When asked where someone “new to the Bible” should start reading, I suggested that they begin with the Gospels, specifically Mark and John. But, they also wanted to know where to go from there.
I don’t believe there is any one set right order of the books of the Bible someone unfamiliar with Scripture should follow.
But, I do believe it helps to first understand God’s central theme and gain a big picture before getting into some of the more detailed or harder to read books.
Suggested Order to Read the Books of the Bible
The Gospels of Mark and John
By beginning with the Gospels of Mark and John, we get a picture of the One around whom the Bible revolves, Jesus.
Genesis and Exodus
Next I would suggest going to the beginning of the Bible to read Genesis and Exodus where we learn why Jesus dying on the cross was necessary. The last half of Exodus gets into some details of the law and tabernacle. Bear with it to give yourself a concept of the tediousness of keeping the law.
Romans and Galatians
After reading Genesis and Exodus, you might want to go back to the New Testament to read the books of Romans and Galatians. These books lay out how keeping the law which you just would have read about in Genesis and Exodus was not sufficient to save people.
Maybe it’s now time for gaining some assurances of life in Him and God’s love for us. Since second and third John are short, you might want to just finish reading through them.
Matthew and Luke
From there we might want to take in some more details about Jesus.
Luke ends with Jesus being taken up into heaven so why not read about what happened next. The book of Acts provides a historical account of the beginning of the Church.
The book of Ephesians gives more understanding of the Church as well as our identity in Christ.
Continue on to Colossians to reinforce the supremacy of Christ.
The Rest of the Books
Reading the above mentioned books should give you a good basis for then getting back to all the other New Testament and Old Testament books. Keep in mind that there will be some harder to read, more detailed parts, but having already read the books listed above, you have a better foundation.
You’ll find this plan in the New to Bible Reading Discipleship Tool along with additional input on the above, help with the rest of the books, and a big picture look at the Word and the God behind Scripture.