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How to Write a Bible Study Lesson

2 Timothy 4:13
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls,
especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need
to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

In 2 Timothy 4:13, the Bible records an intimate detail of Paul’s life. As he waits
in prison for his sentence to be handed down, Paul asks Timothy to bring his scrolls and
parchments to him. Even at the end of his life, as he faced death, Paul appreciated the
power, comfort, and wisdom that could be drawn from the well of scripture.
When we write a Bible study lesson or teaching, we draw from the same source as
Paul did. And although we are not inspired in the same way as Paul, God can use us to
communicate His truth in a way that inspires, convicts, and sets people free.
This guide offers one approach to putting together a short Bible lesson that is
based on a particular passage of scripture. You can use this guide to prepare expository
teaching for one-on-one discipleship, small group Bible study, caregroup lessons, or
sermons.

Step 1 – Prepare
In order to speak the words of God, we need to hear from Him first! By praying
and reading His word daily, we learn to listen to God more effectively.

Immerse yourself in scripture


It’s very important for those who write Bible lessons to read the Bible on a
regular basis. How can you write a Bible lesson if you don’t know what’s in there? Bible
concordances and online helps are good, but cannot substitute for the word that is stored
in our hearts. As we read the Bible regularly, we store up treasures in our hearts. Later
on, when we encounter different situations, the Holy Spirit helps us apply those scriptures
to the circumstance.
When we read the Bible, we should read full chapters or whole books, if possible.
If you have a study Bible or commentary, read the introduction to the book. By
understanding the context of a certain passage, we can avoid misinterpretation.

Learn from the Holy Spirit through life experiences


We should be thinking about what God is speaking to us about the things we
observe or experience. These messages are the source of good Bible teaching.
In your everyday life, watch what is going on spiritually. Check with God
continually about your relationship with Him. God’s word is living and active, and judges
our thoughts and actions. What is God’s word that is stored up in your heart saying to
you? Are you being selfish? Does He want you to do something, or not do something? By
asking, listening, and obeying, we learn to hear the voice of God.
Step 2 – Pick a passage
You should choose a passage that inspires you or expresses what you’ve learned
from the Holy Spirit. To make sure the passage is really applicable to what you have in
mind, it’s important to read cross-references (the small end-notes at the end of paragraphs
in some Bibles).
Basing your lesson on a single passage of scripture is called an expository
approach. This type of lesson ensures that people are grounded in the Word of God.

Study tools
The following are some good Bible study tools you can use when writing a caregroup
lesson:
• Study Bible – A good study Bible will help you understand the background and
setting of a book or chapter. It will also help you find other scriptures with the
same theme.
• Different translations (paraphrase and literal) – It’s helpful to reference
different Bible translations to get a full meaning of a passage. The Living Bible
or The New Living Translation are good thought-for-thought translations that
may make the meaning of a passage more clear in the lesson.
• Bible commentary – Bible commentaries are written by scholars or preachers to
explain the meaning of the Bible verse by verse. Some are good, but some are
bad. It’s very important to pick the right ones. You can find very good classical
commentaries online written by men like Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke.
• Expository dictionary – W.E. Vine’s Greek Dictionary lists New Testament
words along with the different Greek words used in the original and their
meaning. For example, the dictionary will list where the word “power” is used as
a noun throughout the New Testament, and show the six different Greek nouns
that are translated as “power”: dunamis, exousia, ischus, kratos, dunaton, and,
arche. This book is widely available in book stores and also freely available on
the Web.
• Concordance or biblegateway.com – A concordance lists all the times that a
word is used throughout the Bible. You can use this to find verses that you have
in mind or to do a survey of what the Bible says on a particular topic.
Biblegateway.com does the same thing, but is more powerful because you can
search two or more words at the same time.

Step 3 – Study the passage


You need to study the passage to make sure you’re reading it in the proper
context. Generally, the scripture cannot mean something the author never intended or the
original audience would not have understood. To make sure you’re interpreting and
applying the scripture correctly, use the inductive Bible study method:
• Observe the who and what of the passage. Who are the characters involved? Who
is speaking and who is the audience? What words are repeated, and what parables,
figures of speech, or illustrations are used? Historical context can be learned
through the book introduction in a study Bible, a commentary, or Bible
dictionary.
• Interpret the why of the passage. What is the occasion of the writing? What was
the intention of the author, and how would have the historical audience
understood the passage? What was the message to the historical audience? Do
your interpretations line up with other scripture?
• Apply the interpretation to here and now. What does this mean for us? Are there
contemporary examples or personal experiences with which we can draw
parallels?

Step 4 – Plan the lesson


Plan the time - Now that you’re sure of the scripture you want to focus on, plan
the lesson to make sure it fits into the appropriate timeframe. If the subject is too large,
you might need to split the lesson up into two or more pieces. Don’t try to fit too much
into a single session. Sometimes people learn better when brought back to the same
subject after a period to think about it.
Remember that if you writing a one-on-one or caregroup lesson, you need to leave
time for discussion!
Plan the message – Think about what it is that you really want to get across. If
this is the appropriate scripture, you may be able to pull teaching points from the
scripture itself. You can use the verse-by-verse exposition as an outline for your teaching.
You can also choose teaching points that are not apparent in the scripture, but
nevertheless make sense.
One example might be 2 Timothy 2:3-7. In this case, you could talk about what
Paul is trying to communicate by bringing up the examples of a soldier, athlete, and
hardworking farmer. These talking points can give structure to your lesson.
You should also reference other scriptures that more fully explain and support
your point. Even if you do not cite these explicitly in your lesson, you should have these
supporting scriptures in mind. Remember that it takes time to stop and read other
scriptures, so plan to read these sparingly—maybe just one or two supporting scriptures
for each point in a caregroup lesson, for example.
Plan some illustrations – Your lesson needs some examples and illustrations to
make it more interesting and relevant. People learn by short stories and illustrations, and
even Jesus often used parables to teach. Before getting into the meat of the lesson, you
can tell a story or ask a question that frames the topic in people’s minds. Use recent news
events or other things that are relevant to people’s everyday lives, or use an example from
your own life.
Plan discussion questions – If you are writing a one-on-one or caregroup lesson,
you should plan discussion points for each point. These should be open-ended questions
related to the point you are teaching. The best caregroup teaching is teaching through
discussion. You should guide the group’s learning with good questions.
– One-on-one teaching – Although these lessons can be taught lecture style,
the teacher will need to closely observe the reactions of the student and
ask questions to make sure they understand or have anything to say.
– Small group – The best way to teach a small group is through discussion.
Use scripture and questions to let the group discover the application
themselves.
– Preaching – You should include both teaching and life application, along
with relevant examples.
Conclusion
Teaching the Bible is a very important task that is worth the time and energy
spent studying and preparing. The goal of our caregroup lesson should be to change lives,
not simply imparting knowledge. When we correctly handle the word of truth, we can
have a tremendous impact for the Kingdom of God.