I come across this question on a regular basis, pastor how do I study the Bible?
There are so many ways, and some methods are not as useful as those I recommend here. Of course they require time and hard work but after a little dig they are rewarding. I teach my students to be rich toward God, because the kingdom of God is like treasure hid in a field that you’ve to make a dig for if you’re to find out of scripture pearls of great price.
Methods of Bible Study
- Book Study
- Topical Study
- Biographical Study
A brief analysis of the above methods will show you why I preferred them.
Studying the Bible by individual books is the most difficult one because it’s thorough but yields the largest results when done. Don’t go for the longest ones first time but choose shorter book, for instance the first epistle of John is a good way to start or first Thessalonians. They’re easy to understand with no great difficulties of interpretation, doctrine or cross referencing. All you will need to do is to master the general content of the book. The choice for a long book will discourage you and eventually will give up.
When you dig for treasure you don’t just dig once but you do it several more times. Do the same when reading; read the book through without stopping several times in a single sitting. That way you will begin to see the book opening up and you grasp it as a whole.
I tell you what doesn’t work; it is reading a few verses at a time. Maybe the reason why the Ethiopian eunuch struggled. “He was reading Esaias…and the place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth…” (Acts 8:30-32). That method of study will lead you nowhere especially when you’re still a novice. Yet that’s what most of the believers do, verse by verse study! This method requires skill for you to ascertain the correct interpretation/meaning of the verse or passage of scripture.
So my first recommendation is that you read the book of your choice over and over again without stopping, and it’s important that you do it at a single sitting. When you’re ready to take notes then read again this time jotting down; who wrote the book, where it was written, when it was written, to whom it was written, reason or purpose for which it was written, etc.
Above I told you what I said doesn’t work; it’s trying to study the Bible the Ethiopian eunuch way, reading a few verses at a time. It’s the reason why there are so many false interpretations of the Bible today. But reading book by book is what relates you to what was in the mind of the author.
Verse by verse study of the book
What’s important is to first get the exact meaning of that verse, i.e., of the words used and of the verse itself. Look to see if there is another passage somewhere that gives another account of the same address to support and then ascertain correct meaning, ” that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Matthew 18:16
Topical Study is when you go through the Bible to find what it has to teach on a topic say godliness, righteousness or grace. This has advantages and disadvantages too. It’s a quick fix however a thorough knowledge of the Bible is not possible through method of study.
To be continued…