10 Tips to Help You Study the Bible
It seems like everyone you ask will give you a different recommendation on how to study the Bible. Studying the Bible is a lot more than just reading the Bible. If Bible reading is like raking the lawn and collecting leaves, Bible study is like digging for diamonds and God desires for us to do both.
When we study the Bible, we are on a quest for meaning and understanding. The goal in studying the Bible is not just to understand the passage in the correct context but to apply it to our lives. Here are some tips to help you study the Bible.
- Make a Plan - Set aside a time and a quiet place to study. You are more likely to have a successful time in God’s Word if you schedule time out of your busy day. You may want to develop a plan of what you want to read each day in a calendar. Having a plan excites you to discover what you learn from God's Word for that day; it will also keep you organized, keeping track of what passages you have covered and what lessons you have learnt from each.
- Get a good study Bible – Choose a good translation to use during your study. You should select from translations as opposed to simple paraphrases, as this makes sure you are reading the originally translated text not a commentator's interpretation. Two Bibles that are often quoted in our Bible studies are HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. By Zondervan Bible Publishing House and THE HOLY BIBLE , NEW LIVING TRANSLATION by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc
- Study the Bible with an attitude of prayer - This should be the first step in understanding the Bible. Bible study should be approached with a prayerful desire to learn. Discipline yourself to be with the Word. The Bible will come alive for you. It is spiritual food.
- Pray - Ask God to help you understand His Word before you even begin. Don’t get microscopic on specific passages, but look at the entire Word in content. Always ensure that your understanding of a passage fits with the entire doctrine of the Bible (which is God's Redemption Plan of Salvation, 2 John 1:7-10); any revelation you get that does not fit the doctrine of Jesus alone must be discarded.
- Focus on the New Testament first. Though the New Testament compliments the Old, and the Old compliments the New, it is better to read the New Testament first if you are a novice. The Old Testament will make better sense if you read the New Testament first.
- Consider reading John first - It's best to start with the Gospel of John, as it's the easiest Gospel to read. It identifies who Jesus really is, and prepares you for the other three gospels. Read 3 chapters per day. Concentrate on your reading. and be patient.
- Use a Notebook or Note Pages - We have provided Bible Study Sheets that you can print out and use during your study time to help you assimilate what God is speaking to you through the passages. (click here to download sheets from our site)
One of the most effective and simple approaches to reading and understanding God’s Word involves three basic principles:
Observation (What is God saying) Interpretation (What does the passage mean to me personally) Application (How can I implement it in my life?) As you use the Bible Study Sheets you can incorporate the 5 Biblical Purposes, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Evangelism and Worship into your Bible study experience.
We have marked each section with icons.
Connecting (Fellowship) – Connect with God’s Word. What passages are you going to study? Growing (Discipleship) – Observation what is God saying? Developing (Ministry) – Interpretation is discovering the meaning of a passage. What does the passage say to you personally? Sharing (Evangelism) – Application is why we study the Bible. We want our lives to change. We want to be obedient and to grow more like Jesus Christ. After the observation and interpretation, we must examine ourselves and ask God how He wants us to apply the truth in our own life. Prayer & Surrender (Worship) – God is most pleased by a heart that is truly His. It is through prayer that we surrender our hearts and lives to God for him to transform us.
- Alternate with a Professionally Prepared Study - After you have read through the Gospel of John, consider doing the Deepening Life Together Video Bible Study on John. Click here to look preview a video segment. Click here to look inside the guide.
After you have studied a passage you may find it helpful to follow-up your study of a book with a published Bible Study by a reputable author, pastor or Bible scholar. The Deepening Life Together studies include commentaries from scholars from reputable institutions and seminaries. The books of the Bible studies include, Acts, Ephesians, Romans, Revelation, Ruth, Psalms, and James.
- Pick out topics to study. A topical study is very different than a book study or a chapter study. The subject index of most Bibles have specific areas of study. Once you have found an interesting topic, you begin by doing a rough read through the verses. This will give you a general oversight of what the verses have to say. For example: salvation, obedience, sin, etc. There are several topical studies available on our website: Promises of God, Fruit of the Spirit, Sermon on the Mount, and Praying God’s Way.
- Share what you have learned with others – After completing your own analysis and have consulted a Bible commentary or professionally prepared Bible study for additional insight, seek out other believers to share and discuss your insights and application. You can invite a small group of friends or neighbors to come to your home for a time of sharing or to start a small group.