Holding to Truth

holding to truth in love for the building up of the Body of Christ

How to Study the Bible

How to Study the Bible“How do you study the Bible?” Maybe that’s a question that you’ve been asking yourself or others you respect.

Whether you’ve been a Christian for years or just recently received the Lord Jesus, it’s vital that you learn how to study the Bible.

Why? The Bible reveals God Himself and His intention for man. It also conveys the divine light and life supply to live the Christian life.

So building up a proper habit of Bible study from the beginning of your Christian life can afford you immeasurable benefits–accelerating your growth in Christ and leading you to take God’s way.

And if you’re already a student of the Scriptures, a fresh perspective on how to study the Bible can revitalize your time in God’s Word.

So in this post I’ll mention some important points on how to study the Bible and recommend how you can apply them in your daily practice.

Here are 7 practical points on how to study the Bible:

1. Realize that the essence of God’s Word is spirit and life.

In John 6:63b, the Lord Jesus said,

“…the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

The Bible is not merely a book of knowledge, but a book of life.

Consider… The Bible is God’s breath  (2 Tim. 3:16). It’s spiritual milk,  the bread of life and solid food (1 Pet. 2:2, Matt. 4:4; 1 Cor. 3:2). Breath, milk, bread and solid food all describe something of life.

How to study the Bible begins with a realization of what God’s Word is–spirit and life. With such a realization, you’re prepared to contact the Bible’s life essence and not just obtain knowledge from it. This realization of how to study the Bible is conveyed in the lyrics of the hymn, “Feed me, Lord Jesus…

Try praying the chorus of this hymn before you study the Bible:

Feed me, Lord Jesus, give me to drink,
Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst;
Flood me with joy, be the strength of my life,
Fill all my hunger, quench all my thirst.

2. Prepare your spirit and heart to meet the Lord in His Word.

How to study the Bible is more about your person, than about your method. When I say “person,” I’m referring to your spirit and heart.

Preparing your spirit means to empty out of all of your old knowledge in order to meet the Lord in a fresh way. This means to become poor in spirit (Matt 5:3). When you’re an empty vessel before the Lord, it’s easy for Him to fill you.

Preparing your heart means to make your heart pure. The Lord said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). By prayer, turn your heart  from other things to the Lord  Himself. That’s because a turned away heart becomes a veil that hinders you from seeing the Lord in His Word. Read what Paul said,

“Indeed unto this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart; But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor. 3:15-16). Here is a spiritual song to help you digest this point.

You may even want to pray,

“Lord, I’m coming to your Word right now.  I turn my heart to You. Make me poor in spirit to receive You and pure in heart to see You in my Bible study today.”

For more on preparing yourself by prayer you may want to read my previous post, “The First Step Toward a Vital Practice of Reading and Studying the Bible.”

3.  Pray-read a few verses with your spirit to be nourished.

Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6,

“If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished  with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.”

Before you study the Bible, it’s best to come to the Lord Himself in the Word to be nourished. This is to turn the verses you’re reading into your personal prayer, praying back to the Lord what He has spoken in His Word.

You can turn the words in the Bible into your prayer, petition, thanks,  praise, and song to the Lord (Eph. 6:17-18Col. 3:16).

For more specifics on how to pray-read the word, you may want to read my previous post, “12 Tips on How to Pray-read the Word of God to be Spiritually Nourished.”

An important point about pray-reading the word is that proper pray-reading requires the exercise of your spirit, your God-contacting organ. This is crucial because your spirit is the necessary organ to receive both nourishment and revelation from God’s word (Eph. 1:17).

4. Read the Bible in context; interpret the Bible with the Bible.

To understand any verse in the Bible requires that you see it in it’s context. Even more, one verse in the New Testament may require that you read an entire chapter in the Old Testament to understand it. For example, 1 Cor. 5:7 says,

…for our Passover, Christ, also  has been sacrifices.”

To understand what it means for Christ to be our Passover, you need to understand the significance of the Passover feast in Exodus 12.

