It is important to read the Bible carefully. But just reading the Bible is not the same as studying it. The Word of God deserves respect, and must be understood and put into practice. The Bible is one of the most misinterpreted books ever written, and most people find it very difficult to understand. The Bible has a long history of many cultures and eras, and it is related to modern times; it has been translated from the original manuscripts into Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic by leading scholars. The purpose of studying the Bible is to understand its message in its proper context. If you don't know where to start reading the Bible, how often to read the Bible, how much to read at once, or how to get things out of it (applying it into your life/practice), can this article help.
Method 1 of 4: General approach
Step 1. Plan your studies
Reserve a time and place to study. Develop a plan of what to read each day in a calendar. With a plan you are curious every day what you can learn from God's Word; it also helps you stay organized by keeping track of which passages you've had, and the lessons you've learned from them.
Step 2. Get a good study Bible
Choose a translation to use during your studies. Choose real translations rather than simple paraphrase translations to ensure you are reading the original translated text, not a critic's interpretation.
- Avoid Bibles translated from Latin rather than the original Greek and Hebrew. These may contain incorrect translations. You may also prefer later translations (such as the New Bible Translation) rather than the older King James Version as it will be easier to understand.
- Always make sure that your understanding of a passage you have read is consistent with the entire doctrine of the Bible (that is, God's Plan of Salvation, 2 John 1:7-10); any revelation you receive that does not fit the doctrine of Jesus alone must be discarded. You should also look at years of church history to compare your findings with history. If you discover something everyone in Church history disagrees with, you're probably wrong (apostates don't watch out - they think they're the new prophet!). So to be a good student of the Word, do your research: the Puritan Hard Drive is a good place to start, as are Ligonier Ministries and Wretched radio (which have links to good biblical, Christian sites, and church history). Don't be too arrogant when studying. It is easy to brag about your discoveries instead of meditating on them prayerfully. Advanced study is good, you need to know the foundations of faith, but don't let your ability to remember names from Church history exceed your ability to remember Scripture word for word! (Food for thought, Joshua 1:7-9). Remember that even the illiterate can have a deeper understanding of the Word and a closer relationship with God than you because they meditate on it. Just knowing names and facts is not good enough. You have to practice it and preach about it.
- Good literal translations into English include the New Revised Standard Version or the English Standard Version. Good combination translations include Today's New International Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. A good dynamic translation is the Contemporary English Version, although it is usually looked down upon by serious scholars.
Step 3. Study the Bible with a prayerful attitude
This should be the first step in understanding the Bible. Bible study should be approached with a prayerful desire to learn. Discipline yourself to be with the Word. The Bible will come to life for you. It is spiritual food.
Step 4. Pray
Ask God to help you understand His word before you even begin. Take the Bible literally. Don't assume it's a parable or story because it seems vague. Do not try to interpret the Bible. “You must well remember that nothing that the prophets said in the Books can be interpreted without the help of the Holy Spirit. For they did not invent those words themselves, but the Holy Spirit impelled them to speak for God. " (2 Peter 1:20, 21) That is how misunderstandings arise.
Step 5. Focus on the New Testament first
Although the New Testament supplements the Old, and vice versa, it is better for a beginner to read the New Testament first. The Old Testament will be easier to understand if you read the New Testament first.
Step 6. Consider reading John first
It is best to start with John, as it is the easiest Gospel to read, identifies who Jesus really is, and prepares you for the other 3. It would be helpful to read it 2 or 3 times for an understanding of author, subject, context and characters. Read 3 chapters a day. Concentrate on reading, and be patient.
- When you're done with John, move on to Mark, Matthew, and Luke. It's also quite easy to read. Read all the books - in order - after you have read all the Gospels.
- When you're done with the Gospels, consider reading the epistles, from Romans to Jude. Since Revelation is pure prophecy not found in the New Testament, leave that alone for now. If you are well acquainted with the major prophets, go to Revelation.
Step 7. Choose the topics to study
Study by subject is very different from study of a book or chapter. The index of most bibles contains specific study topics. When you have found an interesting topic, you can simply start reading the verses. This will give you a general idea of what the verses have to say. For example: salvation, obedience, sin, etc. Remember: reading a chapter several times will help you find things that you may have missed or skipped before.
