The Ultimate Guide to Bible Study

Let's take a dive into Bible study, what the Bible is, why it matters so much, and tools that can help you get more understanding.

You’ve probably heard people say that Bible study is important.

But have you ever thought about why exactly Bible study is important? After all, the Bible was written thousands of years ago by people who lived in very different circumstances than us. Given all the things you could be doing, why should you spend your time studying the Bible? In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into Bible study. We’ll talk about what the Bible is, why it matters so much, methods for studying the Bible, and tools that can help you get more understanding. Ready? Let’s dive in.

What Is The Bible

If the Bible is like any other book, there’s no reason for diligent Bible study. If the Bible falls into the same category as a novel or history textbook, then there’s no need to focus on the Bible over any other book.

But the Bible isn’t like any other book.

If the Bible is like any other book, there’s no reason for diligent Bible study.

If the Bible falls into the same category as a novel or history textbook, then there’s no need to focus on the Bible over any other book.

But the Bible isn’t like any other book. The Bible is God’s word to us. In the Bible, we hear the very voice of God, revealing himself to us, instructing us how to live, and guiding us in the path of salvation.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 puts it this way:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Every word in the Bible is true, given to us by God himself. Because God is the truth, every word he speaks is also true. There are no lies in Scripture, no half-truths. We can completely and wholly rely upon the Bible. We can depend on God’s word to guide us in what is good and right and true.

Consider these facts about the Bible. It...

  • Contains 66 books
  • Was written over a 1,500 year span
  • Has more than 40 authors from all walks of life
  • Was composed in all sorts of locations, from deserts to prisons to palaces
  • Is written in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic)
  • Spans multiple continents (Africa, Europe, Asia)

If you asked 40 different people to share their opinions about God, how likely is it that they would all say the same things? Very, very unlikely. And yet the message of the Bible is remarkably consistent throughout. Why? Because the same God was responsible for all of it. The same God spoke through Moses, David, Malachai, Matthew, John, Paul, Peter, James and all the other authors.

Pastor Adrian Rogers puts it this way:

Every word comes from God. He did not simply breathe upon the writings of men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Mark, and Paul, making their words His own. They held the pen of God. They were His instruments as He spoke, breathing the Scriptures out. Therefore, the Bible is true, because the God of truth cannot speak error.

Downloadable Bible Study Guide

5 Simple Steps to Studying Your Bible

Download this Bible Study Guide to follow Pastor Adrian Rogers' five simple steps for studying your Bible.

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Why Study The Bible?

Obviously, at a high level, we should study the Bible because it is God’s word. But it goes beyond this. Scripture gives us a number of very specific, very motivating reasons to engage in regular Bible study.

To Know God

The Bible is the primary way that we know God. It is through God’s word that we see what He is like.

Yes, we can gain some understanding of God through nature. Psalm 19:1-2 puts it this way:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.

When we behold the world that God has created, it gives us a sense of his power and majesty and greatness. But the sun and stars and moon can’t tell us about God’s love or justice or righteousness. The ocean can’t communicate God’s omniscience and omnipotence. We need God’s word to reveal what God is like.

As we study the Bible, we gain a clear understanding of who God is and the contours of his character. When we read Genesis, we see that God is the one who created all things. The Psalms show us God’s intense personal love and care for His people. The book of John reveals Jesus as God’s beloved Son and Savior of the world. Revelation tells us that Jesus is coming back to make all things new.

If we want to know God, Bible study is absolutely essential.

For Salvation

The Bible alone reveals God’s plan of salvation. In His word, we read of God’s wonderful plan to send his Son Jesus to live a sinless life in our place, die on our behalf on the cross, and then be raised from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 says:

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

The gospel, which is the good news of the salvation God offers us, is only found in Scripture. It can’t be discovered through science, nature, politics, or any other manner. It is God’s word and only God’s word that allows us to understand salvation.

If we want to know how to have our sins forgiven and have a relationship with God, we absolutely must study the Bible.

To Walk In Righteousness

Another important reason for Bible study is that the Bible shows us how to live in a manner that pleases God. In God’s word, we discover the things that please and displease him.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Those who don’t know God’s word walk in darkness. They stumble and struggle, not knowing how to please God with their actions. They act according to their own understanding instead of God’s understanding.

However, when we know and understand God’s word, it’s like we have a bright light shining in front of us. We’re able to see the path ahead clearly, avoiding the things that displease God and walking in ways of righteousness.

To Be Encouraged

It’s no secret that life can be really hard. We deal with sickness and sadness and broken relationships and strained finances. In order to keep following God through hardship, we need to be regularly encouraged. We need to be reminded of who God is and what He’s doing in our lives. We need to have our eyes fixed on things of eternal importance.

Bible study gives us the encouragement and hope we so desperately need. When we read the promises of God, we are able to look beyond our current circumstances to what God is doing in our lives.

In Romans 8:38-39, we read:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Verses like these give us the strength and courage to continue following God even when things get difficult.

These are just some of the reasons we should regularly, consistently engage in Bible study. The implication should be very clear: few things are more important than studying God’s word. If we want to know God, follow God, and please God, we must dig deep into his word.

