Have you read the entire Bible?

I recently came across a statistic claiming that only about 10% of professing Christians have read the entire Bible. I’m not sure if that claim is correct, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that only a minority of believers have read the Bible in its entirety, for a variety reasons.

I would guess that most active Christians have read or been exposed to most of the New Testament (and maybe the “famous” Old Testament books, like Genesis and Psalms) in the course of their churchgoing and personal devotions; but once you start getting into the lesser-known Old Testament books (Leviticus and Numbers, I’m looking at you), I’d expect to see a dropoff in reading.

Does that 10% include you? Have you read the entire Bible? If not, what stopped you, and do you plan to do so in the future?

Share your thoughts!

47 Responses to “Have you read the entire Bible?”

  • Dan Olinger says:

    I try to read it through once a year as “maintenance reading” in addition to other study. I like to vary the version to keep it fresh; doing that also helps me answer questions from students about various versions.

  • I’ve tried numerous times to read the entire Bible, but, through my own lack of discipline, I have generally failed. What usually happens is I start following a Bible reading plan… and after a while I end up falling behind… and then I struggle to catch up, without success, and the reading becomes a chore and a frustration rather than a delight, and so I quit… and then I find another Bible reading plan and I give that a shot, and the cycle repeats.

    As a result, I’ve read the five books of Moses at least twice, the histories (Joshua through Esther) one and a half times, all of the Psalms once, most of Proverbs twice (and the first ten chapters three times), Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes once, portions of the prophets (this is my weakest area in OT reading); I’ve read Matthew twice, Mark/Luke/John once, Acts twice, Romans and 1st Corinthians twice, 1 and 2nd Thessalonians twice, 1 and 2 Timothy twice, James twice… and despite all of that, I can’t say I’ve read the entire Bible because I have not read the prophets in their entirety, nor the other NT epistles and Revelation.

    However, I’ve changed my philosophy with Bible reading. I’m using Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System, and now, instead of trying to catch up if I miss a day, I simply move on. This takes away a lot of the self-imposed stress that I was associating with Bible reading, and now I’m actually enjoying it. :)

  • WOW–That statistic is stunning. No wonder so many people can be “led astray” in terms of what the Bible says concerning different things. Interestingly, a couple of years ago I actually became convicted by the fact that I was not sure whether I had read or heard every word in the Bible. Generally when I started out reading the Bible I would get side-tracked as I began to “run” references. Also, I was tempted to skip over the “laborious” sections (e.g., the “begats”) as well as passages that were very familiar to me. Well, I finally overcame and made it through every page. It is such a good feeling! I really think that anyone could incorporate an ongoing read-through-the-Bible project if they take the time to plan how they are going to accomplish it. For me, it helped to “listen” through the parts that seemed to become tiring. God’s Word is our link to eternity and our life-preserver in this life. It’s worth pressing through and reading it all–the benefits are priceless!

  • I have read the whole thing once. A few years back, I came across the “Read the Bible in 90 Days” (biblein90days.com). The challenge was so compeling, I had to try it – and I was successful. Keep in mind, I was simply READING the Bible – not STUDYING. I continue to use that Bible as my “reading” Bible when I am in need of a “Bible Jam session” to refresh my perspective. When I need more meat, I turn to my ESV Study Bible.

  • I cannot be certain myself whether I have read the entire Bible. I have studied it and many passages, but because I move all over the place, I have never just sat down and read it through.

    Just wondering, do you have the source of your 10% statistic? Might be interesting to see the details on who they surveyed. From those I have talked to about this, I would say the 10% is pretty close to realistic. I believe most people study what is talked about on Sunday/Wednesday and maybe read a devotional once-in-a-while.

    • Andy says:

      Hi Trey, I unfortunately couldn’t find a (reliable) source for that 10% claim–I found a lot places citing the 10% figure, but nobody pointing to a verifiable study (hence my disclaimer about that number). Sorry! I would guess that the Barna Group might have done some research along these lines if you want to dig further.

      Speaking from personal experience, though, that number feels about right, as you say. But you bring up a good point in your first paragraph–I am sure there are a good number of Christians who have read through the vast majority of the Bible in the course of years of devotionals and readings, but who have never sat down to read it 100% straight-through. I think we should cut those people some slack :)

      • Andy,

        Same here on trying to find a survey. I am researching for a presentation I am giving on this exact topic at the BibleTech 2010 conference. I find tons of references to the 10% stat, but nothing concrete.

