The Bible In Chronological Order: Reading Plan

The Bible In Chronological Order: Reading Plan

Whether you are reading the Bible for study or daily inspiration, you might notice that the books are not quite in historical order. So how is the Bible organized?

The Books of the Bible are first organized by the division of the Old and New Testaments. The second division is based on genres of literature that are grouped such as histories & gospels.

There are several ways to read the Bible and changing your method might help you understand the narrative more and experience it from a fresh new perspective.

How Are the books of the Bible Organized?

The Bible, like many books, tends to be read from cover to cover and might be thought of as being laid out in sequence as it starts with creation and ends with the book of Revelation. The arrangement however is based on their genres of literature and not by chronology.

Here is the list of the books in the Old Testament in order with their different literary genres:

Old Testament

The Pentateuch

The Pentateuch or the Torah, as known by the Jews, is comprised of the first five books of the Bible. The Pentateuch is the beginning of the Christian Story and the background of its Jewish roots.

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

Historical Books (Old Testament)

The Historical Books are the collection of books that tells of the major events in the history of Israel. The periods covered are from when the Israelites entered Canaan to the time they return from their exile in Babylon.

  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • Esther

Wisdom Literature or Writings

The collection of Wisdom Literature or Writings, from its namesake, deals with the Wisdom of how the world works and aims to lead to flourishing and peace.

  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs/ Song of Solomon

Prophets

The collection of the books of the Prophets deals with the “Classical” period of prophecy which are the later years of Judah and Israel up to Israel’s return from exile.

The Prophets are divided into two categories, the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets.  The books were placed into their respective categories, not because of their importance but simply due to the major books being significantly larger than the minor ones.

Major Prophets

  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel

Minor Prophets

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

For the New Testament:

New Testament Gospel

Gospels

The Four canonical books tell the story of the words and deeds of Jesus Christ up to his trial, death, and resurrection. Although all are quite similar and tell the tale of the life of Jesus Christ, each has its distinct understanding of him and his divine being.

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John

Historical Books

The Book of Acts or Acts of the Apostles, the only book under the New Testament Historical books, revolves around the spread of Christianity to the world and St. Paul’s missionary journeys.

  • Acts

Epistles or Letters

The Epistles of Letters group of books are the letters written by Jesus’ apostles to different communities, individuals, or churches with warnings to turn away from wrong-doing and how to live a life free from sin.

  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude

Prophetic

The Book of Revelation, the only book under the Prophetic Genre presents God’s will for the future as a letter from John to the seven churches in the Asian province.

  • Revelation

What Is the First Chronological Book of the Bible?

One might think that the first Chronological book in the bible would be a book from the Old Testament specifically the book of Genesis, as it starts out with the creation story, or it would be a whole book itself.  The first Chronological book, or set of verses, would be the Gospel of John 1: 1-5 which goes:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – New International Version (NIV)

These verses may be taken as the introduction or the prologue to the Bible before going into the creation story in the book of Genesis.

Should You Read the Bible in Chronological Order?

Take note that the Bible is a collection of writings accumulated over thousands of years and written down by more than 30 authors and is laid out by literature and not in sequential order making it possible to read from whichever book you’d like to start with.

The Bible In Chronological Order: Reading Plan

While there isn’t a correct order for reading the Bible going through the books Chronologically might provide a fresh and clearer experience of its narrative.

The Best Reading Plan for the Bible in Chronological Order

Reading the Bible can be done Chronologically by books that cover the main themes and storylines which are Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Habakkuk, Proverbs, Luke, Acts, Ephesians, and Revelations while the rest of books can be read to fill in the details in any order.

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If it’s Chronology and events in detail you are after, we suggest the books and chapters as you see in the lists below.

The Old Testament Era Order

The Old Testament Era Order covers the creation story, Noah and the Great Flood, Moses in Egypt, Jonah and the Whale, and many more culminating with the Jews being expelled to Babylon.

