, we do prefer the Ryrie. It has proven effective over the long haul. Look for contests from time to time on this site or Facebook, or

  7. Pastor Garey Mullens says:

    These are very good study Bible, study notes, and Bible reading Plan.

  8. Realizing that I may not be here to help instruct my grandkids ,in the front of my Bible ,I left a note that I wanted them to read ,of course,the commandments,but also Proverbs,asap ,& to strive to be the wise man,& not the foolish one !

  9. Lisa Perez says:

    I am requesting your study guides for studying the word of God

  10. You really made a handful of superb stuff inside your article, “How to Read the Bible with a Bible Reading Plan
    | Bible Study For You”. I may become coming to ur site in the
    near future. Thanks -Bryce

  11. Robert Barnett says:

    I am interested in the chronological reading plan in the Ryrie Study Bible. I have one, but because of usage over time the reading plan is no longer available to me. I like the way it merged Moses with the psalms he wrote, David with the psalms he wrote during the times in his life’s history that he wrote them, they way it skipped around in Jeremiah to the times to which they are referring, and the marriage of the gospels so that you read each story from the different gospel author’s perspective on one day. I have found other chronological reading plans, but none like I had in my Ryrie Study Bible. Is this reading plan available online?

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