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Posted: 01/04/07

The Top 10 Reasons Why People Don't Read The Bible

Americans revere the Bible-but, by and large, they don't read it.  And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.                              GEORGE GALLUP, JR.

To read part one and reasons 7-10 visit: 



          When I was growing up some words in my Bible were more than a little difficult to understand.  When James instructed us to "lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness" (James 1:21), I admit I was a bit puzzled by what that meant.  And when someone in church went to the pastor admitting, "Pastor, I have been guilty of evil concupiscence" (Colossians 3:5), I can just see the puzzled look on the pastor's face and hear him say, "Let me get back to you on that."

          Actually, the more I read the Bible the less difficulty I had even understanding Elizabethan English.  When I encountered a word I didn't understand, I looked it up.  That's what I did when reading other books too. 

          Years ago it was easy to blame the language of the Bible for our lack of Bible reading.  "It's King James' fault.  His language is so old fashioned.  If I just had a Bible in modern English, then I'd read it," everyone argued.  Well, now we have dozens of Bibles in easy-to-read 21st century English and we are reading less now than ever before.


The best way to make the unfamiliar language of the Bible familiar to you is not to set your Bible on the shelf but to hide it in your heart.


          There may be words and concepts in the Bible that puzzle you still.  But don't let that stop you from reading it.  After all, the more you read unfamiliar words or concepts, the more familiar they become. 




          You're right.  The Bible is a big book.  In fact, the Bible is a library, a collection of 66 books.  Some are quite long-Genesis, Matthew, Isaiah, Acts-but others are quite short-Philippians, Malachi, Colossians, Zephaniah.  In fact, five books in this library have only one chapter.[3]  One book has just two chapters.[4]


"Maybe you think of the Bible the way you think of Tolstoy's War and Peace. You know it's supposed to be a classic, and you've got nothing against it. But it's too long,[5] and it's just not your thing. Well, it might be okay to skip War and Peace, but the Bible isn't just another literary classic. It's the one book you can't afford to neglect."[6]


But is the length of the books in the Bible really the reason why people don't read them?  Did you read any of the Harry Potter books? The first, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was the shortest at 309 pages.  By book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling was up to 734 pages.  Book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was 870 pages.  No complaints or excuses there.


Don't you find it odd that Harry Potter readers wait outside bookstores at midnight to get the next HP release, but when it comes time to reading the only Book God every wrote, we say it's too long.  I don't think God is buying that.





          Sometimes the Bible doesn't seem to speak to our 21st century needs.  After all, think of all the words that aren't in the Bible:  AIDS, computer, text messaging, NASCAR, Alaskan cruise, etc.  But maybe the Bible would speak more to us if we read more of it and were more sensitive in applying to our lives what we do read.  Let me give you an example.


          Bill Armstrong was a young businessman in my church.  He and his partner sold and installed security systems in homes.  Bill was a Christian but Jack, his business partner, was not.  Soon a conflict arose between Bill and Jack over a security device that Bill knew was overpriced and inadequate.  Jack wanted to up sell the customers on features that both Bill and Jack knew were just bells and whistles.  Bill was hesitant because he knew the device was not as reliable as one with fewer features.  He prayed and asked God for guidance.  Bill wanted to check out his Bible but didn't know where to look.  Had Bill been more familiar with his Bible, he would have easily drawn principles by which to conduct his business.


God told the Israelites always to be fair in business.  "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light one" (Deuteronomy 25:13), implying that some merchants would cheat their customers with a weight that was lighter than the standard.  Bill had apparently not read any of the apostle Paul's comments about honesty in business.  He told the Corinthian believers that they must provide all things honest or honorable, "not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Corinthians 8:21). 


          One day Bill couldn't take it anymore.  He came to me seeking advice.  I steered him to some of these verses and when he left he knew what he had to do.  Bill bought out Jack's interest in their business (2 Corinthians 6:14).  He quit selling the overpriced but inferior alarm systems.  He told his customers what features could be added to any system, but let them decide for themselves.  People appreciated Bill's new candor and today his business is booming.


          The Bible's relevance to our lives isn't determined by what it says; it's determined by what we know of what it says.  If you can't put your finger on any passages of Scripture that speak to your needs, that doesn't mean there aren't any.  More familiarity with the Bible through reading will bring more relevancy for the Bible in your life.[7] 





          If some portions of the Bible seem boring to you, you're not alone.  Even a spiritual giant like John Bunyan, author of the classic Christian allegory Pilgrim's Progress, once said, "I have sometimes seen more in a line of the Bible than I could well tell how to stand under, and yet at another time the whole Bible hath been to me as dry as a stick." 


