FAQ 22: How to Study the Bible

FAQ 22: How to Study the Bible

  • HOW to STUDY the BIBLE:
  • “Why Study the Bible?”
  • “How to Begin Studying the Bible?”
  • “Basic Principles of Bible Study”
  • “Inductive Bible Study”
  • “Basic Bible Passages to Study”
  • “Tools for Bible Study”
  • “Bible Reference Library”
  • “Digging Deeper: In-Depth Bible Study
  • “Ways to Study”


The Bible is the most printed and read book in history. More evidence exists to confirm the Bible than to confirm any other ancient historical documents. God’s Word can change your heart and transform a life. The Bible wasn’t written to be merely history or a piece of great literature. It is meant to be read with both the mind and heart. God loves you and wants you to love Him.

Reasons to Study with Your Mind and Heart:

To know God – God created the heaven and the earth and everyone in it. (Genesis 1-3)

To enjoy and love God – Meditate on God’s character, principles, and promises. Rejoice in His love, care, and forgiveness. (Psalm 119:12-18, 160-162; 1 Timothy 6:17)

To understand the Word – The Scriptures were inspired by God. They teach us the truth and show us what is wrong in our lives. They straighten us out. (2 Timothy 3:16)

To learn direction in life – The Bible shows us what to do. (Psalm 119:11)

To find comfort and hope – The Scriptures give us encouragement. (Romans 15:4)

To let God expose our innermost thoughts and desires – His Word help us see ourselves as we really are and convicts us of sin so that we repent and change. (Hebrews 4:12-16)

To become pure and holy – Jesus prayed this for all believers that they would be sent apart for God and His holy purposes. (John 17:17-23)

To obey the Great Commandment – The more we know God, the more we can love Him. The Great Commandment is to love God with all of our being and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:29-31). And Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34-35).


Plan a Study Time – Decide on a quiet time and place to study God’s Word and make it a daily habit, like eating. Some people get up early to spend time with God. Others study during the day or evening.

Pray – Ask God to help you understand His Word. Pray using your own words or something like this: “Lord, thank you for the Bible so that we will know who you are and what you want for our lives. Please help me understand it and do what you want me to do.”

Read and Re-read It – The Bible is the most important letter you can ever receive – a message from the God of the universe who made you, loves you, and wants to communicate with you. Open your “love letter” every day. Re-read each chapter and verse several times.

Know the Author – Read Genesis to learn about God who created the world. All Scripture is inspired by God. God actually visited Earth in the form of man – the man, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” Read the Gospel of John to learn about God’s plan for you.

Take Notes – Write notes about what you read. Use a specific notebook or “spiritual journal” especially for Bible study. The three questions of “Inductive Bible Study” will help you look at the facts and discover how they apply to you. You might want to underline key verses or write notes in the margin of your Bible.

Make the Bible Your Authority – Accept and believe that what the Bible says is true. You may not understand everything in the Bible, but obey and apply what you do understand.

Find a Group – “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). God gave His Word to His people. When you share what you are learning with other fellow believers, God will do amazing things in your lives. It will also help you to be accountable to someone.


Look for God’s Overall Plan – The Old Testament (OT) reveals God’s loving plan of salvation, from Creation to prophecies the future Messiah (the Savior).

The New Testament (NT) reveals God’s salvation of sinful man by the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and reveals the everlasting Kingdom of God.

God inspired 40 people over a period of 1600years to write the 66 books of the Bible.

Find the Background of the Books (Five W’s and One H) – Find out who wrote the books and the reason for, or theme of, the books. Ask “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? Usually this information is in the first chapter or in the introductions to the book.

Read Verses in Context – Read the surrounding chapters and the verses before and after the verse you are studying. Get the whole picture. Don’t study verses out of context. Look at the outline of the book. Examples of GENESIS & JOHN:

