The Bible Study Guide below explains some of the Simple & Effective Steps for Studying the Holy Book. Although we all share different beliefs when it comes to religion, it is important to thoroughly read the Bible. Especially, as the chosen and so-called to serve Christians.
But simply reading the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible. Of course, Yes! The Divine Word of God deserves respect and ought to be understood and practiced. And that’s why the Bible itself gives strong affirmation that Bible study is essential for our spiritual growth.
Important to realize, the Bible is one of the most misinterpreted books ever written, and most people can find it very hard to understand. Above all, the Bible records a long time of history. Including many cultures and ages, as well as relating and correlating to any modern era.
In general, the Bible is translated from the original manuscripts in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic by reputable scholars. And the goal of studying the Bible is to understand the message in the correct context.
With this in mind, if you struggle with where to start with your Bible reading, this article can help. In addition to how often to read your Bible and how much to read in one sitting. Or even, how to get things out of it (apply it to your life/practice it).
What is the Purpose of Bible Study?
In Christian communities, Bible study is the study of the Bible by ordinary people as a personal religious or spiritual practice. Whereby, some Religious Denominations may call this Devotion or Devotional Acts. However, in other Denominations, the word Devotion has other meanings.
The Bible is God’s divine revelation to His creation through the Holy Spirit. Although through nature we can know that there is God, through Scripture we can know God. Even more, through Bible study coupled with a devoted life of prayer, we can personally know God and grow in our relationship with Him.
Please note the difference between simply knowing about God and personally knowing God. There are some Bible scholars who know more about God than some of the strongest believers. But, they’re agnostic—that is, nonbelievers!
Basically, Bible study in this sense is distinct from biblical studies, (which is a formal academic discipline). And, though there may exist some form of worship and prayer, the purpose of Bible study is to collectively grasp an understanding of God.
Particularly, through His Word where these study groups become small communities. Often, sharing their personal journey to discovering the meaning of the passage.
Which are the Bible Study steps?
One of the noblest pursuits a child of God can embark upon is to get to know and understand God better.
And the best way we can accomplish this is to look carefully at the book He has written, the Bible. Above all, which communicates who He is and His plan for mankind.
Bearing in mind, there are a number of ways we can study the Bible. But, one of the most effective and simple approaches to reading and understanding God’s Word involves five simple steps:
- Observations: What does the passage say?
- Asking questions & Interpretations: On one hand, ask yourself: Who, What, Where, When? On the other hand, What does the passage mean?
- Applications: What am I going to do about what the passage says and means?
When one is examining a portion of Scripture, there are three steps that both Bible students and scholars employ to study the Bible properly.
In other words, these steps must be in sequential order and are known as observations—which is recognizing details—questions & interpretations—which is making sense of those details—and applications—which is putting to use what we have learned.
It is important to keep to the order given, and include all three steps.
How are Bible Study Observations done?
Observation is the first and most important step in how to study the Bible.
As you read the Bible text, you need to look carefully at what is said, and how it is said. Look for:
- Terms, not words: Words can have many meanings, but terms are words used in a specific way in a specific context. (For instance, the word trunk could apply to a tree, a car, or a storage box. However, when you read, “That tree has a very large trunk,” you know exactly what the word means, which makes it a term.)
- Structure: If you look at your Bible, you will see that the text has units called paragraphs (indented or marked ¶). A paragraph is a complete unit of thought. You can discover the content of the author’s message by noting and understanding each paragraph unit.
- Emphasis: The amount of space or the number of chapters or verses devoted to a specific topic will reveal the importance of that topic (for example, note the emphasis of Romans 9 and Psalms 119).
- Repetition: This is another way an author demonstrates that something is important. One reading of 1 Corinthians 13, where the author uses the word “love” nine times in only 13 verses, communicates to us that love is the focal point of these 13 verses.
Pay close attention, for example, to certain relationships that appear in the text.
How do you Conduct further Observations?
The Bible is literature, and the three main types of literature in the Bible are discourse (the epistles), prose (Old Testament history), and poetry (the Psalms).
Considering the type of literature makes a great deal of difference when you read and interpret the Scriptures.
- Cause-and-effect: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).