        I think that anyone who takes the time to read anything from the Bible is blessed. Whether it is one page or 500, it is all good stuff.

        Keep up the good work here.

  • Pat says:

    Can’t say I’ve read the entire Bible, but I plan to read and re-read/study as many books as necessary for my spiritual growth. Following my own pace as I don’t want it to be a tedious chore. Andy you are correct as I have read some new testament books a few times but I’m feeling compelled to do Leviticus. About to start on that book tonight. :-)

  • Pat says:

    By the way….Loving this Gospelblog. I’ve been forwarding these as I see fit :-0

  • Stef says:

    My husband and I have read the entire Bible through about 15 times. We try to do it every year now. I always come across scriptures that it seems I’ve never read before. Some books, I still can’t understand, and at times the reading of them discourages me, but I continue on, waiting for the Lord to enlighten they eyes of my understanding. It is a rewarding experience.

  • Polycarp Nkuna says:

    I realy tried but every time I read Im failing to complete a chapter. but at the moment me and my partner we are trying to complete it together. Im praying for this success.

    • tadelech says:

      The figure you had mentioned is really very few and the cause should be know as well the church has to work hard.When you come to myself, I read the hole part of the bible but not studied it as it should be, I tried to study in group and personal but it could not be as it should be.

  • Carrie says:

    I have read the entire Bible. But, it has been at least 10+ years ago. Went leafing through it the other day and came across scripture that reopened my eyes. So, for those of you that have read the entire Bible, doing so doesn’t mean you know/retain everything in it. It is the living word. And is a custom fit for you for today. So, tomorrow it may read differently than today. The Bible, whether read through or not, needs to be a life long pursuit. For, we can never know the mind of God (While here at least)

  • J.Peters says:

    Recently, yes! I wish I had done it sooner.
    I had previously read mostly in the New Testament (minus Revelation!), and Psalms and Proverbs (with various passages from other OT books).

    How do we know what pleases God if we do not know His Word? We NEED to hide His Word in our heart so that we do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). His Word tells us how to live. It is life to our spirit!

    When my daughter saw me challenge myself to read the Bible cover to cover, she challenged herself to do the same – at 7 years old! I didn’t want her to be overwhelmed so I gave her a Challenge Bible which condenses the ‘main’ stories and ‘doctrines’ into a one year daily reading plan. She is on track to completing it Dec.’09!

    • gwyn says:

      thank you for sharing about the Challenge Bible – i’ve never heard of it but would love for my nine year old to read through it

  • Suzanne Russell says:

    Yes, I have read the Bible through many times. I used to read it through once a year, but I confess that the older I get, the harder it is to make it through so fast. Now I use the BibleGateway.com to look up the passages and even to read them if I choose. My eyes aren’t what they used to be, so reading a page isn’t quiet as easy. I love God’s Word and it gives me SO much even now. I started when I was 19 but I tried it at first when I was 16. It takes determination but then the best things always do!

  • gelene williams says:

    It is with regret that I have not taken the time to discipline myself to read the entire Bible. I have read many passages because of Sunday School and other Bible Studies, but to actually read the entire Bible, I am so guilty of not reading. Many times it seems God is telling me to read, read, study, study, but I lack discipline. When I do read, it is so wonderful, but I find myself constantly saying I am not a reader, therefore, I don’t just read.

    How do you began or how do you commit to reading the Bible daily?

    • Our church ‘The Rock” has developed a reading plan that assist every believer read through the Bible, you can find it at: http://www.anaheim.solidlives.com/images/sljplan.pdf

      Plan 1 – helps you read through the whole Bible in a year,
      and a few important New Testament books twice.
      Plan 2 – helps you read the whole New Testament in a year,
      and a few of the most important books twice!
      Plan 3 – helps you read through the whole Bible once and the New Testament twice in a year.

