Study the Bible

Study the Bible

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4

Here are some Bible study tips and methods to help you learn how to study the Word of God.

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Introduction – Why Study the Bible

Building a stronger relationship with God is probably the most important thing you can do with your whole entire life. And there’s no better way to help you improve you relation with God than to dig into what he has revealed to us through his Holy Word. God is communicating with us. Since the dawn of creation, he had us in mind and planned to speak to us via His Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1

Just think for a minute; God our infinite creator of time, space, the universe and earth wants to talk to us. There are things we wants us to know. Of course there are things we’ll never understand until we are joined back with Him. But he has already given us more than we need to know through the Bible. The Bible is God’s revelation to us, which is plenty reason for us to study his every word. Yes, the Bible can provide us with a simple message of our separation from him and his redemption to brings us back to him. But the Bible is so deep that even the most popular theologians are baffled the deeper they dig. And the deeper we dig, and the more we apply what we learn, the closer we get to God.

I rather lead one soul to Christ than to unpick all the mysteries of the Bible – Charles Spurgeon

Obviously Spurgeon knew that it would take more than a lifetime to understand all the Bible has to offer. Have you noticed that when you read a Bible passage in a different context or different time in your life, it reveals something completely different? Or maybe you’ve read a verse and always thought it meant one ting, but heard it later in a sermon expounded on and it had a completely different meaning.  These are reasons why you can never get bored reading the Bible and why you must study it to understand it fully.

So now that we understand that the Bible is God’s Word and that we need to study it to get closer to Him, below are some tips and suggestions when it comes to studying the Bible.

Remember That It’s the Word of God

You must always apply basic laws of grammatical and literary construction & interpretation when reading the Bible. Otherwise you can make anything mean what you want it to mean and completely miss the whole message.  But never forget the true author of the Book.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 1 Timothy 3:16-17

So study it as it is, the Word of God. Here are some tips to help you with that.

  • What is God revealing to you? – There’s a reason you are reading the Bible and there’s a reason what you are reading was written.
  • Acceptance and submission to its teachings – Don’t come to your study thinking you already know what it means or that it can’t teach you anything. it’s coming from God, so it should put you in your place. Embrace what is being taught to you. Accept it and submit to it.
  • Believe the His Promises – Rely on his promises no matter how hard it is to believe. God cannot lie. He keeps His promises. He has put “His riches in glory” at your disposal. (Phi 4:19)
  • Obedience – If your read something that convicts you or a command, follow it. God’s commands are but signboards that mark the road to present success and blessedness and to eternal glory. God knows what’s best for you better than you.(Hebrews 4:13)
  • Study as if it’s God speaking directly to you – Imagine sitting before God telling you about History, the future and everything He has in store for you. Wouldn’t you be all ears, remembering everything he says? Every hour thus spent in Bible study will be an hour’s walk and talk with God.
  • Study it prayerfully – Converse with God. Each time you open the Bible to study it for however long you do, ask God to give you the open and discerning eye, and expect Him to do it. Before and after.
  • Jesus is Throughout the Word – Look for “the things concerning Christ” “in all the Scriptures.” Christ is everywhere in the Bible (Lu 24:27). Be on the lookout for Him and mark His presence when you find it!
  • Store away the Scripture in your mind and heart – It will keep you from sin (Ps 119:11), from false doctrine (Acts 20:29-30, 32; 2 Ti 3:13-15), it will fill you heart with joy (Jer 15:16), and peace (Ps 85:8), it will give you the victory over the Evil One (1 Jo 2:14), it will give you power in prayer (John 15:7), it will make you wiser than the aged and your enemies (Ps 119:98, 100, 130) it will make you “complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16, 17).

Eat It. Chew It. Digest It.

God pronounces that man is blessed when he “meditates” on the law (Word of God) “day and night” (Ps 1:2-3)

“Your words were found and I ate them” – Jeremiah 15:16a

Nothing is more important in eating than chewing. Chewing helps with digestion. Every stage is needed in order to get fed and the nutrition found in your food. So like natural food which we cannot live on alone (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4), we must satisfy our souls with God’s Word daily. Here are some ways to fuel you soul with the bread of life.

  • Dedicate daily – Make the decision that you are going to read the Bible daily. Rather it’s for 15 minutes or 2 hours, you can do it. Many have claimed that the best time of the day is in the mornings.
  • Dedicate certain amount time – Discipline yourself to give God a certain amount o time every time you dig into the Word. Of course the more time you put into it, the better.
  • Study, don’t skim – Don’t just read the Bible to make progress or to cover ground. It would be better to read a chapter for all it’s worth than to read 5 chapters and close the book without putting any thought into what you just read. Every Word in the Bible has some value, or purpose, find it. When you come across a term you don’t understand, a city you never heard of, or person that interests you, learn more about it, either through context, cross referencing or commentary.
  • Take Notes – Journalling what you’ve read will help your mind soak it in. It will help you to explain to others, and when you come across others passages in the Bible, you’ll find yourself cross referencing with your own Bible notes.
  • Improve spare moments – We always have spare moments in our day, rather it’s while riding on the trolley, waiting for a friend, waiting for food to heat up, etc. These are all good times to read some scripture or to ponder on what you’ve read recently.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while reading the Bible

  • What does this verse mean? What is the author really saying?
  • What does it mean for me? How does it apply to me?
  • Is that really all it means? Could it mean more than that?

