I am curious to know the ten, or at most twelve books of the Bible that have made the biggest impact on you. 

Two on my list, and no surprise to many of you, are Ecclesiastes and Habakkuk. I have published a commentary on the former and am hoping to do so with the latter.

My other ten would be: Genesis, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Jonah, John, Acts, and Colossians.

What about you? I would love to know.

I am a big advocate of constantly reading the totality of Scripture, but God moves us in a variety of ways, and some books of the Bible make a bigger impact on us.

Give me your own list.

Only rule is no more than twelve.



  1. Drew Beckley

    Genesis, Psalms, Mark, John, Romans, Galatians, Colossians, 1 John, 1 Peter

    Or, in order of impact …
    John, Psalms, Romans, Galatians, Colossians, 1 John, Mark, Genesis, 1 Peter

  2. Kevin Ford

    My top 3 would be Mark, 2 Timothy, and Habakkuk. The latter was already one of my favorites when we were in seminary together, David… did you ever see the multimedia production about it by 2100? It was shown at Urbana 79 and 81.

    1. Dave Post author

      I have not seen 2100, but so glad you have Habakkuk on your list. It is a power-packed, eminently relevant book!

      1. Kevin Ford

        I’ve asked them to do an updated version many times in the last 20 years… 2020 would certainly provide some good illustrations to replace the Vietnam War and Watergate.

  3. Colby E. Kinser

    I spent a solo retreat in the mountains and stayed in Leviticus for 3 days. Eventually, I saw it from the top down rather than from the details up, and saw so many more ways that God had Jesus in mind the entire time than I had previously appreciated. There are some repeated ideas and phrases in each section that give the details a compass direction. That then became a 6-part sermon series that is still my favorite series.

  4. Stephen Sternberg

    I cheated as I counted Luke-Acts as one. Nonetheless, here are my 12/13:

    Genesis, Exodus, Esther, Psalms Proverbs, Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea, Matthew, Luke-Acts, Romans. 2 Timothy

    1. Genevieve hoelscher

      Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, gospel of John, Romans, Ephesians, first and second Peter, Hebrews, first Timothy

  5. Don Zellmer

    Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, 2 Timothy, Galatians
    8 – I felt sure of. My last 2 choices were harder to pick.

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Don. You have four of my own. Genesis, no surprise, is proving to be very popular, and for good reason.

  6. Doreen Moore

    So hard because I LOVE each and every book, and my favorite is almost always the one I am studying at the time. So here goes — Luke, Philippians, Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms, Romans, Acts, II Chronicles, II Corinthians, John, Nehemiah, and most recently I Thessalonians.

  7. Mike Field

    Psalms, Genesis, John, Matthew, Acts, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Daniel

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Dorsey. Knowing your long, varied, and influential ministry, I find II Cor. and II Tim. poignant. It shows a person who has labored in the work of ministry!

  8. David

    I read the bible through each year starting in Genesis. Once I’m done there are certain books I always revisit. That’s probably a good indicator of the books I would consider to be most influential.
    Isaiah, Psalms, Romans, John, Revelation, Ephesians, I & 2 Samuel, II Corinthians and Acts.

  9. Danny Smith

    I’ve slowed my totality reading to every 2 years in order to dwell on what I read more. In turn, I’m finding I’m dwelling on more.

    In answer to your question and quick reflection – Genesis, Nehemiah, James, Colossians, Galatians, Isaiah, 1 Timothy, Matthew, Proverbs, Psalms

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Danny. I am eager to see how the rest of the votes go. Stay tuned for overall tally and some reflections…

  10. David McCoy

    With a little cheating, I would have to say (in no particular order):
    Genesis, Judges, Samuel-Kings (structurally, they are one book), Ecclesiastes, Luke-Acts, John, Romans Hebrews, James, and Revelation. I am surprised that more people haven’t included Revelation — Why would you read a book and leave out the ending?

    1. Dave Post author

      I agree and find the leaving off of Revelation quite interesting as well. So, why is it not on my own list? Good question. My defense is that it almost made my list as I Sam. -II Kings almost did. And yes, I was going to list them as one book too!

      The main reason for leaving off Revelation is that I am confident of the book’s overall thrust: Jesus reigns and rules no matter what happens. The debates on the millennium, tribulation (if there is one in the dispensational understanding), etc. hold little interest. I will claim Calvin, who you well know, never wrote a commentary on Revelation.