      You can also read on line and even listen as you read in many version – Go to: http://solidlives.com/bible.php

      I hope this will be an aid to many. Be blessed.
      Leonard Wilkins

  • gwyn says:

    I have and have been richly blessed by it. I recommend everyone read through the Bible and strive to do it each year. : )

  • Jean Chappel says:

    I have read the Bible through in its intirity. Of late I have been focusing on the prophets and doing an in-depth study. Reading and getting study material from trusted christian individuals. These days we have to be very careful who we trust. Even well know ministers of the gospel are leading people astray with how they interpret the word. We also need to pray constantly. Our walk with God is our own personal walk and cannot be compared to the walk that others have. We should never compare ourselves to others. Only to Jesus Christ. He is always our example. Jean

  • Veronica says:

    This time I got THE BOOK and WHAT THE BIBLE IS ALL ABOUT and as soon as I get done with one section, I go to WHAT THE BIBLE IS ALL ABOUT and get the breakdown on what I just read. It’s a much simpler process this time. I know time (could be) is short for us now. How shameful that I’ve read every Harry Potter book but not the Bible. Only one person can change that!

  • Claire says:

    Shocking factoid to know… but understandable I think.

    I know I don’t read the bible in any sort of order and whenever i’ve asked what I should read the answer always comes back oo mix and match a bit of the old with the new =)

    Agreeing with the above I think you can be blessed through 1 page or 500 pages. Still it can’t hurt to have a good go at completing it, after all God did take the trouble to compile it all.. it’d be rude not to..

  • Keep bible with note book next to bed.Read 10 verses each night before going to sleep.Make note of connecting verses you come across.Do not focus on when you will finish rather focus on the wisdom you will received.Give thanks for your life and the fact you can read,pray for understanding of what you read.then go to sleep.Be humble do not tell any one of your course of action.Keep it between you and your divine Father.My love and peace be with you on your path.

  • Lonni says:

    I believe I have read the Bible all the way through but can’t say for sure. Once I learned that the Bible is explained by itself that gave me the impetus to read all of it.

  • Celeste says:

    It’s 12/31/09 and I’m a christian but I have not read through the entire bible but I have at least read a scripture from every book in the bible. I know it’s not about head knowledge but it takes the Spirit of God to give understanding and illumination of his word. I decided that starting 1/1/10 I will dedicate each day in the new year to the 365 daily reading plan.

  • marion says:

    I have read through the first time during the summer of 2009 with the 90 day plan it was fantastic, I thank God for the whole bible although many say that we live under grace and not the law. Jesus came that the law might still be fulfill. Reading through the bible last year helped me see and understand that the more. We should obey the whole book not just part.

  • jamie says:

    An EASY and exciting way to read through the bible multiple times in a year is listen to it! You can get the bible on cd and even better there’s the Ibible. You can listen on your way to work,while washing dishes or any time you would listen to music. WARNING:it is addictive!
    The more you read the more you crave knowing Him through his word.The audio bible only cost around $50. What an awesome investment in your eternal future!

  • Mark says:

    I started out reading the NT(New Testament) but was very sporadic for several years. At some point, I was convicted to just press on through it so I set the goal to read through the NT in a year and completed it. The next year I set the goal to read through the OT(Old Testament) and completed it. I did not understand much of what I read but definitely had some cool things come up along the way. (Kind of like my golf game–mostly frustrating but the few good shots make me want to come back and try again.) I dreaded Numbers, Leviticus and all the prophets. This was about 15 years ago. After a few years of alternating between NT and OT, I set the goal to read through the whole bible in a year and completed it. My reading capacity was growing and I didn’t even know it. My perspective was changing as more of the details began to make sense. I even prayed about the books I dreaded and have had some wonderful revelations that are now treasures. The prophets are some of my favorite books now because they really reveal the heart of God for his people. They help me to understand how HE feels. I now read through the bible in 90 days. (I do a lot of listening now too) The most I’ve done is three times in a year but now I’m kind of settled on twice a year which leaves me two quarters of the year to pursue more in depth studying or listening to commentaries. Every time, something new falls into place or is revealed so that I’m actually excited to start each time because I never know what new thing will be revealed. Praise be to God that His word really is “living and active”. By the way, I have a wife and three kids and am a business owner and have them as high priorities too. It can be hard to find time and be disciplined but you find time when you make it your priority. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Don’t feel guilty, just set an achievable reading/listening goal and do it. Then challenge yourself to go deeper. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Ashley says:

    I am in the process of reading through the Bible completely. I’m also doing a separate Bible study occasionally.

  • Pat Meyer says:

    When I was in college, I did the “Read the Bible in a Year” along with others in the local IVCF chapter. Since then, I have not done a systematic reading of the entire Bible, but I read widely in the Bible, including the minor prophets, so have probably read the entire Bible at least twice.

