Studying the bible

Many different things have influenced my faith and my understanding of God, but by far the most significant of these has definitely been to read and study the Bible.

Spending time in God’s word has allowed me to learn so much about God, and also about his intentions for my life. I have found wisdom, advice, instructions, promises and attributes of who God himself is.

I study the Bible alongside completing themed devotionals on the YouVersion Bible app, as I feel that spending time directly in God’s word allows it to speak to me, rather than relying solely on someone else’s understanding of the passages read. Currently, I am working my way through the book of Proverbs, a chapter at a time.

Previously, I have used the SOAP Bible Study Method (read all about that here), but I wanted to try studying the Bible in a much less directed way, enabling me to explore different areas depending on the passage and how I am feeling. So, today I wanted to share with you, step-by-step, the method that I currently use to study the Bible!

  1. Read the passage

It may sound obvious, but I am frequently guilty of diving straight in to studying the passage that I forget to simply read it all the way through first. This allows me to understand the context of the reading and an understanding of the whole passage rather than simply pulling out single verses at a time. For the book of Proverbs, I am using one chapter at a time. However, I know that in other books, especially the gospels, I prefer to study each topic or story separately so it doesn’t become overwhelming, so this is totally just a personal preference.

  1. Highlighting time

This bit is possibly my favourite bit, purely because I get to use cool pens and really look at the words of the passage in more detail. For this, I read through the passage again and use fine-tip coloured pens to underline verses or phrases based on what they say to me (be sure to check whether your pens or highlighters are going to bleed through the pages of your Bible because I hate this).

The way I colour code my observations are:

  • Personal importance – Red
  • Actions to take – Orange
  • Attributes of God – Green
  • Promises from God – Light Blue
  • Warnings – Dark Blue
  • Relationship references – Pink
  • Desirable traits – Purple
  1. Making Notes

After highlighting these different observations, I read through the passage for the third time and pull out anything I feel is important, that isn’t directly written in the words of the Bible. This could be a personal reflection, a nugget of wisdom I’ve learnt from someone else that influences how I understand the passage or something that I feel that God is saying through the text. I then write these in the lined margins of my Bible, indicating which verse it is that they relate to. If your Bible doesn’t have margins to write in, you could totally do this on post-it notes and stick them on the page.

  1. The Key Message

For this fourth step I (of course), read through the whole passage again and then take a blank page in my notebook to write about my understanding of this passage. On this page I usually include any questions I may have that I want to research later, I’ll write out my favourite or the key Bible verses from the passage as well as the key points that I have learnt from the passage. Here, rather than focusing on individual verses, I look at the whole passage as one and look for the overarching message, themes or advice that it is giving me.

  1. MORE HIGHLIGHTING

Okay, I like highlighting don’t hate me. The next step comes usually several days later when I go back through the notes that I had written in my notebook and highlight the main points. This allows me to reflect on this passage again, keep these messages at the forefront of my mind and see how or if they have influenced my actions during the last few days which I always think is super interesting!

  1. Answer the questions

The very final step of my Bible study method is to look at the questions I have about the passage and look for answers. There are three key places I go to for such answers: the rest of the Bible, looking at other passages that talk on a similar topic; other people, usually mature Christians, a church leader or someone I know has done some theological study; and other theologians. I go to other theologians in the form of commentaries and online platforms (the main one I use is Got Questions). Finding answers from these places allows me to better understand the areas of the passage that I may have been struggling with.

I hope this helps you to see an idea of how you can go about studying the Bible. Here is a list of the resources I use:

NIV Study Bible

SARASA Porous Pens

Stabilo Highlighters

Wilko Notebook

NIV Application Commentaries

New Interpreters Bible Commentary – Volume IX

The Message of Romans – BST

Early Christian Letters for Everyone

How I study the Bible
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