How to do a Bible study

How to do a Bible study

1.    Start your Bible study with prayer, asking that God would help you and illumine your mind during the time of “digging” into the Word. Come with a reverent attitude because it is God’s Word after all (Psa. 119:18).

2.    Select a passage of Scripture (paragraphs, chapter or context). It is usually best to read over the entire book first to get the big picture before getting into the details of the selected passage.

3.    Do some background study of the history about the book and about the time in which it was written. 

a.    Learn about the culture and society of the day.

b.    Learn about the customs and traditions.

c.    Study about the archaeology, geography, etc.

d.    In other words, immerse yourself as much as possible in the time. Do a little time travel.

e.    Recognize that the Bible was written over a long period of time. God slowly revealed His plan for how He was going to redeem-save a people for Himself. Remember too that the New Testament is built upon the Old Testament, but the Old is rightly interpreted by the New.

4.    Read over the selected text several times. Use different translations if you have them. Get the sense of what is going on.

5.   Do a syntax, grammar, and significant word study.

a.    Usually, unless you have adequate tools or a working knowledge of the original languages, this would be very difficult. Most tools are oriented toward understanding words (their definitions, etc.) The problem with this is that the context will most often determine the meaning of the word. Word are connected. One or two words will not determine theexact meaning of the text. 

b.    A significant word study is useful.

(1)  On the one hand, doing a word study can give you the color, tone, or a fuller sense of the passage. In this case it is very helpful. This, by the way is called hermeneutics

(a)  Study the meanings of the words by seeing what the Bible uses them to mean. For example, the word “sin” has many meanings and uses different terms in the original.

(b)  Study the use of the word(s) in the sentence.

(c)  Study the use of the verbs. This may have tremendous significance in some passages.

(2)   On the other hand, doing a word study can focus upon the meaning of the word with a disregard for the sentence, paragraph, chapter, and  book. Be careful to put too much stock into the meaning of a particular  word, especially when it has many different meanings or nuances. 

6.    Compare other passages of Scripture. This is called the analogy of faith. The true meaning of a passage will be in harmony with the meaning of the rest of the Bible.  As one Bible study helps has put it, “So although the believer is free to examine the Scripture for himself, HE IS NOT FREE TO EXPLAIN IT IN ANY WAY HE LIKES. He must only understand each part in the way in which it best agrees with all other parts. IT MUST BE A WRONG MEANING, IF NO OTHER PARTS OF SCRIPTURE AGREE WITH IT.

7.   Write down your findings and observations. What is this passage saying? How is it significant for the whole of the Bible? For the book? For my life? Organize your material and keep it in a notebook or file.

8.   Compare what others have said by using good commentaries, handbooks, and other resources such as what viable Christian traditions or church fathers have to offer.