+ If there are any important words in the verse weigh them, look up other passages where they are used, and try to get their full significance.

Types of Bible Study

Topical Bible Study

Take up the various subjects contained in the Bible. Go through the Bible studying each subject one by one. The topical method of Bible study is the simplest and most fascinating way to study, yielding the largest immediate results. Though topical Bible study is extremely effective, it should not be the only method of study because you can still miss out on much of the blessings of the Bible.

Topical Bible Study was Mr. Moody’s favorite method of Bible study…

Mr. Moody once gave several days to the study of “Grace”; When he had finished he was so full of the subject that he rushed out on the street and going up to the first man he met he said: “Do you know anything about Grace?” “Grace who?” the man asked. “The Grace of God that bringeth salvation.” And then Mr. Moody poured out upon that man the rich treasures he had dug out of the Word of God.

It’s important to learn all that God has to say about any given subject. The only way to know all God has to say on any subject is to go through the Bible on that subject. Here are some tips to remember when performing topical Bible study;

  • Decide on your topic (See R.A. Torrey Suggestions Below)
  • List all of the terms related to that topic – For example, say the subject is prayer. You’ll go through the Bible reading all the passages that mention “pray”, “call”, “cry”, “intercession”, “ask”, “prayer”, etc. As you study the Bible you’ll find that the Bible could use other terms you didn’t think of, as well.
  • Have a concordance – This will help you find all the verse saying any particular terms quickly. I recommend The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
  •  Use a topical guide – Read what other great minds have to say on the subject, so that you can learn a lot about the subject in a few hours, days or weeks instead of months or years. I recommend Nave’s Topical Bible & The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible
  • Be ready to cross reference – Be prepared to flip pages. You’re going to learn where each book of the Bible is located. Have some bookmarks ready too.
  • Learn everything you can about the subject. – Don’t be one-sided or only accept what you want. Examine the contrasts, why there is debate, possible misinterpretations, etc.

4 Great Topical Bible Study Suggestions from Rev. R. A. Torrey;

#1 Be systematic. Do not take up subjects for study at random. Have a carefully prepared list of the subjects you wish to know about, and need to know about, and take them up one by one, in order. If you do not do this, the probability is that you will have a few pet topics and will be studying these over and over until you get to be a crank about them, and possibly a nuisance. You will know much about these subjects, but about many other subjects equally important you will know nothing. You will be a one-sided Christian.

#2 Be thorough. When you take up a subject do not be content to study a few passages on this subject, but find just as far as possible every passage in the Bible on this subject. If you find the Textbook incomplete make additions of your own to it.

#3 Be exact. Find the exact meaning of every passage given in the Textbook on any subject. The way to do this is simple. In the first place note the exact words used. In the next place get the exact meaning of the words used. This is done by finding how the word is used in the Bible. The Bible usage of the word is not always the common use of today. For example, the Bible use of the words “sanctification” and “justification” is not the same as the common use. Then notice what goes before and what comes after the verse. This will oftentimes settle the meaning of a verse when it appears doubtful. Finally see if there are any parallel passages. The meaning of many of the most difficult passages in the Bible is made perfectly plain by some other passages that throws light upon them. Then parallel passages are given in the margin of a good reference Bible and still more fully in The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, a volume worthy of a place in the library of every Bible student.

#4 Arrange the results of your topical study in an orderly way and write them down. One should constantly use pen and paper in Bible study. When one has gone through the Textbook on any subject, he will have a large amount of material, but he will want to get it into usable shape. The various passages given on any topic in the Textbook are classified, but the classification is not always just the one best adapted to our individual use. Take for example the subject “Prayer.” The classification of texts in the topic is very suggestive, but a better one for some purposes would be:

  • Who Can Pray so that God Will Hear?
  • To Whom to Pray.
  • For Whom to Pray.
  • When to Pray.
  • For what to Pray.
  • How to Pray.
  • Where to Pray.
  • Hindrances to Prayer.
  • The Results of Prayer.

The passages given in the Textbook would come under these heads. It is well to make a trial division of the subject before taking up the individual passages given and to arrange each passage as we take it up under the appropriate head. We may have to add to the divisions with which we began as we find new passages. The best classification of passages for any individual is the one he makes for himself, although he will get helpful suggestions from others.