      1. Barbara Culwell

        What a great question! I agree with Doreen that often it is the book that I am studying!
        Here is my list:
        Psalms, 2 Timothy, Colossians, Genesis, Job, 1 Thessalonians, John, Ephesians, 1 Peter, Proverbs, Esther, Romans

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Roger. I am getting very interested about various things from this polling, but I think your listing Deuteronomy may be the first.

  11. Rod Henegar

    Years ago, in a former life, I was in the data services division of a large bank. We had the requisite weekly meetings where 8 of us who were managers of various departments presented updates on various projects. We would exchange hard copies of our update. I always included a passage or verse from Ecclesiastes at the very bottom. Everyone always looked forward to it and it made for some interesting sidebar meetings.

    This one, as I recall, got the biggest response.

    “A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom.”

  12. Dave Post author

    Thanks Randy. And you may have seen that you are the first to list Micah! I know folks would like to know why that book is so impactful.

    1. Randy Newman

      It’s sometimes hard to identify exactly why a certain book of the Bible makes an impact more than other books. On some level, it’s a subjective response because some “voices” resonate more than others. Why does Micah’s tone strike me in ways that Amos does not? I can’t quite put my finger on it. (This prompts a growing appreciation for the way the Lord inspired his Word – with a variety of voices as well as different genres, etc.)

      Micah weaves together themes of judgment, grace, future restoration, and godly living. I’m grateful that such a mix can be found all in one, relatively short book.

      The Messianic prophecy of 5:2 was important in my coming to faith from a Jewish background so I’m sure that’s also part of my connection to Micah.

      1. Dave Post author

        Beautifully and wonderfully put Randy! Thanks for taking the time to write back.

        Your description of Micah makes me want to give it a fresh look. Having everything there in Micah makes sense, which is as you well know, closely related to Isaiah which is kind of like a “little Bible.”

  13. Michael Haykin

    Dear Dave:

    2 Timothy, 1 Timothy, Titus, Mark, Isaiah, Song of Songs, Psalms, Proverbs, Philemon, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, Zechariah

    Most of them because I have taught on them again and again (the Pastorals, Mark, 1 Corinthians, and Ephesians) or found them a comfort in prayer (Psalms) or been a major source of instruction (Isaiah and Song of Songs and Zech).

    In the list I sent, it contained these three books: Song of Songs, Philemon, and Zechariah.


    Well, Song of Songs captures the central theme of the Bible, the entire Bible: God’s love for his Bride!

    Then Philemon is vital for true godly leadership.

    And Zechariah–Jesus cited that more than any other OT book in the week prior to his passion. It was on his mind a lot in those history-changing days. And so it should be on our minds: Having taught it once for three months at Trinity Baptist Church in Burlington, I have never lost sight of its massive importance.

    Michael A.G. Haykin, FRHistS
    Chair and Professor of Church History
    & Director of The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies
    The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
    & Professor of Church History
    Heritage Theological Seminary, Cambridge, Ontario.

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Michael! Interesting list. I believe you are the first to list Song of Songs, Philemon, and Zechariah.

      Thanks for sharing with our community why those books. Very edifying!

  14. Louis Markos

    Let’s see, my list would certainly include Genesis, First and 2nd Samuel, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Daniel, John, Acts, Galatians, Hebrews, and 1st John.

  15. Amanda Patchin

    I would choose: Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Esther, Ezekiel, John, Acts, and then probably just straight through from Galatians through Collosians. It seems I like poetry, wisdom, imagery, and practical advice!

  16. Dave Post author

    Thanks Amanda. You have several of mine, but Ezekiel is quite provocative! I am going to do some tallies and reflection next week, but you may be the first to put Ezekiel.

    1. Amanda Patchin

      It’s that valley of dry bones. A powerful image that I’ve returned to again and again. I do like things a little heavy-handed though…

      1. Dave Post author

        Ez. 37 is my go to passage to demonstrate that a big view of God’s sovereignty (only His wind can make things happen), need not be at odds with our responsibility. God tells Ezekiel to preach to the bones. Ezekiel’s response is also interesting. He does not object by saying that God does not “need” him which of course is true. Rather, he obeys what God has commanded him to do.