Bunyan's candor is exactly the point.  There are portions of the Bible that are not as exciting as others-Leviticus, Ezekiel, Obadiah-but the whole Bible isn't like that.  Let's be fair.  You may have to slosh through some places in Scripture and look closely for application to your life, but the vast majority of the Bible has ready application.



19% of Americans say they study the Bible daily;

29% say they never study the Bible.



In the Bible you will find love stories (Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Joseph and Mary), war stories (Joshua and the Amalekites, Hezekiah and the Assyrians, David and the Philistines), stories of international intrigue (Daniel, Moses, the Magi), and stories of family conflict (Jacob and his sons, the prodigal and his father, Cain and Abel).  You'll also read of death threats (Mordecai), attempts on one's life (Paul), and even a story about a boy king hidden from his own grandmother so she wouldn't kill him (Joram and Athaliah). 


So what's your interest?  The Bible has it all-danger, intrigue, passion, jealousy, betrayal, love, honor, it's all in there.


          Sometimes it does feel like your reading someone else's mail when you read the Bible.  But that's true of every other book too.  The fact is, there is more addressed to you personally in the Bible than in any book ever written.  The reason is clear: the Bible is God's love letter to you, and whether He is telling you someone's story or predicting the future, the bottom line is how you fit in the plan of God as outlined in His Word. 





          In our "Top 10" list the reasons for not reading the Bible are becoming both more honest and more to the point.  How much you read your Bible depends on how valuable you think that time will be. 


Rabbi Daniel Lapin makes an interesting observation about time.  He says:


Most people who travel for business spend about the same number of days per year on the road as our great-grandfathers did.  The reason for this synchronicity is clear.  Most people subconsciously calculate the amount of time they are willing to spend away from family and friends and the amount of discomfort they are willing to endure.  They then plug this figure into their economic ambition, massage the resulting equation a little, and emerge with a figure representing roughly how many days each year they are willing to travel for business.  All of this is done subconsciously; it even gets updated from time to time.6


The rabbi's point is this: you do only what you think is valuable.  You will read God's Word only if you deem it personally profitable.  If you see the Bible as of little value, you will place little value on reading it.  It won't be a priority.  If, however, you see it as the only book God ever wrote, as God's way of communicating with you, as the only reliable guide for successful living, reading the Bible will become your priority.



Among those individuals who are identified as Christians,

only half (50%) rate themselves as being 'absolutely

 committed' to the Christian faith.


 "Today, unless you were brought up under a rock, or in a stone age tribe in a jungle somewhere, you know in your heart that there is a book called the Holy Bible, that you should be reading.   Biblical illiteracy is 99.9% a matter of choice."[8]




          The most common excuse for not reading the Bible is our busy lives.  We don't seem to have time to do the things we know we should do.   There's work and school, running to the store, soccer practice, dinner-life is just a bit harried.  Who has time to sit and read?


You do.  Here's why.


Time is a set quantity.  It's not elastic.  We all have 60 seconds in every minute, 60 minutes in every hour, 24 hours in every day. Time may fly, but it doesn't change.  You have one thousand four hundred and forty golden minutes in every day and so do I. 


The issue is never about time, it's always about what we choose to get done in the time we have, and that takes us right back to our priorities.  Is reading God's Word, meditating and benefiting from it, something you wish to take some time each day to do or not?  If not, the convenient way to express your lack of desire is to say, "I don't have time."  But we both know time isn't the problem.


A couple of years ago I took a stopwatch with me everywhere I flew.  I would read my Bible while in flight and time how long it took to read each book of the Bible.  Once returning from Frankfort on a flight to Chicago a flight attendant saw the stopwatch around me neck and asked, "Are you timing our service?"  I chuckled and said, "No, I'm timing how long it takes me to read my Bible."  With a puzzled look on her face she inquired why someone would want to do that.   I said, "Because everybody tells me they would read their Bible but they don't have time.  I want to know how much time they don't have."


Did you know that you can read half the books of the Bible in less than 30 minutes each?  You can read 26 of them in less than 15 minutes.  The whole Bible, cover to cover, can be read by an average reader in less than 72 hours. 


Maybe it's time we rethink our reasons for not reading the Bible and just call them what they are--excuses. 


Take another look at these "Top Ten."  How many of them are excuses you've given to God for not reading His Word?  If you can see through them so quickly, imagine how easily He can see through them.


The Bible is read by people who choose to read it.  Bible reading is neglected by people who choose to neglect it.  It's just that simple.


          No excuses.  Just honesty.





