Reading the Bible One-to-One

The Bible is a life-changing text. It’s through the Bible that we learn the heart and character of God, the nature of humanity, and the work of Jesus Christ to reconcile the two. Yet, we often leave reading the Bible with others to be done through a program or class.

Why read the Bible one-to-one?

Reading the Bible with another person has the benefit of providing a personal context for Scripture to be shared, discussed, and applied. Many people have never actually read the Bible and they often feel intimidated or confused by it. Reading with a friend removes some of the fear and helps the text to seem more accessible. When you read with someone you trust, it easily creates a place where open dialogue can occur. Reading the Bible together enables two people to build one another up on the foundation of Scripture. Together you are hearing the life-giving Word of God, which draws us into salvation, and you are being edified and challenged by the truth.

Where do we start?

If you’ve never read the Bible one-to-one, it’s simple to start…just ask! If you have a friend who has been inquiring about faith or seems curious, you could ask if they’ve ever read the primary source material about Jesus. Or, if you know someone who loves to read, you could inquire if they’d like to read with you, like a book club that looks at first century biographies of Jesus, one of the most influential people in all of history.

Reading one of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John – is often a good place to start. All of Scripture is ultimately about Jesus, so starting with the accounts of his life is a great first exposure for a new Bible reader.

How do we do it?

There are many helpful resources to guide someone through reading the Bible (some of which are listed below), but you do not need to be an expert to read and understand Scripture. It often works well to meet once a week to read and discuss one chapter or section at a time. The following five questions can be asked of any passage and encourage dialogue and application.

  1. What does this passage say in your own words? What stands out to you?
  2. What does this passage tell us about God/Jesus?
  3. What does it say about our human nature or need?
  4. If I really took this to heart, what would change in my life (beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, etc.)?
  5. Can you think of anyone who could relate to or benefit from this teaching? How could you tell them about it?

After reading together, you may consider praying if the other person is open to it, turning your discussion and questions into conversation with God.

Additional Resources

These books can be helpful guides for reading the Bible with others:

  • The Word One To One has four simple volumes that walk you through the book of John. Each volume includes the Bible passage, questions, answers, and side notes.
  • Uncovering the Life of Jesus looks at six encounters with Jesus from the book of Luke. Each study includes discussion questions. Although geared toward use in a small group, it can be helpful for one-to-one reading, especially if you are looking for something that has a specific (six-week) timeframe.
  • One to One Bible Reading is a simple how-to guide with lots of practical tips for reading the Bible with another person