There are some subjects that every Christian should study and study as soon as possible. We give a list of these:

    • The Atonement (of the Blood of Christ)
    • Justification
    • The New Birth
    • Adoption
    • Sanctification
    • Holiness
    • Assurance
    • The Flesh
    • Cleansing Faith
    • Repentance
    • Prayer
    • Thanksgiving
    • Praise
    • Love:
      • To God
      • To Jesus Christ
      • To Christians
      • To all men
    • The Future Destiny of Believers
    • The Future Destiny of the Wicked:
      • Punishment of the Wicked
      • Death of the Wicked
    • The Character of Christ
    • The Resurrection of Christ
    • The Ascension of Christ
    • The Second Coming of Christ:
      • The fact, the manner, the purpose, the results, the time
    • The Reign of Christ
    • The Holy Spirit
      • Who and what He is
      • His Work
    • God.
      • His Attributes and Work
    • Grace
    • Messianic Prophecies
    • The Church
    • The Jews
    • Joy
    • The Judgment
    • Life
    • Peace
    • Perfection
    • Persecution

Chapter by Chapter Bible Study

Study the bible by chapters or sections. This is a great way to study the Bible because you are focused on a given passage and have it set in your head that you are going to read it for all that it has to offer. Dedicating your time to one section will help you understand different verses more fully and in ways you could never have if just reading through the Bible with something like a daily ‘read the Bible in a year‘ reading plan. Here are some tips for chapter by chapter Bible study;

  • Read the chapter 5 times; 1 time aloud and maybe even read it in a couple different Bible versions
  • Study sections of each chapter based on headings.
  • Identify leading facts of each chapter – Location, time, settings, purpose, recipients, etc
  • Make note of each person mentioned in chapter & a note on each.
  • Aim to figure out the principle lesson of the chapter
  • Aim to figure out the central truth of the chapter
  • Identify at least 1 key verse of the chapter, or your favorite verse.
  • Name the chapter – What would you title that chapter
  • Find subjects for further study. What was the chapter about? Are there any other references to that subject in other chapters or books of the Bible?
  • Identify strong words for further topical study. (IE: atone, faith, regenerated, sacrifice, etc)
  • What definite thing have you resolved to do as a result of studying the chapter? What are you going to do now that you’ve read that chapter?

 

R.A. Torrey’s Bible by Chapters Tip:

Divide the chapters into their natural divisions and find headings for them that describe in the most striking way their contents. For example, suppose the chapter studied is 1 John 5. You might divide in this way:

  • The Believer’s Noble Parentage (1 John 5, verses 1-3)
  • The Believer’s Glorious Victory (verses 4,5)
  • The Believer’s Sure Ground of Faith (verses 6-10)
  • The Believer’s Priceless Possession (verses 11,12)
  • The Believer’s Blessed Assurance (verse 13)
  • The Believer’s Unquestioning Confidence (verses 14,15)
  • The Believer’s Great Power and Responsibility (verses 16,17)
  • The Believer’s Perfect Security (verses 18,19)
  • The Believer’s Precious Knowledge (verse 20)
  • The Believer’s Constant Duty (verse 21)

Book by Book Bible Study

Maybe you want to study the Bible, book by book, and you told yourself that you are going to read a particular book in the Bible until you feel you’ve learned all that that book has to offer. This is an awesome way to study the Bible because you’ve committed to an individual book no matter how long it takes. When studying book by book, you should have in your head that you want to understand this book so well that you’ll be a scholar on it. An “expert on the Book of…”. Here are some tips to help you digest individual books of the Bible

  • Learn About the Author – Who wrote the book? 
  • Location – Where was the author when writing the book? Where do the stories in this book take place?
  • Timing – During what time does the stories of the book take place? When was the book written?
  • Setting/Surroundings – What was going on politically or socially during the times of this book?
  • Situation – What’s the book about? What going on?
  • References to other books – Does the author reference other books of the Bible?
  • Purpose of Book – Why did the author write this book?
  • Who was the book written for/to?
  • How does this book apply to you?
  • Is the book a continuation of a story from a book prior? Or does the story go on beyond the book?

These are all very important questions to ask yourself before reading and while reading any book of the Bible. Many of these things are hard to catch if you aren’t dissecting every line of the book. And if you are a beginner, you may have to have some commentary handy. In fact, I recommend always having commentary or study notes handy. By time you are done reading a book of the Bible, you should have plenty of notes and an outline of what you read. Something like this (with notes for each section);

  1. Introduction – About the Book/Author
  2. Galatians – Introductions
  3. False Teaching Confronted
  4. Paul’s Gospel
  5. Faith Versus Law – Galatians 3:1-14
  6. Further Contrasts – Galatians 3:15-4:31
  7. Christian Freedom – Galatians 5:1-13
  8. Christian Liberty in Action – Galatians 5 and 6

Bible Study Resources:

Bible Study Tools:

Recommended Books:
  • How to Study the Bible by Robert West
  • How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur
  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee Stuart
  • Experience Your Bible by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell
  • Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy Zuck
  • The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne
  • Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation by Henry Virkler
  • Out of Context: How to Avoid Misinterpreting the Bible by Richard Schultz