[1]  There are many fine guides to reading the Bible that will help you read the entire book in a year or more.  Back to the Bible provides seven such guides in a READ ME Bible guides packet.  Some reading schedules are found on-line.  Wherever you start your reading, the important thing is to start, and don't quit.


[2]  In the King James Bible, there are 31,373 verses.


[3]  Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude


[4]  Haggai


[5] Leo Tolstoy's book is one of the longest classics in history.  The W. W. Norton & Company 1996 second edition translated and edited by George Gibian contains the 15 books and 365 chapters of War and Peace in 1,300 pages.


[6]  The Good Book, October 6, 1996, (


[7]   To learn more about what the Bible says regarding various topics, see:



6  Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Lapin, America's Real War.  (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1999), 27-28.


[8]  The High Cost of Illiteracy (







Be sure to watch for Woodrow Kroll's newest book:


How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters To You

(Crossway Books; Release Date:  March 8, 2007)





Distributed by

By Woodrow Kroll

Email: [email protected]

Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.


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Re: Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 02/01/07 08:12:43 PM Age 37, TX
There is a difference between reading and studying. Read it all the way through, it will give you the whole picture of God's love and his wrath. Study it to better understand how it all works together. Never assume reading is a waste of time, it is not. It will penetrate your life, and then you won't be able to stand NOT studying it.

Re: Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/18/07 01:31:56 AM Age 61, TX
I can't say enough good things about Precept classes. Some of my richest Bible study was done on a daily basis because of years of Precept. I'd still be involved if my health allowed. Thank you for telling people about it! God bless you

Re: Re: Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/18/07 12:23:16 AM Age 61, TX
I appreciate this article by Woodrow Kroll, and I'll forever be a student of God's Word. May I elaborate on what your mother said? I'm not trying to read words into what she specifically told you. This is my opinion, experience and truth of Scripture, based on about 45 years of study. The Bible's overall message is one that describes the depth of the love of God for mankind, not only collectively but individually. The various books are not arranged in chronological order, and it's important to understand WHO was inspired to write each book, WHAT the subject (reason, situation, problem) was, WHY, WHEN, HOW it was accomplished, and TO WHOM (society, era, nation, group of believers, etc.) it was written. The Bible is the story of creation, including mankind, from the beginning forward---at least creation as we know it. It's made up of many things, history, etc. But my favorite is the aspect of prophecy. In both the OT and the NT, so much of the prophecy has been fulfilled. I fully believe and accept that the rest will be too, because God in His perfection cannot lie--He keeps His word, but on His timetable, not ours. And while God is a God of love, He is also a God of justice. They balance each other. I believe Jesus knows exactly what's going on today, and when the time is right, He and only He can bring peace to this earth. Scripture says He will do that through the second coming of Jesus. We're certainly not making any ground on our own toward peace, are we? It is prophesied in both the OT and NT that He will establish peace, and I believe it. And I believe He is right on schedule. Blessings

Re: Re: Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/07/07 12:06:49 AM Age 43, NC
Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures. Example: The first institution God ordained after creation was that of marriage, Genesis chapter 2. In verses 23-24 we see, "and Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Any unions that are contrary to this unity of one male to one female is contrary to God's ordained plan for man and woman. Any other union is man shaking his/her fist in the face of God and sayng, "I will do as I will, and as I please and I defy the very God who gives me life!" And when God does not strike them down immediately, for their disobedience, they tout it as a sign of God's weakness, or as proof that God does not exist. Romans 2:4-6, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds:" Basic logic will teach you that all truth claims are not true, neither can they be. The new tolerance crowd teachers that we all are right irregardless of the "truth" we embrace. What is right for you may or may not be right for me, so long as I sincerely believe, then my "truth" is just a valid as your truth. Wrong, truth claims that are diametrically opposed cannot be simultaneously true. When you arrive at "truth" given this worldview then you have nothing. Such "truth" is elusive,and ever shifting having no stability or absolute wherin to establish itself. When you apply the biblical worldview then you have stability, absolutes on which to base your beliefs and establish "truth". I am still praying for you Scienceboy.

Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/05/07 11:48:57 PM Age 57, NC
The reading of the Bible requires taking your time and absorbing what you take in verse by verse. Make sure you understand that verse before you proceed even if it require doing some research or reading it over and over until you do. I suggest to anyone who reads the Bible to go to a quiet place where you can't be disturbed. You can't just rush thru it just to say i read the Bible all the way thru. You are just fooling yourself but not God. Before you read ask God to give you the wisdom and knowledge to understand what you are about to read and i think you will see as i have it starts to sink in much clearer. Another thing i do before i read is to ask Our Lord to forgive us of our sins. I feel at this point that the table is cleared and you are about to get fed on the great words of our Almighty God whose love for us all is beyond comprehension.

