(Note: If you haven’t read the previous articles, please do so!)

We’re talking about key areas we should consider when exegeting the Word of God. The first key area was genre, and the second key area was to consider the words being used.

Third, consider the book as a whole.

We have to remind ourselves that those who received these biblical writings got them all at once (Psalms may be an exception to that). Then, the people of God would listen to those books as they were read to them.

Unfortunately, we frequently do something that is detrimental to exegesis: we take small sections (sometimes just a verse!) and talk about that with the intention of doing the same next week.

How many Bible classes have you been in that began a study where you jumped right into chapter one, verse one? I know I’ve seen it happen frequently! I am not opposed to slowing down and talking about individual verses. However, I am opposed to our not getting a “30,000-foot view” of the book first. We need to see the forest first, then look at the individual trees.

So, you can help yourself and greatly improve your personal Bible study by reading through a book in one sitting.

  • There are 35 Bible books that can be read in less than 30 minutes

  • Five books that can be read in less than one hour

  • 23 that take over one hour (we’re merging 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and 1 & 2 Kings).

The longest (1 & 2 Chronicles), takes about four and ½ hours. Have you ever read a book in one sitting? Try it! You might even consider buying the Bible on CD and listening to it (yes, that counts!). The best plan is to listen to the text being read while following along in your Bible. That way, you’re using two senses. Remember, the early church has the Bible read to them and all at once. So, it is ok if we listen to it.

Here is the challenge. First, pray. Thank God for His word and ask His blessing as you read it. Pray that He will give you wisdom and understanding. God desires all men to “come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). That includes us!

Second, pick a book to read through in one sitting. Perhaps it can be a book that you’re presently studying at home, or a book being studied at your church. Find a quiet time and place and read through that book. I prefer reading it out loud.

Third, have a notepad available where you can write down verses that you did not understand or want to take a deeper look at later. There may be a word or two you don’t understand. Write down that word and come back and study it later. We’ll say more about word studies in future articles. The point here is don’t stop. Read through the book with few interruptions.

I remember making this point to a wonderful Christian sister who confessed that she has never read a Bible book – any book – in one sitting. I said, “You mean, not even Jude?” She replied, “Not even Jude.” The next Sunday, she was beaming. “I’ve read through 15 Bible books this past week in one sitting! I love it!” I think you’ll love it too. Give it a try, maybe even today?

Denny Petrillo
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Denny is married to the former Kathy Roberts.  They have been married since January 1978.  They have three children (Lance, Brett, and Laura) and Six grandchildren (Chloe, Ashlyn, Sophie, Easton, Brelyn, and Kyson).  He has served as the President of the Bear Valley Bible Institute since 2004 and has been a full-time instructor since 1985.  He has preached in Mississippi, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Colorado.  He has taught numerous classes for the World Video Bible School and has authored several books and commentaries.  He graduated from the Bear Valley School of Preaching (now the Bear Valley Bible Institute), received an AA degree in Bible (York College, York, Nebraska), BA in Bible and Biblical Languages (Harding University), and an MA in Old and New Testaments (Harding Graduate School of Religion), and a Ph.D. in Religious Education (University of Nebraska).