How To Start Bible Study: My Experience
Ill be honest with you: I havet always loved, or even liked, Bible study. Back before I knew how to start studying the Bible, I couldnt tell Numbers from, well, a math textbook. I did my first Bible study online when I was 17, and I distinctly remember the teacher telling us to flip to Acts 2. Acts in which book? I thought, confused as everyone in the video dutifully opened their Bibles to the same page. It was like she told me to open to verse 2 and I was expected to find it.
Thats right I was so new to the Bible that thought an Act was the word for a verse. Now, 10 years later, and I have a degree in Religion with a focus on Biblical studies, and have written a few Bible studies myself. God sure does choose the strangest people.
This to say: if youre new to all of this, Ive been there.
Whether youre a new believer, a lifelong Christian whos just starting to explore the Bible, or just looking because youre curious, reading the Bible by yourself for the first time can be intimidating. I know how hard it is to find resources that explain what you need to know without overwhelming you. Or, worse, making you feel like youll never, ever get it. But you can, and you will. Today, I want to show you a few different Bible study methods that can help you learn how to start studying the Bible. But first, lets lay down some basics.
Use A Bible Study Method To Illuminate Gods Word
You dont have to be overwhelmed when reading the Bible! While you may not understand everything you read, the study methods below will make it simple and convenient to process your time in Gods Word. Plus, the more you read and draw near to the heart of God, the more He will reveal Himself to you.
As a total beginner, the Read & Respond Bible study method worked well for me. It allowed me to process what I read and think through how I could apply it to my life.
Plus, its practical enough to squeeze into a busy schedule. If you have 10 minutes in your day, this Bible study method can work for you!
Watch how simple the Read & Respond method can be in the tutorial video:
As I matured in faith, I was looking for a study method that went a little deeper into the passage and helped me dissect the meaning. The Write the Word study method was a perfect solution, and I enjoyed taking this next step to grow in faith.
Watch the Write the Word tutorial here:
Milk Chocolate A Close Translation That Is Easily Understandable For Modern Readers
ESV A translation that tries to combine literal translation with being easy to understand in everyday modern English. This translation is common with mainline protestant communities.
NIV A translation that tries to combine literal translation with being easy to understand in everyday modern English. This translation is common with evangelical communities.
HCSB A translation that tries to combine literal translation with being easy to understand in everyday modern English. This translation is common with evangelical communities.
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Another Method Of Book Study Is Called The Synthetic Method
For example, the Book of Exodus tells the history of the children of Israel from the death of Joseph in Egypt until the erecting of the tabernacle in the wilderness in the time of Moses. This covers approximately 400 years.
The principles of Bible book study, whether inductive or synthetic, are very similar. Such study will require more time than the previous methods mentioned, but it will be amply rewarding.
Why You Shouldnt Start From The Beginning
Conventional wisdom tells us when we pick up a book to start at the beginning. Its how you read a book, from front to back. But the Bible is different. And I think its best to NOT start in the beginning.
Now, Im not saying you shouldnt read the beginning of the Bible. You should. In fact, I think you should eventually read the whole Bible. Just not at first.
Well for starters, the Bible isnt a single book. Its a collection of 66 books written over sixteen centuries by over forty authors. It is a diverse collection with different styles, unique voices, different purposes, and incredible stories.
Because the Bible is a compilation of books I think its best to start with some of the most central books in this collection. That way you can get a proper framework to engage with the rest of scripture.
So, where to start reading the Bible? Lets take a look.
Again, if you dont have a good basis of what the Bible is and how to read it check out some of the blog posts Ive written on it. You can find more under the category How To Read The Bible
Look Up Words You Dont Know The Meaning
One of the biggest reasons people stumble with Bible study theyre not sure of the meaning of all the words. Thats ok! Instead of wondering about a word, try using the dictionary feature of Biblegateway.com. This will help you better understand the words or discover what it means in relation to the culture of the time.
The Best Order To Read The Bible For The First Time
Now I am not going to make a blanket statement and say you HAVE to read this book first and then give you an order.
I am going to give you a few different book ideas since its your first time reading the Bible.
If you dont want options and are just ready to be told where to start reading the Bible, Ive made a seven day video course just for you. Join right here!
