My Favorite Three Bible Study Methods

Posted by on 09/14/2015 in: , ,

From Guest Blogger: Andy Deane, author of Learn to Study the Bible

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Studying the Scriptures is supposed to be exciting! That’s why King David tells us in Psalm 119:103: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Like me, I hope that you have found this verse to be true. Maybe, like me, you have also discovered that having plain honey multiple times a day can get repetitive. I’m not saying that God’s word becomes boring over time. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. I love that God’s word is so diverse and continues to excite and bless the reader taste after taste. The Scriptures are not to blame if we lose our taste for them. The Bible is designed to be a continual blessing to the believer. But believers may sometimes need to mix up how they study the Scriptures to make sure to avoid the ruts that their method of extracting the honey can bring about. Sometimes when we use the same approach to studying each and every day, the approach can become repetitive. It’s not God’s word that needs new spice, it’s the method of study that needs variety. That is why I wrote Learn to Study the Bible. With forty different ways to study the Scriptures, you always have a fresh way to prepare and digest your daily manna from heaven.

I’d like to share briefly the three ways that I personally enjoy studying the Bible.

FAVORITE VERSE BIBLE STUDY METHOD:

To start, please consider buying a new Bible to use with this method, or at least a new color highlighter. Begin by reading one to four chapters of the Bible a day. Remember that reading one chapter a day will get you through the entire New Testament in a year with one hundred make up days for when you miss a day of reading. Four chapters a day will get you through the entire Bible in a year in less than 25 minutes of reading time. The key is that each day you underline only one favorite verse from each chapter you read. That’s easy when you are in Leviticus but extremely difficult when you are in Matthew! After you are finished reading the entire book, go back and circle one favorite verse from the verses you underlined in the whole book. Write a few sentences in your Bible about why that is your favorite verse for that book. After you’ve read the whole Bible, you’ll have 1,189 favorite verses underlined (one from each chapter) and 66 all-time favorite verses (one from each book). Think about how valuable that Bible will be to you because of this investment. As you turn to any page in Scripture you will remember which verse spoke to your heart the most. You might even consider putting the date next to the verses you choose to connect them to your daily journal to enhance the experience even more. These will become the verses you choose to memorize since they have meaning to you. It’s a simple but fruitful and personal way to study the Bible.

TRANSLATION COMPARISON BIBLE STUDY METHOD

Not every student of God’s word is going to have the blessing of learning the original biblical languages. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t stand on the shoulders of scholars who spend their lives steeped in these languages, and this is the beauty of the Translation Comparison Bible Study Method. Every translation of the Bible represents the understanding and choice of dozens of skilled language scholars. When you see a unique word in a verse, you can be sure an important decision was made to choose that word over another word. This method helps you notice the different word selections that scholars made when creating English translations of the Bible. You’ll also learn how to prayerfully meditate on why these words were chosen over other words and how that can impact your understanding of the text.

DAILY BREAD BIBLE STUDY METHOD

Sometimes our biggest problem is rushing our reading of a passage of Scripture. If we simply slow down and chew on God’s word then we would be blessed by it. Slowing down is exactly what the Daily Bread Bible Study Method will force you to do. With this method, you’ll learn techniques that invite you to take the time to make sure you’re squeezing all the meaning you can out of the Scriptures. If you’ve struggled with understanding what your pastor means when he tells you to “meditate on God’s word,” then this method is for you.

I hope these three Bible study methods that I use personally will bless you as you experiment with them. Remember that however you mix it up, keep it exciting—don’t let your Bible study time become dull or a duty. I hope you’ll enjoy and use one of these methods, but don’t forget that you should never become devoted to the method—only to the Savior to whom the methods lead!

Learn to Study the Bible by Andy Deane can be purchased for the Bible Study App on www.OliveTree.com here.

See other titles that will help you in your own Bible study here!

14 Comments

  • Troy Mullens says:

    A. W. Tozer would have liked method 3. Get a good passage and chew on it. I am doing the read and study the Bible in a year method now.

  • Mauricio says:

    Very good methods on studying Bible. It is amazing the way our God feeds us everytime we come to Him looking for some bread for our spirit. Words that were meaningless to us yesterday are our bread for today. Praise to God!!!

  • Troy Mullens says:

    @Mauricio – good comment.

  • MariAnne Lankhorst-Abbink says:

    YES, and AMEN!!!
    Thanks, Andy, (Deane), for your inspirational, helpful book of which I made an excerpt in September, 2014, after reading it at the time. I like various of your Bible Study Methods, yet my favorite is highlighting one verse per Bible chapter!!!
    I’m so grateful for your insights!
    Be blessed, in the name of Jesus,
    heartily,
    MariAnne

  • MariAnne says:

    Andy, it was 2013 (not 2014 as stated above).
    Regards, MariAnne

  • Matt says:

    An interesting post, but this is more about how to read the bible, not how to study it?

    Rather than just criticize, here are some great tips that I hope will be of further help in addition to the advise given in this post:

    Always start with a word of prayer before studying scripture: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18)

    Read the context – many times. Look at the big picture – don´t get lost in the detail. Familarise yourself with the whole book.