  • Dennis Selfridge says:

    I have read the Bible through 49 times in my 47 years of being a Christian. This year will mark the 50th time.

  • i read my bible five (5) times from cover to cover and it really gives me an enormous knowledge about the word of God, and it helps me a lot doing my daily bible studies or on my daily devotions, it corrected many of my former beliefs as a catholic, and my faith in Jesus Christ become so established,it helps me to understand every teaching i’ve heard, i can now easily detect if the teaching is wrong or not according to God’s word,and one thing that i can testify is that everytime i read the same book, there is always a new revelation from God, God’s word is always fresh every morning. 15 chapters a day is a good start in reading your bible, within 3 months you can finish all 66 books of the bible.

    • kingjames says:

      “it corrected many of my former beliefs as a catholic”

      Same here. That’s one reason why I read the King James. It isn’t based on the catholic manuscripts, Vaticanus and Siniaticus.

      My Bible reading/study habits:

      4 times a day; morning, noon, night and bedtime, like I eat my food. That’s about 2 times a year, plus or minus, depending on my studies. (Study is the icing on the cake.)

      A plain, ordinary King James with no references, no footnotes, no nothing. It’s easier to hear God when no one else is talking.

      Proverbs 4:7-9  Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

  • I have read the Bible 5 times, I read 4 or five books a day when I start reading My Bible all the way through. I always start from Genesis.
    I can read the Bible all the way through in two weeks some times it takes
    two and a half weeks!! I really enjoy reading the Bible..

    I read the Bible three times in the year of 08, and two times in the year of 09…And now it is time for me to start reading the Bible again this year..

    Johnnie Brown

  • Fred Rust says:

    Yes, I have several times. I try to read at least one chapter a night. It leaves me inspired and relaxed so I fall asleep easily and rest well. Its not how many times or how fast you read the Word of God. It is how much you carry in your heart and how you apply it to your everyday life. I read the Bible to find answers to my problems along with my daily devotions and you know what? God has never failed me. All answers are in the Bible and if you pray for guidence before reading you will find what you need. Praise God and thank you Lord for your everlasting Word.
    Fred Rust.

  • i can say im in the 10%. and everytime i read it from gen to rev i always find something new. its like even though the words never change, the impression and power it has changes constantly. never i have or will i read anything as powerful as the word of GOD.

  • Mike Vondran says:

    I try to get through it once a year … in read mode (different translations each year). You can’t understand a novel by reading a sentence or few paragraphs a day, randomly jumping backwards and forwards between chapters. To get the whole picture you need to read it straight through (a Chronological Bible’s good for this). And just like a first read through a novel … you miss things the first go round (because of expectations, and anticipating the next chapter).

    With this type of reading, you then have your weekly Bible Study at church or alone, where you dig deeper, and hit cross references in your study Bible (which is for me the most exciting thing … tracing a word / verse throughout scripture (you see how consistent God is from OT to NT … and you could never end chasing down a thought. An hour or two can quickly pass by.).

    I find too that each year, God places a word or phrase in my mind, and as you read through the Bible that year … it jumps out at you in every chapter (for example: Do not Fear; O ye of little faith; Fear the Lord; Give Thanks in ALL things; etc.). Again, when you see God’s consistency, it’s amazing.

    On a side note, it’s not just lay people who don’t read. I’ve found it sad that so many preacher’s don’t read through the Bible (I can say that without malice, since my dad’s a retired preacher, and I have Uncle’s and Grandfather and cousin’s who were pastors). Many of today’s pastors tend to know more about the latest Christian author than the Word. Something’s shifted from when I was a lad. Maybe that’s why the USA is going through what we’re going through today … both the layman and the clergy have failed to do what God commanded Moses … to read God’s word every year … and I don’t know about you, but I’m awful forgetful … and need reminders all the time about what God thinks about things.

    Garbage in … Garbage out. Create a vaccum, and something else will fill it.

    • kingjames says:

      Hosea 4:1  Hear the word of the LORD, … for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.


