Studying the Bible can seem like a daunting task to the most mature Christian. The Bible is composed of 66 books and it’s broken down into 2 main sections, the Old Testament and New Testament. I have received comments from Christians throughout the years that they want to study the Bible but just don’t understand it. This is understandable, as the Bible was written over a large portion of time and contains aspects of 3 different languages. The 2 main languages being Hebrew and Greek, and the third language being Aramaic. However, scholars have done the hard work for us and provided English translations that we can use when reading the Bible.
They say the best way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time. With Bible study it is best to take it one verse, chapter, and book at a time. The first step of scripture study is to first spend time in prayer. Ask God during this time of prayer to have the Holy Spirit help you understand the truth of scripture during your time of study.
Step# 2 (Stay in 1 Book until finished)
The second step is to select one book of the Bible. The mistake many Christians make is they simply open the Bible and began reading and then the next time they study the Bible they open it up and begin reading and never study one particular book, but just simply read a portion of the Bible here and there. The best way to approach Bible study if you are new Christian is to start in the New Testament, I would recommend reading the book of Matthew. The reason I recommend starting in the New Testament in particularly one of the gospels is because the gospels are a historical account of the life of Jesus Christ.
Step #3 (Historical context)
The 3rd step is to understand that in order to properly understand any ancient writing one must understand the context in which it was written. Therefore, an individual studying scripture needs to familiarize themselves with the context of whatever book they are studying of the Bible. For example the book of Matthew was believed to be written somewhere between mid 50s and early 60s AD. The purpose of the book was to preserve an eyewitness testimony about the ministry of Jesus Christ, secondly it demonstrates Jesus as the Messiah. The reason you find Matthew as the 1st book of the New Testament is because Matthew frequently uses the Old Testament in his gospel account. Matthew does this to demonstrate how Christ is the fulfillment of the OT scriptures. This brief background will provide a reader with a frame of reference to understand the book of Matthew better then they would otherwise. This background information for Matthew can be easily found on the Internet from reputable sites and in many study bibles. Taking just a few minutes to gain a brief understanding of the context will help any individual have a firmer grasp on the Bible
Step#4 (Read then Reread the same book)
When starting a study of a particular book of the Bible. An individual should first read the entire book without stopping to study the text further. This does not have to be done in one study session. What I mean by this is to simply do a surface reading of the book before slowing down to actually study the individual book. Using our example of Matthew a reader would read Matthew chapter 1 through Matthew 28 and then go back to Matthew chapter 1 and read the book slowly. The surface reading of the book may not give the reader an in depth knowledge but it will aid greatly the second reading, as the reader will be better prepared and will retain more knowledge because they will have some what of a familiarization with the book.
Step 5 (Outside Resources)
The 5th step to Bible study is to bring in outside resources as a companion to your reading. Now these secondary resources should never substitute for scripture reading. However when studying a book of the Bible it can be a useful tool to purchase a secondary resource on the book you are studying. Using the example of Matthew a person studying this book could look to purchase a layman’s commentary to help them dig deeper into the book of Matthew. Another great resource to utilize and often can be found free online is to look for sermon series on whatever book you are reading. These outside resources can help a person gain a deeper understanding of the book they are studying.
In conclusion an individual should start their scripture study in prayer. They should select a particular book and study it the whole way through. As part of the study a person needs the gain a historical understanding of the book their studying. The individual should read and reread whatever book of the Bible they’re studying. And lastly an individual should bring in outside resources as a way to supplement their scripture study. By utilizing these 5 tips an individual scripture study will be enhanced.