Why you need to read the Bible

A Catholic view

St Peters


This article is published with Ecclesiastical Permission, Dublin, Ireland. It is also available in printed form (details at bottom of page), and is being distributed to every Catholic parish in Ireland. This is to fulfil the Second Vatican Council injunction:

"This sacred Synod earnestly and specifically urges all the Christian faithful...to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ... For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ..."
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Section 25

Pope John Paul has dedicated the next three years to the Trinity, with 1997 being specifically dedicated to Jesus, the Word.

1. Because it is God's inspired word

Vatican Council states that "All Scripture (both Old and New Testament) is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for instruction in justice that the man of God may be perfect, equipped for every good work."
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Section 11
(Also 2 Tim. 3: 16 & 17)

In encouraging us not to neglect reading the Old Testament as well as the New, Vatican Council states that "God, the inspirer and author of both testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old, and the Old be made manifest (clear) in the New...The books of the Old Testament ..show their full meaning in the New Testament .. and shed light on it and explain it."

Decree on Divine Revelation, Section 16

2. Because the Bible is true and essential for today as always

That's why Vatican Council states that, "The books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error, that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation."

Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Section 11

3. Because Jesus said:

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

4. Because it shows the way you can have a personal relationship with God

Vatican Council specifically asks all Christians to read the Bible frequently in order to know Jesus.

"This sacred Synod earnestly and specifically urges all the Christian faithful... to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the excelling knowledge of Jesus Christ. For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ...And let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together."

Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Section 25

Jesus himself said:
And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3

If you do not have a personal relationship with God, then ask Jesus to take over your life and be your personal Saviour and Lord. He will transform and change your life and bring meaning where there was emptiness.

5. Because it challenges us to spread the Good News of Salvation

Jesus said to His disciples:
Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15 & 16

Vatican Council states what the first, primary duty of a priest is - namely:
"Since no one can be saved who has not first believed, priests...have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all...For through the saving Word, the spark of faith is struck in the hearts of unbelievers and fed into the hearts of the faithful."

Decree on the Ministry of Priests, Section 4

Let us encourage our priests and ministers and pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit as they fulfil their primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel.

This command of Jesus is not just to be obeyed by priests and ministers, but by all Christian lay people as we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us for this task.

Vatican Council affirmed this when it stated that all Christian lay people should "look for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to believers (both Catholic and Protestant) with a view to instruction and strengthening them and motivating them toward a more fervent life".

Decree on Laity, Section 6

Finding out more

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The way to forgiveness

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
                                    1 John 1:9
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.
                                    1 Peter 3:18

God's plan for salvation

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have eternal life.
                                    John 3:16
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
                                    John 14:16

How to overcome temptation

Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.
                                   James 4:7


How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word.
                                   Psalm 119:9

Direction for life

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
                                   Psalm 119:105

Prayer before reading the Bible

It is important to pray before reading the Bible so that we have the right attitude to reading God's Word. A suggested prayer is:

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Holy Word which tells me of your great love and your great Salvation for me in Jesus, your Son.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me eternal life.

Holy Spirit, come and reveal more of Jesus to me day by day; come now and enlighten me as I read these Sacred Scriptures. Amen.

Which Bible?

The New International Version (NIV), Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the Jerusalem Bible are among the best versions available. In addition, the Good News Bible is a good version for beginners. Scripture quotations above are from the RSV Catholic Edition.

These versions are available in leading bookshops. For further information ask your local priest or minister.

Bible-reading notes can be a big help in understanding the Bible. Many people find the ecumenical notes 'Every Day with Jesus' build their faith. They are widely available in UK Christian bookshops.

National distributor in Ireland is:
Scripture Union,
40 Talbot St,
Dublin 1,
tel (01) 8363764.

It is also available by postal subscription from:
Waverley Abbey House
Waverley Lane

tel 01252 783761
Email: 100451.3112@compuserve.com

EC countries £11.50 per year
Rest of the world £14.50 per year
UK only £10 per year

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Text copyright Evangelical Catholic Initiative and used by permission

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