  17. Samuel Lamerson

    At the top of my list is the Synoptics (one or three?) because of the parables.
    Jonah-a wonderful look at racial prejudice.
    Philemon-God is at work in the life of even the outsider.
    Zephaniah- a reminder of the work of Josiah toward reformation.
    Ruth-a welcome to those who are immigrants.
    Jude-a strange book loved by a strange person.
    Revelation-the kingdom ends with a party. I can’t wait.

    1. Dave Post author

      Wonderful and provocative list Sam. You are the first to have Zephaniah and Jude. I will have to check on Philemon, though I think that may already be listed, but the other two are definitely new.

      We might end up with the whole Bible after all!

      Thanks for participating!

    1. Dave Post author

      Hey Dru,

      Being an Old Testament scholar, I’m not surprised, but pleased to see that you included the entire Pentateuch. You are the first to choose Numbers!

  18. Dave Post author

    Thanks for posting your list Clay. Much appreciated. Wonderful to see I and II Sam. again. They were on my almost list!

  19. Dave Post author

    This comes from Gerald Sittser (aka Jerry). Professor Sittser has authored some of my favorite books like Water from a Deep Well, Resilient Faith, and A Grace Disguised. Jerry sent me his list via email with the following explanation…one that I very much agree with.

    Hi David,

    A curious question. I am not sure my list goes to ten or twelve. A person counseled me many years ago to make the entire story of the Bible my story. But he also suggested that I master a few books, which I have tried to do. Here is the list, not in order of importance:

    Ruth and Esther
    Luke and Acts
    I and II Corinthians

  20. David Yocum

    While I have a great appreciation for ALL the books of the Bible, 🙂 these are among those that have had the greatest impact for one reason or another: Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1-2 Peter (however, did I mention I could go on? :)).

  21. Dave Post author

    Thanks Dave. Tell me if my memory is playing tricks on me, but for some reason I recall you saying that Professor Ross’s Hebrew class on Psalms or perhaps Isaiah had a big impact on you. Is that correct?

    1. David Yocum

      Yes, his class on Psalms. And now he has developed that content into a three-volume commentary – excellent work (which, of course, is nothing out of the ordinary for him).

    1. Dave Post author

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for sharing your list. I will have to look, but I think other than me you are the only other one to have both Habakkuk and Ecclesiastes. Having read a few of your fine books, I am not surprised!

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Gene. I’d be curious to know what three of those books you have found most helpful in your counseling practice.

      Gene emailed this back to me:

      Probably Colossians, Hebrews and John. Off the top of my head.

      Romans 8
      Colossians 3
      Hebrews 12 & 4
      John 6 & 15

  22. Ted Anthony

    Not necessarily in order but listing as they cross my heart: John (Jesus as God), Romans (Hope), Revelation (what a description of the supernatural), Genesis (What a crazy trip!), James (Joy), Job (especially when “The Lord Speaks”!), Jeremiah (what a prophet), Deuteronomy (Jesus quoted it to Satan!), Proverbs (so encouraging), Luke (because of verses 39-43 in chapter 23). “Read your Bible, Pray every day, And you’ll grow, grow, GROW!”

  23. Dave Post author

    Thanks Ted. Glad to see among other things that you love the weeping prophet, but he is so much more than that!

  24. Ryan

    John, Matthew, Genesis, Philippians, Ruth, Daniel, Ephesians, Acts, Romans, Psalms, Proverbs

    I asked Ryan about Ruth and here is what he sent me: Ruth is such an awesome book. It and Philippians I think are my favorites – though for very different reasons.

    Ruth is such a great story of people of great character, boldness, integrity, loyalty (and even has a cross-cultural aspect that appeals to me personally). Just ordinary people doing small but great things that end up as part of God’s great redemptive plan.

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Ryan. I have not done any tallies or my diagnostic post (saving for next week), but don’t recall many putting Ruth, so glad to see it. We almost have the entire canon of the Bible, but I don’t think we are likely to get II and III John nor Nahum. Then again, I might be surprised!

  25. Neal

    1. Hebrews
    2. Romans
    3. John

    But, that is NOW in my walk. Not where I began and perhaps not where I’ll be later prior to graduation.