- Ifs and thens: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Questions and answers: “Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty” (Psalms 24:8).
- Comparisons and contrasts: For example, “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21).
The authors had a particular reason or burden for writing each passage, chapter, and book. Be sure you notice the mood or tone or urgency of the writing.
How are Bible Study Questions Answered?
- Who are the people in this passage?
- What is happening in this passage?
- Where is this story taking place?
- When in time (of day, of the year, in history) is it?
Asking these four “Wh” questions can help you notice terms and identify the atmosphere.
The answers will also enable you to use your imagination to recreate the scene you’re reading about.
As you answer the “Wh” questions and imagine the event, you’ll probably come up with some questions of your own.
Asking those additional questions for understanding will help to build a bridge between observation (the first step) and interpretation (the second step) of the Bible study process.
What does Bible Study Interpretation mean?
Interpretation is discovering the meaning of a passage, the author’s main thought or idea.
Answering the questions that arise during observation will help you in the process of interpretation.
Furthermore, five clues (called “the five C’s”) can help you determine the author’s main point(s):
- Bible Study Context: You can answer 75 percent of your questions about a passage when you read the text. Reading the text involves looking at the near context (the verse immediately before and after) as well as the far context (the paragraph or the chapter that precedes and/or follows the passage you’re studying).
- Cross References: Let Scripture interpret Scripture. That is, let other passages in the Bible shed light on the passage you are looking at. At the same time, be careful not to assume that the same word or phrase in two different passages means the same thing.
- Bible Study Culture: As a matter of fact, long ago was the Bible written. So whenever interpreting it, we need its understanding from the writers’ cultural context.
How is the Conclusive Application made?
Eventually, the application is why we study the Bible. Whereas, we want our lives to change, be obedient to God and to grow more like Jesus Christ.
After we have observed a passage and interpreted or understood it to the best of our ability, we must then apply its truth to our own life.
You’ll want to ask the following questions of every passage of Scripture you study. Like, how;
- does the revealed truth affect my relationship with God?
- is the said truth affecting my relationship with others?
- does that truth affect me?
- is the truth affecting my response to the enemy, Satan?
As can be seen, by simply answering these questions, the application step is not yet complete. And the key is putting into practice what God has taught you in your study.
Having answered your questions for understanding by means of context, cross-reference, and culture, you can make a preliminary statement of the passage’s meaning.
Always remember, if your passage consists of more than one paragraph, the author may be presenting more than one thought or idea. Moreover, reading books known as commentaries, which are written by Bible scholars, can help you interpret Scripture.
I have yet to meet a believer who claims that they should not engage in Bible Study. However, there are those of us who make an array of excuses for not doing so! Some claim that Bible study is too difficult, too time-consuming, and sometimes, too tedious.
Those who either openly or secretly claim this, are more than content to leave Bible study to pastors and theologians. However, without actively studying Scripture, how is any believer in Christ able to grow closer to God?
It is likely the case that if one is not studying Scripture, they are not seeking God diligently in prayer either. Also, what happens when a believer faces a great trial in their life, and their pastor. And whom they have entrusted with the task of knowing Scripture for them— is unavailable?
Just as a soldier needs to be well acquainted with their weapons, gear, tactics, and training regimens, Christians need to be deeply involved.
Especially, in studying the Bible for the sake of both spiritual growth and protection. We have discussed the importance of Bible Study and the Best Steps to do it.
But, we’ve not given a working definition of the term. To enumerate, Bible Study is not merely reading Scripture, but examining it in light of its overall context. After all, which should ideally extend to every detail of the text.
Although at any given moment you cannot be consciously applying everything you’re learning in Bible study, you can be consciously applying something. And when you work on applying a truth to your life, God will bless your efforts by, as noted earlier, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ.
I hope the above-revised guide on Bible Study was useful. But, if you’ll have more additional contributions, suggestions or even questions, please Contact Us.
Finally, let’s know how we can help by simply sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments box. Finally, below are more useful and related topic links;
- What is the Meaning of Being Youthful?
- What’s the Meaning of a Personal Bible study?
- Why should Christians Pray and Meditate?
- What Exactly is Bible Study? – Word of Life
- Meaning of Reassurance Beyond Our Understanding