Friday Fives: The Top Five Most Read Books of the Bible

Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things. 2 Timothy 3:16

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalm 119:11-16

The whole Bible is important, the God-breathed, infallible, inerrant word from Genesis to Revelation.

Just want to make sure we’re clear on this before starting this edition of Friday Fives.

Since the numbers of people who read their Bible electronically is on the verge of passing those who read it in hard copy form, we can gather more accurate data on which parts of the Bible people read most often. In fact,, the most accessed web-based Bible tool, developed its Overview Bible Project to do just that. The result? We now have a list of the most read books currently and that’s the topic of this week’s Friday Fives.

#5 Proverbs
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BibleGateway’s Overview Bible Project

Quick Overview: The book is largely the work of King Solomon, although there are attributions that indicate others were involved as well. (The final two chapters indicate Agur and Lemuel as their authors.) Because of the tie to Solomon, his contents must have been completed prior to his death in 931 BC. But we know that Hezekiah’s men contributed more of Solomon’s work in chapters 25–29. So scholars theorize the final version of the book being in the 680’s BC.

Key Text:

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth. Do not consider yourself wise. Fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Then your body will be healed, and your bones will have nourishment. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first and best part of all your income. Then your barns will be full, and your vats will overflow with fresh wine. Proverbs 3:5-10

#4 Romans
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BibleGateway’s Overview Bible Project

Quick Overview: It’s been called the perfect theology book. It may be the purest presentation of doctrine we have in the Scriptures, which of course explains why it’s one of the most read books. Paul, who was ultimately to be martyred at Rome, wrote to the church there from Corinth in AD 57. So he wrote from a central Greek city to the church at THE central Roman city. As such, Romans addresses the sin and confusion that would have been present in an urban center. And that helps make it the ultimate handbook for today.

Key Text:

Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you. Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

#3 John
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BibleGateway’s Overview Bible Project

Quick Overview: Perhaps the fact that John isn’t the most read book may be the biggest surprise of this edition of Friday Fives. While the Gospel never explicitly names John as its author it does identify itself as written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” which ultimately points to John. In addition the second-century Christian Irenaeus affirmed that John was the one who laid his head on Jesus—the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (13:23)—and the author. The martyr Polycarp stated that John had written the fourth gospel while in Ephesus. This would date it at approximately 90 AD and makes it one of the last Bible books to be written.

Key Text:

God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe in him won’t be condemned. But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son. This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light because their actions were evil. People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed. But people who do what is true come to the light so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen. John 3:16-21

#2 Matthew
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BibleGateway’s Overview Project

Quick Overview:

Matthew’s Gospel is, like John’s, not explicitly attributed to Matthew himself. However, there is significant extra-biblical as well as textual support that he wrote the book. No significant scholar questions that. The book comes at the story of Jesus from a particularly Jewish perspective. In fact, it is the “most Jewish” of all four Gospels.  After Mark, Matthew is the second Gospel written, likely around 65 AD.

Key Text:

“You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. “You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

#1 Psalms
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BibleGateway’s Overview Bible Project

Quick Overview:  Of course Psalms is the work of many writers over a long period of time. There are individual psalms that date back to the time of Moses. David is a central writer as are Asaph and Solomon. It’s likely that Psalms spans a period of 12oo years. The fact that it is stands as the most read book in the Bible in 2015 only adds to its lore. The book is organized into five collections, which likely were at the center of worship for as long as they have existed. They are songs, poems, laments –  the poetry of the hand of God.

Key Text:

The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul. He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm.Your rod and your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end. Psalm 23