Now is a great time to improve your Bible study skills. Follow this series to learn how to study the Bible, where to find the tools you need to study and how to use them. You might want to bookmark or pin this page, as I update it frequently.
Jump to: Section 2: How Tos; ** Section 3: Study Tools; ** Section 4: Genre-Special Issues; ** Section5: Overviews & Theology; ** Section 6: BookList; ** ** Section 7: Next **
Basics of Bible Study
If Scripture is profitable for teaching, then we are expected to know and understand Scripture. If Scripture is profitable for reproof and correction, then we have to be able to determine what it means such that we have a objective standard by we can decide if one or both of us is wrong.
You may have heard the “rule” in Bible Study that a text always means an the author intended it to mean. But how do you evaluate whether a particular interpretation hits the mark of authorial intent? You can test any interpretation with the five C’s.
How do you know if you’ve successfully understood a passage of Scripture? Start by understanding and embracing these basic interpretative convictions.
When learning how to study the Bible, you’ve probably heard the expression “context is king”, meaning context is the arbitrator that rules a particular interpretation valid or not. But how do you use context to decide between possible interpretations?
The Biblical writers used figurative language and vivid imagery. How are we to understand it?
Why do we have so much interpretative disagreement over the meaning of the Bible? Two explanations: one we can solve and one we can’t.
One of the most common mistakes in interpreting the Bible is riffing on a particular word or phrase at the expense of context. No one thinks they fall into this trap and yet, if you listen for it, you’ll hear it everywhere.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Do we live in a post-Bible study world?
If you’re looking for a refresher course on how to study the Bible or want to start learning, Bob Smith’s Basics of Bible Interpretation is still a good choice. And it’s free online.
How could a 12-year old astonish the best theologians of his day? Why was the knowledge of Jesus radically different than everyone else?Section 2: How Tos
Wondering how to put all the tools and pieces of Bible study together so that you can tackle a specific passage of Scripture? Here’s the overall procedure.
The first step in Bible study is observation. The goal is to slow down your reading and generate a list of questions that must be answered to understand the passage. I tend to break observation into the following 4 steps which generally correspond to my first few readings through the passage.
Over lunch recently a friend confessed: “I know an essential step of any Bible study is observation. But what am I suppose to observe?” So glad you asked! Sometimes we take this step for granted when teaching on how to study the Bible, but observation is a skill we learn and practice like any other.
After you’ve done your observation, word studies, outlining and answered the questions you generated, it’s time to start putting it all together. In this step, you want to collect, refine and organize all those details you observed into a coherent meaning.
Augustine’s Principles of Interpretation
Interpretation terms defined
You may have been taught to create a list of questions, using the “5Ws and H” (who, what, when, where, why, how). If you need some help learning how to use the “5Ws and H”, here are some questions to get you started.
Word studies are one of the basic tools of Bible study. With today’s tools, you don’t have to know Greek and Hebrew to do a good word study.
An analytical outline is a way of displaying a text of Scripture so that the flow of thought and the relationship between the grammatical parts become clear. It is my favorite study tool and one of the first things I do. Learn how to make one.
Clicking on a verb in your study software may tell you something like “V-FAI-1S” which stands for a “Verb- Future Active Indicative-1st person singular.” But what does that mean? Here’s a helpful primer on Greek verbs.Section 3: Tools
Bible Study ToolsSection 4: Genre & Special Issues
Genre & Special Issues
Introduction to the Old Testament
Introduction to the New TestamentSection 5: Overviews
Overviews & Theology
What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics by R.C. Sproul — this book will help you begin to put all the pieces together
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul — a must-read book, especially for new believers
Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theology (DVD series) by RC Sproul
An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical and Thematic Approach by Bruce Waltke and Charles Yu — this book looks intimidating, but it’s worth it!
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem (Audio Lectures or book)Section 6: Booklist
Basics of Bible Interpretation, by Bob Smith a classic! great for the beginner. Now available FREE online, though I believe you can still buy a paper copy.
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart – this is a must have resource; no Bible student should be without and it now comes as an e-book. Re-read the chapter for your particular type of passage when you start a new study.
Living by the Book (Book and Workbook) by Howard G Hendricks & William Hendricks – also available as an ebook and a video series. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the book. The writing is clear and engaging and you will learn a lot.
The Joy of Discovery in Bible Study by Oletta Ward – a classic resource for small groups to work through together; teachers guide is also available.
Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods by Rick Warren
How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur
The Language of God: A Commonsense Approach to Understanding and Applying the Bible by Ron Julian, J.A. Crabtree and David Crabtree — (out of print; but still can be found). This is a GREAT book for understanding the principles, methodology and philosophy of Bible study. The authors apply what they teach to a very difficult passage (James 5). The book is worth it just to understand James 5.
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
Exegetical Fallacies by D.A. Carson — this will challenge you to move your study skills to the next level.
A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible by Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III
Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation by Tremper Longman III (out of print, but still can be found)
He Gave us Stories: The Bible Student’s Guide to Interpreting Old Testament Narratives by Richard L Pratt Jr. This is the best book I’ve found on understanding the Old Testament
How to Read the Psalms by Tremper Longman III
How to Read Proverbs by Tremper Longman IIISection 7: Next Up
Where to next?
Bible Study 201: Learn to teach the Bible
Resources for Ministry Leaders
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