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How To Break Down The Bible

Personalize The Verse And Ask How You Can Apply It To Your Life

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As you studied, did you see this Scripture with fresh eyes and in ways you never understood before? Ask yourself what God is trying to teach you and how you can apply the meaning to your life. Record your lessons around the original verse as stones of remembrance for the future.

The Bible study method of verse mapping is a beautiful way to deepen your walk with the Lord and unpack His promises. Its also a practical way to record the lessons and insights God gave you through the His precious word. Through this method, you will gain an enriched view of the character of God and a deeper foundation of faith!

For me, my map took about an hour to do and with great return: I was ready for those three days! There is no right way to verse map but below is a photo of my end result, just to give you an idea of what it looked like.

How about you? Do you want to dig deeper into Gods Word? Do you want a purpose and structure to your quiet time even as a Bible study novice?

Reading the Bible doesnt have to be intimating! Bible verse mapping can make the Scriptures come alive and deepen your relationship with God.

What Are Bible Study Apps

Bible study apps are software programs that allow users to read the Bible on their smartphones. These programs afford them the convenience of accessing Scripture anytime, anywhere. Most of us have our phones with us all the time, so downloading a Bible study application makes it easy to study the Bible as we go about daily life.

Do you remember back when we had to figure out how to carry that giant bookâthe printed Bibleâaround with us? Now, people can download a Bible app on their phone for quick reference and study.

Read Scripture Verses In Context

As you learn how to study the Bible for yourself, its important that you dont get in the bad habit of reading individual verses in isolation.

This is a common mistake many people make when first learning how to study the Bible for beginners, but it can completely change the meaning of the text.

Instead, youll want to learn how to study the Bible as a whole.

This means finding as many relevant Scripture verses as you can, reading them within the context of the passage or chapter theyre in, and comparing them to see how they fit together.

Tip: BibleGateway is a website that lets you do this easily if you dont have your physical Bible handy.

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself while youre learning how to study the Bible for beginners:

  • Who is writing this passage?
  • Who are they writing to?
  • What is this passage mostly about?
  • What does this passage teach me about Gods/Jesuss character?
  • Are there any lessons I can learn from this passage?
  • Does this passage have any specific instructions for me to follow?
  • Does it provide a good example for me to follow ?
  • What positive changes can I make in my life as a result of this passage?

One passage that really illustrates this point is Ephesians 2:8-9.

In the church I grew up in, they understood this passage to mean that, since we are saved by faith alone, works dont matter at all.

Typically, you can find all the information you need to answer your question by looking up only a handful of verses.

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The Importance Of Observation

In many ways, observation is the base of the Bible study pyramid. Its what everything else is built upon. Too often, people jump into the Bible and start connecting before theyve done the challenging work of examining all there is to see. The more work you do during this part of your study, the better you will do in the rest.

Try challenging yourself to come up with 10 observations about a passage, and once youve hit that number, push yourself to come up with five more.

Benefits Of A Whole Book Study

How to Break Down a Scripture  1

Understanding the book as a whole provides you with two tremendous benefits in your understanding of Scripture:

  • Individual passages within a book will make so much more sense when you understand the context of the whole book. This prevents you from taking passages out of context and misrepresenting their meaning.
  • You will have a better sense for the larger story in the Bible and the grand themes in Scripture across a wide variety of biblical literature.
  • This helps to avoid a piece-meal, individual passage approach that we might have toward the Bible. Instead, we learn to see individual passages as part of books as part of testaments as part of the entire Bible.

    Read Also: Why Is The Bible Not In Chronological Order

    Look Up The Historical Context

    Many Bibles will give you some historical context at the start of each book. What was happening during the time of this book? Who were the major figures at the time? What was society like? What was the original language? Understanding the historical context will go a long way with studying any specific chapters or verses.

    Study By Using The Soap Method

    SOAP is an acronym to help you remember, and it stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

    First, you choose the scripture you want to study, then write it out in a notebook. Read through it several times. Second, make as many observations as you can about the passage. Think about the who/what/when/where/why of the passage, and write them down. What does it mean? Third, based on your observations, ask yourself what youve learned from those observations and how they can apply to your life. Finally, pause and pray about what youve learned.

    If youd like to try this simple way to study the Bible , check out my post about how to use the SOAP Bible study method.

