You know you need to dig deeper into God’s Word, but you just don’t know where to start. You hear there are endless resources, but you honestly don’t know what they are! Sound familiar? This was me not too long ago. I had a great daily Bible reading habit. I even had a degree from a Bible college! But I still felt clueless about truly studying the Bible for myself. I’ve picked up some simple tools that have made a huge difference in my Bible study time, and I want to share with you my three step Bible study method that will help you dig into the Word of God just a little deeper.
This one seems obvious, but it’s so important not to miss this first step! It’s easy to go to commentaries or devotionals when we start studying a passage. But the Spirit of God is living within us, and He wants to teach us the truths contained in the Word of God. Don’t get me wrong; I love commentaries and devotionals. I’ve even written two devotionals that go verse by verse through the Bible! But these need to stay in their proper place. If you want to study a book or passage, start by reading that passage over and over again. Read it a hundred times if you need to. Take notes on what the Lord is showing you. When you feel like you know the passage backwards and forwards, move to the next step.
The Bible was written thousands of years ago, so it makes sense that some words and concepts may not make complete sense to us, even in our English translation. There are two ways we can define words to help give us a better understanding.
LOOK UP ENGLISH DEFINITIONS
If there’s a word you don’t fully understand in English, look it up! Whether you use a dictionary app or an old-fashioned paper dictionary, looking up the meaning of words in English will help you gain a better understanding of the passage.
LOOK UP THE WORD IN THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE
If you understand a word in English, but its use in the passage still seems unclear, look up the word in the original language. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. Understanding how these words were used in their original context can help clarify the meaning of a passage. I like using the Blue Letter Bible app for this.
Once you’ve gained a clear understanding through your own reading and through looking up words, it’s time to read the words of other people to continue to deepen our understanding. I’m thankful for men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying the Bible and have preserved their knowledge in books. There are many options for good commentaries; ask a pastor or Bible teacher you trust for their recommendations. Next week on the blog, I’ll be talking about three commentaries I recommend.
These three practices have made such a difference in the depth of my Bible study. I hope they will be a blessing to you as well. If you want to learn about more tools for studying the Bible, I highly recommend Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin.
What Bible study tools do you use? Tell me in the comments!