10 Bible Study Tips

God’s Word is light and life, and digging into it will change you permanently.  I’d encourage you this January to perhaps forego your Bible-in-a-year reading plan and instead go deep into Scripture.  What usually happens to me when I follow a reading plan is that I end up reading quickly through the assigned sections and checking them off, rather than spending time with God in His Word and going deep.  I think all Christians would do well to slow our reading down, focus on one book at a time, and dwell in God’s Word.  Here are ten tips for getting at the meaning of Scripture.

  1. Have a Bible buddy.  This will not only help you be accountable and stay on your reading, but you can also read the same book/passage and discuss it together.
  2. Get a good study Bible to give you some insight and background.  I recommend the ESV Study Bible, or the NIV Study Bible, or the Life Application Study Bible (available in several translations), or the Faithlife Study Bible (a digital format, also available in a number of translations).
  3. Actually use your study Bible!  Don’t just read the verses, but read the other sections, too.  Especially read the introductions and background material on each book before you start it.
  4. Read a variety of translations.  Most any translation can be read online for free (just use google).  Try to mix it up.  What are the similarities and differences between the translations?
  5. Try listening, not just reading.  Two ways to listen: (1) read out loud and listen to yourself; (2) listen to an audio Bible.  Most of the Bible was originally written to be heard.
  6. Try to ignore chapters and verses.  These weren’t part of the original Bible, but were added later to help people find specific references.  But they can obscure meaning!  We tend to stop reading at the end of a chapter, but often the flow of thought continues on past the end of the chapter and into the next.
  7. Look at a passage in its context.  What came just before this passage?  What follows immediately after?  How does that affect the meaning?
  8. Try to identify main themes running throughout several passages or sections.  Your study Bible intros can really be helpful here.
  9. Remember – the Bible wasn’t written to you!  Reading it is like reading someone else’s mail.  Try to figure out what it would mean to them, not just what it means to you.
  10. Try to figure out how the author wanted the original readers to respond.  Now, how can you respond in a similar way?

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