  • John 1: 1-5 – In the Beginning Was the Word
  • Genesis 1 – The Creation Story
  • Genesis 2 – Garden of Eden
  • Genesis 3 – Fall of Man
  • Genesis 4 – Cain & Abel
  • Genesis 5 – Adam to Noah
  • Genesis 6 – 10 – Great Flood
  • Job 1 – 42 – Story of Job
  • Genesis 11 – Tower of Babel
  • Genesis 12 – Abram to Egypt
  • Genesis 13 – Abram and Lot Part
  • Genesis 14 – 50 – Lineages of Abraham
  • Exodus 1 – 3 – Israelites in Egypt
  • Exodus 4 – 40 – The Ten Plagues
  • Leviticus 1 – 23 – Laws on Sacrifice and Offering
  • Numbers 1 – 36 – Tribes, Duties, & Census
  • Psalm 90 – The Psalm of Moses
  • Deuteronomy 1 – 34 – Summary of Israel’s History by Moses
  • Joshua 1 – 24 – Joshua Leads the Israelites into Canaan
  • Judges 1 – 21 – Israel & the Gentiles
  • Ruth 1 – 4 – The Story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz
  • 1 Samuel 1 – 20 – The Story of Samuel, Saul, & David
  • Psalm 59 – Psalm of Deliverance
  • 1 Samuel 21 – Nob and Gath
  • Psalm 52 – The Psalm of David Fleeing Saul
  • Psalm 34 – The Psalm of David Before Ahimelech
  • Psalm 56 – The Psalm of David at Gath
  • 1 Samuel 22 – Saul Kills the Priests of Nob
  • Psalms 57 – Psalms of David in the Cave
  • Psalms 142 – Psalms of David in the Cave
  • 1 Samuel 23 – David Flees from Saul
  • Psalm 54 – Psalm of David at Keilah
  • 1 Samuel 24 – 31 – David Spares Saul’s Life
  • 2 Samuel 1 – 4 – The Children of David
  • 1 Chronicles 1 – 10 – Lineages of the Israelites
  • 2 Samuel 5 – David Reigns over Israel
  • 1 Chronicles 11 – 15 – David Reigns over Israel
  • 2 Samuel 6 – 8 – The Ark at Jerusalem
  • Psalm 60 – David’s Psalm Praising Victory
  • Psalm 15 – David’s Psalm Praising Zion
  • Psalm 24 – David’s Psalm Praising God
  • 1 Chronicles 16 – David Proclaims God’s Grandeur
  • Psalms 96, 105, 106 – Psalms of Praise
  • 1 Chronicles 17 – 18 – David & The Temple
  • 2 Samuel 9 – 10 – David and Mephibosheth
  • 1 Chronicles 19 – 20 – David defeats both Ammon and Aram
  • 2 Samuel 11 – 12 – David and Bathsheba
  • Psalm 51 – David Repents
  • 2 Samuel 13 – 14 – Amnon and Tamar
  • 1 Chronicles 21 – 27 – David prepares government
  • 2 Samuel 15 – 16 – Conspiracy of Absalom
  • Psalm 63 – David’s Thirst for God
  • 2 Samuel 17 – Hushai’s Warning
  • Psalms 41, 55 – Psalms of Deliverance
  • 2 Samuel 18 – 23 – Joab Slays Absalom
  • Psalm 108 – Psalm of Steadfastness
  • 2 Samuel 24 – David Counts the Men
  • 1 Chronicles 28 – 29 – David’s Final Days
  • 1 Kings 1 – 2 – David’s Final Days
  • Psalm 37 – David’s Psalm of Salvation
  • Psalm 72 – Psalm for Solomon
  • 2 Chronicles 1 – Solomon Asks for Wisdom
  • 1 Kings 3 – Solomon Asks for Wisdom
  • Psalm 45 – Korah’s Psalm
  • 1 Kings 4 – 9 – Solomon’s Wisdom
  • 2 Chronicles 2 – 7 – Solomon’s Temple and Palace
  • Psalms 135 – 136 – Solomon’s Psalms
  • 2 Chronicles 8 – Buildings of Solomon
  • Psalm 127 – Psalm of Blessing
  • Proverbs 1 – 31 – Solomon’s Proverbs
  • Songs 1 – 8 – Solomon’s Song of Songs
  • Psalms 1 – 150 – Psalms by Unknown Authors
  • 1 Kings 10 – Solomon is Visited by Sheba’s Queen
  • 2 Chronicles 9 – Solomon is Visited by Sheba’s Queen
  • 1 Kings 11 – Solomon’s Idolatry and Wives
  • Ecclesiastes 1 – 12 – Words of the Preacher
