The people of God are a people of the book. But that doesn’t mean that everyone has always enjoyed access to the book.

For millenia the people of God were taught the word of God by prophets and priests in their own language at the temple, in synagogues, and in the public square. Parents took what they learned and taught their children at home. That tradition changed about 500 years ago when the Scriptures were translated, printed, and disseminated in the langauges of lay people.

Ministers of the Word still mediate God’s word by teaching and preaching, but non-ministers of the word also have immediate access to God’s word in personal copies of the Bible. In this, we have a privilege that most of our forefathers did not enjoy; and with that privilege comes many advantages — and even more responsibilities.

To keep us from living below our privilege we are often challenged to be daily Bible readers. There are several good reading plans available, all designed to help us to read the whole Bible in one year. Some are better than others. But, like selecting a version of the Bible, the best one to use is the one you actually use.

Here is an Alternative Bible Reading Plan for ordinary folks.

It might suit those who —

  • feel intimidated by tackling the whole Bible every year
  • feel frustrated and guilty for quitting in Leviticus (again!)
  • feel overwhelmed with real life and pressed for time

It might also suit those who just enjoy reading more slowly and savoring the words of the living God. (All of the above apply to me!)

If you use this plan, take your time and enjoy God’s word. Seriously! There is no rush, no pressure, no obligation. God doesn’t even command us to be “daily Bible readers” — rather, he expects us to live by every word that comes from his mouth.

When you finish one cycle, no matter how long it takes, move on to the next cycle, then the next one.

Just think: in a year, or two, or thirty, or whatever, you will have lived, moved, and breathed in the holy words of God.

The goal is not to finish — ever — but to keep on reading and reflecting — always.

Cycle One: 215 Chapters

Genesis
Psalms 1-41
Ezekiel
Daniel
Zechariah
John
Revelation
1 John
2 John
3 John

Cycle Two: 200 Chapters

Exodus
Joshua
1 and 2 Samuel
Psalms 42-72
Ecclesiastes
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Mark
1 Peter
2 Peter
Jude

Cycle Three: 240 Chapters

Leviticus
Hebrews
Psalms 73-89
1 and 2 Kings
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Hosea
Malachi
Matthew
James
Proverbs

Cycle Four: 218 Chapters

Numbers
Judges
Ruth
Esther
Psalms 90-106
Song of Solomon
Joel
Amos
Luke
Acts
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians
Galatians
2 Corinthians
Romans

Cycle Five: 236 Chapters

Deuteronomy
Psalm 107-150
1 and 2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Isaiah
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
Philemon
1 Timothy
Titus
2 Timothy

A Method to the Message

There are five cycles because I started with the five books of the Law, the five books of the Psalms, and the “five” books of the Gospels. (Actually, there are only four Gospels and Isaiah which is often called the fifth gospel.)

First, I put one book of the Law, Psalms, and Gospels in each cycle according to similar themes and tone. Example, Cycle One has Genesis and John — “In the beginning…”

Next, I tried to match other books to the major books according to similar theme, topic, or tone. Example, Cycle Three combines books addressing predominantly Jewish recipients — Leviticus and Hebrews; 1-2 Kings and Matthew.

Finally, I tried to strike a balance of genre and length between each cycle. Some cycles appear to be longer than others, but keep in mind that actual length of books and chapters varies.