  • WHO: Moses
  • WHAT: The Beginnings
  • WHERE: Egypt and Canaan
  • WHEN: c. 1450 BC – 1400 BC
  • WHY: To demonstrate that God is sovereign and loves His creation.
  • OUTLINE (Chapter)
  • –> Creation, Fall, and Flood (1-11)
  • –> Abraham (12-25)
  • –> Isaac and Jacob (25-36)
  • –> Joseph (37-50)
  • KEY VERSE: “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:7)
  • JOHN
  • WHO: John (The Beloved Disciple)
  • WHAT: Gospel
  • WHERE: Asia Minor
  • WHEN: c. AD 85 – AD 96
  • WHY: To show Jesus as the sone of God, the Word mad flesh, who provides eternal life for all who believe in Him.
  • OUTLINE (Chapter)
  • –> Introduction (1)
  • –> Ministry of Christ Jesus (2-12)
  • –> Private Ministry (13-17)
  • –> Death and Resurrection (18-21)
  • KEY VERSE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Whole Message of God’s Word – Take the whole Bible as God’s Word. Don’t just concentrate on one verse or one idea. See if the teaching is explained more fully in other parts of the Bible. Look at the small cross-references in your Bible to help you find other verses on the same subject. For example, look at the cross-references and the verses around, Luke 13.

Discover the Intended Meaning – As you read the Bible, look for the author’s intended meaning. What did the author want to say? What did it mean in that culture? What does it mean now?What are the main ideas? If you have questions write them down, pray for insight, and discuss your ideas with others.

Learn the History and Geography – Use a time line to learn about the history of the Bible. Use maps to learn about the geography of where the events took place.

From “Where Jesus Walked Then and Now” wall map.

Figurative Language – Figures of speech are word pictures that help us understand a truth. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” is a metaphor that helps us picture the Bible enlightening our minds and acetone and giving us direction. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my should for you, O God” is a simile (comparison of two things) that compares ideas with words “like” or “as.” Similes occur over 175 times in the Psalms. Jesus used personification (representation of a thing or abstraction as a person) the He said if the people did not declare the mighty works they had seen God do, the stones would cry out in praise. Hyperbole (exaggeration) is found in Matthew 5:29-30 – “29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.(NASB1995)

Forms of Literature –


“What does it say?”… ” What does it mean?”… “How does it apply to me?”

  • 1.How canI find out for myself what the Bible says?” – Read it and re-read the Bible passage using the “Basic Principles of Study” (noted above on this page). Read silently sometimes and read aloud other times. Don’t start by reading what others have concluded about the Bible. Inductive reasoning moves from specific examples to general conclusions. Deductive reasoning moves from general examples to specific conclusions.
  • 2.How can I know what the Bible means?” – After reading the facts, you can summarize them. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast. Read the passage several times and pray for wisdom. You will learn more and remember more if you discover what the Scriptures say yourself. Look at cross-references (other verses in Scripture that relate to the verses you read).
  • 3.How can I apply what the Bible says to myself?” – The goal of Bible study is a transformed life and a deeper relationship with God. Sometimes in Scripture, you will see a command to obey, and example to follow, a lesson to learn, or a sin to confess. Apply that to your life. Other times, you will want to claim a promise, pray a prayer, forgive someone, or ask forgiveness. Listen to the “still small voice” of God. God says, “Be still and know that I am God” (1Kings 19:11-13 ; Psalm 46:10 NASB1995). As you listen and respond to God, you will be amazed at the results in your life as your relationship with Him deepens.


  • Start with these Bible Books: ->GENESIS (OT) & ->JOHN (NT)
  • Short Bible Books: ->1 THESSALONIANS (NT) & ->1 JOHN (NT)
  • Bible BOOK Study, 11 more Books to Study: (NT) _->Matthew, Mark, or Luke; _->Acts ; _->Galatians; _->Ephesians; _->Philippians; _->Colossians; _->2 Thessalonians; _->1 Timothy; _->2 Timothy; (OT) _->Psalms; _->Proverbs. (NASB1995)
  • Bible Book CHAPTER Study, 11-Key Chapters to Study: (NT) _-> John 1, 3, 4; _->John 14, 15, 16, 17; _->Romans 6, 8, 12; _->Ephesians 5.
  • PASSAGE Study: 7-Key Passages: _->The Fall of Man-Genesis 3; _->The Ten Commandments-Exodus 20:1-17; _->The Prophecy of the Coming Messiah-Isaiah 53; _->The Beatitudes-Matthew 5:1-11; _->The Sermon on the Mount-Matthew 5-7; _->Two Great Commandments-Matthew 22:36-40; The Prodigal Son-Luke 15:11-32.
  • VERSE Study: 17-Key Verses to Memorize: _->Genesis 3; _->Genesis 1:1; _->Proverbs 3:5,6; _->John 3:16; _->John 1:9-12; _->Romans 3:23; _->Romans 6:23; _->Romans 5:8; _->Romans 10:9; _->Ephesians 2:8; _->Acts 16:30,31; _->Philippians 4:6,7; _->Psalm 119:11.