  • 1 Kings 12 – 13 – Divided Kingdom
  • 2 Chronicles 10 – 12 – The Israelite Rebellion
  • 1 Kings 14 – 15 – Ahijah’s Prophecies
  • 2 Chronicles 13 – 14 – Civil War against Jeroboam
  • 1 Kings 16 – Jehu’s Prophecy
  • 2 Chronicles 15 – 17 – Asa’s Reforms
  • 1 Kings 17 – 22 – Elijah’s Prayer for Drought
  • Obadiah 1 – The Vision
  • 2 Chronicles 18 – 21 – The Jehoshaphat & Ahab Alliance
  • 2 Kings 1 – 11 – Judgment on Ahaziah
  • 2 Chronicles 22 – 24 – Ahaziah Succeeds Jehoram
  • 2 Chronicles 23 – Joash is made King
  • 2 Kings 12 – The Good Reign of Joash
  • Joel 1 – 3 – The Lord’s word to Joel
  • 2 Kings 13 – 14 – The Wicked Reign of Jehoahaz
  • 2 Chronicles 25 – The Good Reign of Amaziah
  • 2 Kings 15 – The Good Reign of Azariah
  • 2 Chronicles 26 – Uzziah’s Reign in Judah
  • Amos 1 – 9 – Words of Amos
  • Jonah 1 – 4 – Jonah to Nineveh
  • Hosea 1 – 14 – Prophecies of Hosea
  • 2 Chronicles 27 – 28 – Jotham Succeeds Uzziah
  • 2 Kings 16 – Ahaz’ Wicked Reign
  • Isaiah 1 – 7 – Zion’s Corruption
  • Micah 1 – 7 – The Lord’s Word to Micah
  • Isaiah 8 – 25 – Uriah and Zechariah
  • 2 Kings 17 – The Last King of Israel
  • 2 Chronicles 29 – 31 – The Good Reign of Hezekiah
  • 2 Kings 20 – The Illness and Healing of Hezekiah
  • Isaiah 38 – 66 – Treasures of Hezekiah
  • 2 Kings 18 – The Threat on Jerusalem
  • Isaiah 26 – 36 – The Threat on Jerusalem
  • 2 Chronicles 32 – The Threat on Jerusalem
  • Psalms 46 – 48 – Psalms of Refuge
  • 2 Kings 19 – Prayer of Hezekiah
  • Isaiah 37 – Prayer of Hezekiah
  • Nahum 1 – 3: Nahum’s Vision
  • 2 Kings 21 – The Wicked Reign of Manasseh
  • 2 Chronicles 33 – The Wicked Reign of Manasseh
  • 2 Kings 22 – The Good Reign of Josiah
  • 2 Chronicles 34 – The Good Reign of Josiah
  • Zephaniah 1 – 3 – The Lord’s word to Zephaniah
  • Jeremiah 1 – 10 – Jeremiah’s Call
  • Habakkuk 1 – 3 – The Oracle to Habakkuk
  • Jeremiah 11 – 12 – Jeremiah’s Proclamation of God’s Covenant
  • 2 Kings 22 – 23 – The Repair of the Temple
  • 2 Chronicles 35 – 36 – Josiah’s Passover Celebration
  • Jeremiah 13 – 47 – Jeremiah’s Proclamation of the Broken Covenant
  • Daniel 1 – 2 – Daniel’s Refusal of the King’s Portion
  • 2 Kings 24 – The Jehoiakim Rebellion
  • Ezekiel 1 – 19 – Ezekiel’s Chebar Prophecy
  • Ezekiel 20 – 23 – Israel Purged
  • 2 Kings 25 – The Siege of Jerusalem
  • Jeremiah 48 – 49 – The Prophesy against Moab
  • Ezekiel 24 – 25 – The Siege of Jerusalem
  • 2 Kings 25 – Fall of Jerusalem
  • Psalms 74, 79 – Psalms of Desolation
  • Jeremiah 52 – Psalms of Desolation
  • Jeremiah 50, 51 – Prophesies against Babylon
  • Lamentations 1 – 5 – Lamentations of Jeremiah
  • Ezekiel 26 – 39 – The Judgment on Tyre
  • Daniel 3 – 4 – Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego
  • Ezekiel 40 – 48 – The Second Temple Vision of Ezekiel
  • Daniel 5 – 12 – Daniel Interprets Writing on the Wall
  • Ezra 1 – 5 – Proclamation of Cyrus
  • Haggai 1 – 2 – The Lords Word by Haggai
  • Zechariah 1 – 14 – The Lords Word to Zechariah
  • Ezra 6 – Work on the Temple Resumed by Darius
  • Esther 1 – 10 – Deposition of Queen Vashti
  • Ezra 7 – 10 – The Journey of Ezra to Jerusalem
  • Nehemiah 1 – 13 – Prayer for Exiles
  • Malachi 1 – 4 – The Lord’s Word by Malachi