Go check your email now!
Before that lets dive into a few facts about the Bible so you can understand the book a little better.
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Facts About The Bible
- The Bible is split into two sections: the Old Testament & the New Testament.
- There are 66 books total. 39 in the Old. 27 in the New.
- The original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew and the New Testament Greek!
- The Bible was written by about 40 different people of different times & backgrounds.
- These people were used by the Holy Spirit to write all these words to use to lead us to God and through this life!
Okay I want to share a little more about the first fact because that was the biggest mind altering subject I dove into when I started reading the Bible.
God is the same throughout the entire Bible. You may be thinking Then why was He so violent in the Old Testament?
That is a deep question I am not going to answer today BUT we can still get more understanding of the differences.
In general, the Old Testament is more stories & the New Testament is more direct teachings.
The Old Testament can be more difficult to apply to your everyday life because it isnt as direct and when looking at context we realize many of those Old Testament laws dont apply to us after the cross.
BUT it is still important to study!
You know why?
Because you learn more about WHO God is throughout the entire Bible. You cant pick and choose what to focus on.
I dont recommend ONLY spending time studying the New Testament.
I am not saying to ONLY study the Old Testament either.
I believe you need to find a balance because God will use both sections to teach and lead you.
Study It By The Verbs In The Verse
For example, if you were studying John 3:16 you would find the following verbs: loved gave should not perish have
You could make a comparative list like this:God loved Humankind believesGod gave Humankind shall not perish Humankind has everlasting life.
Or simply take the nouns in this wonderful verse: God world only begotten Son whoever everlasting life.
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Unlike Most Books Dont Start At The Beginning
The Bible is the Word of God, and every word is holy. However, once you get into the book of Genesis, you will notice a lot of genealogy and it can be a little intimidating as a beginner.
Plus, unlike typical books, you dont have to read the Bible from cover to cover to get started. Honestly, you dont even have to start at the beginning!
Instead, choose a book of the Bible thats easier to understand, such as one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When I first started reading the Bible I enjoyed the book of Luke for the way it described the life of Jesus.
Plus, starting at the Gospels will help you grasp the sacrifice of Jesus, identify with His time on earth and relate to Him in a more personal way.
How I Study The Bible
It has taken me a while to figure out a Bible study method I really love. My method is still ever-changing. However, I will share it with you in case you wanted to take it and modify it to suit your Bible study needs.
As I mentioned earlier, I use the ESV Journaling Bible from the Daily Grace Co. in Bible Study. I love its wide margins that I can write notes, doodles, and observations in. Yes, I draw in my Bible!
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How To Read The Bible: Read A Little Every Day
Getting Gods Word into your life doesnt have to take long. Start smallfive or 10 minutes is better than none. Sometimes less is more, especially when reading less means youll actually remember more.
Chose a time and place thats convenient for you. Many people read their Bible first thing in the morning, choosing to spend time with God before daily distractions get in the way. But if mornings arent your thing, dont sweat it. That you read Gods Word is more important than when you read Gods Word. Personally, I love to read my Bible at a local coffee shop, but I once read through the entire Bible while waiting in carpool lines.
What Is The Bible
Before diving into the books order and structure, lets pause for a moment to consider the heart and message of the Bible.
While the word Bible comes from the Greek word biblia, meaning book, it may be helpful to know that the Bible isnt an ordinary book that reads smoothly from cover to cover. Its actually a library, or collection, of books written in several languages over 1600 years by about 40 different authors. Its books are shelved or ordered by type and topic rather than chronologically.
All the different parts of the Bible come together to form one narrative. Its a true story with a courageous main character, great adversity and conflict that ultimately climaxes in triumph.
Listen to this description of the grand biblical story by Sally Lloyd-Jones:
For more on how the Bible is a complete story, see What is the Bible?
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How To Study The Bible For Beginners
Weve talked about where to start reading the Bible. The next questions to answer all start withhow?
How do beginners read the Bible?How to start reading the Bible daily?Can you show me how to take good Bible study notes?
Youll find tons of Bible study tips and tools for effectiveBible study methods pdf style here.
