WHAT BIBLE BOOK SHOULD I READ FIRST?
by Shawn Brasseaux
My friend, Romans 11:13 tells us! “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” People new to the Bible should begin in the Book of Romans.
Second Timothy chapter 3 contains the most well-known Bible verses: “ And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
The Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” actually defines “given by inspiration of God.” God the Holy Spirit spoke words, and He wrote them down and preserved them for us in our language. In English, that is the King James Bible (or, “Authorized Version”). Other languages have their own version, but they do not concern us here.
Second Timothy 3:16 affirms three primary purposes of Scripture—“doctrine” (tell us what we should believe), “reproof” (show us what we are doing wrong), and “correction” (remedy our bad thinking). These three elements will “instruct [teach] us in righteousness.” They will show us how God wants us to live, “that [purpose or intent] the man of God may be perfect, [not sinless but] throughly furnished unto all good works” (verse 17). The Holy Bible alone teaches us everything God wants us to believe, and it equips us to do everything He wants us to accomplish. Authority is not in church councils, preachers, priests, popes, doctrinal statements, hunches, impressions, creeds, et cetera. The authority is in the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures.
In light of God’s present-day dealings with mankind, there is a special way to use the Bible text. Failure to approach Holy Writ, God’s way, will cause us more damage than had we never read the Bible. Friends, we must remember Romans 11:13 if we are to make sense of all Scripture. Romans begins with a name—“Paul.” The Holy Spirit led this Paul to pen Romans 11:13. When we come to him in the Bible, especially his conversion in Acts chapter 9; we read about the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven reaching down and saving a man who will become His spokesman to all the world.
Acts 26:16-18 were these words of Christ to Saul: “ But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [apostolos = “sent one”],  To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
Paul thus articulates in Romans 11:11-13: “ I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?  For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”
With Israel’s temporary fall, salvation is coming to us Gentiles (non-Jews) through Paul’s ministry. Hence, we must go to Paul’s epistles, or letters of doctrine, to read about that salvation. While his ministry begins in Acts chapter 9, we do not read his writings in the Bible until after Acts—the Book of Romans. In other words, Romans is the most fundamental information that God gave to Paul to give us Gentiles.
It is usually said that people should start reading God’s Word in the Book of John. However well meaning this is, it is spiritually hazardous. Christ’s earthly ministry, Matthew through John, was to and about the nation Israel, not us Gentiles: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Moreover, John’s goal is confirming to Israel that Jesus is her Messiah because He conducted a ministry of signs, special teaching miracles, in her midst (see John 20:30-31). “The Jews [not us Gentiles] require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22).
Paul is God’s messenger to us non-Jews (Romans 11:13). Ephesians 3:1-2 elaborates: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward….” Romans 16:25-26 says God wants to “stablish” (stabilize) us Gentiles using three components: (1) Paul’s Gospel, (2) the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, and (3) the Scriptures of the prophets. Paul’s Gospel is laid out first, and most clearly, in the Bible in the Book of Romans, the head, or introductory book, of his 13 epistles (Romans through Philemon).
Romans is divided into four sections. Chapters 1-5 deal with justification, or how to have our sins forgiven and a home in heaven. Chapters 6-8 discuss sanctification, or how that Gospel of Grace has changed our identity from Adam to Christ. Chapters 9-11 covers dispensational changes—we are not the nation Israel, but rather the Church the Body of Christ, with Israel still having a future in God’s program. Chapters 12-16 are application, or how we are to by faith use the grace principles in Romans so our lives can glorify our Lord and Saviour!
Friend, you will not mature in grace if you begin the Bible in the wrong place. Using John as an introduction to the Bible will hinder you from laying the Scriptural foundation God intended for you. Start in Romans!