How To Study The Bible Effectively

You want to study the bible but you are probably asking yourself how do I do it? Where do I start from? What do I need? Well, read on as we give you some tips to help you start the journey of studying to show yourself approved (see 2 Tim 2:15).

First, get some tools. There are 5 basic tools that we believe every believer should have access to – a study bible, concordance, bible dictionary, commentaries and a note pad. A study bible has more information than a regular one. It gives background of the books, some commentary and maps of places including journeys taken by certain people. A concordance alphabetically lists bible words and all passages where they have been used. There are special codes against the words that refer to the translated Hebrew or Greek word in the concordance because sometimes the same English translation is used for different words in the original text. You can use these codes to check actual definitions in the bible dictionary. For example, ‘word’ in English is translated from 2 Greek words (logos and rhema) which have different codes and you must know which one is used in a verse to clearly understand what is meant. Bible commentaries contain interpretations of scripture written by renowned bible scholars and can give very useful insight during your personal study. The good thing is that you do not need to buy hardcopies, although some people choose to get a hardcopy study bible. You can get them all in some instances for free with a quick search of playstore or App store.

Decide what you want to study and the approach. Here are 6 approaches. You don’t have to stick to one all the time; change the approach to fit what you are studying at any time to make it fun. You don’t want your study time to be boring.

  1. Devotional – Select a short portion of your Bible and prayerfully meditate on it until the Holy Spirit shows you a way to apply the truth to your life. Write out a personal application.
  2. Character quality – Choose a character quality you would like to work on in your life and study what the Bible says about it. For example, if anger issues is what you want to work on you can start by finding “anger” in your concordance and associated bible references to check out in your study.
  3. Topical – This is a good way of setting biblical standards that you hold yourself to based on God’s word. Collect and compare all the verses you can find on a particular topic (e.g. love, again a concordance is useful here). Organize your conclusions into an outline and you even can share this another person.
  4. Verse study – This method is very good for memorising favourite verses and even entire passages of scripture. Select a verse, write it down and examine it in detail by asking questions and finding cross-references. In other to understand the verse and context you might have to read the verse just before and after your selected verse.
  5. Chapter analysis – If you came across a chapter that focuses on a very important issue, this is one way to study it. Master the contents of a chapter of a book of the Bible by taking an in-depth look at each verse in that chapter. Take each verse apart word by word, observing every detail.
  6. Book survey – Survey an entire book of the Bible by reading it through several times to get a general overview of its subject matter. Study the background of the book and make notes on its contents. If you are a new believer, it is recommended you start with the book of John. Bible experts describe this book as a “read this first” label because it focuses on Jesus in the light of His divine nature. Plus, a book like Proverbs is full of wisdom and caution for life that you certainly need to get into at some point.

Pick a suitable time and environment. Some people find personal bible study most effective in the early hours of the morning. You may want to explore what works best for you but keep in mind your goal is to give God your attention so try to avoid periods when you are likely to have a divided attention or are too tired to focus. It is important to remove anything that will distract you especially phones. Some people decide to put their phones on silent and out of sight for the period of bible study.

The study process. Begin every study session with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and have a willingness to learn. Follow through these steps:

  1. Read over the bible passage(s) a few times. At least 3 times.
  2. Take time to pause and think and interrogate the word (ask questions). This allows the Holy Spirit to answer our questions and open us to understanding. It is important to also ask what God is telling you specifically, perhaps about a situation or season you find yourself in.
  3. Write – A summary of what you read, what the Holy Spirit was teaching you. Write down your questions and nagging thoughts, include answers that you received if any. Also write down what you want to apply.
  4. Share something. If you are not sure who to share with then share it with the world on a social media post. You never know who needs that insight. And remember to end with prayer, thanking God and asking the Holy Spirit to continue ministering to you on what you have just studied.

Now that you know how to do it, take a bold step. It is a journey that will evolve with time so do not worry if everything seems new to you. Allow God to lead you into His word and transform you through the scriptures.