  26. Tim Taylor

    Ecclesiastes- first book I really related to
    Psalms- book I use the most
    Genisis- most fascinating
    Job- most humbling
    Roman’s- most I refer to
    Ephesians- inspiring, equipping
    John- favorite gospel

  27. Dave Post author

    Thanks Tim. Knowing you as well as I do, it is not surprising to see Ecclesiastes. Any Christian willing to work through both of Charles Taylor’s big books will probably have Ecclesiastes!

    Hey that could be another survey! Have you read both of Charles Taylor’s books?

    If so, is Ecclesiastes one of your favorite books of the Bible?

  28. Renee McIntosh

    It’s really hard to pick ONLY 12, but here goes:

    Psalms, Genesis, Isaiah, John, II Corinthians, Galatians, Nehemiah, I,II Samuel, Acts, II Timothy, Proverbs, Ephesians


    1. Dave Post author

      Terrific list Renee. Among other things, I am pleased to see how much I and II Samuel were listed. They almost made my list, but not quite…

  29. Bill Bridgman

    Ecclesiastes (thanks to you!)
    1 Samuel
    I John

    Although as I reflect it is really even just portions of certain books that have tended to stick with me in a sense (Romans for instance and Hebrews as well as some of the OT prophets). Even the above list is like that I suppose. I wonder too at the vast number of passages I tend to gloss over just due to a certain familiarity within my experiences growing up in the American church that make such passages less surprising (e.g. sections of Ephesians and Philippians).

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks for the kind comment about Ecclesiastes. It is wonderful to see how many put it on their list.

      Jonah is a recent addition for me. As with all of Scripture, there is a whole lot more going on than I previously thought. My recent read and multiple rereads keep yielding insight.

  30. mark daymon cotnam

    Okay, here goes:
    1. Genesis [especially the story of Joseph 37-50]
    2. Judges- A favorite from my youth. I loved the “wild west” type time and seeing God work through so many regular, flawed folks.
    3. Proverbs
    4. Job
    5. Daniel
    6. Matthew [especially the Sermon on the Mount]
    7. John
    8. Romans
    9. Phillippians
    10. Ephesians

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Mark. Very interesting to see the reason for Judges. I am restraining myself for a few more days before doing the tally and commentary, but I don’t recall many, if any, having Judges.

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks for supplying that list Janet. I assume those are all books you have memorized. Your efforts to memorize Scripture is a great model.

    1. Dave Post author

      Thanks Vince. I have not done my diagnostic/commentary post (for next week), but Titus intrigues me…

      You may be the first to choose Titus, so we are getting close to having the whole canon of Scripture!

  31. Coleman Glass

    OK. Here’s my list. It’s hard to stop once you start listing them. We are studying the Minor Prophets in my men’s Bible Study, and they are starting to grow on me. We’ll see.

    John (The first chapter made me understand who Jesus was. Things accelerated from there).
    Genesis (beginnings)
    Exodus (only God can deliver from slavery)
    Ephesians (Grace and Faith)
    Romans (the Christian Constitution)
    Psalms (praises and prayers)
    Proverbs (God’s wisdom for a dangerous world)
    Ruth/Esther (God is always working to protect and perpetuate the Messianic line)
    Matthew (Jesus IS the promised Messiah, here’s the proof)
    Hebrews (If you want to understand the Bible, you need to think Jewish)
    Isaiah (God reveals his plan to his servants)
    1/2 Corinthians (God saves messy people, too. Me included)
    Ecclesiastes (Life under the Sun doesn’t satisfy. It was never intended to)

  32. Warren Dale Culwell

    Genesis, 2 Samuel, Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
    John,Acts, Romans, Colossians, 2 Timothy, James, 1 John

  33. Dave Post author

    Thanks Warren. I think you just made a dozen folks who have listed Ecclesiastes!

    And I love how I and II Sam. keep popping up.

  34. Dave Post author

    My favorite theology professor from Dallas Theological Seminary, Lanier Burns, sent me his list. Ezekiel now has two people who included it!

    1. Genesis

    2. Exodus

    3. Psalms

    4. Proverbs

    5. Isaiah

    6. Ezekiel

    7. Matthew

    8. John

    9. I Corinthians

    10. Colossians

    11. Hebrews

    12. James

  35. Allison Maurer

    My list:
    1. Psalms
    2. Romans
    3. Philippians
    4. Proverbs
    5. James
    6. I Corinthians
    7. II Corinthians
    8. Hebrews

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