Take the Time to Learn a Chronological Bible in 2023 – The Gospel Coalition

During the last two years, I learn a Chronological Research Bible for my private devotions.

A chronological examine Bible places each passage within the historic order of the occasions that it narrates. That is totally different from our common Bibles, whose books are grouped roughly in keeping with style. As an illustration, all of the knowledge writings are put collectively, as are the prophets (main, then minor), and the New Testomony letters (first Paul, then everybody else).

The result’s that books written at broadly separated instances in historical past is perhaps positioned proper subsequent to one another, regardless of historic contexts being so totally different. A chronological examine Bible tries to treatment this with its sequential method.

Vibrant Examples

So what’s it prefer to learn such a Bible? The primary few books unfold within the anticipated order: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus … till out of the blue one encounters Psalm 90, buried deep inside Deuteronomy. Why there? As a result of it’s a “Psalm of Moses,” one he apparently wrote close to the tip of his life. His poignant reflections on human sin and God’s faithfulness provide an interesting perspective on the lengthy story of Israel’s wilderness wanderings.

All of the sudden one encounters Psalm 90, buried deep inside Deuteronomy. Why there? As a result of it’s a ‘Psalm of Moses’.

The books of Joshua and Judges proceed with out interruption, however coming into 1 Samuel, a few of David’s early Psalms are included. They’re interspersed within the narratives of his flight from Saul and his battles with the Philistines. These add pleasant color to the portrait of the godly younger man, shepherd, and musician whom we meet in 1 Samuel.

The chronological method is utilized to the New Testomony, too. For instance, the e-book of Acts is punctuated by Paul’s letters, written on his missionary journeys or throughout his numerous imprisonments. Studying these epistles alongside Acts provides perception and depth to Luke’s description of life within the early Church, full with its heresies, divisions, and progress.


If you’re accustomed to studying Scripture in its normal order, this sort of Bible can initially appear jarring. Passages happen in a really unfamiliar order. Jeremiah, for instance, is notoriously tough, with Jeremiah 47 showing lengthy earlier than Jeremiah 13!

It may additionally appear unnatural to leap from one e-book to a different in sure locations—like from Zechariah 8 to Ezra 5 after which to Daniel 6. However it’s the historic sequence that determines the order of those passages.

I used to be stunned by the order during which some occasions are assumed to have occurred. As an illustration, I anticipated to learn Job someday in the course of the time of the patriarchs, however his e-book is included a lot later within the Outdated Testomony. In depth footnotes acknowledge when the Biblical chronology is unsure and when the editors have needed to make an knowledgeable judgment—which is truthful sufficient.

Any doubled historic accounts (or, within the case of the Gospels, even tripled or quadrupled accounts!) are positioned collectively. So there may be an apparent sense of repetition when studying, as an illustration, about King Hezekiah: first in 2 Kings, then in 2 Chronicles, and in addition in Isaiah. However observing the refined variations between Kings and Chronicles or between Matthew and Luke offers edifying materials for reflection.


It was fascinating how God slowly turns up the quantity of revelation all through the centuries.

Studying the Chronological Research Bible felt disjointed at instances, but I discovered many advantages. For instance, it was fascinating how God slowly turns up the quantity of revelation all through the centuries. He reveals himself to mankind very early in Scripture, after all—then later establishes his covenant with Abraham—but his spoken phrases are nonetheless few and sparing. Because the years go by, God says an increasing number of, like when addressing Moses on the mountain or when talking via the prophets.

This Bible helpfully highlights the distinct intervals of Israel’s historical past. There was the time of judges, the age of the kings, then the decline of Israel and Judah, the exile, the post-exile interval, after which onwards into the New Testomony. After we open our Bibles to learn a random passage, I ponder if we admire these totally different instances and contexts. It’s good to replicate on what was distinctive or difficult about every age and the way God addresses that specific scenario.

I used to be additionally struck by what number of prophets appeared in Judah’s remaining centuries earlier than exile. Over this comparatively brief span, I counted some 320 pages of prophecies (Isaiah, Amos, Jeremiah, Micah, and extra): warning after warning, promise after promise. But God’s individuals endured in sin. It’s also putting how this loud refrain of prophetic voices out of the blue falls silent for 400 years earlier than Christ seems.

After which, as Jesus is born in 5 or 6 BC (a curiosity of Biblical chronology that’s one other story altogether!), there may be such drama! Jesus speaks so powerfully, so clearly. He reveals God’s glory so vividly (Heb 1:1-2). After such an extended interval of preparation, the Messiah’s appearancereally is astonishing.

Core Messages

Everytime you learn the Scriptures systematically (say in a one or two-year Bible studying plan), you quickly discover the repetition of sure themes. God’s repeated calls ring clear whenever you learn chronologically: Don’t concern; belief me; obey me; return to me. You realise that what God desires from his individuals is unchanging, no matter time or place.

God stored on together with his individuals for century after century within the sluggish buildup to the ‘fullness of time’ when Jesus would seem.

Studying Scripture on this timeline of hundreds of years, I usually stood amazed by God’s faithfulness. The LORD began his loving dealings with mankind already in Paradise—each time that was: 4000 BC? 6000 BC? After which God stored on together with his individuals for century after century; within the sluggish buildup to the “fullness of time” when Jesus would seem (Gal 4:4).

How totally different that’s from us people, who’re typically prepared to surrender on tough individuals after a pair years—or a pair weeks! However God remained trustworthy via hundreds of years of messy historical past and surprising riot: he retains calling his individuals to repentance—and he retains holding out the message of his grace.

A Suggestion for 2023

Maybe you’ve been within the behavior of studying via Scripture frequently for years now, attempting to finish the Bible in keeping with one plan or one other. Perhaps you might be eager to strive one thing totally different? Let me commend to you a Chronological Research Bible, which is offered within the NIV, NKJV, NLT, amongst different variations. Start in Genesis 1, and skim throughout (and sure, this Bible nonetheless ends at Revelation 22!)

I’m assured that you’ll acquire a wealthy new perspective on the story of the Scriptures and God’s gracious dealings with sinners.