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7 Powerful Reasons To Read and Study The Bible

What separates the Bible from other books? Why read and study the Bible? Here are seven powerful reasons to read and study the Bible.

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What is the Bible?

If you’re relatively new to the Bible, you probably have questions. You want to know things like: Who wrote the Bible? When was it written? Why was it written? Why is it important? The good news is that there are straightforward answers to all of the above questions, and those answers shed a lot of light on the Bible itself.

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Bible Study How To: Methods For Digging Deeper Into God’s Word

Because the Bible isn’t like any other book, it shouldn’t be read like any other book.

As Pastor Adrian Rogers put it:

"For the Bible to become a living, breathing, life-giving reality for you, you must assimilate it. You don't just read a cookbook, you eat the meal. If you don't assimilate it, no matter how much you appreciate it, what good is it?"

And with the Bible, it means that you are to take it into your mind, to thoroughly comprehend it, to use it as nourishment for your mind and heart.

So how do you take the Bible into your mind and heart?

Here are some simple, yet very effective ways.

Pray As You Read

Bible study without prayer won’t be effective. Why? Because the Bible is a supernatural book, and to truly understand it, we need supernatural understanding from God. As we read the Bible, we must ask God to give us insight into what it means and how we should apply it to our lives.

In Psalm 119:18, the Psalmist prays,

Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.

This should be our prayer as well. We should ask God to open our eyes so that we see glorious, wonderful things in His word. We should pray that God would help us to know Him and love Him more.

We can be absolutely confident that God will answer that prayer because He wants us to know Him. He wants us to have a close relationship with Him and to love Him with all our hearts. If we draw close to God through prayer and the Bible, He’ll draw close to us as well.

Meditate On God’s Word

Modern meditation is very different than Biblical meditation. Modern meditation involves emptying the mind of all thought, which is almost totally the opposite of Biblical meditation.

To meditate on God’s word is to think deeply about it and ponder what it means. Meditating on the Bible means wrestling with what it means and how we should respond to it.

Psalm 119:48 describes it this way:

“My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes.”

One of the best ways to do Bible study and meditate on God’s word is to ask questions as you read. Pastor Rogers recommended the following six questions to help with Bible study:

  1. Is there a promise to claim?
  2. Is there a lesson to learn?
  3. Is there a blessing to enjoy?
  4. Is there a command to obey?
  5. Is there a sin to avoid?
  6. Is there a new thought to carry with me?

Each of these questions will help you dig deeper into the Bible. They force you to go beyond simply reading the verses to actually putting them into action in your life. They help you obey James 1:22-24, which says:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

God doesn’t want us to just hear God’s word and then go away without it having an impact on our lives. Rather, He wants His word to shape our very lives. When we regularly meditate on God’s word, we become doers, not just hearers.

Understand Different Genres

The books of the Bible aren’t all the same. Some books are letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and 1 Peter. Some are historical, like 1 Chronicles, Kings, and Exodus. Some are poetry, such as the Psalms and Song of Solomon. If we want to properly understand the Bible, we need to read each book in light of its genre.

For example, because the Psalms are poetry, they contain many poetic descriptions of God. Psalm 36:7 says,

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”

This doesn’t mean that God literally has wings. Rather, it means that God always protects his people, much like a bird protects its young under its wings.

When engaging in Bible study, we must ask, “What genre is this book?” When we know the genre, we’ll be able to gain a clearer understanding of what the verses mean.

Memorize Scripture

When we memorize the Bible, it makes the Word of God accessible to us even when we’re not reading it. The Holy Spirit will bring verses to mind that we’ve memorized, helping us to apply them in the variety of situations we encounter every day. The Spirit will also use memorized verses to convict us of sin and help us grow in righteousness.

Psalm 119:9-11 says:

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

When we treasure God’s word in our hearts, we are able to avoid sinning against God and are empowered to live in a way that pleases Him.

Understand The Original Audience

Every book of the Bible was written for a specific audience. Knowing who the book was written for can give you a much better understanding of the content of that book.

For example, the book of Matthew was written to a primarily Jewish audience who would have been familiar with and believed the Old Testament. In light of this, Matthew relies heavily on the Old Testament to show that Jesus is the promised Messiah and to convince his readers to believe in Jesus.

As you read through Scripture, look for clues regarding the original audience of each book. Are specific problems addressed? Are people mentioned by name? Did the author have a unique relationship with the readers? All of these answers can give you more clarity on the meaning of what you’re reading.

Read The Entire Bible

Don’t be intimidated at the idea of trying to read the entire Bible. Yes, it’s a big book, but if you read just a few chapters every single day you can easily read through the whole Bible in about a year.

Why is it so important to read the whole Bible? Because from start to finish, the Bible is ultimately one big, glorious, connected story. It’s the story of God saving His people when they couldn’t save themselves. Starting in Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, and concluding in Revelation when Jesus returns and makes all things new, the Bible is God’s story.

When we read all of Scripture, we’re able to see where we fit in God’s great big plan of redemption. We gain an understanding of all that God is accomplishing in the world through Jesus.

