April 26, 2020 | Spiritual Disciplines | Word by Jason Hall
The following is an excerpt from Richland Creek's booklet Equipping Bible Study:
Study One Book at a Time
The writers of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote 66 entire books that we have now as the complete canon of Scripture. We should generally study each book as a whole before moving on to others. It is possible to study more than one thing at a time, but in that case if we are not careful, we risk losing the context of what we have studied. You can start by following along with our current Life Group study in Romans.
What Do I Do First?
Once you have chosen a book to study, remember to move through it slowly. Bible study is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Sometimes our goal turns into getting a certain amount finished, when our goal should be understanding and applying what we have read.
In choosing what to study in a given day or week, concentrate on the paragraphs or, if you prefer, the headings in your Bible. That way you have enough to study to give you some context, but not so much that you get lost.
What Do I Do Next?
After reading carefully over your chosen text a few times, take time to look up any words or phrases you do not know. Many times as we read the Bible, we encounter words and phrases we don’t know. Since the words of Scripture are inspired, we must do the work to study them and understand them. Do not assume you know what a word or phrase means just because you have heard it or read it many times.
Remember that the most important thing in determining what a word means is context, or the words, phrases and sentences around it. With that said, a Bible dictinoary and a study Bible are very helpful tools to help understand words or concepts we are unfamiliar with, especially for those just beginning in Bible study.
After I Understand the Words, What is the Next Step?
Once you feel comfortable with what the words mean, you should ask additional questions. Some examples of questions to ask are in the appendix of this study guide, but they generally fall into basic categories: who, what, when, where, why and how?
And finally, you should take some time to see where key words or concepts used in the text you are studying are mentioned in other parts of the Bible. The Bible speaks as a whole, and nothing is more valuable in understanding one part of the Bible, than other parts of the Bible. To help you in this, make sure your Bible has cross references (those columns in the middle or outside edge of your Bible text that have the small superscript letters). You can also use a concordance or a Bible search engine.
Discover the Author’s Intended Meaning
The goal of personal Bible study is to discover the author’s intended meaning, not just what we want the Bible to say. Because of this, a great final step is to write down, in your own words, the basic meaning of the verse or paragraph you are studying.