If youre looking for something a little more personal and hands-on Id love to introduce you to the VIBRANT Bible Study Kit!
VIBRANT is a printable Bible Study course we created to help women engage with Scripture and study the Bible in context with intention and a splash of color. Inside youll find:
- Methods of Bible Highlighting
Which Book Should I Read First
The Bible is made up of two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is further divided into 39 books, and the New Testament is made up of 27 books. One of the most commonly asked questions by people studying the Bible for the first time is Which book should I start with? The truth is there is no one right answer! But here are some tips and suggestions that lots of beginners find helpful.
You can start from the beginning, literally, with Genesis. Genesis is the first book of the Bible and covers the creation of the world and how life came to be. There is certainly something to be said for opening up your Bible and reading from Genesis to Revelation . Working through the Bible from start to finish is a great way to familiarize yourself with all of the different books.
Another common suggestion is to start with the Gospel of John in the New Testament. All four Gospels recount the stories of Jesus life and ministry. What makes John, in particular, a good starting point for Bible study is the artistic and narrative style. Starting with John provides beginners with an introduction to understand the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, which can add helpful historical context for reading other books of the Bible.
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Bible Study By Verses
In studying the historical passages of the Bible, such as most of the Old Testament or parts of the Gospels, each verse may have only one simple meaning.
But many verses in both the Old and New Testaments are rich with many great Bible truths that will demand more detailed study. There are many ways for you to study a single Bible verse.
Soap Bible Study Method
This simple Bible study method is perfect for when youre short on time. It takes about 10 minutes, and is perfect for the busy woman who wants to grow in faith, but needs a quick quiet time.
Remember the acronym SOAP for a simple study method:
- S-SCRIPTURE-Read the Scripture passage and write out the verses.
- O-OBSERVE Record your observations about the verse and the main message of this passage.
- A-APPLY-Write how you can apply this verse to your life and how you can live this message in your daily life
- P-PRAY Pray and spend time being still before the Lord
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How To Start Studying The Bible
When you start your study of the Bible God can speak directly to YOU if you ask him. You can understand the basics of His word all by yourself. You do not need a priest, preacher, scholar or church denomination to grasp its fundamental teachings . Over time, our heavenly Father will lead you into comprehending the “meat” or more spiritually in-depth doctrines of his holy word.
In order for God to speak to you through studying His truth in the Bible, however, you must be ready to put aside your preconceptions and cherished beliefs you may have learned. You must be willing to start your pursuit with a fresh mind and be willing to believe what you read.
Have you ever questioned the traditions various religions state come from the Bible? Did they exclusively come from a study of Holy writ or from another place? If you are willing to approach the Bible with an open mind and a willingness to believe what God teaches you, your efforts will open up vistas of truth that will amaze you.
In regard to Biblical translations to purchase, you can never go wrong with obtaining a King James translation for your studies. Although some of its words are a bit dated, many reference tools such as Strong’s Concordance are keyed to its verses. If you do not have the money to buy a KJV, do a Google search for organizations and outreaches that provide free copies to the public. You may also wish to try contacting a local church in your area.
With A Bible Reading Program
There are many different Bible reading programs, and some of the most popular ones are read-the-Bible-in-a-year programs. These programs are generally designed to provide variety by taking readers to various books in the Old and New Testament every day or week. If you crave variety and enjoy reading several books at the same time in a structured way, this may be for you.
On the other hand, if you have a one-track mind and would find keeping track of your progress in several books challenging, many of these programs may not fit you well. Find a program that covers one book at a time.
- Dont just read for speed. Finishing the Bible in a year is an admirable goal, but making time to think about what you are reading is important too.
- But dont feel you have to understand everything the first time through. If you are new to reading the Bible and unfamiliar with its history and customs, recognize that everything may not be totally clear. You can write down your main questions and plan to study them in more detail. This website provides many resources that can help.
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Where To Start Reading The Bible For The Beginner
If you are asking Where do I start reading the Bible? this post was written for you. There are so many ways we get to this question like maybe we are seeking direction from God, or we want to grow closer to Him, or we have questions about who He is. Well I love sharing my passion for Scripture with others and this is a simple guide to get you started reading the Bible.