Studying a book made up of ancient passages, parables and personal accounts can be overwhelming. After all, especially if you didn’t grow up reading the Bible, it can be a bit intimidating just to learn the lingo, not to mention understand the contextual settings of the ancient text and how to apply a passage’s meaning to modern life or how to interpret the Bible into today’s language. However, not studying the Bible, as a child of God, is not an option as it is our roadmap for life and one of our best tools for discerning God’s will. Thankfully, just like anything else in life, the more you practice it, the better you become at reading and understanding the Bible. To get started on the right foot, we have compiled the following helpful tips:
Learn Different Methods of Bible Study
There are many ways to address the issue of where to start in the Bible. There are various methods you can follow or even a Bible reading plan for beginners. The following are the most commonly noted methods to breaking down God’s word into easier to discern pieces:
By Gospel: This method has you studying the Bible by reading the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
By Biography: In this method, you will read biographically, exploring passages that pertain to various individuals’ stories, like those that feature Abraham, Joseph, Jacob or others.
By Verse: If you have ideologies that resonate with you in particular, you can use a keyword finder to look up specific verses pertaining to that ideology and try a verse by verse Bible Study method.
By Paragraph: This is also sometimes called the analytic Bible study method. You actually go through and analyze each passage, converting foreign or original language into our modern-day lingo or using your own words.
By Chapters: Though you can approach this in different ways, we recommend beginning this type of Bible study in the New Testament as these books and chapters are easier to interpret and contextualize.
How to Study The Bible: Helpful Tips
In addition to choosing a method of study, there are some additional tips that can make the process of regular Bible study more applicable to your daily life. They are as follows:
Tip #1: Grab a Partner
Yes, you can technically read your Bible alone, without anyone with you or coming along for the ride. However, we believe that having a partner can make a big difference in the quality of your Bible study experience. For example, you can bounce questions or ideas off each other to get through difficult passages or can serve as accountability for each other, so you aren’t tempted to quit reading when the going gets tough.
Tip #2: Map Your Bible
The next tip for beginning a Bible reading plan or studying the Bible is to map out your Bible. Just as you would before leaving on a trip back in the day using an atlas. Create a roadmap, a travel plan, to take in the most Bible possible. We recommend John as a good place to start, as it is traditionally easy to understand and is one of the most beloved gospels. It doesn’t matter if you want to read the Bible in chronological order or not, though, as simply having a plan and sticking to it can keep you from becoming distracted or giving up.
Tip #3: Keep a Journal
Sometimes, Bible verses use language that makes them difficult to interpret or to apply to your modern life. However, keeping a journal and writing out these difficult passages can give you more discernment and help you make sense of something that might seem confusing. For example, you can write down specific words within a passage that you don’t understand their original meaning, then look up what the word would have meant in the original Greek or Hebrew. After discovering this and then writing it all out, you will likely be able to make much more sense of the passage than before.
Tip #4: Self-Reflect
Hebrews 4:12 describes God's word as being alive. The passage begins— “For the word of God is alive and active.” This means in essence that we as believers can read the same passage twice and get two different messages from it. In other words, God speaks to what’s going on in our lives through His word, personalizing his broader message to meet us where we are. It's looking at the Bible through a self-reflecting lens that allows us to hear the message God is telling us through His word.
Tip #5: Stay Organized
Use a highlighter, post-it notes or other type of coding system to save passages that you want to look at deeper in the future. Really study the Bible and all that it entails. Group several types of passages together that all are teaching the same lesson or mark passages you want to revisit in the future. Think of how you would “study” for a test in an academic setting, breaking the study material down to get a good grasp of the topic, so you can pass a test on that subject. In the same way, break the Bible down into easy-to-discern pieces that you can memorize and learn. All this is possible when you stay organized.
Tip #6: Keep at it, Make it a Habit
Finally, the last tip we can give you on beginning to study the Bible is to keep at it. Don’t be surprised if some days it’s simply hard to keep reading. This is especially true when you are trudging through some difficult Old Testament passages. On those days, ask yourself what the passage is saying about the nature of God. Learn this and move on, remaining faithful to your Bible study routine.
Bottom Line: It’s Never Too Late to Start Studying The Bible
Whether you are a brand-new believer or have been a Christian for decades, beginning a Bible study is always a good idea. In fact, it is never too late to get into this worthwhile habit. Consider purchasing Christian products from Love in Faith to encourage you to keep going on your journey.