  • 1. Study Bibles – A study Bible will help you a great deal. Study Bibles contain explanations, introductions, outlines, cross-references, and study notes. A good study Bible has a concordance, makes, and a topical index. Ask your pastor tor recommend one.
  • 2. Concordances – A concordance helps you look up any word in the Bible. It gives an alphabetical listing of key words, names, and topics, plus a list of verses that contain that word.
  • 3. Bible Software – Bible concordances and other references are available on both desktop and hand held softwares. Enter a word or reference to quickly find and print out Bible Verses in various versions. Complete Bible libraries and study Bibles are available on computer softwares.
  • 4. Bible Dictionaries – Look up words you don’t understand, such as “grace,” “redemption,” or “faith.” Expository dictionaries give you more tailed meaning and explanations.
  • 5. Bible Atlases, Maps, and Time Lines – On a map, locate where Bible events took place. Daniel was in Babylon. Baylon ruins are south of Baghdad today. On a time line, locate when Bible events took place. During the fierce Assyrian kingdom, around781 B.C., Jonah went to Nineveh to warn the people to repent.
  • 6. Bible Commentaries and Handbooks – First, study the Bible yourself. See what it means and how it applies to you. List questions your have. Later you can read to commentaries to see how Bible scholars explain it.
  • 7. Special BiblesTopical Bibles organize Scripture in special areas of interest, such as Salvation, Marriage, or Prayer. Interlinear Bibles compare original language (Hebrew or Greek) to modern language. Large-print Bibles are easy to read and helpful for many people.
EXAMPLE of Bible Time Line ~ Kingdom Eras


A Study Bible will bring out the significance of God’s Word. In addition, you will want to build a REFERENCE LIBRARY. Check-off each category as your library grows.

Strong’s Exhaustive
NAS Exhaustive
NIV Exhaustive
Locates all the occurrences of a word.
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Zondervan Publishers
Scholar’s Library Series X (PC & Mac)
Bible Works
PC Study Bible (PC)
QuickVerse (PC & PDA)
Accordance (Mac)
Then/Now Bible Maps PowerPoint (R)
Concordance, Libraries, Bibles, Maps.
Logos Bible Software
Bible Works, LLC
Quick Verse
Rose Publishing
Holman Bible Dictionary
New Illustrate Bible Dictionary
Dictionary of the Bible
New Unger’s Dictionary
Zondervan Pictorial
Defines Scripture words; gives some background.
Broadman & Holman
Moody Press
Atlas of Bible Lands
NIV Atlas of the Bible
Moody Bible Atlas
Deluxe Then/Now Bible Maps (book)
Bible & Christian History Time Line (book)
Bible Time Line (pamphlet)
Geography maps; history time lines.
Broadman & Holman
Rose Publishing
Rose Publishing
Rose Publishing
ONE Volume –
Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Matthew Henry’s Commentary
New Bible Commentary
TWO Volume –
Zondervan Commentary
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Bible Exposition Commentary
Written by scholars with years of study; explanations.


Victor Books
New Unger’s Bible Handbook
Holman Bible Handbook
Halley’s Bible Handbook
Overview; background; customs and history.
Broadman & Holman
Nave’s Topical Bible
Topical Analysis of the Bible
Organizes Scripture in special areas of interest.
Hendrickson Publishers
Baker Book House Company


Bible study is important to our growth as followers of Jesus. Jesus compares reading the Bible with a seed being planted in good soil.The seed planted in good soil represents those with as honest and good heart, who hear the word, apply it , and with patience, produce a crop or fruit. (Read Luke 8:4-15)

SELECTION – “What do I Study?”

