Why Ephesians Is the First Book of the Bible You Should Read
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
You’ve just been handed, maybe for the first time, a leather-bound Bible with 66 books in it. Maybe your name is on the front. Maybe you randomly ordered one online and don’t even know what the letters on the side stand for. The big question in your mind is, “Which book of the Bible should I read first?”
The Bible can be intimidating, especially for those new to it. Getting to a place where we feel we know the Bible seems impossible when we don’t even know one verse. How can anyone become familiar with all the contents of such a big book?
Well, my friend, you are not alone.
Everyone who ever became a Bible scholar started out knowing nothing. That’s the thing, we all just have to start.
So, where do we start when reading the Bible?
Let me give you two options, and you decide based on your background and where you are now.
First, there’s nothing wrong with starting at the beginning. Like any book, the Bible has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But, unlike most books, the Bible doesn’t progress in chronological order. There are plenty of chronological reading guides online, however, if you want to go “in order.” For some people, this may be the best way to go about reading the Bible for the first time.
Reading chronologically helps us see the whole picture, the grand story of humanity. Redemptive history is an amazing thing to read about, and it unfolds with so much drama and heartache and rejoicing that no TV show can ever match it. So, a common recommendation is to read the Bible from the beginning, chronologically. That means starting in Genesis and reading until Revelation.
But this may not be the best way to start for everyone, especially if you are new to personal Bible study. So, let me offer my second suggestion of where to start reading the Bible.
Second, you could start reading the Bible with a book that introduces you to the Savior, leads you quickly to the cross, and offers a summary of what it is to be a Christian.
What book is that?
Not what you were expecting? Why study Ephesians first? Most people say to start reading the Bible in John. I love that recommendation. I love the book of John, and I think it is a fantastic book to read early on in your walk with Christ. But let me explain why I picked Ephesians as the first book you should read in the Bible.
Let's start with what Ephesians teaches us.
Ephesians offers an incredible summary of redemptive history, starting from before time began, recapping the incredible significance of the cross, and pointing toward the eternal inheritance waiting for the children of God. It highlights what Jesus accomplished on the cross, why Jesus went to the cross, and who we are in Christ. Ephesians also gives us a fabulous overview of how a Christian should live, based upon the incomparable goodness of our God.
Not convinced yet?
Ephesians, in six short chapters, touches on God’s sovereignty, Christ’s authority, the Spirit’s role in our lives, true peace, spiritual warfare, the power of prayer, the importance of the church, the unity of believers, and how to conduct ourselves in every significant relationship in our lives.
Also in Ephesians, we see the gospel clearly explained, faith clearly defined, regeneration clearly portrayed, and reconciliation clearly described. The book exalts Christ, offers hope of assurance, reminds believers of our incredible blessings, teaches us how to pray, and outlines how to live.
For new believers, or those new to personal Bible study, Ephesians is like a crash course in Christianity. And fortunately, we can read it one sitting, which really helps when it comes to keeping context intact.
Some people may say that Ephesians is too deep for new believers. I say the contrary! New believers are no less intelligent than “old” believers, and anyone interested in truly learning what the Bible is all about should find great benefit in starting with a book that covers so many bases.
A few of the verses in Ephesians may cause us to scratch our heads, but with a little bit of initial study, the book can offer so much wisdom to a new believer (and seasoned believers alike!). No book of scripture ever grows un-useful to a Christian, no matter how many times we read it. So, even if you start out reading Ephesians for the first time, know that you can read and reread this great little epistle for the rest of your life and still learn from it.
That is one of the greatest beauties of scripture. No matter how much we may “master” it, there’s always more to learn. God did it that way on purpose. He didn’t give us a book that can be mastered and then left behind. The Bible is a book that lives and breathes with us, teaching us different things every time we open it, and yet never changing.
Don’t you want to get to know this book?
You might be wondering if you should start with Genesis or Ephesians. I have a few comments on which to choose and why.
If you’ve been in church your whole life and you sort of “know” the overall story of the Bible and the cross, but you’ve never really pieced everything together from beginning to end, I might start with Genesis. Read all the way through to Revelation. Get the whole story for yourself. Don’t take someone else’s word for it. Don’t assume you know the story all that well.
Remember the part where the Israelites cross the Red Sea? Probably. But do you remember the part where they also cross the Jordan in a similar manner? Or the part where the precious Ark of the Covenant actually gets stolen? What about the part where the earth swallows up Korah and his rebellious friends?
Starting in Genesis is beneficial for us all to do at least once (or many, many times!). Read history the way it unfolded. Read about the miraculous ways God intervenes to save His people. If you’ve been in church a while, but you've never read the whole Bible, consider Genesis, but my recommendation is to read chronologically. That way, when you get to the minor prophets, you haven’t forgotten details like who was king and who were Israel’s biggest threats and what God had recently done for His people.
If, however, you are new to the faith and new to Bible study, and you want a crash course in Christianity, an overview (that also happens to be very deep!) of what salvation means and how it affects a believer, then I suggest starting with Ephesians. Maybe you are curious about the cross and why God would do such a thing or why it matters to all Christians. Ephesians answers those questions. Maybe you want to be assured of your new faith, confident that it can’t be removed. Ephesians offers that hope. Maybe you want a succinct outline of how to live now that you are a Christian. Ephesians provides that outline.
Even if you are not new to the faith, but you want a book of the Bible that can help you break away from reading random sections of scripture or “whatever you open to today,” then perhaps Ephesians can be that first book you really study. That first book you read in one sitting, then read again and again for a whole month straight. Maybe it can be that book you break down by section or by verse and really try to pull out all that it is teaching you.
If that’s you, then jump into Ephesians. Bring a pen. Bring a journal (if you’re the journaling type). Ask God to reveal Himself to you as you read His Word.
I echo Paul's prayer for you as you read Ephesians:
"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19a).
And just in case you haven’t checked this out yet, scroll to the bottom of the page for a free ebook on praying through Ephesians. I hope it drives you toward a deeper love of scripture and a more meaningful prayer life.