In order  to be a proper student of God’s word, you need to pick up a life-long habit of daily reading the Bible. For more details on this crucial practice, read “Some Simple Ways to Read the Bible” in my previous post,  Practical Points on Bible Reading…

5. Choose a literal translation for serious Bible study.

Whether you want to study book-by-book or topically, I’d recommend a literal, word-for-word translation.

Personally, my favorite is the Recovery Version. The text is very literal, transparent, and easy to read.

Sometime I’ll also refer to a Greek interlinear to see in which tense a Greek verb is in or which Greek word is being used. I’ve also  found the text of  the Recovery Version to be very true to the Greek text and the linguistic notes to aid in understanding textual ambiguities.

But what’s even more helpful to me are the outlines and expository footnotes. The outlines give you a bird’s eye view of a certain book, chapter or verse. The footnotes tap into the revelation of the truth, the spiritual light and the life supply conveyed in the Word.

If you already have a preferred study Bible, no problem. But it’s also good to have four or five different versions to refer to. I do. If you don’t have a Recovery Version and would like one, you can get a free copy of the New Testament online for starters through Bibles for America.

For more on Bible translations, you may also want to read, “What’s the Best Bible Translation to Read?”

6. Use commentaries and study helps wisely.

Commentaries can be helpful, but only to the extent that they open up the treasure store of God’s Word. The  treasures in the Word are the crucial matters related to the Christian faith–the Triune God and His eternal economy, Christ with His person and work, the Spirit, eternal life, God’s way of salvation, and the church, the Body of Christ.

For a book-by-book study, the most helpful tool I’ve found is the Life-study of the Bible by Witness Lee. You can read the entire Life-study for free at ministrybooks.org.

For short topical studies, I like the Topical Directory in the back of Using the New Testament Recovery Version – An Illustrated Guide. You can download the  pdf  for free from Bibles for America.

7. Speak the Word you’re enjoying to Bible study companions.

Colossians 3:16 says,

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly teaching and admonishing one another…”

After studying the word personally with prayer, writing down some notes and questions, it’s really helpful to get together with others that also want to “let the word of Christ dwell in them richly.”

Practice to speak what you’ve enjoyed to one another. From my experience, it’s when you speak the truth  from God’s word that it really becomes your enjoyment and possession.

So, if there is a point on how to study the Bible that has helped you or something you’d add, I’d  encourage you to share it in a comment.  

References and Further Resources:

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

2 Replies

  1. Aaaaamen! The best way to study the Bible is FIRST to open to the Lord, empty out, and use your spirit to touch the Spirit in the Word. It may sound crazy for most Christians, but the Bible is NOT first a book of teachings and “words from God”…. the Bible is FIRST a book of life, and the words in the Bible need to become Spirit and life to us! Otherwise, if we merely read the Bible to get knowledge, we will be “puffed up” (at most) or “dissapointed” (if we don’t understand something).

    I’ve been practicing most of these points you’re speaking about here, brother, and the Bible is a new book to me. I read it several times. And as I read through the Bible a few chapters every day, I choose a few verses “to chew on”… – so that I may get not only knowledge in my mind but nourishment in my spirit!

    And as to the versions of the Bible… I’m currently working on a piece concerning the many versions out there, my experience with them, and my choice – the Recovery Version. Wow, the footnotes! The outlines! The riches in God’s word brought out to light by the explanations! I have to say, I love the Lord so much more and I can speak about Him in His Word because of this wonderful version of the Bible!

    1. Tom Smith

      God’s word embodies God Himself as the Spirit (2 Tim 3:16). When we touch the Spirit, as the essence of the Scriptures, by praying with our spirit (Eph 6:17-18), the Spirit gives us divine life (John 6:63). This is the real “eating” of the Lord’s words and fills us with joy (Jer 15:16). It is my desire that the Lord’s seekers would find this secret of “how to study the Bible.” That’s because only God as life gained by us and increasing in us can fulfill His eternal purpose (Gen 2:9; Rev 22:1-2).

      I hope many more students of the Bible would learn to “chew on” a few nourishing Bible verses as the foundation of their Bible study.
      Thanks for your confirming comment.

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