Basics of Bible Study
It is one thing to hear someone tell you, “Bible study is beneficial and you should study your Bible daily.” However, when you factor in children, jobs, house cleaning, cooking, yard work, recreation, school etc. finding time to effectively study your Bible may seem next to impossible. Let us consider the following suggestions to help aid in a daily study of God’s word.
Be methodical in your studies. Choose a time each day when you can consistently study God’s word. Studying God’s word each day may mean that you wake up 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later each night. Work to keep to the same schedule each day. Use a notebook for taking notes and recording lessons learned from your study.
Decide between a book and chapter study or a topical study. Here are some suggestions to consider for a book and chapter study.
- As we said earlier, establish a regular study pattern.
- Pick a Bible book or chapter to study. If this is your first time setting aside time for a daily Bible study, consider studying through one of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- Start at the beginning of the book or chapter.
- Establish the writer of the book, to whom the book was written, and the purpose of the book.
- Keep each passage and verse within its own context. Do not try to make a phrase, statement or verse fit a meaning to which the context does not point.
- Recognize the difference between figurative language and literal language. (This ability will develop the more you exercise your ability to study the Bible.)
- To help understand a particular word and how it is used in the context, use a Bible word dictionary or different translation. Regarding different translations, I would recommend the following: New King James Version, English Standard Version, King James Version, American Standard Version, New American Standard Version, and the English Standard Version.
- Take notes to help you remember key points and passages. These key points and passages will help you to better understand the purpose of the book or chapter.
Here are some suggestions for a topical study:
- Establish a regular study pattern.
- Pick a topic which has caught your interest, a topic about which you would like to learn.
- Using either a Bible concordance or a topical Bible, begin to research the topic.
- Examine each verse referred to by the concordance or the topical bible to make sure the passage fits a context that addresses the topic in question. (I have found topical Bibles, while very useful, will at times incorrectly assign a passage to a given topic.)
- Recognize the difference between figurative language and literal language. (Again, this ability will grow the more you study the Bible.)
- Make a list of each verse in the topical study as well as its surrounding context. (For instance, a listed verse may mention “baptism”; however, the context of the discussion may begin two or three verses earlier.)
- Study each verse and its context in detail.
- Write a summary of all the verses you studied. Keep the summary and the list of verses for later study. It may be that you will find more verses or passages later that will fit the same topic.
There are a few other important points to remember when you study your Bible. Try to determine who is speaking or writing. Was the speaker inspired or was the record inspired? For instance, the words spoken by Pharaoh to Moses were not inspired by God. However, Moses’ accounts of Pharaoh’s conversations were inspired.
Regarding commentaries, some can be helpful in guiding you to a better understanding of a given passage. However, keep in mind commentaries often contain speculation and opinions of man. Commentaries can either set you ahead or set you pack in your studies of God’s word.
It is my prayer you have found these suggestions beneficial. Above all, study God’s word. If these suggestions help in your endeavor to learn God’s word, then to God be the glory.