  • 1. PRAY.
  • > “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
  • 2. BECOME FAMILIAR with the BIBLE.
  • > The Old Testament was written before Jesus’ birth and tells about the people of Israel and anticipates the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The New Testament was written about Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection and the years that followed as Christianity spread.
  • > Know the type of book you are reading such as Law, Prophet, History, Poetry, and so on. This can be found in the introduction to a Study Bible.
  • > Memorize the order of the Books of the Bible.
  • > Learn how to read the references:
  • -> For example: 2 Timothy 3:16
  • –> 2 = Second letter or book.
  • –> Timothy = Name of letter or book.
  • –> 3 = Chapter.
  • –> :16 = Verse.
  • > Determine where the passage begins and ends.
  • > Decide on a translation such as the King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (NIV), the New Living Translation (NLT), the New King James Version (NKJV), or the New American Standard Bible (NASB)
  • 5. REMEMBER the FOUR (4) “DO – NOTS”
  • > 1.) Do not “proof-text” (take a verse out of context).
  • > 2.) Do not be too literal (see Matthew 5:29,30).
  • > 3.) Do not ignore the Bible’s culture historical and literary background.
  • > 4.) Do not read your own ideas into the Scriptures.

OBSERVATION – “What do I See?”

  • 1. MAKE USE of TOOLS.
  • > Study Bible commentaries, concordances, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, interlinear Bible (Greek and Hebrew to English), Bible handbooks, and Bible atlases, time lines, and topical Bibles.
  • 2. OBSERVE the TEXT.
  • > Do word studies. Observe words or expressions. Notice synonyms (words that have similar meaning) and antonyms (words that have opposite meanings). Pay attention to reoccurring words.
  • > Who are the people in the passage?
  • > What are the important ideas in the passage?
  • > Where are the places in the story?
  • > Pay attention to timespans.
  • > What is the literary genre (form), such as Narrative (story), Epic, Preiestly Writings, Law, Liturgy, Poetry, Lament, Teaching, Prophecy, Gospel, Parable, Epistle (letter), or Apocalyptic literature?
  • > What is the immediate context?
  • –> What comes before and after the text?
  • > Who is talking? Who is listening?
  • > When was this passage written?
  • > Where was this passage originally written?
  • > Who is the author?
  • –> What is his occupation?
  • –> What is his personality?
  • –> Where is he from?
  • > Who is the original audience?
  • –> To what nation do they belong?
  • –> What is their history?
  • –> Where do they live?
  • –> Where are they from ?
  • > What is the original purpose for this writing?
  • > Refer to maps, time lines, and other historical documents for more about the historical documents for more about the historical sociological and geographical setting.

INTERPRETATION – “What does it Mean?”

  • > What is the meaning of each word?
  • > What is the meaning in the original language (Hebrew or Greek)?
  • > How are significant words used elsewhere in scripture?
  • > How does the genre affect the text?
  • > What is the form (such as the structure of the Abraham story in Genesis 11-25)?
  • > What is the sentence structure?
  • > Why are particular words used?
  • > Compare this passage to other versions of the Bible.
  • > How does the historical situation affect this text?
  • > How does the sociological situation affect this text?
  • > How does the geographical situation affect this text?
  • > What truths are taught about the nature of God?
  • > What does this passage tell us about human nature?
  • > Does this passage teach truths about redemption and salvation?
  • > What does this passage have to say about the church and/or the Christian life?
  • > How does each paragraph fit into the author’s reason for writing?

LIFE APPLICATION – “What does this Apply?”

  • > How do we apply what the author has said to the assumptions, values, and goals of our lives and society?
  • > What are the principles found in this passage that apply to the contemporary situation?
  • > How is God’s redemption illustrated by this passage?
  • > Is there anything this passage has to say about certain social issues, such as racism, justice, poverty, or money?
  • > How do we relate what the author says to our personalities?
  • > How do we relate the passage to our personal needs?
  • > How does this passage impact our families and close friends?
  • > What does this passage say about our moral decisions?
  • > How does this text affect our personal goals?
  • How do these verses or principles apply to the Church as a body?
  • > What an. I going to do about what I have learned?
  • What personal goals am I going to set in my life to implement the truths found in this passage?
  • > How does this passage impact my relationship with God?
  • > Pray for God’s strength to help you to grow through your study of the Bible.



Study alone or with a partner. Small groups and home study groups can help you ask questions and share insights. Attend a Sunday School class or weekday Bible Study at a Bible teaching church.


Read five (5) Psalms and one (1) chapter of Proverbs each day. (You’ll read the 150 Psalms and 31 chapters of Proverbs in a month.)


Read through the Bible, radio programs that teach the Bible, and sermons that teach from the Bible. Taking notes is helpful to reinforce and recall.


Share what you’ve learned with others. Their questions will challenge you t pray and study more to fine answers.