HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE
The Bible is a large book. To many people it is so large they do not know where to begin. Parts of the Bible are very difficult to understand. Other parts are very easy to read and study. If you are not a Bible student, how do I study the Bible?
I have been asked many times to help people learn how to study the Bible. Let me try to answer questions like: Which translation should I use? What tools will I need? What are some methods of Bible study? Where do I begin?
Which translation should I use? The first question that I am often asked is, "Which translation should I use?" The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. Since most of us cannot read these languages, we must read the Word of God as it is translated into our language.
Some translations are very old. They are accurate in the translation, but over a period of years, words will change their meaning. This will make the old translation more difficult to understand.
I do not claim to be an expert in Biblical languages. But relying on those who are scholars in this field – I can tell you that there are some Good, some OK, some bad translations.
Find a translation that is easy to read and understand. If you can read it, you will study it more often. If it is hard to read or understand, you will become discouraged. This will cause you to read it less.
Use a “standard” translation – done by a broad base of scholars rather than one man. Use one that has been around several years so there are helps available.
Do not make a rule that one translation is superior to all the rest. All have some problem at some point.
What tools will I need? There are really three tools need as you begin. There are many others that can be added as your study takes you deeper.
1 A good study Bible. Some may have a smaller, lighter, easier to carry Bible, which they bring to worship. What is needed for Bible Study is a good “study” Bible. This means a Bible that includes some of the extra helps. I would look for a Bible with some (or most) of the following:
An introduction to each book of the Bible.
Some easy to read maps.
A concordance of at least 75 pages.
Center references (some are not center, they are under each verse).
A small Bible dictionary is also helpful.
My recommendation – Thompson Chain Reference.
There are several other study Bibles with some notes and brief commentaries. I must caution that some of these contain false teachings. Be cautious.
2 A complete concordance. Some Bibles include a small concordance. These are not complete. There are two complete concordances on the market – Strong’s and Young’s. Both are good, complete concordances. The drawback is that both are based on the KJV. There are some good (though not complete) concordances for other standard versions. Cruden's is also a good (almost) complete concordance.
3 A notebook. You will want to keep your personal thoughts, observations and applications in a notebook. Later we will discuss some ways to organize this notebook.
If you have a computer
– GET A GOOD BIBLE
PROGRAM. There are several – Quick Verse, PC Study Bible, Logos, among the best
ones. These programs range from under $100 up to $350. Even the lowest priced
programs include maps, Strong’s concordance, Greek and Hebrew word meanings,
advanced word and phrase searches. All of these programs contain several
versions of the Bible and several standard commentaries. I use a FREE program –
What are some methods of Bible study? The third question I want to discuss is: What are some ways to study the Bible? Let me offer several ways to study this book from God.
One way to study the Bible is to read an entire book. Read the book of Mark or Galatians. Read the whole book and understand the big picture. Before we can understand each sentence, we must learn what the whole book is about.
Another way to study the Bible is a chapter a day. Each day read a chapter. Spend a few minutes thinking about the contents of your reading. You might want to make some notes. Write down the ideas in this chapter. If you can summarize the chapter, you can explain it to someone else.
One method of study is to begin with Matthew or Acts and read a few verses at a time. Read them. Think about them. Understand them. Think about what these verses say to you. Ask yourself some questions like: What is this passage saying? Can I explain what it says to another person? What does this passage tell me to do?
You may want to study by topic or subject matter . I will be giving you some ways to study a series of topics for a year. One topic each week for a year can be studied. The second year, you can return to your notes, and study the same topic in greater detail.
Another method is doing word studies. I will share with you some ways to do an in-depth word study even when you do not know Greek or Hebrew. This is very easy with a computer program, but can be done with Strong’s Concordance.
God has given us this book to explain how we can live and obey Him. He wants us to understand. It is not impossible. We can understand the Bible. But, it will take some time. It will take thought. It will require prayer for wisdom and knowledge.
I realize that the Bible is new to many of you. I know that you have not had the opportunity to read and understand the teachings of the New Testament. It will take time. If you work at it a little each day, you will learn much.
Where do I begin? If you are not familiar with the Bible let me suggest some places to begin. You can begin with the story of Jesus. The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell about the life and teachings of Jesus.
Another place to begin is the book of Acts. This book tells about the early Christians. It teaches us what they did to be saved form sin. It tells about the church and how they worshiped. The book of Acts teaches us about salvation. It tells us how Christians can work together.
The first book in the Old Testament is also a good place to begin. It tells of the creation of the world. It tells us how sin came into the world and how God planned to send Jesus to save us from sin.
