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How to Read the New Testament in 8 Weeks

January 4, 2024 | by: Pedro Cheung | 0 comments


I confess. Never have I finished a 365-day Bible reading plan in one calendar year. I often start on New Year's Day, but by late February, I slow down to a crawl and eventually give up.
Bible reading should be a part of the Christian’s daily routine. But in the busyness of life, we often neglect this spiritual discipline.

In frustration years ago, I abandoned all 52-week Bible reading plans. Having failed to finish a single marathon, I decided to look for a more manageable 10-kilometer event. I wanted to start with the New Testament since it fully reveals the New Covenant and the works of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I committed 15-20 minutes to reading my Bible each morning. Before showing you my 8-week New Testament reading plan, let me explain seven principles that guided my design process.

7 Principles to this NT Reading Plan

1. Alternate between narratives and epistles.

I did not want to read the four Gospels all at once. I wanted to spread the Gospels out. That way, I can spend a week reading about the life of Jesus and alternate and read a few epistles the next.

2. Read in semi-chronological order.

I did not restrict myself to reading the New Testament in strict chronological order, but I still wanted to read the earlier writings (James, Galatians) before the later ones (John’s Epistles and Revelation).

I wanted to read Christ’s advent before His second coming. I also wanted to appreciate the evolving themes of the epistles over time from 40 to 95 AD.

3. Read Acts early to provide background to the epistles.

Reading the Book of Acts early provides a historical and cultural background of the New Testament epistles. Luke and Acts are kept together since they are closely related and both penned by Luke.

4. Make epistle readings shorter than narrative readings.

Many people read about 200 words a minute. So, to get an average daily reading time of 15-20 minutes, each daily reading needed to be between 2500-3500 words in length.

I tend to read epistles more carefully and slowly, but I can read narratives faster. So, the allocated reading for the four Gospels and the book of Acts could be longer. The assigned daily readings for the epistles and book of Revelation would be shorter.

Because chapters vary in length, I could not simply say just read 4 chapters a day. Some daily readings consist of five chapters. Others include only three chapters when I considered each chapter's genre and length.

For the daily readings in the epistles, my target length was 2500 words. For the readings in the Gospels and the Book of Acts, the target was 3500 words. The maximum length needed to remain under 4000 words.

5. Do not divide books.

I did not want to read two books simultaneously, nor did I want to pause midway in one book to start another. Instead, I would rather read Luke and Acts contiguously before starting an epistle. Abruptly stopping at Acts 15 to read Galatians and James would stifle me from appreciating Acts' overall picture and flow.

There is ample opportunity to return later for further study. The primary goal of this reading plan is to help me gaze at the big picture of the story of God as recorded in the New Testament.

6. Do not divide chapters.

For simplicity, I did not want to divide chapters. Even though chapter divisions were not a part of the original text, following the chapter divisions seems natural.

At a glance, I know on the first day, I am going to read Mark’s first four chapters. If I split up readings mid-chapter, I would need to constantly reference my reading plan to identify which verse I was planning to stop.

7. Start with Mark’s gospel first.

Based on my tendency to have "dry spells" in Bible reading, I anticipate using this reading plan whenever I have neglected Bible reading for any extended period of time.

The Gospel of Mark, in my opinion, is one of the easiest books in the New Testament to read.

  • It is packed with action.
  • It highlights the most important life events of Jesus Christ.
  • It is simple to understand.

Once I have read Mark’s Gospel, even when I feel tired and unmotivated, I will have built four days of solid momentum that will propel me to completing this 8-week reading plan.

Bible Reading Plan in Action

Start the first 30 minutes of your day reading and meditating on the Bible. Treat this like you would with your morning coffee or your breakfast. Take 15-20 minutes to read the Bible passage. Take another 10-15 minutes to meditate and pray on what you have read.

Read your Bible every day. Start today. You will not regret it.

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night."
(Psalm 1:2)


If you don't have a Bible reading plan, join me in reading the New Testament in 8 weeks. You can even read your Bible five days a week (instead of seven) and still finish the New Testament in under 12 weeks.

Download the Eight Week Bible reading plan included with the January GraceLife newsletter. Enjoy!

In addition to the Eight Week Bible Plan, we have various Bible reading plans available in our Welcome Center, located in the church lobby.

Pedro Cheung is a member of Grace Bible Church.