Method 2 of 4: Study Techniques
Step 1. Use the dictionary
Be sure to look up words in the chapter you are reading. This will help you better understand the Bible.
Step #2. Keep a notebook
This is how you force yourself to read every day. Also ask yourself questions and write them down in your notebook. Use the "who", "what", "when", "why" and "how" formula for your studies. For example: "Who was there?", "What happened?", "Where is this happening?", "How did it end?". This simple formula will help you understand the story.
Step 3. Underline important material or things that you find very beautiful in your own Bible
But don't do this in someone else's copy.
Step 4. Use cross references and footnotes if they are in your Bible
These are small numbers and symbols that point you elsewhere in the text for more information, or show you when something has already been discussed before. Footnotes are usually found at the bottom of a page, telling you where information comes from, or explaining complex ideas or historical events and concepts.
Try to pick out a few words that stood out, and look them up in a concordance to find other verses that speak of the same thing
Step 5. Follow the references in your study bible back to the first time it was used
Here a cross-referenced Bible is essential.
Step 6. Keep a journal
You don't have to write much. Just use a page of a notebook with the date, book/chapter/verse at the top. Ask yourself some questions and make an overview of what you read. This helps you reflect what God is revealing to you through His Word. Write down ideas or verses or thoughts that come to mind as you read. Think "Who, What, When, Where, How." Answer all possible questions under each category. Compare your findings with what you know the Bible teaches. Then look at it again and pray.
Step 7. Get rid of all distractions
Turn off the television or radio. Unless you're studying with a group, try to find a quiet place with a table to read and write things down. This is time for yourself, between you and God.
Method 3 of 4: Study with others
Step 1. Find a Bible study group
Find a group of people to study with. The text is very complicated, and it is important to have some help with it. They will also motivate and inspire you.
Step 2. Share what you have found with others in your Bible study group
Discuss what you have read with others who may have more experience in reading and studying the Bible than you.
Step 3. Don't take what anyone else says on the subject except as a guideline
Let the Bible inspire you. Expanding your knowledge of biblical principles takes years of dedication, hard work, and plain reading.
The Bible is not just one book from Genesis to Revelation. There are 66 books written by different authors in different times. Some authors have written more than one book, but they were written at different times, for different reasons. You will find similar topics and meanings in all the books of the Bible
Method 4 of 4: Sample Study Plan
Step 1. Determine your order
You can certainly read the New Testament in order if you want to, but there is a reason there are plans not to read the books in order. One of them is described in the following steps.
Step 2. Start with the Gospels
Each Gospel presents a different picture of Jesus. Matthew shows Jesus as King; Mark shows Jesus as Teacher (Many scholars think Mark is the son of Peter. (1 Peter 5:12, 13) Further study shows that this Mark is the missionary who worked with Paul, 2 Tim. 4:11); Luke shows Jesus as man (Luke was a physician, probably a Greek, from Asia Minor (Col. 4:14); and John shows Jesus as God, that is, the Messiah.
Read John again for continuity. This will give you a more complete picture of the Gospels. John was the last Gospel written. Matthew through Luke are known as the "Synoptic Gospels" because they basically tell the same story, with their own accents. Johannes fills in the gaps left by others. It is a book that completes the story of the Gospels
Step #3. Next, read Actions
Acts, also known as "Acts of the Apostles" was written by Luke, and it portrays the revelation and development of the early church.
Step 4. Read Galatians through Philemon
These 6 shorter letters are personal letters from Paul to 3 of the churches he attended, and to 3 of his friends, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
- Read the Letter to the Romans. This shows the means and the way to Salvation, and then the Letters to the Corinthians. This is the introduction to the Holy Spirit, and sets forth His doctrine and Gifts, followed by Hebrews through Jude. The Teachings of the Early Church Elders.
- Unless you have been a Christian for some time and have a good understanding of prophecy, leave Revelation to more serious students in their college days.
Step 5. Continue with the Old Testament
The Old Testament is compiled in order of convenience, not chronology. You can read it in groups to make it easier. There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament. If you read 3 a day, you will have read it in 10 months.
- Read Genesis. This is creation and the early relationship with God.
- Continue from Exodus through Deuteronomy. This is the Law.
