I hear often, “I know I need to study the Bible, but I just don’t know how to get started.” That is a very logical complaint. Let’s be honest: the Bible is a fairly large book with a lot of material in it! We often hear those who have studied the Bible their entire lives say, “I still study because there’s something left to master.” That is great, but for one trying to start studying, it can be a bit discouraging.
The major step is starting, but how? There are many different ways to study the Bible. I want to share 5 with you that require little, if any, materials other than a Bible and something to take notes with. Choose one and start there.
1. With a telescope. Study the Bible from an overview perspective. What is the overall message of God’s Word? What are its major themes? How does it all piece together? The class I teach on Sunday mornings is beginning a series on the chronology of the Bible. It may not be an in-depth study, but it should help us all get a good overview of the message of God’s Book. A lot of good background materials on the Bible can be found online for free. Ask the same questions of the Bible that you would for any other book (theme, author, purpose, etc.) and makes notes.
2. Book by book. Once you have a decent knowledge of the overall message of God’s Word, select a book you want to know more about. (May I suggest, for your first one, that you select an easier or more familiar book? Don’t start out with Romans, Ezekiel, or Revelation!) Check your church library or online for a good commentary to help you, but make your own notes! Read and reread and re-reread the text. Ask what you want to know more about, then study that passage in greater depth. You’ll probably be amazed how many notes you take and what a great resource they become when you return to study that book later! (One further suggestion. If you are just starting out, select a shorter book like First Timothy. You’ll be more likely to finish and that will motivate you to move on to another book.)
3. By topic. Why do we baptize for remission of sins? Why do we worship on Sunday? What was involved in the Passover? These are questions that can be studied topically. Select a topic or issue you want to know more about and start finding every passage that speaks to that topic. Some online tools can help, as can a work such asNave’s Topical Bible. Start a notebook and write what you want most to learn and to gain from this study. Then dig deeply!
4. By personality. When you read Ruth are you moved by Naomi? Do you want to be more like Daniel? Does one of the apostles touch your life in a special way? Then study that life! Use an online concordance and print out a list of every time that person’s name appears in Scripture (just be sure that, if you are studying Joseph, for example, you know which Joseph!). Then read and study those passages. What did that person do well? What was the motivation in that person’s life? Where did they fail? Whom did they influence? (By the way, study the lives of some who weren’t so “positive,” too, and it will add depth to your Bible knowledge.)
5. By word study. Honestly, this may be the most difficult, but it is often the most rewarding. What makes studying words difficult is that it takes a lot of digging to get at the original meaning. What does “atonement” mean? What does the Bible mean when it speaks of “mercy”? What is “sanctification?” How does the Bible define “love”? Find all you can find about these words and you’ll have a richer experience the next time you see them in Scripture.
What methods or tips would you give?
-Adam Faughn lives in Hermitage, TN and preaches for the Lebanon Road Church of Christ