When it comes to different ways to study the Bible, there is no one right answer. Many study techniques have been used for countless years. Each technique, no matter how different, lets you peer into the scriptures and sheds light on things you never would have noticed otherwise.
Some days when I read through a part of the Bible that I have read over countless times, I am struck with new meaning that had never occurred to me before. All this to say… I love finding new ways to study the scriptures and I am going to show you a few ways that I love to use as well as some I am looking forward to trying.
Here are four of the most used/well-known ways to study the Bible listed in the order of easiest to most hardcore!
Flipping to a book or chapter in the Bible is probably one of the easiest ways to just sit down and study. A Journaling Bible is super helpful when studying through a Chapter/Book of the bible.
Here are some of the most common books of the Bible to study and what they cover:
The Book of John goes through the life of Jesus. It is the last of the four Gospels to be written and contains elements of theology that others do not. Since it is written for both Jews and Gentiles, John tends to explain aspects of culture that happened back in Jesus’ day more in-depth than the other gospels.
If you are looking for a book that can help with your day to day life James is a great start! It contains so much wisdom on how we are to live our lives by faith.
Romans is thought to be one of the best books of the Bible for leading someone to Christ. The “Romans Road” as some call it, is great for showing someone the sin in their life and why they need repentance. It also goes through the Gospel in a cohesive way that is easy to understand and digest.
The Book of Joshua lays out the story of the Israelites inheriting their land. It shows God’s faithfulness to His people and His judgment to those who disobey.
Job is an amazing story of a man who loves God but endures many trials. (understatement much?!) This story gives you a new perspective on life and the goodness of God. Even though Job went through horrible things, he kept his faith and God blessed him for it.
Psalms was written by a few authors with King David (a man after God’s own heart) writing more than any other author. The Psalms have long been considered the prayer book of the Bible and teach us how to pray to God. What is most surprising about the book of Psalms is the variety of emotions that are shown including ones of anguish, joy, sorrow, and lament. It is a great book to study to learn how we should pray and be thankful even in the midst of trials.
Ephesians looks into the matter of Church and community as it answers some of these questions: What should the Church look like? How should we be acting as the Church of God?
As you can see, each book of the Bible contains its own unique message that we can learn from. It is amazing to see God’s love and plan laid out and how each book points to Christ. I love reading and going through books of the Bible and hope that you do too!
Topical studies are amazing when looking for a way to study the Bible. I once went to a Bible study that was going through the “Names of God” and it was so good! Each one of God’s names has its own meaning and it is so cool to see God’s heart/character through each name. Here are some tips on doing a topical study.
Think about your topic thoroughly and do your research. There are plenty of studies that you can get that people have written that are incredibly helpful. If you choose to do a topical study written by someone else make sure that the author is firm in their faith and has a good theological foundation. You may not agree with everything an author says but be aware of what the scriptures say and make sure to base any new ideas or revelations on the Bible. If you’re unsure about anything, consider reaching out to a pastor or spiritual mentor in your life.
*You may want to consider getting yourself a study Bible if you don’t already have one.
Some great topics to look into are:
- Fruits of the Spirit
- The Beatitudes
- Armor of God
Also if you have the YouVersion Bible app on your phone you can get countless little studies on various different topics to go through.
The W.O.R.D. method
W.O.R.D. stands for Write, Observe, Relevant and Declare. The WORD method is very similar to the Inductive Bible Study method that I will go into in the next section but it is not as detailed. Here’s how it works:
First, you will want to write out the verse or chapter you want to study. For instance, Matthew 2:1-2
Next, we will look at the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of the passage that you’re looking at.
Take a look at this passage from Matthew 2:1-2.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’”
Here’s what the Who, What, When, Where, and Why would look like for this passage.
|“Came from the east”
|“After Jesus was born… in the days of Herod the king”
|“Come to Worship Jesus”
Now ask yourself “How is this relevant to me today?” or “How should I now live knowing that this is true?”
And finally, declare. Pray and thank God for His word and ask him to help you live out what you have learned.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12
Inductive Bible Study
Inductive Bible study is one of the most in-depth studies you can do.
1. Observation – What does the passage say?
Like we did in the W.O.R.D. method begin by listing the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. While doing so try to notice other things.
- Repetitive words that show up in more than one passage
- Things that can be listed
- Topic or time change words
- Contrast words
- Cause and effect words
- What is going on with the people in the passage
- Names or cities that you notice
Take notes of all that you observe in a separate notebook. The key here is to take your time going through the scriptures and to read a passage over and over.
Once you feel like you have gotten everything out of the observation step take a few more minutes there. It is often when we think that we have dug as far as we can that we strike gold!
2. Interpretation – What is the meaning of the text?
During the Observation phase you are looking for anything that you can find that sticks out to you. Now it is time to interpret what the passage and author of the book are saying.
- Cultural/historical context
- Who the author is and what the deeper context of the message is.
- Other verses/versions of the Bible that will help to interpret.
- Assumptions you may be making.
- The clearest meaning of the text.
Make certain that you keep each verse in context and that you don’t make the verse say something that you want it to. The text is saying something a certain way for a reason. Make sure to understand the surface before digging into it too much. Try to keep an eye out for similar words or phrases. This is another technique that many authors use to convey emphasis. And remember to always use the Gospel as your foundation.
Pray and ask God for wisdom as you go through this phase. It is easy to take a passage out of context or to misinterpret it.
3. Application – What is my response going to be?
Now that you have finished the Observation and Interpretation of the passage it is time to put what you have learned into practice. We don’t study the scriptures for merely head knowledge; we need to use whatever we learn for the glory of God.
Use the questions from the Observation stage, Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How and apply what you have learned to your life.
Looking for more on Inductive Bible Study? Check out this article written by Logos on How to Do an Inductive Bible Study.
God’s word is full of life and truth. It is so important that we use it wisely and to the best of our abilities. I hope that as you use these ways to study the Bible that you will grow in a deeper knowledge and intimacy with God and the ones around you.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”Ephesians 1:17