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6 Ways (& 9 Tips) to Study Your Bible

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Remember that huge Bible concordance we all had back in the 70s? That was my study buddy. Oh, and the little dictionary at the back of my Bible, that was my buddy too! After lugging these books to the kitchen table I’d pour over the words for hours on end, humming along to my Amy Grant record, while trying to formulate some kind of study with the few books I had.

Every Christian I knew had the same three books: The Strong‘s Concordance, a Matthew Henry‘s Commentary, and a black leather Bible with their name foil-stamped in gold on the front.

Just after I met my husband I found out he was a bookbinder who could foil stamp all of my Bibles for free.

“You can recover them in genuine leather AND foil stamp my name on the front? What time can you pick me up?” 😉

Some girls bring home doctors, lawyers, and dentists to meet their parents. I brought home the foil stamper for their stamp of approval. And did they ever approve! 30 foil stamped Bibles later, they were still approving of this amazing man.

I digress. Bible study has come a long way since the 70s. With a few simple clicks, we’ve got an abundance of resources at our disposal. Bibles, commentaries, concordances, maps, dictionaries, Hebrew and Greek translations, videos, and the list goes on…

Even with all of this modern technology, some people are still asking the questions, Where do I begin? How do I study the Bible? And, how can I effectively use these resources? I’m glad that people are asking, and some days I’m asking too. It means that we’re hungry for the Word and we’re seeking to rightly divide scripture.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

I’m going to answer these questions by providing you with 6 ways to study the Bible, a list of Bible study tips, and some of my favorite resources. Before you dive into any one of these methods, however, stop and pray, asking God to guide you according to His wisdom. Ask Him to open your heart to His Word.

SIX WAYS TO STUDY THE BIBLE

    1. A Study Bible
      I started out with Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, which I think is the one tool that has taught me the most. The Bible is jam-packed with side notes, cross-references, and Hebrew/Greek translations. I read slowly, taking in all of his notes. I’ve loved this Bible for the 20 years I’ve had it. It’s still my favorite because of the volume of information he provides but some of his notes are theories, which is important to keep in mind. Another great study Bible is John MacArthur’s. My husband loves that one. In fact, he has an entire set of John’s commentary books that he’s been collecting for a few years. What’s your favorite? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
    2. Commentary Study
      With over 50 free commentaries online, my go-to commentary is Matthew Henry’s. You can either study the complete version or the concise version, which is a shorter version. Read a portion of the Bible, read the commentary notes, read another portion of the Bible, read the commentary notes… Commentary study is slow but in-depth. It helps you gain a deeper understanding, which is especially helpful if you are a new Christian. If that is the case, then I urge you to start with someone like Matthew Henry to ensure that you are staying on the right track.
    3. Bible Study Journals
      I offer several Bible study journals through my website, that help you to dig into the Word. The journals provide thought-provoking questions that help to guide you along. While the journals are in-depth, they’re easy to understand, which makes for an exciting Bible study time. Esther, Philippians, and Romans are just a few of my favorites!
    4. Journaling
      Sit down with your Bible and a notepad. Take notes as you’re reading along. Some notes will simply be your understanding of the scripture, and other notes will be different areas of scripture that God has directed you to. Say for example you are studying Matthew chapter one and you come to the genealogy of Christ. You might skip over to Joshua chapter 2 and add a note about Rehab. As you are studying Matthew chapter 26 and you come to the word, “Passover,” you might want to take some notes from the Old Testament regarding the biblical feasts.

    5. The SOAK Method
      This is a method of study that I learned from my friend Courtney at Women Living Well. Courtney explains both the SOAK method and how to use her Bible coloring chart in this short video.
      SOAK is an acronym that stands for:
      S – Scripture
      O – Observation
      A – Application
      K – Kneeling in Prayer
    6. The Expansion Study
      This method of study is similar to the journaling method, but rather than simply journaling thoughts, you’re expanding on ideas and truth as the Holy Spirit moves you. It could very well be labeled differently by other Bible scholars, but I just refer to it as expanding on my studies. Challenge yourself to expand on the scripture you’re reading by stopping to think and dig deeper–much deeper. Here’s an example. Say you are reading the book of Matthew and you come to chapter 4. You see that Jesus was fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. You might stop reading this to do a short study on fasting to see what else the Bible says about it or maybe you’re more led to look at the number 40. Once you get some background information on that topic, return to the book of Matthew and keep reading. What pops out next? Where is God leading you? Verse 16 of the same chapter talks about darkness and light. Why does that theme keep popping up in the Bible? What does God want us to know? Expand on thoughts like that and you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of the Word. Also, learn to expand on background information such as location, tradition, and people. Stories like the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) and The Woman at the Well (John 4) take on a deeper meaning when we understand the historical relationship between the Samaritans and the Jews. Likewise, the story of Ruth takes on a deeper meaning when we understand where she came from and how her people were in conflict with the Jews.