Paraphrase Verses In Your Own Words

One helpful practice is to put the verses you’re reading into your own words. In other words, rewrite the verses so that they mean the same thing but are using your words. Doing this makes you think carefully about what each word in a verse means. It also helps you gain clarity on why specific words are used.

Check Cross References

Many Bibles contain cross-references, which show verses that are similar to the one you’re reading. For example, when reading John 1, you may notice a cross-reference to Genesis 1 because the language used is so similar. By closely checking cross-references, you can get a better sense of what the Bible says as a whole about a particular topic.

If your Bible doesn’t have cross-references, you can use a concordance.

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7 Effective Ways to Memorize Scripture

When we commit God’s word to memory, you reap the benefits for the rest of our lives. Here's why we should memorize the Bible and how to memorize Scripture.

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Bible Study Tools For Greater Clarity

Nothing can replace personal time spent reading and meditating on the Bible. If we want to know God, personal Bible study must always be a big priority.

However, there are a number of supplemental Bible study tools that can help us understand God’s word with more clarity. These tools should always be used in conjunction with the Bible and never in place of the Bible.

Commentaries

A commentary is a book written by a biblical scholar that helps shed light on a book of the Bible. Commentaries can help you better understand the circumstances in which a book of the Bible was written, the original audience, nuances of the original language, and much more.

If you really want to do deep Bible study in a particular section of Scripture, commentaries can be an excellent resource.

Study Bible

A study Bible contains the actual text of Scripture along with explanatory notes written by pastors and scholars. These notes are similar to what you might find in a commentary except with less depth. Study Bibles also often contain maps related to Biblical geography, images of Biblical architecture, and other helpful information.

Notebook

Though it’s very simple, a notebook or journal is actually a wonderful Bible study tool. Writing down your thoughts and questions forces you to think more slowly and deeply as you read Scripture. It compels you to clarify your thoughts on what different verses mean and enables you to remember things more effectively.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

Keep a pad and pencil handy. I always read the Bible with something to write with, because I’m expecting to receive something from God. If you’re expecting to hear from God, you should be ready to write it down. Don’t just say you’ll “remember it.” The weakest ink is better than the best memory. Pray over it, ponder it, then be ready for God to speak to you.

Bible Dictionary

Because the Bible was written many years ago, it contains people, places, and things that aren’t familiar to us. Words like shekel, denarius, and cubit get used regularly, which can be a bit confusing to our modern ears.

A Bible dictionary provides definitions and information about all sorts of words and concepts that you will encounter as you read the Bible. As you read about all the different locations Paul visited on his missionary journeys, a Bible dictionary can give you detailed information about each of those locations. This information can give you a much better understanding of the different sections of Scripture.

Audio Bible

Many people forget that, originally, the books of the Bible were usually read aloud to groups of people. For example, almost all of Paul’s letters were sent to churches and the letters were read aloud to members of the churches.

Listening to the Bible allows you to catch things you might miss when you read it. Also, if you want to consume bigger chunks of Scripture, it can be easier to listen to it instead of reading it.

There are numerous websites and apps that allow you to listen to the Bible, including Bible Gateway and Bible Study Tools.

Love Worth Finding

The Love Worth Finding website has thousands of resources designed to help you understand the Bible better, including everything from articles to radio broadcasts to devotionals to television broadcasts. The resources are arranged by subject, making it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for. You can also find items based on specific words you search for.

Start exploring the vast library of resources.

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Best Bible Study Tools For Deeper Understanding

We can benefit from a variety of Bible study tools. They can help us gain a much deeper understanding of God’s word. They can bring clarity to more challenging passages and shine a light on sections that may seem confusing. So, with that in mind, here are eight tools to assist you with your Bible study.

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Bible Study Apps For Further Insights

Thanks to technology, we now have more access to the Bible than at any other time in history. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of smartphone Bible study apps that can give us even further insight into God’s word. We are literally carrying around an entire Bible library in our pockets!

Here are some outstanding Bible study apps:

These apps make it really easy for you to study the Bible even when you’re not at home. You can listen to God’s word when you’re commuting to work in your car or on the subway. You can read God’s word when you’re at your children’s soccer practice. Simply put, it’s never been easy to study the Bible.

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7 Bible Study Apps To Take You Deeper In God’s Word

To help you know which Bible study apps will serve you best, we’ve compiled a list of the ones that we think are particularly helpful.

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Reap The Rewards Of Bible Study

Speaking of those who regularly study the Bible, Psalm 1 says:

"He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper."

We reap untold rewards when we give ourselves to studying the Bible. We become like trees planted by streams of water. We regularly bear good fruit for God. When the tribulations and trials of life overtake us, we don’t wither under the heat. Though the winds whip around us and try to uproot us, we are firmly grounded in God’s word.

In Luke 6:47-48, Jesus tells his disciples:

Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

The Bible is an immovable rock on which we can build the foundation of our lives.

Helpful Tools and Resources on Bible Study

Bible Study for Beginners

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Bible Study Tools for Deeper Understanding

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