Bible StudyI first began teaching and preaching in my local church at age 14.  Before my first sermon, my Dad handed me my first Strong’s Concordance and a brand new Bible. Following his lead, I would read through a passage of Scripture and look up every word in the Strong’s Concordance that I didn’t understand or that caught my attention.

I soon learned that I needed a more formalized approach to my Bible study.  Here are some basic steps and tools that help me focus on Bible Study and get me back on track to studying God’s Word.

Prepare yourself through Prayer
“All our study is futile without the work of God overcoming our blindness and hardheartedness.” – John Piper, Martin Luther Lessons from His Life and Labor 

There is no substitute for prayer when reading and studying the Bible.  Prayer takes the attention off of what we can do and puts the attention instead on what God can do in and through us.  Bible study is a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in which we present our best to God.  We have to remember that this is not just a book we’re reading.  We need prepare our hearts and minds for Bible study.

Read the Scripture for yourself
Read and re-read the passage you’re studying.  Get familiar with the flow of the passage.  If there are terms that you don’t know, look them up in a simple dictionary.

Ask yourself these Questions

  1. Observe – What does the text say?
  2. Interpret – What does the text mean?
  3. Apply – How does it apply to me today?

Asking these questions will keep you focused on the study at hand.  These questions are also helpful when preparing, guiding, and leading discussions for small group and Sunday school Bible studies.

Read and Research

1. Cross References

After you’ve thoroughly read the scriptures for yourself, read all of the related verses for that text.  The Bible Study App has some great resources to help you find all of the cross references.  These are helpful because they will save you tons of time and effort just looking up the references.

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2. Bible Concordances
Concordances are great tools that give you a list of verses that contain that root word in the Bible.  However, be careful that you do not JUST use a concordance in your preparation.  Concordances are a great place to BEGIN, but are never the END of your Bible Study.

With that “don’t try this at home” disclaimer, I do suggest using a digital Bible with Strong’s numbers integrated into the text for your Bible study.

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3. Bible Dictionaries
Dictionaries give you more explanation and meaning for specific words.  They also help us to keep our Bible Study on track.

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4.Bible Study Notes
There are multiple Bibles that have study notes written by scholars and trusted authors that will assist you in better understanding the Bible.  I recommend choosing one that corresponds to your preferred translation (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, etc.)

5. Bible Commentaries
After you’ve studied the Bible for yourself, it is often helpful to read trusted Bible scholars to see how they explain the text you are reading.

Recommendations:

6. A Basic and Solid Library

To help you get started, Olive Tree has bundled collections of resources to help you dig deeper into God’s word.  These bundles give you the basic tools that you need like the study tools mentioned above. All of these wonderful resources are designed to be integrated into the Resource Guide within The Bible Study App for a seamless and easy-to-use Bible study experience.

Recommendations:

Bible Study Bundles are available in the following Bible translations: NIV, HCSB, NKJV, and NRSV

7. How to Study Resources
Lastly, here are some useful resources to further your Bible Study methods:

Using these simple methods and tools will deepen your Bible Study and further prepare you to present God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15).

What are your favorite Bible Study resources?