9 BIBLE STUDY TIPS

Now I’m going to give you some tips that will help to both direct and to narrow your focus. Before I do that, however, I’d like to share this piece of scripture with you, which is a beautiful reminder to study the Word and keep God’s commandments.

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. – Proverbs 3:1-6

Pay attention to the last part of that scripture. It’s a reminder to trust in the wisdom of God, which is fundamental when studying His Word. In order to understand Who God is, we must accept Who He is whether that meets our preconceived ideas or not. When we lean on our own understanding, we’re not leaning on Him. But when we acknowledge Him and trust in His wisdom we allow Him to lead.

  • Rather than studying small bits of scripture such as a verse or a paragraph here and there, study one book of the Bible at a time.
  • Spend time in the Word daily. It’s not only important to know the Word, it’s important to spend time with our Lord. Make time for Him.
  • When possible, try reading an entire book in one sitting to gain a complete overview of the message. Most of us don’t realize how short these books really are. In fact, it only takes about an hour to read through the entire book of Job, and about 20 minutes to read the book of Ruth. Wondering how this might fit into an in-depth study? Read the book through once, then return to it for an in-depth look.
  • Always keep a pen and paper handy when you are reading the Bible or listening in church. You never know what God will bring to your attention.
  • If you are new to the Bible, start by reading the book of John, the book of Romans, and then move on to Philippians.
  • Tune into an audio Bible when you are washing dishes or driving (as long as you’re not too distracted).
  • Want to know what Bible translations I recommend? Here are three of them: The King James Version, English Standard Version, and The New International Version (which is a bit easier to understand).
  • Find a study buddy, or better yet a small group that you can get together with to share the Word. Study buddies are a great source of encouragement and strength.
  • Study scripture in context. Consider what one verse says in the context of its book, and in the context of the entire Bible. R.C. Sproule writes, “We must not set one passage of Scripture against another passage. Each text must be understood not only in light of its immediate context but also in light of the context of the whole of Scripture.”

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

 


WORDS TO LIVE BY

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:20-21

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. – Psalm 119:11

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12


RELATED RESOURCES

10 Bible Study Hacks for Beginners – A Little R & R

Visit my page for a large selection of online Bible studies:
https://timewarpwife.com/bible-study-links-and-updates/

These are my favorite online Bible study tools!
Bible Gateway – Every version you can imagine is online
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
Looking for an easier commentary? Here’s the Concise Version
Other commentaries you might prefer
Interlinear Bible – I love this one!
Blue Letter Bible – Dig into the Hebrew and Greek
Bible Word Search


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darlene Schacht and her husband Michael live in Manitoba Canada where the summers are beautiful and the winters are cold. Together they’ve come to learn that relationships aren’t always easy, but that marriage, the way God intended it to be, is a treasure worth fighting for.

She began her publishing journey about twelve years ago when she pioneered one of the first online magazines for Christian women, known at the time as “Christian Women Online Magazine.” After three years, Darlene left CWO to blog as a solo author at Time-Warp Wife Ministries.

It was also during this transition that she worked alongside actress Candace Cameron Bure to write the NYT Best-Selling book, Reshaping it All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical FitnessReshaping it All was the winner of both the 2011 USA Best Book Awards and the 2012 Christian Reading Retailers Choice Awards.

Author of more than 15 books, Darlene continues to write and to minister to her readers through her blog at TimeWarpWife.com.

Connect with Darlene:

Facebook: @timewarpwife
Instagram: @biblestudiesforwomen
Pinterest: @timewarpwife
Twitter: @timewarpwife


 

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