Never Verse by Verse – Summer Bible Journey #4

The best way to read large chunks of the Bible if to often ignore the chapter numbers and the verses. These were not part of the original manuscripts and were added many centuries later to enable people to find the exact spot being referenced in a teaching or a sermon – and to make personal study easier, I suspose.

The Bible was divided into chapters by Stephen Langton about A.D. (C.E.) 1228. The Old Testament was divided into verses by R. Nathan in A.D. (C.E.) 1448 and the New Testament by Robert Stephanus in A.D. (C.E.) 1551. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of A.D. (C.E.) 1560.

The problem is that a chapter break is often placed where there is no thought break. So, if you stop at the artificial break you miss the writer’s complete thought or point because you actually came to a halt part way through it. At times you read the thesis or the thought being presented and then stop at the chapter break – missing the “therefore” … the practical application of that thought or piece of theology.

The Bible verses can do the same thing – putting a break where there should not be one and thus breaking up the thought or argument or even the story being told. Then, when you start reading at that chapter or verse break later, you will have lost some of the meaning because you are starting in mid-stream.

The breaks within a chapter – where the publishers of that particular Bible added headings in mid-chapter… these are helpful to let us know a familiar story or portion of scripture lies ahead. But again, these are artificial divisions added later by someone other than the author or the Holy Spirit.

My point – don’t always be guided by the man-made divisions in the scriptures. Rather – read until you have the complete thought or teaching being presented (with application). Recognize that a story will make more sense when kept in the context of the story or event that came before it (so you know who He is talking to or why this story or parable is being told). You get my point.

So, when picking up your reading on any given day just quickly review the latter part of your previous reading – where are we (Galilee, Jerusalem, Samaria), who is He with, who was He talking to (disciples, multitudes, the inner three), what was His previous point or what issue had He been addressing … then pick up where you left off because you will have regained the context of the stories you are about to read.

Happy summer journey through your Bible….

4 replies
  1. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the reminder! Just about done reading through Psalms but even in psalms I find that this can still apply.

  2. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Something someone once challanged me (and many others) to do was to keep reading the Bible each day, not until you read a certain amount or for a specific length of time, but until God spoke. I find that sometimes chapters, verses and especially study notes hinder this. I get easily distracted or off on a tangent or simply figure I read a good chunk so maybe if I have time I’ll come back. I’m too easily satisfied….

  3. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Elizabeth – thanks for both of these comments.

    Very true.

    When reading large chunks at a time a plain, no notes Bible that you can literally read anywhere (size wise)is the best.

    I find God speaks as I read chunks – but more so when I am going slower through His Word and meditating as I go … then I read until He speaks.

    But the summer reading – yes, He can speak but either way I simply read the 19+ chapters a day. If He speaks I mark where He spoke and go back to it later when I have time (in the same day, of course) to reflect on what He said.

    Just a thought – and a small lesson I learned as I have been doing this summer blitz for many decades now.

  4. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    Well I dont know about the rest of you but I’m sure struggling with the juggle to keep up! But boy am I having fun!!!


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