How to Study the Bible - Part 3
"Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 NASB
Summary: All methods of Bible Study have value in learning God’s Word, but whatever method we use, the point to remember is that studying the Bible is what’s important.
Knowing a variety of study methods helps us be flexible in our approach to scripture as we concentrate on a particular text, subject, or even a word. It also contributes to balancing our learning.
The “whole counsel of God” is an all-inclusive term related to God’s revelation covering both doctrine and duty in the Christian life.
A balanced Bible Study plan uses a variety of techniques.
6 Important Bible Study Methods
1.) The Expositional Method - Studying individual books verse by verse, using the observation, interpretation and application guidelines from our study of Interpretation. The benefit of this method is that it reveals to us the flow of the author’s thoughts throughout the book, which contributes to a more accurate understanding of individual verses. Requires thinking about how the verses relate to one another but leads to greater understanding in the long run. Bible commentaries are helpful with this method.d
2.) The Survey Method – Study books as a whole to get acquainted with general information, rather than the details of each verse. With the method, we investigate things like the author, where he is writing from, his literary style, theme, important topics contained within the book, who it was written for, and issues or circumstances the recipients may have been facing.
It is also possible to survey the Old & New Testament so we understand how the books of the Bible are divided and relate to each other.
The 39 Old Testament books can be divided into 5 categories
- Genesis through Deuteronomy, the first 5 books are known as THE LAW or The Pentateuch meaning five volumes).
- Joshua through Esther are the twelve historical books.
- Job through Song of Solomon are the five poetic books.
- Isaiah through Daniel are the five major prophets.
- Hosea through Malachi are the twelve minor prophets.
The Old Testament is written mainly in Hebrew, with some small sections written in Aramaic. They deal primarily with the relationship with HIS chosen nation, Israel.
The 27 New Testament books, originally written in Greek, can be divided into 4 categories:
- The Four Gospels and Acts are the historical books.
- Romans through Philemon, the next thirteen books are, letters of the Apostle Paul to churches or individuals.
- Hebrews through Jude, the next eight books are called, the general letters.
- Revelation, a prophetic book, appropriately ends the New Testament.
Bible encyclopedias, Bible dictionaries, and Old Testament and New Testament overviews are all helpful when surveying the Bible.
3.) The Topical Method - The study of a specific topic. This involves accumulating all the Bible says about it and then organizing the information. A Bible concordance and topical Bible guide us to specific verses about topics throughout the Bible. This enables one to see how each subject is addressed in the Old & New Testament, and by individual biblical authors.
*The weakness of this method is that verses can be misunderstood if taken out of context.
4.) The Biographical Method – This method allows you to develop character sketches of individuals in the Bible. There are over 2,900 people mentioned in the Bible, some by name only. As with a topical method of study, we can use a concordance to find every Bible verse where the name is found.
Six women in the Bible are named Mary, five men are named John, and five men are named James.
When developing a character sketch, other study helps can make valuable contributions.
Some examples include:
- All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer
- All the Women of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer
- Twelve Ordinary Men by John McArthur
- Twelve Ordinary Women by John McArthur
5.) The Word Study Method – When a person is new to the Christian faith, there are words that are likely unfamiliar. Words like propitiation, redemption, imputation, justification and sanctification are basic to the message of God’s salvation in scripture. The words of scripture are the words that God inspired , so they should become part of our study.
General words like – “The World” can refer to different things. For example, three Greek words translate to world.
Kosmos –This refers to the world order of unsaved people who are opposed to God and controlled by Satan. John 3:16 “For God so loved the 'world'”
Aion – Refers to the particular age in which we live that’s influential with false ideas and evil.
Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this 'world'”
Oikoumene – Refers to the inhabited world of people.
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world.”
Other interesting words to study include the word LOVE and the word DAY.
6.) The Devotional Method – This type of study is less technical than the others and is primarily for personal encouragement and inspiration in order to deepen our relationship with God, drawing near to Him so that HE might draw near to us.
Examples include – Our Daily Bread, Today in the Word and Days of Praise are common. Another classic is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
The devotional method of study prepares us to meet each day with the knowledge that we have been redeemed by Christ and that He'll strengthen us to do His will.
READING THROUGH THE BIBLE
Another advisable study activity is reading through the Bible. Bible reading should be an ongoing activity in the Christian life. Remember, the activity of Bible Study is more important than the method, but learning to use the methods opens doors to discovering the great truths of scripture.
Conclusion: Using a variety of Bible study methods helps to create a balanced plan which greatly enhances your time in the Word of God and the results it produces.