Reading the Bible is important … and so is studying it. But do you know how to study the Bible?
Just as it’s important to read the Bible every day, it’s also vital to actually study the Bible.
What’s the difference between reading and studying?
Reading is … well, reading! Last year I read through the Bible again, and while it was good to take in the overall big picture, I didn’t get in-depth with any of it. Now that I read it from cover to cover again, I’m taking this year to study a few books. (I’ve been studying 1 Corinthians for the past three months, and will continue with 2 Corinthians once I finish.)
Studying the Bible is really digging into a small portion of Scripture until you can truly understand what is being said. You can pick out main themes from chapters. Significant verses will stand out. Because, unlike just reading through, you’re looking at the main ideas, the details, and every part.
Choosing a study method
You may choose to do a topical study and scour the Bible for all of the details. Or, you may choose to study a specific book of the Bible. It’s up to you, but both can be helpful.
Whichever you decide, there are several approaches you can take:
Listening to Bible teachers is incredibly helpful in your studying process – but make sure you cling to the truth of God’s Word and weigh everything you hear with that.
While Bible studies are available – and helpful! – it’s important to remember it’s one person’s interpretation of God’s inspired Word. The content and questions may be excellent – and they may help you truly understand the subject matter better – but the written study isn’t infallible.
If something in the study materials doesn’t sound quite right, keep studying the Word. Seek out answers in Scripture. Don’t stop until you know the biblical truth.
If your church offers Bible studies, you just may find that you’ll learn a lot while being part of a community of other believers. While you’ll be limited to study whatever topic or book of the Bible is being studied, you’ll also find a lot of accountability and get to hear the perspective from others.
Sometimes, you just need to experience community and accountability. You can get both – and study the Bible – through online Bible studies. This option can be helpful if you’re currently in a season of life where you can’t commit to an in-person study. (Kayse Pratt has outlined five great online study resources.)
Many believers enjoy study Bibles – they can help shed a different perspective or give definition to confusing passages.
Yet like the written studies, don’t completely bank on the interpretation. If you’re confused about a certain part of Scripture, try reading different versions of the Bible. Check with different commentators – but don’t solely rely on one person’s take.
The good thing about written studies and biblical commentaries is that biblical scholars and teachers are sharing their educated insight. They’ve studied the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic – they have a fantastic understand of the original flavor of the Scripture.
Your own study
Even though you’re (most likely) not a biblical scholar or commentator, you still can study the Bible on your own – without a written commentary.
A couple methods of Bible study are helpful in this form. I’ve been a huge fan of Precept Ministries’ Inductive Bible Study method – “Inductive” means the Bible is used as the primary source of study to learn about God and what the Bible teaches.
As of April 3, I’ve been working through my Inductive Study Bible for the past 20 years. It takes a while to complete a chapter, but through this method of study, I can remember the main theme of the books I’ve studied in the Bible. And by looking at my Bible, I can remember the themes of each chapter in the books I’ve studied. I’m almost finished with the New Testament – and I often wonder if it will take me 20 more years to finish the entire Bible.
Another method is the SOAK Method (Scripture/Observation/Application/Kneeling in Prayer) used by Good Morning Girls. While I haven’t used this particular method, I do know that using colors and symbols to dig into the Word is helpful – a similar technique is used in the inductive study method.
It may take a while to figure out which method helps you study the Bible. However you decide to study the Bible, the most important thing is finding ways to understand it, apply it to your life, and hide it in your heart.
How do you prefer to study the Bible?
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