How to Study the Bible

Do you know how to study the Bible? If you don’t, please know that you are not alone!

Do you think everyone else knows how to study the Bible? The truth is—most people have no idea where to begin. Sadly, some never do begin, and others go to a “Bible” bookstore and look for a book about the Bible. For instance, if they are told to study Romans, they buy a book about Romans. You cannot study a book about the Bible and know what the Bible says—you need to study the Bible itself!

Word Center Ministries is founded on, and grounded in, the WORD of GOD. We attempt to help people listen to God in His Word (the Bible) by Teaching them how to study the Bible itself and by giving them the tools needed to study the Bible for themselves.

The Bible should be read and studied for what it is—God’s Word to us. God gave His Word to us book by book, so we must read it and study it book by book. This means you should read the Bible verse by verse by verse through each book, finishing one book and moving on the next book, repeating this pattern book by book by book until you have read His entire Bible, 66 books altogether. And like any good book, you should read it over and over and over again.

The Bible is not an encyclopedia, although it has more information than one. Nor is the Bible a recipe book, although it gives you the Bread of Life. Therefore, you cannot read it like you would an encyclopedia or recipe book. You need to read it as a piece of literature, a Masterpiece, to be exact!

There is a common myth among people that the Bible is just too big to read—BUT THAT MYTH IS NOT TRUE AT ALL!!! Did you know that the Bible can be read aloud in 77 hours? That means you can read the Bible all the way through silently to yourself, and it will take less than 77 hours! This should give you an idea of how long it will take you each and every time you read the Bible all the way through. But don’t just read for 15 minutes here or there, you need to spend serious reading hours every week!

How is Studying Different than Reading?

Along with reading the Bible as literature, you should study it with all diligence. Therefore, along with your daily Bible reading you should be studying one book of the Bible, as well. It doesn’t matter which book. They are both important but they are different. Interestingly, you will read as you study and you will incorporate a little study as you read.

Reading a book of the Bible can be compared to listening to an audio tape from the beginning to the end attentively, only it is with your eyes and your mind instead of with your ears and your mind.

Studying a book of the Bible can be compared to listening to an audio tape all at one time (just like reading), but then rewinding it and listening to it again very slowly, stopping the tape constantly, rewinding again and again, taking careful notes, and asking many questions about what you hear. It may take many times of listening to the audio tape before you feel you really have a grasp of the whole tape. So, too, it will likely take many times of studying a book of the Bible before you truly have a good grasp on its message.

There are skills which can help you study. Sometimes these skills were learned when we were younger, but we have become lax in using them. In these cases, just a general reminder is all that is needed. If these skills are new to you, the important thing is to just try doing them. God will help you. He wants you to hear what He had said in the Bible.

One indispensable skill is learning how to OBSERVE the text of the Bible itself. We live such fast paced lives that we seldom sit down and observe anything with our full interest. When you observe a book of the Bible, you will need to give it your complete attention; it will take time and it will take effort. Observing is done best with a pencil in hand, writing down notes of what you see. You will see words and phrases that are repeated, lists, contrasts, comparisons, and many other types of categories.

Another essential part of Bible study is to CROSS-REFERENCE. Cross-referencing is letting Scripture interpret Scripture. You can take a verse that you are studying and find references to it, other verses in the Bible, that help you to understand its meaning. We do a little of that in Word Center Ministries' Observation Bible Study Guides, but it will be up to you to really do a good job of it.

Another extremely helpful Bible study tool is doing WORD STUDIES. This is to take the English word from your Bible and find out what Hebrew or Greek word was originally used in order to understand the intended meaning in a fuller way. (The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek and some Aramaic.) Again, we only do a small amount of word studies for you in Word Center Ministries' Observation Bible Study Guides, but the more you do, the better!

A study skill that without doubt is vitally important, is keeping each part of the Bible in its CONTEXT. The context is the environment in which the text dwells, i.e. the words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc. that surround the text you are studying. You cannot take a word, or a verse, or a chapter, or a book, or even a testament out of its context and expect to identify the correct meaning! You must let the context tell you what it means.

© Sharon Jensen 1999-2018