METHODS FOR PERSONAL BIBLE STUDY
Many would like to develop a habit for daily Bible study. There are several obstacles to this.
The Bible is a big book. It is so large that many do not know where to begin.
Life is too busy. I don’t have time to study the Bible.
I can’t remember. When I do study the Bible, I soon forget what I have learned.
I don’t have the books I need. Many think that they need a large library of books like a preacher has to study the Bible.
In this study we will seek to answer the following questions:
How can I study the Bible alone? (methods)
Where do I begin? (Topical study or book)
Methods - Time and Periods of Study
1. Here is a simple plan – that works
Daily 15 minutes of "Quiet time" – Here are the simple rules to follow
Daily – (almost) – There will be exceptions
Same time of day – early morning, mid-day, bedtime
Same location – desk, kitchen table
Use a good study Bible
Keep a notebook (binder or spiral)
Keep all things at this location – Not need to hunt paper, or pen
Remove distractions – TV, radio, people
Limit to 15 minutes – not longer (burnout), not shorter (lack
[You can set a timer if you need to. When it goes off – stop!]
2. Here is the basic plan for your daily study:
Begin with a short prayer.
Study the Bible for 10 minutes.
We will discuss topics, books, or materials later
Review – make notes – 2 minutes
Develop a prayer list – Pray specifically for those on the list.
3. Travel time study
Use the cassette tape player in your car (Bible reading, sermons)
Think about the material heard. Make mental notes.
On break for lunch – record your notes
Pray (with your eyes open)
4. Suggestions for a "Topic-A-Week" Study
Here are 52 topics about which you can study, learn, grow and pray. This is designed to last a year. You may find that you would like to stay several weeks on one topic. Another idea is to study each topic for a week and the following year use your notes and study the same topic at a new level of intensity. There is a progression in the material. It will require some searching and study.
1. Promises of God at baptism
2. New Testament concept of sainthood
3. How to know that we have eternal life
6. The holiness of God
7. The grace of God
Prayer (Speaking to God)
8. The need to pray
9. What to pray about
10. Suggestions for a quiet time
Bible Study (God speaking to us)
11. The importance of Bible study
12. Learning basic Bible divisions
13. The Old and New Testaments
14. The trinity
15. Jesus: fully God
16. Jesus: fully man
17. Jesus: Lord and Savior
18. Jesus: example and guide
19. The Spirit: Who is He?
20. The Fruit of the Spirit
21. The Gift of the Spirit
22. Marks of being filled with the Spirit
23. Who is he and what does he do?
24. Principles for battling Satan
25. The nature and purpose of the church
27. Your importance to the church
28. Restoration Movement and the church
29. The urgency of evangelism
30. The plan of salvation
31. How to reach and teach the lost
32. Love one another
33. Encourage and build up each other
34. Accept, bear, forgive one another
35. Freedom and relationships to one another
36. The dangers of money
37. The Christian use of money
38. The blessings of giving
39. Husbands, love your wives
40. Wives, submit to your husbands
41. Children, obey your parents
42. Parents, teach your children
Work and Recreation
43. Motives for work
44. Employer and employee relationships
45. Recreation and leisure
46. Response to civic and religious authority
47. Proper use of the tongue
48. Proper use of the body and mind
49. Dealing with sin
50. Don't fall away
51. Be ready for the second coming
52. Press on toward maturity
1] Power for Today - 20th Century Christian
2] Computer e-mail devotionals available
B. Bible Reading
1] "One-Year Bible"
2] Many plans are available
1] Willard Conchin – fill-in workbooks
2] George DeHoff "Christian Doctrine" series
1] Use Concordance, Bible Dictionary, Vine's
a] Concordance- Strong's or Young's
b] Dictionary- Davis' or Smith's
c] Vine's Expository Dictionary
a] General- Johnson's Notes
b] On a specific book
3] Sermon tapes
4] Book study, Church History, Family, Marriage
E. Write-Your-Own Commentary
1] Decide on a book in the Bible
2] Buy a note book
3] Make notes for each verse
1] Bible on computer
2] With note taking ability
3] Study and make notes
G. Book-By-Book, Verse-By-Verse
1] Begin with simple material - John or Acts
2] Do not start with Romans, Revelation or Hebrews
H. Write Class Materials
1] Sub-divide the topic or book into 13 sections
2] Decide on method of study
3] Target an age group- Adult, Teens, Primary
4] Read, study, and write the material
I. Word study
1] Use a concordance to find all locations of the word
2] Locate all variations of the word
3] Look up the Greek or Hebrew word – for various translations
4] Study the context of each passage
5] Use Vine's Expository Dictionary – (You do not need to know Greek)