I recently received the following questions:
First I wonder if you can give me any suggestions on what parts of scripture I should begin reading from?
And second can you recommend a book that gives an overview of each book in the bible and explains the significance of each chapter? Maybe a real good Commentary?
In one form or another, these questions seem to be asked of me with some frequency. When someone asks me where to start reading in the Bible I usually suggest one of the following three books:
a) If they are seeking something more than what they have but don’t really know for what (both Christians and non-Christians) I usually recommend The Gospel According to John
b) If they are a Christian at a crossroads and looking forward to an new era in their life – Philippians
c) If their faith demonstrates some level of maturity but they know they need to step it up a notch – Ephesians
Regarding Question #2, it is difficult to point to a good one-volume commentary, but my favorite one-volume guide to the Bible is J. Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book.
I also like Mark Dever’s books on The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept and they seem to be much more consistent with what this particular questioner is looking for.
So, what do you think? How would you respond to these questions?