Tips for Bible Study
Approaching the Word of God can be daunting. Some are immediately discouraged by the size, complexity, or vocabulary. Take heart! The Word of God is not difficult with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The guidance of your church leadership and other believers can prove helpful, too.
Here are a few tips that have assisted us in our personal walk with God:
Find a helpful translation. Some translations can be a little rigid to the original languages, which can prove helpful for longer studies on particular verses and words. Other translations are a little more fluid. They can be much easier to read, though it sacrifices some of their usefulness in more concentrated studies. A resource for choosing a translation can be found here: http://www.notjustanotherbook.com/biblecomparison.htm
Pray before/after you read. It’s a profitable habit.
You don’t have to start in Genesis. You may want to try the book of John (the 43rd book of the Bible).
Try to write. Whether in a notebook or in the margins, we have found it helpful to write down observations and thoughts for further study.
Be consistent. Try to set a daily time when you can read and pray.
Your interest level is not necessarily proportional to how much you’re learning. In other words, sometimes reading the Bible doesn’t always feel fun, but God is working in you regardless.
Use other study tools. The three C’s can be helpful in studying a particular passage. Concordances, Cross-references, and Commentaries are available in many copies of the Bible.
Keep verses in their context. A verse needs to be understood in light of the whole. Study the entire chapter and book for more clarity! Sometimes the context of the whole Bible is necessary.
Distinguish between narrative and didactic (teaching) texts. For instance, the narratives (stories) about Abraham should not automatically be taken as a command. We shouldn’t behave exactly as he did. He made mistakes, and many of them are recorded for a broader teaching purpose. As for didactic texts, much of the writing of the prophets and the apostles was written with a prescriptive intent.
Take the Ezra 7:10 test. It’s not enough to simply read the Bible; we must observe its commands and teach it, through our life and deeds.