Re: Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/04/07 12:57:37 PM Age 20, UN
Even as an Atheist, I agree with you. It's clear to me that many people who use the Bible to justify mental terrorism (such as the literary bashing of Homosexuals, the Secular, the Musmim and so forth), have read the book but clearly they didn't understand it. From what my mum (a Christian) has told me, the Bible's overall message is one of love. If Jesus existed, he was a great man, and I'm sure he'd be horrified at the persecution today being *justified* by a crooked interpretation or a sheer lack of understanding. An interesting article. Cheers - ScienceBoy

Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/04/07 10:26:39 AM Age 36, TX
"The whole Bible, cover to cover, can be read by an average reader in less than 72 hours." I bet it can be read in even less time but that's not the point! If every person in the U.S. took 72 hours this year and read the whole Bible cover to cover we would likely not be any better off than we are today. Why? It is not merely READING but the STUDY of Scripture that is critical. 2Ti 2:15-"Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." I'm not saying that a person has to perform a literary critique of the whole Bible or write a chapter by chapter synopsis or anything like that. Anyone and everyone who does read the Bible needs to be made aware of the historical and cultural context of the events recorded in the Bible. Most Christians today are not aware that the entire Bible was written by Jewish authors who had a Hebraic world-view rather than a Greek world-view. How about a little historical and cultural study as well? That takes more time. It all comes down to commitment. God is so committed to us that He sent his only begotten Son to die on our behalf. How committed are we in return?

Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/04/07 10:03:08 AM Age 63, OH
This is a very good article brother. Another reason I have noticed that people do not read the Bible is us. I have read people's comments on this site calling some translation of the Bible "from the pits of hell". It is only the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures that are perfect and not many people can read either of these. All the translations have shortcomings but I am sure thankful for them all. I have over 30 different translations in the English language and have seen light through a large number of them. I was a chaplin at a rescue mission and gave out King James Bibles. I noticed that I was not seeing any results from the Bibles so I bought a case of Living Bibles with my own money and started giving them out. The very next day a young man was standing at the entrance waiting for me and he was very excited. In talking to him I found out he had read the 1st few chapters of the Gospel of John as I had suggested and had prayed and asked the Lord to forgive him and to make him a child of God. My eyes tear up now remembering this young man and I am so thankful for the Living Bible that he could hear the Lords voice in. I have heard a lot of Christians put down the Living Bible but I seen a person come to Christ with almost every one I gave out. I had not seen one person come to Christ with the KJV that I had given out. Whatever version the person can hear the voice of the Lord is the best version for that person at that time. I have personally got a lot of revelations from the Lord out of the Living Bible. Any translation in the English language is better than the Hebrew or Greek for someone who does not read either of these languages. The New World Translation is not even a translation and is full of errors. But it still contains the Word of the Lord and He can speak to someone through it. Certainly anyone is better off reading any translation than watching TV. I want to be a lot more careful about saying anything against any translation because that might keep someone from reading it. -- Lou

Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/04/07 04:23:11 AM Age 60, MO
I agree with Mr. Kroll. It might have something to do with Proverbs 24:30-34. Thank you for your work in putting this together.

Re: The Top 10 Reasons Why People Dont Read The Bible
Posted On: 01/04/07 01:27:08 AM Age 40, AB
Holy Scripture teaches us, "For You have magnified Your word above Your name" (Psalm 138:2) The late Diane Dew has done an incredible study entitled "The Written Word." The following is an audio sermon that touched me so deeply that I think I must have listened to it around 15 times! Be sure to check this message out before I wear the tape out! ;-) The TMS 2005 Commencement Address was given by Dr. Steve Lawson. Any believers who are struggling to get into the Word should investigate the Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF). It is an amazing Bible Study that utilizes a distinct program of daily questions, discussion group, lectures and study notes. The study notes are simply amazing. I have a number of Bible commentaries and none of them comes close to BSF notes. If there isn't a BSF study group in your area, consider taking a Precepts class. . (Check the side bar for class locations.) If all else fails, check out your local Bible book store. They often have different Bible studies to choose from. Ask the Lord to lead you to the study that He wants you to do. We are in a spiritual battle and Satan doesn't want believers reading their Bibles and communing with our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have tried reading the Bible and find you are not succeeding with regular reading and studying, you may need to ask other Christians to pray for you. And please remember that the purpose of Bible study isn't just to collect knowledge (since knowledge puffs up, 1 Corinthians 8:1), but rather to meet and fellowship with our Lord and to follow Him in obedience. "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." (Ezra 7:10) "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15) "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalm 119:11) "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) Bring the Book! Bring the Book!

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