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    Practice Of Bible Study

    The practice of Bible study involves a variety of methods that will enable you to uncover the treasures of Scripture in different ways. Each is designed to provide its own particular benefit, and it is a good idea to try using all of them to find the ones that help you the most. After becoming familiar with them, you may want to switch methods from time to time to avoid getting caught in the rut of routine. Some of them compliment each other and can be used concurrently. The process of ask, answer, accumulate, and apply can be successfully plugged into any of these methods.

    Planned Reading


    This method is the broadest approach to Scripture because it involves the systematic reading of book after book according to a predetermined plan. There are many variations, but most of them relate to daily readings derived from a yearly goal .


    1. There is no better way to get a comprehensive overview of the Word. Reading large segments of Scripture will give you an increasing familiarity with the flow of the people, places, events, and concepts in the Old and New Testaments.

    2. Long-term use of planned reading will take you beyond favorite portions and expose you to the whole counsel of Scripture.

    3. You will begin to think creatively across books and Testaments as you discover connections between concepts in different passages.


    2. In Enjoy Your Bible, Irving L. Jensen has suggested a method that will help you actively interact with the text as you go along:

    Bible Study Methods When Youre Just Starting Out

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    When youre just beginning to read the Bible, pick one method and stick with it for a bit. Dont get overwhelmed by all the different study methods out there! Try out a few and see what feels most natural for your learning style. I often rotate between methods, depending on a variety of factors, such as how much time I have, whether Im doing the study alone or with others, etc.

    Lets look at some popular Bible study methods for beginners.

    Read Also: How Many Verses In Psalms

    Read Through The Bible



    Reading through the Bible is a great way to study it. Every page of the Bible reveals Gods character, emotions, thoughts, and actions.

    All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    When you read the entire Bible or large portions of it, you can get a big-picture overview of the Bible. Anytime you read the Bible, youll know what part of the big picture it is in.

    How to Read through the Bible

    Option 1: Read through the entire Bible from cover to cover.

    Option 2: Read specific books first to get an effective overview of the Bible

    Books of the Bible to Read for an Effective Overview

    These 15 books of the Bible will help you cover all the major themes and the main storyline of the Bible.

  • Genesis
  • Ephesians
  • Revelation
  • If you want more details on why these books are suggested and how they fit into the big-picture overview of the Bible, you can find it in this article: What Is the Best Order to Read the Bible for Beginners?

    The books of the Bible are arranged by category, not chronologically. Thats one of the reasons that reading the Bible from cover-to-cover is challenging for many people.

    For example, there are 4 records of the Gospels, the life of Jesus, in the New Testament. You can read one of the Gospels the first time through and then read the others after you have an overview of the Bible.

    Im Ready To Get Started What Now

    Start now. Today! Grab a Bible and a pen and just give it a try. Knock down the barriers of not knowing as much as youd like or of carving out time in your schedule by taking that first step. Study on your own, gather with a study group, or round up the kids and study as a family at the kitchen table. Just BEGINand dont be afraid to start small. God will meet you where you are, every time, on every step of the journey. Youll soon find that before you know it, youre indeed on the road to being made newthrough him.

    Also Check: Loneliness Bible Verses

    Be Mindful Of Verses And Section Headers

    Bibles today divide up the individual books within them with chapters and verses, but Bibles havent always done this. In the 13th century, Stephen Langton added chapters to Scripture, and in the late 16th century, Robert Stephanus added verses. These divisions are incredibly convenient. Imagine trying to find a specific place in Scripture during a sermon without them.

    These divisions are tools that help us read Scripture theyre not an actual part of it. When it comes to reading the Bible, these boundaries can hinder your ability to observe what biblical authors are saying. For instance, if you pick up the Book of Galatians at the beginning of chapter 4, youll find yourself in the middle of Pauls argument:

    What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

    To pick up the thread of Pauls argument, you need to go back and catch up. Some sections make much more sense if you read them within the context of the surrounding chapters, like Matthew 23-25 or 1 Corinthians 12-14. Often, its helpful to put chapter and verse breakdowns out of your mind as you dive into Scripture.

    Another addition to a lot of Bibles is a subheading before many passages or chapters. For instance, the New International Version a popular modern translation of the Bible breaks sections in Philippians 1 down like this:

    • Thanksgiving and Prayer

    • Pauls Chains Advance the Gospel

    • Life Worthy of the Gospel

    Getting Started With Bible Study

    How to Break Down a Scripture  2

    Good Bible study does not happen by accident. If you want to study Scripture, youll need to carve out intentional time for it. Everyone has distractions and responsibilities vying for their attention, so it helps if you have a set time when you will read your Bible. There are great apps out there, like YouVersion, that allow you to set reminders for yourself to get into Gods Word.

