How to Study the Bible
Ways in which we can study the Bible
We can study the Bible in many different ways. Rick Warren’s 12 Bible StudyMethods lists a number of ways to study the Bible in addition to the following:
Devotional Bible study
Every Christian should read the Bible as part of their personal devotional time.When you read the Bible as part of your devotional time, read slowly and stop to think about things that impress you. Devotional Bible study should be coupled with prayer.
Using a concordance, check the number of times a word is referenced in theBible. If you have a Greek-English Bible dictionary or Hebrew-English Bible dictionary,you can see what Greek or Hebrew word was behind different instances of an Englishword. If you don’t have these resources, the Amplified Bible provides an expandedtranslation that gives more insight into the traditional reading.
Observation, interpretation, and application
The first thing people often ask themselves when reading the Bible is, “What doesthis mean?” The problem in answering this question is that we often interpret Scriptureaccording to our own background (21
century, culture, Christian tradition) withoutconsidering what the author intended or what the intended audience read into thatScripture.For example, when we read Jeremiah’ prophesies we need to understand that Godwas warning the Israelites and other nations through Jeremiah. Only after we understandwho was talking, who the audience was, and what the issues were, can we properlyinterpret the Scripture to mean something for ourselves.There are three steps we should follow in order to properly read a portion of Scripture. Taken together, these steps are the
method of Bible study:1.
This is evidence-gathering. First, we need to know something about thecontext of the passage. If you have a study Bible, you can get this by reading theintroduction to the Book. That will usually tell you the author, date, audience, and purpose of the writing. Next, read the passages before and after the particular part you are focusingon. Try to understand for yourself what is going on. Who is talking to whom? What isthe author trying to say? Ask the questions
who, what, when, where, why,
.Read the particular passage in question. Note the words that stand out for you,using a separate piece of notepaper, if needed. Is there a turning point to the passage?What words are repeated? What are the metaphors or themes used? (For example: awayward wife, a courtroom scene, a shepherd and his flock, a master and his slaves, afield or harvest, etc.) Why are those themes used—what is the key characteristic thatis conveyed?