set you free" and what better way to hold to His teaching than to study His word.
There is an old Sunday School song that says, "Read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow." While it
is very important to pray and read your Bible on a daily basis, reading is not the same as studying. The timeline of
the Bible is very long and deals with different cultures and societal norms. The objective of Bible study is to
understand the message in the correct context and then be able to apply it to our own lives.
I don’t know where you are in your own Christian walk, but I suspect at some point, the question of how to study the
Bible has come up. I don’t have all the answers but, in the hopes of helping someone, let me tell you how I came to a
particular approach and what it is.
As a young man, I was a "random spot" reader. That is to say, I would read a verse or two that happened to be on the
page when I opened the Bible. There was no structure or discipline, no attempt to understand the message and no
prayerful thought at all. I knew many of the "top" verses but it was all superficial knowledge with no depth whatsoever.
When Jesus came into my life, everything changed. I became hungry to understand what the Bible meant for me and keen
to share what I had learned with anyone I could. Sadly, since I had absolutely no understanding, I couldn’t share very
well and needed some guidance. I joined a study group for new Christians and began, what continues to be, a life
changing learning experience.
If you are wondering how to start, how much to study in a session, or how to put it into practice, then perhaps this
article is for you.
In my first study group, it was suggested we start by reading John as it is a relatively easy read and introduces the
key stories, topics and characters we would encounter in the other three Gospels. After this, we moved on to Acts and
then Paul’s letters. In this particular group we did not delve into Revelation and I would suggest if you’re just
getting started that you do the same.
Once I had worked my way through the New Testament a couple of times, I began to study the Old Testament. Even though
the New Testament compliments the Old, and vice versa, I found that studying the Old Testament was easier after I had
a basic grounding in the New Testament. Before the new Christian’s class, I tried to read the Bible beginning with
Genesis and failed miserably.
I quickly learned that it is really important to set aside a regular time and place that fits within my daily rhythm
and where I was unlikely to be disturbed. It’s the same as going to the gym, if it’s at odds with your rhythm, it will
be difficult to develop and maintain the habit.
I learned that I needed a good study Bible and that ideally it should have been translated from the original Greek
and Aramaic texts. The NIV and NRSV are both such translations. In addition to my Bible, I gathered some study tools
such as a Bible dictionary, a Concordance and a good commentary. I use Matthew Henry’s Commentary – it can be a heavy
read at times, but it sure helps with context.
I learned to pray before I started and to take time to pray and reflect as I read. When I pray, I ask God to direct
my study and to help me understand His meaning. I read slowly, deliberately and make notes: not only of what I have
studied, but also of what I gleaned from the passages. As much as I was tempted, I found that this was not the time
for speed reading! As I study, I ask and take note of the answers to the basic questions of who, what, when, where,
why and how?
Bible study can be a real adventure. Try it and I am sure you will discover both simple and profound insights for
living – insights that will help you share your love of Jesus with others. One important thing that I discovered was
that I didn’t have to learn it all before I shared something. New discoveries are exciting and excitement is
The Bible is an extraordinary book. It has the power to change lives and it has the power to change the world.
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul
and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
Study your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow!