Published on December 28th, 2010 | by Charles Ryrie
How to Read the Bible with a Bible Reading Plan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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