How to Study the Bible: Three Methods and a Gift Inside

By On Saturday, 14 December 2019 05:44
How to Study the Bible: Three Methods and a Gift Inside

What would it look like if you studied the word as you would for an important exam?

I have been mulling for a while over this question. As a student, I prided myself in having a high level of diligence in preparing for both class and an exam. However, it would seem that I was not giving the Bible the same level of attention but I was somehow expecting that the truth of the word would come into my heart via some sort of osmosis process. Does this sound familiar?

For a long while, I only read the Bible but never quite studied it at a personal level. Reading and studying require different levels of effort exerted into the process, and the motivation and methods also differ greatly. I was satisfied with reading the Bible as I would a novel- for leisure. Then, I would rely on Bible teachers to do the work for me and feed me, the same for Bible Study groups. I dare say that the benefits of both Bible teachers and Bible study groups are doubled when we have wrestled with the scriptures at a personal level.

The following Bible Study methods will help you do a better job of digging deeper into the word of God and process the scriptures for a closer walk with Him. A big disclaimer is that the following are only study methods and are not devoid of the Holy Spirit because the Bible tells us that He will teach us all things (John 14:26). When you start your personal Bible study, when you are stuck and when you finish a study make it a habit to invite the Holy Spirit to teach you and show you what you are unable to see and understand.

Get the Context

Bible teachers will always tell you about this one, it is important to look at the context of a Bible passage in order to have an accurate interpretation. To get the right context you need to answer the 5W and 1H. Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself are.

  1. Who wrote the passage?
  2. To whom was the passage written?
  3. How has the passage been written? (Writing style/genre)
  4. Who is the passage being written about and where are they?
  5. When was the passage written and what was the purpose?

Most of the answers to these questions can be found by using your observational skills. Some might need that you search some more and these days with the internet, the answers are at your fingertips.Similarly, you might only need to ask these questions at the begining of a Book based study since some of the answers are the same throughout the Book you choose to focus on.

Rephrasing and Paraphrasing

The 8-4-4 system of education is faulted for many things and one of them  that students are not taught to think but to regurgitate what the teacher has taught exactly how the teacher taught it and sometimes students are penalized if they do not use the exact same words. The idea of rephrasing is to help you answer the question, 

How well have you understood the verse/ passage to rewrite it in your own words without losing the meaning of it? 

This is especially useful when reading scriptures that you have become overly familiar with. Let us use the common John 3: 16 as an example.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

Rephrase

In order to have eternal life and not disappear into oblivion or die I must believe in Jesus Christ- God’s only son whom He sent and gave to the world.

This is a simple example, but you can exercise it more with even longer passages of scripture.

Comparing Translations

This is also a study method commonly advised by Bible teachers. The original Greek and Hebrew languages of the Bible are both very complex and rich languages. We can gain a lot more by reviewing the same passage of scripture with at least three translations to get the whole counsel of the word of God. I have found that this is helpful when I am going through an overly familiar text because there is a tendency to do it religiously and by so doing miss the message. The team at Logos write that reading multiple translations raise questions that you as a student of the Bible should be asking: why did this translation go a different direction than all the others? Is some piece of meaning missing? Is some piece added? When you hold up two Bible translations in comparison, it’s as if a spark jumps between them, illuminating the passage you’re studying. That happens even if one of them is wrong. And the spark is often brighter if you use a greater number of translations.

Let us look at an example: John 1:14

NKJV And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

AMP And the Word (Christ) became flesh, and lived among us; and we [actually] saw His glory, glory as belongs to the [One and] only begotten Son of the Father, [the Son who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, who is] full of grace and truth (absolutely free of deception)

MSG The Word became flesh and blood,and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.

Sometimes, it’s only one word that differs in the translations but your ability to sit with that one word could change what you are able to take away from it. Translations can also expound what is written so that we are able to think more thouroughly about a passage.  Once again to quote the team at Logos,

Translations really don’t tend to differ in massive ways; they tend to differ in nuances. It’s rare that one translation will go off completely in its own direction against the tradition of English Bibles that came before it.

We recently hosted an Apologetics on Bible Translation and Canonisation, you can listen to it here. It will give you more context on why we have the different Bible translations

The one thing that I hope you realize about these study methods is that there is a need to do more than sit and read a passage in five minutes and be done for the day. You need to exercise yourself and put some more effort in order to “study”. These methods may also require that you write down what you are reading and seeing as you search out the scriptures.

This became a major reason for me to design a journal and create learning and growth opportunities around and beyond the journal.My own personal Bible study journey has been greatly influenced by writing and note taking as I study the word of God.  When you are reading or listening, taking notes helps you concentrate. In order to take notes - to write something sensible - you must understand the text. Notes help you to maintain a permanent record of what you have read or listened to.Over the years I have amassed a small collection of journals that reveal to me pages and pages of days when I was hungry for the word and how God fed my hunger and my curiosity. 

Allow me to introduce you to the “Alone with God” Journals. This is a tool designed to help you dig deeper into the word of God for yourself- away from the Bible study group and before listening to what a Bible teacher has to say about what you have read.

Getting yourself a copy of the journal will also give you access to more than a journal, you will get;

1. A well-designed and sectioned journal that helps you organize everything God is teaching you.

2. Twenty-one Bible Study tips and techniques in 21 days that will help you dig deeper into the word for yourself. We have covered three methods in this post, we will cover an additional eighteen in video and discussion format from January 1 to January 21st. You’ll be sure to start 2020 on the right track- in the word.
3. An online (Whatsapp) community of women to go through No. 2 with over a period of 21 days.
4. A printable (PDF) copy of the “Conversations with the Rabbi” Bible Study Work-Book. This will help you get practical with No. 2 using John’s Gospel as the basis of exercising these study methods.
5. All the 21 lessons will be compiled into an e-course that you can access for free after day 21.
6. Stickers: The Revelation, Knowledge and Understanding Stickers based on the Ephesians 1:17 prayer.

The great news is that I want to give one of you this bundle as a Christmas present. If you would like to participate in this give-away simply share in the comment section on this blogpost or in the Facebook post on the Saturday PM page and let us know how Saturday PM has helped you grow in your personal Bible Study, which sermons have had a significant impact on you and how. This is whether you have been physically attending or you have been following us on our digital channels

This give away is open until Wednesday 6PM when the winner will be announced.

If you want to get a copy for yourself or a friend or family member kindly follow this link or leave a message on Whatsapp (+254 743106617) and I will give you details on how to get a copy. You can also see the full product guide on this link

Latest Sermons

LIFE’S QUESTIONS, GOD’S ANSWERS

Do you have a question about God, Jesus, the Bible, or theology? Do you have any doubts about the Christian faith or the Bible? Do you need help understanding a Bible verse or passage? Are there any spiritual issues in your life for which you need advice or counsel?

Ask your question