    Try writing out the passage word for word. Remember this was the way in which the Kings of Israel learnt the law (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Alternatively try carefully reading the passage out aloud

    Précis is a powerful tool – try to summarise the passage in your own words. This involves identifying the key points to the passage

    Ask questions – this is vital and probably the most powerful key to Bible study outside of prayer. “Do I understand?”, “Do I really get the point?”, “Does it make sense?”, “What does this really mean?” – these are basic questions. Try to get to the underlying meaning or assumption in the text – for example Hebrews 1 – “What is the difference between being a son and an angel, and why is it important?”

    Look for references to other parts of scripture. Look at them in context. When scripture is making a direct quotation to another scripture, check the original quote carefully. Why is the writer quoting this? What point is being made?

    When encountering passages that are difficult, which challenge our understanding, step back and consider the extreme positions. Be honest – what is the passage really saying? Not being able to “understand” a passage means that there are assumptions in the passage that we don´t appreciate.

    The best commentary on scripture is scripture itself! Use the references to supply the meanings of words and concepts. For example have you ever contemplated the attributes of God in Exodus 34:6-7? David writes a wonderful commentary on those attributes in Psalm 103. We can understand biblical ideas with reference to scripture itself!

    The use of word definitions is useful for checking how a particular word is used in a variety of passages. However, just looking for a definition that suits us can be precarious and is not really rigorous or honest study

    Don´t lose the plot! Remember that Jesus Christ is the positive word – the living Word of God – the true light – we can check off our findings against him!

  • Lena says:

    The document Translation Comparison Method Waste deleted from Scribd.

  • Jim says:

    I’ll agree with a previous commentator, these are alternative methods for reading scripture that may bring different observations, but not truly “Bible Study” by any rigorous definition. Hermeneutics is a field of study that requires a bit more rigor.

    One of the best and most accessible study methods I’ve learned I learned in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. It is a form of inductive study that simply uses the text and observation, but here’s a simple outline of the concept.

    1. As the previous commentor suggested, prepare to study in context. Use a contiguous passage and scan it first before any “study” to get a picture of the context.

    2. Print the scripture out on paper with no chapter, verse, paragraph, or other uninspired markings. These are added for readability, and may falsely manipulate your interpretation.

    3. Using colored pencils to highlight various textual clues, mark up the printed text. Clues to examine are constructs like repetition (what words are repeated), continuity, means-to-an-end statements, comparison and contrast, commands, and so on. Let the “colors” and markup help you identify the author’s emphasis. You will find that some passages become clear through the mere repetition of the key idea, while others demonstrate their point through cause-effect comparisons rather than repetition. So for example, highlight all repetition with blue, all comparison contrast pairs with yellow and black, and so on.

    4. As the Who, What, Why, When, Where, How questions regarding the author, the authorship, and the observations you have been able to gather looking for contextual clues. It won’t hurt at this time to find a study Bible or other reference to add the non-textual context around the individual (e.g. Matthew, tax collector, hebrew, apostle, and so on…) Take time to understand the places, the distances, the paths described in the text.

    Using just these simple disciplines you can begin to see for yourself that passages you’ve read a number of times begin to come out in a new light. The three parable in the “prodigal son” story completely changed for me when through this discipline I saw that Christ was speaking to the Pharisees lurking on the edge of the crowd, and demonstrating that like the father for the son, the widow for the coin, he as a “father” cared for the sinners he was ministering to. He was declaring in no uncertain terms his Messiahship, that these were HIS!!! The passage is not about the wandering son, it is about the care and love of the father (or the widow, etc.) over what was precious to them.

    Study provides insights that reading alone cannot. This simple method outlined above has been a great blessing to me over many years.

  • Jim says:

    By the way, my previous post about manuscript study demonstrates a good way to study “literature” in general, not just scripture. Identifying an author’s message and intent can be gleaned by the constructs he/she uses to get their point across. There is no special “secret” to this simple form of Bible study (manuscript study) that isn’t useful for textual criticism of any author or source.

    There are more challenging aspects to Bible study when you get into correlation and the greater context of systematic theology and such, but you can find an infinite wealth of knowledge just being disciplined in learning to observe textual clues, and you may discover as I have, that a lot of “mysteries” aren’t so mysterious when you take the time to not just read them, but to STUDY them with a discipline and intent.

    I suggest doing something like the “manuscript” study or another inductive method first, then looking at the commentaries and cultural expose’ type info for greater richness. It helps you judge the relevancy of those items to the message and it lets them enrich your observation rather than predicate it. There is much to be learned from folks who understand mid-eastern cultures that you or I may not (e.g. the common trend of putting the key topic in the middle of the text, not at the beginning or end like western writers for example, what things are actually poetry vs. prose, and so on.)

  • Kim says:

    Thankyou this is very helpful

  • Josh says:

    Thanks a lot for the bible study tips. I have been struggling all week with where to start reading at and what order to read the books of the bible. Also, I have been struggling with how to mark or highlight the passages if to mark them at all while reading. I think I have found a system that works thanks to you. Much thanks, and God bless.

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