New Testament Era Order

The New Testament Era Order centers on the life of Jesus of Nazareth from the different accounts of the authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John, to the events after his death & resurrection, and ends with the book of Revelation.

  • Luke 1 – 2 – John the Baptists Birth
  • Mathew 1 – The Taxing of the Roman Empire
  • Matthew 2 – Magi’s Visit
  • John 1 – Jesus’ Early Life
  • Matthew 3 – John The Baptist Makes Preparations
  • Mark 1 – John The Baptist Makes Preparations
  • Luke 3 – John The Baptist Makes Preparations
  • Matthew 4 – Jesus’ Temptation
  • Luke 4 – Jesus’ Temptation
  • Luke 5 – Jesus and his First Disciples
  • John 2 – 4 – The Wedding at Cana
  • Matthew 5 – 7 – Sermon on the Mount
  • Matthew 8 – Jesus Ministers in Galilee
  • Mark 2 – Jesus Ministers in Galilee
  • John 5 – Pool of Bethesda
  • Matthew 12 – Jesus, Lord of Sabbath
  • Mark 3 – Jesus, Lord of Sabbath
  • Luke 6 – Jesus, Lord of Sabbath
  • Matthew 11 – Jesus Answers the Messengers from John the Baptist
  • Luke 7 – Jesus Answers the Messengers from John the Baptist
  • Matthew 13 – The Parables of Jesus
  • Mark 4 – The Parables of Jesus
  • Luke 8 – The Parables of Jesus
  • Mark 5 – Jesus Heals the Possessed
  • Matthew 9 – Jesus Heals the Paralyzed
  • Matthew 10 – Jesus Sends out his Apostles
  • Mark 6 – Beheading of John the Baptist
  • Matthew 14 – Beheading of John the Baptist
  • John 6 – Jesus Feeds 5000
  • Matthew 15 – On What Defiles
  • Mark 7 – On What Defiles
  • Matthew 16 – Peter’s Confession
  • Mark 8 – Peter’s Confession
  • Matthew 17 – The Transfiguration
  • Mark 9 – The Transfiguration
  • Matthew 18 – The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Luke 10 – 11 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
  • John 7 – 10 – Jesus at the Festival of Tabernacles
  • Luke 13 – 21 – The Parable of the Rich Fool
  • John 11 – Jesus Resurrects Lazarus
  • Matthew 19 – 20 – Jesus’ Final Journey to Jerusalem
  • Mark 10 – Jesus’ Final Journey to Jerusalem
  • Luke 18 – Jesus’ Final Journey to Jerusalem
  • Matthew 21 – Jesus Enters Jerusalem
  • Mark 11 – Jesus Enters Jerusalem
  • Luke 19 – Jesus Enters Jerusalem
  • John 12 – 13 – Jesus Enters Jerusalem
  • Matthew 22 – 24 – Jesus’ Final Ministries in Jerusalem
  • Matthew 25 – 26 – Jesus’ Final Ministries in Jerusalem
  • Mark 12 – 13 – Jesus’ Final Ministries in Jerusalem
  • Luke 20 – 21 – The Day Before Passover
  • John 14 – 17 – Jesus Comforts His Disciples
  • Matthew 27 – Betrayal of Jesus, Trial, & Crucifixion
  • Mark 14 – 15 – Betrayal of Jesus, Trial, & Crucifixion
  • Luke 22 – 23 – Betrayal of Jesus, Trial, & Crucifixion
  • John 18 – 19 – Betrayal of Jesus, Trial, & Crucifixion
  • Matthew 28 – Resurrection of Jesus
  • Mark 16 – Resurrection of Jesus
  • Luke 24 – Resurrection of Jesus
  • John 20 – 21 – Resurrection of Jesus
  • Acts 1 – Mary Ascends into Heaven
  • Acts 2 – 12 – The Holy Spirit Comes
  • James 1 – 5 – The Letter of James
  • Acts 13 – 18 – Paul’s First Journey as Missionary
  • 1 Thessalonians 1 – 5 – Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians 1 – 3 – Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
  • Acts 19 – Paul in Ephesus
  • 1 Corinthians 1 – 16 – Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
  • Galatians 1 – 6 – Letter of Paul to the Galatians
  • Acts 20 – Paul in Greece and Macedonia
  • Romans 1 – 16 – Letter of Paul to the Romans
  • 2 Corinthians 1 – 13 – Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
  • Acts 21 – 28 – Paul’s Return to Jerusalem
  • Ephesians 1 – 6 – Letter of Paul to the Ephesians
  • Philippians 1 – 4 – Letter of Paul to the Philippians
  • Colossians 1 – 4 – Letter of Paul to the Colossians
  • Philemon 1 – Paul Writes to Philemon
  • 1 Timothy 1 – 6 – Paul Writes to Timothy
  • 1 Peter 1 – 5 – Peter’s First Letter
  • Titus 1 – 3 – Paul Writes to Titus
  • 2 Timothy 1 – 4 – The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy
  • 2 Peter 1 – 3 – Peter’s Second Letter
  • Hebrews 1 – 13 – Letter to the Hebrews
  • Jude 1 – Jude’s Letter
  • 1 John 1 – 5 – John’s First Letter
  • 2 John 1 – John’s Second Letter
  • 3 John 1 – John’s Third Letter
  • Revelation 1 – 22 – John’s Revelation

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