    When youre first getting started with studying the Bible, its important to set some realistic goals for yourself. You may start with reading a specific book of the Bible for five to 10 minutes every day and setting aside one day a week for a more intentional time of studying Scripture.

    Reading and studying the Bible are two different practices. Bible reading fits into the devotional category. This typically involves reading a shorter Bible passage and doing less in-depth investigation of the text. It is more focused on the immediate application of the passage to your life. Bible study is intentionally digging into a passage of Scripture and using various interpretive techniques to understand what the author is saying. Its good to set aside time for both devotional reading and studying.

    Once you decide how much time you want to commit to studying, put it on your calendar. Think of it as an appointment that you do not want to miss.

    Recommended Reading: What Is The Order Of The Bible

    An Example Of Interpretation

    Now that you have your list of observations, you can wrestle with the questions that arise from them and the things that youve seen.

    The questions that might come out of your observations about Mark might include:

  • Why does Mark not include the Christmas story in the beginning?

  • What does Mark mean by good news”?

  • What does the term Messiah mean? Is there any significance to the fact that Mark does not need to explain what that title means? Could that be a clue about his intended audience?

  • How about Son of God”? Why did Mark feel this title was necessary on top of calling Jesus the Messiah?

  • Now that youve come up with questions, its time to do research. A key discipline for good study is not to be too quick to fall back on what you think you know. You might see the word Messiah and think, I know what that means. But that can undermine your ability to discover new things. So even though you might be familiar with the word Messiah, you might want to focus on Mark and his original audience. What did that word mean to them, and what kinds of feelings and hopes did it invoke?

    For the first question, you might think through your initial reading of Mark. Its the shortest of the Gospels, and you might have noticed that Mark seems focused on the action and hitting all the significant points. Then you could go back and look at how the other Gospels start:

    How To Study The Bible

    When you become a Christian, you enter into an exciting, lifelong relationship with the Bible. The Bible helps you understand God and His relationship with humanity. It also becomes a source of support for you during difficult times.

    The better you know the Bibles teachings, the more grounded your faith becomes. The more time and intentionality you put into understanding Gods Word, the more treasures you discover.

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    What Is The Best Translation For Beginners

    Many people wonder what version of the Bible a beginner should use, and heres my short answer: The best Bible translation for you is the one youll actually use.

    For example, I could tell you that many people insist on only using the KJV, but if the KJV seems like a foreign language to you , then you probably wont stick with studying it.

    There are many solid english translations to choose from. A good starting point for some beginners is the NIV, since its fairly easy to read and uses more modern words we tend to use in our everyday life. You may also want to consider an ESV which is a more literal translation. The more literal the translation, the better option it is for studying.

    When my husband first began studying his many Bible years ago, he loved the Amplified Bible, which adds synonyms to help you understand the meaning of certain words as you read. Today, he finds the NASB to be his version of choice. Truly, choose the one that suits your current reading style and aligns closely with your comprehension level.

    I do have one caution to make here: Some people use The Message as their Bible of choice. Note that The Message is not necessarily a version of the Bible, but rather a paraphrase of it. While it might be sufficient for casual reading, I personally dont recommend using it for focused Bible study.

    The Sword Method Of Bible Study

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    The Sword Method of Bible Study is a simple, but powerful way to study the Bible. You simply ask 3 questions that cover the 3 most important points. It can be applied to a single verse or multiple verses .

    The blade of the sword points upward toward heaven, so you ask what do I learn about God in this passage? Next, the handle of the sword points down toward man, so ask what do I learn about people in this passage? The 3rd question asks how we apply what we learned: What does God want me to do?

    There are many variations of this type of devotional or observation Bible study. You might have seen different graphics or charts for Bible Study methods that emphasize different aspects of learning and applying the Bible.

    The important thing is to not get distracted by the tools. Highlighters, charts, acronyms are helpful if they help you engage with the Bible and apply it to your life. Usually, its best to go with a simple, reproducible method like the Sword Method.

    Its simple and reproducible, so it can be used and taught by adults and children. It can be used to lead a small group Bible Study or discussion.

    Here are a few related questions you can branch off into. You can get an idea of how useful the 3 main questions are.

  • What does this passage teach me about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
  • Read Also: The Order Of The Bible


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