Studying the Bible can be powerful and meaningful, but also overwhelming. I realize that people can get very frustrated when they study the Bible. So, my blog today is about the different ways you can study the Bible effectively.
Studying the Bible is really not much different than reading it. You need to plan a regular time for it, have a favorite comfortable place to study at and pray before you start and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you insights to what you are reading.
The Bible is really one big story that has many shorter stories. The Bible has a grand narrative that helps us frame our interpretation and lead to a balanced theology. The big overall story helps us better understand the shorter stories.
In studying the Bible:
Get a Good Study Bible
If you have a favorite translation of the Bible, I would get a study Bible that has the same translation. A study Bible gives you some insight to key verses and sections. They also give you maps and some archaeological and background information, which can be very helpful.
You can start with Genesis, but that can be overwhelming. I would suggest, like reading the Bible, starting with the book of John. An even shorter, but powerful story, is found in 1 John. As you get more confidence and practice in your study, you could go to a longer book.
What does this text teach me about God?
What does this teach me about fallen humanity?
How does this text point to Christ? (John 5:39, Luke 24:25-27, 44-47)
What does God want me to Know?
How do I apply this to my life?
Understand the Background of the Book
Who wrote the book? When was it written? What is the overall theme of the book? What does the author want you to know? If you have a study Bible, most of this information is in the introduction of the book. I like to read through the outline of each book, which is also at the beginning of each book of the study Bible.
Use Multiple Commentaries
Studying the Bible and focusing on one verse, can get you to misinterpret what the author is trying to tell you and the original audience. Be sure to look at the verses before it and after it, to get the broader picture of the book or the chapter. Commentaries also give you great information about the context of the chapter and verses.
I have been studying and teaching the book of Isaiah. I find it helpful to print out the chapter that I am studying from Bible Gateway and break it down in sections. For some reason, printing it out and dividing it into sections helps me better understand the chapter.
Find a Study Partner
A great way to study the Bible is to join a small group or find another person to study the Bible with. This helps you be accountable and gives you someone that can share their insight as to what the particular scriptures mean.
Study by Topic
If you have a topic that you are drawn to, you can look up the topic online or in a concordance that has all the scriptures that pertains to that subject. When you study the Bible by topics, you can study real life concerns or subjects in the moment you need them. It’s amazing how much you can learn about the Bible by studying topics. For some it is the only way they study the Bible.
Study by Story or Character
The last way to study the Bible is by a particular story or by a character. If you heard someone talk about the Prophet Elijah, and wanted to know more, you can go to 1 Kings 17-19 and 2 Kings 1-2 and read all about him. Another way to really grasp the story is to verbally tell it after you have studied it. It’s amazing how much you retain after you tell a story to someone.
I hope this helps you with your study of the Bible.
Have a blessed day,
Questions? Contact Pastor Jim here.