John C. Richards, Jr.
4 Tips for Studying the Bible
Updated: Apr 30, 2022
Bible study is intimidating for a lot of people. If that's you, I want to help you out. Here are four quick tips to help you study the Bible.
1. Don’t Study The Bible
I know. It sounds counterintuitive. But hear me out. Many people approach Scripture too casually, like the Word of God is to be dissected like a biology lab experiment. Instead, it should be ingested like a fine filet mignon.
That’s why I encourage people not to study the Bible. Rather, they should let the Bible study them. [One day] a young man is sitting underneath a tree reading Scripture. Jesus comes along and calls him an upright man. The man is perplexed. How is it that Jesus knows this about him? He was reading the Word of God until the Word of God came along and started reading him!
We have so many touchpoints to access Scripture in the West that we’ve nearly lost reverence for it. Studying the Bible becomes a chore for many people trying to plow through a Bible Reading Plan. But the true joy in Bible study isn’t what you get out of it; it’s what gets into you. When’s the last time you sat and let a passage study you?
The true joy in Bible study isn’t what you get out of it; it’s what gets into you.
2. Slow Down
Again, we love Bible reading plans. We like to plow through them like a farmer trying to squeeze every bit of sunlight out of a day. In doing so, I fear we might miss the true purpose of Bible Study—meditation. Scripture tells us that we’re [to meditate on God’s Word] day and night, but I fear we confuse consuming information for true meditation.
Think about it. What do you do when you get to those genealogies in your Bible reading plan? Do you sit there and think about each name and the role each person plays in God’s redemptive plan? Or do you move past it like it’s a bad relationship? Most of us are willing to admit that we don’t like genealogies. But if we truly believe all Scripture is God-breathed, we need to seriously consider every word written in Scripture. Yes, even that dreaded book of Leviticus.
Once you slow down, you’ll start to see things you’ve never seen before. Like the fact that women are included in Jesus’ genealogy (which was rare in those days). Why are they included? They’re included for a very specific reason that I’ll leave to you to discover. It just takes slowing down and reading the signs in a text.
This one seems obvious but needs to be included. Prayer is as much a part of reading Scripture as breathing is to life. Prayer is simply communicating with God, but it makes all the difference in the world when you’re reading God’s Word. Sure there are tools we can use to interpret a text, but it’s always best to go to the source first when reading Scripture. God wrote it, God crafted it, and God interprets it.
Show me a person who fails to pray when reading Scripture and I’ll show you a person who is reading a literary work and not words breathed onto pages by our Creator God. Which one are you?
4. Get a Good Study Bible
Having a good study Bible is like having a good teacher to consult when your mind gets stuck on a set of words or an idea. Study Bibles are designed to help the reader find good cross-references, understand certain passages' historical and cultural backgrounds, and glean from scholars and leading Bible interpreters on difficult topics and subjects.
Personally, I enjoy the ESV Study Bible, but there are a ton of study Bibles out there that can help you read Scripture with a keen eye. Having a study Bible also helps you slow down. Check every cross-reference. Read every footnote. They are in the study Bible for a reason. Don’t run past them too quickly. There are days when I’ll spend 30-40 minutes on one verse because the cross-references and footnotes are so good. If you don’t have a study Bible, pick one up today and you’ll see the difference immediately.
Question: Any other things you do that help you with studying Scripture?