  • I used to think it is a good idea for someone to read the Bible beginning to end, but I am sure now that is not the way to go. Many issues can crop up some of which are: The Bible 66 books by 40 authors is not in chronological order, which causes some problems in general understanding. Some of the sections of the Bible are important to have a good recall of previous sections, which you will not get from straight reading unless you take prolific and detailed notes. One example here is as a young Christian circa 1977 I was reading some of the accounts of the stories of Israel taking the Promised Land and killing everything in sight by god’s direct command and I was devastated about the whole mess. I could not then have defended those actions to a non-Christian heckler because I could not even defend them to myself. Had I absorbed the scriptures in Genesis 6 about the Nephilim and applied that knowledge to hose scriptures I could have stood a chance of understanding but without that knowledge I did not have a chance. That pretty well ruined the Old Testament back then for me.
    I have a better idea. We need a better method. We need some way to actually study the scriptures, gaining knowledge from experts we can trust and I a way we will retain as much as possible. Did you know that the Bible has been mathematically proven to come from outside our universe? If you were to learn about the Bible from someone who would teach you, what the scriptures say and advances in science, which have proven them, would you be interested? I learned something last year that helped me in my understanding and lit some fire into my study. Jews and studious Christians call the first five books of the Bible the Torah. In each of the five books if you start from the beginning in the Hebrew texts and count 49 letters and write down that letter then the next 49 until you have written four letters from each book and if you put each in a column heading under each book you will get this result. Genesis = TORH (תורה), Exodus = TORH (תורה), Leviticus = YHWH (יהוה), Numbers = HROT (הרות), Deuteronomy = HROT (הרות). The thing about the backwards spellings of the last two books is that all things flow to God. All languages reading left to right are west of Israel and all right to left languages are considered to be east of Israel. After I learned this I decided I must not only read but master God’s Word.
    I now take courses a little at a time through http://www.khouse.org They have a great one called “Learn the Bible in 24 hours” which occurs in 24 one hour sessions over 24 weeks. You do take tests and enter into discussions through the forums. You could alternatively just get the package for $40 but I recommend taking the courses. I never cease to be amazed with every lesson. If you want the living Word to come alive, like never before go to the website and check it out. If you want to get a feel for the instructor first, go to youtube and search Chuck Missler try the return of the Nephilim videos, wow.
    Shalom aleichem.

  • I have read through the bible more than once and it has been a great help to me in my Christian walk. I have also studied the book of leviticus and found it to be very interesting? People warned me ahead of time that Leviticus is just a book of rules and regulations,they were so wrong it is a book that speaks to us about the heart of God and His desire for us to live in complete obedience to His word.
    In reading the bible over and over we gleen new thoughts and reasons to live for Christ alone.

  • Norma Duncan says:

    For a number of years , I have read the the Bible thru, by reading 2 chapters in Old Testament and one in New Testmanet daily along with the Psalms and Proverbs. I also teach a childrens Sunday School class and prepare for this. God shows me many wondeful things each day as I open His Word. This has been a blessing in my life and I don’t ever want to let anything keep me from this.

  • Mike says:

    In 2009, I read the Bible through for the first time using a Daily Walk Bible. It is the best thing I have ever done. It has changed my life. I believe that I will continue to read through the Bible each year for the rest of my life.

    This year I am reading a Chronological Bible so that I can get a better idea of the context of books like Psalms and the prophets.

  • I’m reading the bible in one year. Which version should I read.
    I’m getting confuses. I picked international new version and chronological order. I want to read from beginning to end, but in the correct historical order. I’m presbyterian so I want the bible simple to read — should I read King James Version instead of International version? What are the definitions of both?


  • Denise Rearden says:

    When I was young, I was fortunate to have a father who read the Bible with me each night before I went to bed. We read the entire Bible together. That was the first time I read the entire Bible. What a wonderful memory. Tears stream down my face as I type this – tears of joy and thankfulness for the father God gave me.

  • Jen says:

    This will be my 6th attempt of reading the Bible from the beginning to the end. I have finished NT a long time ago.

    I guess laziness/forgetfulness play a big role in stopping me from finishing Jeremiah and moving forward. The funny thing is, every time when I landed on Leviticus, Number, and Deuteronomy, I find that God gave me a different insight into reading them so that I never really find them boring. Instead, these books link to Jesus Christ more clearly every time. I guess attending BSF also help as well.

    My goal is to finish the whole Bible by the end of this year!

  • Lynn says:

    I have read through the Bible more than once. I think it is crucial to keep reading and keep searching for God’s will for our lives right now (in the present moment, whenever that is.)