Have you ever found the idea of studying the bible to be a bit daunting? Have you ever thought to yourself, I really just don’t have time to do this and I don’t even know where to begin? If you have then hopefully this blog will give you the jumpstart you may need to get started. I have racked my brain thinking of all the different ways I have studied the bible over the last couple of years and also used a couple of resources to come up with this list that includes the simplest ways to the more in depth ways to study .
1. Read the Bible daily starting from Genesis and/or Matthews and go chapter by chapter.
I would recommend this tip for anyone who just got saved and may have never really been exposed to the bible in depth. Also, if you are just beginning to take the time to read the bible on your own outside of church, this would be a very good place to start for you as well.
2. Look up definitions of words.
If you read the King James Version like I do, then you probably understand how difficult it can be to sometimes understand the context in which a word is used or there is an older word being used that you’ve never seen before.
Definitions are really beneficial because when the KJV (or any other version) was translated they sometimes had to use one English word for several different Hebrew or Greek words because one word in English can have several different meanings.
Let’s take the word ‘strive’ used in the KJV for example. Strive is used in both 2 Timothy 2:5 and 2 Timothy 2:14.
2 Timothy 2:5 – And if a man also strive for masteries, yet he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
2 Timothy 2:14 – Of these things put them in rememberance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about with words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
Here you have the same word used in two different contexts based on two different definitions of that one word. The definition being used in 2 Tim 2:5 is “to make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard,” (Noah Webster. “strive” Def 1. Webster‘s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913+1828. Patrick Cassidy, n.d. Web.<http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters).
The definition being used in 2 Tim 2:14 is “to struggle in opposition; to be in contention or dispute; to contend; to contest,” (Noah Webster. “strive” Def 2. Webster‘s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913+1828. Patrick Cassidy, n.d. Web.<http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters). The only way to know which definition should be used is to keep the verse in the context it was written in which brings me to #3.
3. Keep verses and chapters in context.
In order to know what a verse of scripture is really talking about we have to keep it in the context of the chapter, and sometimes even the book of the Bible that we’re reading. It’s very easy to pull scriptures at random and make them mean what we want them to mean so to avoid doing that we must keep scriptures in context by reading the scriptures that come before and after. There’s a good example of this using Matthew 7:1 (ESV).
Matthew 7:1 – Judge not, that you be not judged.
A lot of times we just pull this scripture out and use it haphazardly whenever we feel like we’re being judged even a little bit. Someone can be telling us the truth and we just shut it down with “girl don’t be judgin’ me, the bible says don’t judge!”
That is absolutely true that the bible tells us not to judge, clearly, but what kind of judging was Jesus talking about when he made this statement? If we include the rest of the verses up to verse 5 that support verse 1, we’ll get the whole picture.
Matthew 7:1-5 – 1. Judge not, that you be not judged. 2. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4. Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5. You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
After putting verse 1 back in context and reading it with the other verses that support it we can see that Jesus was talking about hypocritical judging in this particular passage. To be hypocritical or commit hypocrisy is to claim to have moral standards or beliefs that your own behavior does not conform to or line up with (https://www.google.com/#q=hypocrisy+definition). Meaning, you’re busy looking at what your sister is doing and condemning her to hell for it and yet you’re doing the same thing but pretending that you aren‘t. The bible speaks of not engaging in this particular type of judging, not judging in general.
This is the perfect example of how taking scriptures out of the context in which they were written in can lead to the wrong interpretation. As stated before, this same concept can also apply to chapters in books of the bible as well.
4. Do an outline and/or a summary of what you read.
Your outline could include a main topic, a subtopic, and some key points or key verses that stood out to you and also support your topics. Doing a summary would be similar to doing an outline but should include more details.
5. Study the bible by subject.
In order to do this you would need a study bible of some sort that has a topical index, a concordance, or both. There are also concordances available that also include a topical index. The topical index is kind of like a pre-made outline of a topic. Let’s take the topic of forgiveness for example. In the topical index it gives you the definition of the word and then has subcategories about that topic, for example, subcategory A is about the synonyms of the word forgiveness and lists scriptures that feature the synonyms of the word forgiveness. Here is an example of a topical index,
A concordance on the other hand would list the scriptures that actually have the word forgiveness in it like this,
Studying the bible by subject can help you get a better understanding of certain topics or can be used to strengthen you in certain areas where you struggle. For example, if you struggle with lust then you can look up the scriptures that deal with lust and see where the bible stands on that topic and what you can do to align yourself with the word of God.
**Bonus – The most important thing to remember when studying the bible is that it is a spiritual book and we can’t understand it with our natural minds (1 Cor. 2:14). The only way we’re going to truly understand scripture is if our understanding is opened by the Holy Ghost. Because of this, the best thing to do before studying, or while studying, is to pray for wisdom and understanding.
James 1:5 – If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
I hope that these 5 Great Ways to study the bible will help you during your studies whether you’re just starting out or trying to dig deeper.
Givin’ It To You Straight,
Ephesians 4:25 – Put away lying, speak every [wo]man truth with [her] neighbor: for we are members one of another.
What are some ways that you have found helpful when studying the bible?