- Read the history books. Joshua to Esther.
After the history part, you will read the books of wisdom and poetry.
- Job, often called the oldest book, shows a man's relationship with God and other people, and is full of lessons about how things could have gone better. It's a great lesson about what God expects of man.
- The Psalms were written by a king of Israel who was a man after God's own heart, despite the fact that he was not only a sinner, but also a convicted murderer.
- The Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Songs, was written by King Solomon in his youth. It was a poetic work by a young man who was in love. King Solomon was the wisest and richest man in the world.
- Proverbs were King Solomon's writings as an adult, when he was king of Israel, learning hard lessons of life.
- Preacher were King Solomon's laments over a man who had wasted his life on a licentious life, many wives and concubines, wine, and music. Ecclesiastes is a book of lessons of what not to do.
- After the books of wisdom and poetry you will start with the 5 great prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel.
- Continue with the 12 Minor Prophets to complete the Old Testament.
- At first, it can seem overwhelming to read every day. But if you sit in the Word, it clears your mind and prepares you for the day. Reading the Bible is a necessary part of this. Do not give up. If you feel discouraged, ask the Lord for help.
- Pray before you start studying or reading the Bible. Ask God to clear your mind and show you things in His Word before you start reading. In Ephesians 1:16-23 there is a prayer for wisdom and revelation, and you can say this prayer for yourself.
- When you begin your study of the Bible, you ask the Holy Spirit for help. John 14:26 says He will teach you all things and remind you of what Jesus said. 1 John 2:27 is similar.
- Make yourself a promise. Get up a little earlier every morning to read. The convention is, "No Bible, no breakfast, no exceptions." King David controlled the word morning and evening (Psalm 1:2).
- The reason for not reading the Gospels in order is that each identifies Jesus in a different way. John = God; Mark = Servant; Matthew = King; Luke = Human. You also don't want to get bogged down in the genealogies that Matthew and Luke begin with. Each has a different purpose to become familiar with.
- There are 261 chapters in the New Testament. If you read 3 chapters every day, you will have read the New Testament in about 90 days. If you want to read the entire Bible, you can read 3 New Testament chapters in the morning and 4 Old Testament chapters in the evening. Then you'll be done with the New Testament in 87 days, and you'll have 668 more Old Testament chapters to go. If you read 3 in the morning and 4 in the evening, you will have read the entire Bible in about 6 months. However, it is better to read 3 chapters a day. Don't worry about how long it will take you to read it.
- Research the version or translation you are going to study with. Is this accurate? Is it just a modern readable version, or intended for study?
- As a means of continuing to read daily, you can use an Annual Bible. This one is not for study, but will help you read the Bible in a year so that you become more familiar with each book as you study it.
- After reading the Bible at least once, with the help of a good teacher, you will read a good layman's guide to hermeneutics and apologetics. This way you know which questions to ask while reading and studying.
- There are enough reference books and study guides to fill a library. You don't have to collect them all. That would cost thousands of euros. Buy what you need. Below is a long list. Don't feel overwhelmed.
- Studying with someone who understands the Bible will help you understand everything and answer your questions. Enjoy reading!
- Don't read what every Bible expert says on a subject. You will get conflicting opinions, which will make you confused and give up. Be like the Beroeans, and judge everything you hear in the Scriptures by asking wise questions and checking (Acts 17:11). Let the Bible speak for itself. The author (God) will give you revelations and inspire you.
- Sometimes it seems as if a scientific fact or your own common sense contradicts the Bible. If this happens, don't jump to conclusions; remember that your interpretation of the Bible will never be perfect. That is why you should never interpret the Bible (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). Find the passage you are having trouble with, and study the context and tone. Usually your understanding of the words goes wrong, so try to find an alternative meaning that will clear your doubts, and that match the rest of your study. If you are still unsure, ask a friend who knows the Bible well to explain it to you. If you are not satisfied yet, know that the conclusion you reach must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible. The unclear part will prove itself elsewhere in the Bible.
- The Bible is not written in Dutch, but in Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine-Greek. This means that some words and concepts are not direct one-to-one translations, but that the translators try to convey the feeling and meaning of the passage. Some are literally translated, others functional. Read with an open mind, pray, talk to others, and take the time to understand the views of the original writers.