A Christian Teen’s Guide to Reading the Bible | Bible Daily Devotions for Teens, Christian Youth Articles

A Christian Teen’s Guide to Reading the Bible

Why we should read the Bible - and how to get the most out of God's word!

Reading the Bible is an important part of being a Christian, but it’s definitely not always easy!

So many teens struggle to set aside the time for reading God’s word, or even if they do have the time, they open God’s word but then have no idea what to do!

So why should we read the Bible, even when it’s hard? And how do we make it a bit easier?

What does the Bible say about… the Bible?

It’s time to get meta! Let’s take a look at what God’s Word says about itself, focusing on one specific Bible verse that tells us so much.

The author

1 Timothy 3:16-17 is one of the most important verses to understand who wrote the Bible:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This verse tells us that the Bible is ultimately from God – or “God breathed”.

But God has used humans to put his Word into words! This article from Josh Waltman explains this clearly:

There are several theories that try to explain how humans and God worked together to write the Bible:  

  1. Dictation: This theory says that the authors wrote down the words from God without Him using any of their own thoughts, words, or styles. On this view, they simply sat and wrote God’s words down as if they were writing down notes from a biology lecture. Here’s the biggest issue with this view: While there are some examples of this happening in Scripture, this is not what happened for most of it.
  2. Limited: This theory says that the parts about who God is are true, but many of the historical and scientific details come from the human authors and may be inaccurate. The problem with this theory is that it does not take 2 Timothy 3:16 seriously. It also assumes that God could not or did not reveal His message in a way that is reliable.
  3. Verbal, Plenary: This theory uses two words that are very important. It says that when God gave His message to the human authors, He made sure every individual word written (verbal) was accurate and the message of the big picture seen across the entire Bible (plenary) is true. He also used their words, their thoughts, their creativity, their life experiences, and their stories to get His message across. This third theory is the best way to understand how God used the human authors.”

The audience

The audience of the Bible is a little hard to pin down, but it’s crucial that we understand it!

The Old Testament was originally written for the Jewish people. It records their laws, history and teachings for the people. It’s important that we remember this because a lot of the laws recorded in the Old Testament are no longer applicable for us, because of what Jesus has done (see Matthew 5:17-20 for more on this!).

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still read the Old Testament! Once again, let’s look at 1 Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Notice what it says? ALL Scripture is from God, and it’s all useful! There’s no doubt that even the Old Testament is important for us to read and understand.

The New Testament, written after Jesus, is definitely far more applicable to us though. The New Testament contains crucial information and application for all Christians, teaching us how to live as God wants us to as followers of Jesus.

But we need to remember that many of the New Testament letters were also written specifically to certain communities. Just think about the first verse of Ephesians:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

When we read the first few verses of each letter, we can normally tell exactly who the original audience for the book was, and we can keep that in mind as we read.

The purpose

Once again, let’s turn to those wonderful 1 Timothy verses!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Here we see a few very clear purposes of the Bible:

  • Teaching: informing us of the facts of Christianity
  • Rebuking and correcting: telling us when we’re living the wrong way and helping us to live the right way
  • Training in righteousness: helping us to develop a character and behaviour that reflects our Christian identity
  • Equipping for every good work: giving us the knowledge and advice to enable us to live out our faith

Let’s get practical

The Bible is from God, for us and extremely useful – so how can you get more out of your Bible reading?

Here’s some top tips to get you reading:

Embrace biblical theology

Biblical theology is the concept that the Bible is one big story, and that when we read it we need to acknowledge the context and purpose of each specific passage. We can’t take verses out of context, or take timeless lessons out of time-bound stories.

You can find out more about the idea of biblical theology in this article.

Remember it’s not about ticking a box every day

As Tabitha Caplinger writes in this article, “Spending time with Jesus seven days a week is awesome, but it can be hard.

  • If seven days isn't possible, aim for three or four days out of seven and then work your way up
  • I think it’s better to have three days where you make time with Jesus that are quality rather than rushing to check off a to-do box all seven days
  • God isn’t giving you gold stars for perfect attendance, his goal is that you are growing and learning
  • Pro-tip: Taking just a couple of seconds to ask God to teach you something as you read His word can make a huge difference in the quality of the time you spend with Him. It also preps your heart and mind to be on the lookout

Go slow

Tabitha goes on to explain that speed is not important in Bible reading – instead we need to aim for intentional reading. Check out her tips:

  • Grab a pen or highlighter as you read, and watch for words or sentences that stick out to you
  • If something stands out, circle it, underline it or highlight it
  • If you don’t want to write in your Bible, keep a notebook with you to make notes in
  • If you don’t understand something, write that down too so you can ask your parents or youth pastor about it
  • The key here is not just to say you’ve read and be done, but to really pay attention to what you’re reading

Dig deeper

Tabitha notes that digging deeper in the Word is really important – it’s about more than just reading! Try asking these two questions as you read:

  1. What is God saying here? This might be obvious (e.g. 'Love your neighbour'), or it might require a couple more minutes to explore the context and dig a bit deeper. 
  2. What am I supposed to do with this? Often we read the Bible and even see and learn some cool new things but we never apply them to our lives. Take time to find a practical step you can take to put God’s Word into action in your life. 

Get help

As noted above, it’s important to ask questions when we don’t understand the Bible! You might find some answers here on Fervr, or you could ask someone you trust at church to help you understand the passage.

It’s probably best to steer clear of Google unless you’re pretty good at figuring out what’s correct and wrong! There is some weird stuff out there on the Internet, so stick to asking those you know will give you a faithful answer.

Questions to think about

  1. What is your opinion of the Bible? How important is it to your faith?
  2. Do you have a good Bible reading habit? If not, how could you start?
  3. Have you embraced biblical theology? If not, you might like to grab a copy of Vaughan Robert’s book God’s Big Picture.
  4. Who could you ask for help in understanding the Bible?