HOW TO DO BIBLE STUDY
William L. Owens, Th.D.
Introduction: Studying God’s Word is a holy exercise. We are not merely seeking knowledge about biblical history and culture, but rather we desire to know the mind of God. We want His wisdom that we may obey Him and through obedience, please Him. We purpose to bring glory to His name. If the previous statement is not our purpose, Bible study will not yield her spiritual treasure. Without God’'s leadership, we will be as blind men in our search.
I Basic Rules:
Approach the Bible reverently.
The pages you study are not to be seen as just another piece of literature to entertain you as you consider your life options. The Word of God is a verbal proposition from God regarding His revelation of Himself. One should view thee Bible as the ultimate document given to men. It is therefore, a surer word of prophecy. We must not worship the Bible. We must worship the God of glory who stands behind it. However, because the Word is His unique revelation it deserves our most solemn reverence.
Approach the Bible prayerfully.
Believers must have an attitude of prayer when approaching the study of God’s holy Word. Prayer is an attitude of submission to God as our supreme authority. Prayer is not merely praising God and petitioning Him for the desires we may have. It is an attitude of dependence upon Him for every issue in life.
Approach the Bible discerningly.
Discernment requires spiritual wisdom. James instructs us to ask God for wisdom when we perceive there is a lack. Spiritual wisdom comes only from the Holy Spirit. No one will have an understanding of the Scriptures if the Holy Spirit does not enlighten the mind. For proper understanding of the Word, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to provide us His discernment for interpretation and application.
II The Process: What method of study will I use?
Book Study: Study of an entire Bible book. (A macro or birds eye view of a book is formed where the various chapters are given titles, thereby outlining the book.)
Chapter Study: Study a chapter by outlining its contents by subject or emphasis.
Passage Study: Study an extended passage by discovering its central truth and its various parts.
Verse Study: Study the grammatical construction of the verse. (Breakdown the sentence or sentences according to the parts of speech.)
Topical Study: Study a topic or subject by using a concordance to discover the key passages which give light to the subject or topic. An excellent tool for this method of study is the Analysis Sheet
III. Observation: Look for information!
Record the facts as you find them. Look carefully for information in the verses or passages under consideration.
List the facts by categories.
Rank the categories by their importance to the subject studied.
Choose the key words and identify their meanings.
Consider the grammatical relationship of words. (If you have the training necessary, check the Greek or Hebrew meanings. However, not having the ability to do so does not mean that you cannot find the spiritual meaning and application of a passage. The key to under- standing the Bible is your relationship to the Holy Spirit not academic exercises. However, I do not intend to imply that academic studies should be neglected. The previous statement is true because God rewards hard work! The danger comes when one leans upon the fruit of his own understanding and not on the mind of God!)
Investigation: Learn to apply the interrogative questions:
Who?,What?, Where?, When?, Why?, and How?
What was the occasion?
Why did the event or conversation happen?
When did the event or conversation happen?
What was said or what happened?
Who were the parties involved?
Who started the event and who was effected?
How did the circumstances surrounding the event evolve?
What were the results?
Where did the event or conversation happen?
(Does it make any difference?)
Interpretation: What does the passage mean?
What did the writer mean to convey?
How would the characters have understood the passage?
(The answers to the above questions should be apparent because of your observations from the interrogative questions. Confirm you consider the cultural, historical, and geographical background of the passage. You may get a brief consideration of these from a standard Bible handbook. There are two I could recommend : Haley’'s Bible Handbook or Unger'’s Bible Handbook.)
Application: What does God want me do?
Review the materials and notes made in the previous steps. (Determine what principles and truths are for believers in every generation.)
Write out a statement declaring the principle or truth to be obeyed.
By the grace of God begin immediately to obey!
How To Use An Analysis Sheet
In Topical Bible Study
(Please see the sample Topical Study on Obedience listed
under the "Articles" tab in the navigation bar.)
Use the Analysis Sheet in the following manner. You will be able to study any subject through the Bible following these instructions. You may then apply the results to your life.
Divide a page into three separate columns.
Title the first column:Passage .
Title the second column:Truth .
Title the third column:Application .
Select a subject.
Use a concordance to look up the principle words in the subject .Include any other words that might be related.
Copy down one of the references to the passages you find. Place the reference designations in the Passage column.
In the Truth column record what truth is taught. Answer the question: What Truth is stated?
Discern the Application. How does this truth from the Bible relate to you? Define for yourself what the application should be and put that in the Application column.
Continue with the rest of the Passages in the topic area of the subject you'’re studying. Soon you'’ll have several pages that outline the balance of God’s word in that area and a variety of ways to apply it.
Keep a full Analysis page on each subject area in your notebook. Add to the notebook as you discover additional Bible related truths.
Remember, the purpose for studying is not to merely acquire knowledge. The purpose for studying is to learn how to APPLY the Word to your life ...and then DO it!
Conclusion: Research the subjects that most relate to your needs.
'Record your findings on an Analysis Sheet. Keep the sheets in your notebook.
'Review your analysis sheets periodically.
'Set your heart on adjusting your life according to the truths you discover from Scripture.
(A sample study is provided under the "Articles" tab.
It is titled: "Study on Obedience.")