How to Study the Bible

As Christians we need to know how to study the Bible and our children need to be students of the Word.

We need to know what the Word says, we need to be able to think and understand the Word and we need to apply the Word. There have been times through history where only a select few have been able to study the Bible, this led to theological errors and control over the people. We are warned against false teachers, and promised that false teachers will come. How will we know? We will know by being able to discern truth ourselves. In order for us to be able to know truth when we hear it we must be grounded in the Word ourselves.

In this day and age, when the world is so full of knowledge, Christians need to be able to defend their faith, defend their beliefs, defend the Word. Apologetics is the field of study where we defend our faith and we should all be students of apologetics. It doesn’t mean deep theological college for us all, it does mean that we have an answer for the hope that is within us, at all times.

Another reason for studying the Bible is simply to become more and more like Christ. The Bible is God’s Word to us and as we take these words into our life we will be changed. God’s Word is living, though it doesn’t change it is alive and fresh, with a meaning for us whenever we seek God’s face.

Study Methods

There are many how-to methods of studying the Bible but I have found these six to be practical, useful and do-able with the time constraints that I find in my own life. I also teach these methods to my children. They learn how to study the Bible in three ways
  1. Family time – as we dig into the scriptures together they learn to ask questions, think, listen to the Holy Spirit guide and give answers.
  2. Lesson time – we have seasons where we purposefully learn how to study the Bible, to use the study tools, to find answers to our questions.
  3. Personal Bible Study – We encourage the children to take the study skills they have learnt and to dig into the Word themselves. We encourage them to discuss their discoveries with the family.

Devotional Study
  • Read a selected passage
  • Pray and consider, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, listening for the Rhema (personal words from God for your own life)
  • Ask “What does God want me to learn today?”
  • Take notes of your thoughts, questions and answers as you ponder this passage
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

Another way to study devotionally is to ask

  • is there a promise for me to hold onto
  • a command for me to obey
  • a principle for me to live my life by
  • Pray and Commit to change

Or simply to ask

  • What does that say to me?
  • How does this affect my life?
  • What does Jesus have to say about this? WWJD?

The purpose of devotional study is very specifically to change our life. Devotional study needn’t take a lot of time, where the other methods of study tend to dig deeper. We use this method for our family devotional time. We don’t do it formally, with pen and paper, but these are the things that we discuss, around the table. As the children get older they use these very same questions in their own reading during their personal Quiet Times.

Do a Word Study

  • Choose your word
  • List the references in the Bible, where this word is used
  • Compare translations, highlighting synonyms
  • Refer to Strong’s Concordance and list original meanings in Hebrew/Greek
  • Refer to Dictionary to extend your understand
  • Rewrite your reference scripture, inserting the new words to help you get a broader understanding (this is what the Amplified Bible has done)
  • Take notes of your thoughts, questions and answers as you begin to make connections
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

We have studied words such as: one another, blood, believe, light, wisdom

Study a Character trait

  • List the quality and its opposite
  • List where this trait/opposite is found in the Bible
  • Use Bible Study tools, such as a concordance or Topical Bible to find other references, list these
  • List a couple of people who had this character train / who didn’t have this trait and consider the consequences (positive and negative) for them
  • Find a memory verse, especially from either New Testament or Proverbs
  • Take notes of your thoughts, questions and answers as you make these lists
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

In times of correction, I like to refer to people in the Bible who struggled with the same sin issues. It gives the children concrete evidence of God’s truths in action in people’s lives. There are consequences in disobeying God’s laws, there are blessings by following God’s laws. As the children get older they can study a character trait that they need to apply in their own lives, by themselves.

Study a Person of the Bible

  • Select a person and list all the scriptures referring to them
  • Write down what you imagine about this person
  • Write down the events of this person’s life
  • Research the days and times of this person using a Bible encyclopedia and/or Atlas
  • List the character traits you see in this person – and failings/weaknesses/sin
  • List life principles that this person followed, or didn’t
  • Take notes of your thoughts, questions and answers as you write these things down
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

Daniel, Joshua, Paul, Jesus, Ruth and Esther are prominent choices, but if we are prepared to dig deeper there are truths to be found in the lives of Gideon, Balaam, Timothy and the 12 Disciples.

These last two study methods, are more complex and probably more suited to the older student. But we can introduce our children to this way of thinking; summarizing, categorizing, connecting thoughts from a young age by asking questions and then discussing their answers. You don’t have to use these points for a whole Chapter, use it for a section, or even a verse. You won’t get a promise, command and principle all in one verse but read a verse, or passage and ask the children what is the promise for us today? And so forth…

Study a Chapter of the Bible

    Give a one sentence summary to the chapter (your own words)
  • List the major points in the chapter (as you see it)
  • List the people in the chapter, or significant people
  • List key word – keep this to a minimum, should connect in some way with your one sentence summary, otherwise read again or rewrite your summary sentence
  • List the promises
  • List the commands
  • List the principles, laws of God
  • List references to Jesus Christ
  • Use Bible Study tools to find other references to this words, ideas, verses in the Bible
  • Take notes of your thoughts, questions and answers as you make these lists
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

Study a Theme in Scripture
  • Choose a theme
  • Find scriptures and choose which ones you will focus your study on
  • Ask questions (What, Why, When, Where, Who and How)
  • Answer each question by referring to each of your chosen scriptures. How does this verse answer this question?
  • Take notes of your thoughts, extra questions and answers as you go, one focus question at a time
  • Find a personal application
  • Pray and Commit to change

One principle we always need to remember when we study the Word by ourselves and that is that Scripture never contradicts itself, scripture always lines up with scripture. If, during our studies, we find something that does seem to be contradictory we need to dig further or refer to an older person in the Lord. Our studies are never to be isolated from the body of Christ, we need to be accountable and yet have the freedom to think for ourselves.

As we study the Word we need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide us, instruct us, and correct us. He may use the still quiet voice to speak to us. He may use another person, either in the form of a book, an audio, or a face to face discussion. And yet we should not be intimidated by our youthfulness, or our inexperience, God can, and will speak to you, He has truths He wants to show you. Become a scholar of the Word.

Bible Study Tools

These are the Bible Study tools that we use frequently in our Home. You can buy these in book form or CD but many of these are available for free online.

Various translations (keeping paraphrases to a minimum)Topical Bible

Strong’s Concordance

Bible dictionary

English Dictionary, Websters 1828 Online Dictionary


Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Atlas

Online links:

Crosswalk Bible Study Tools

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