There is so much we will be covering in regards to bible study. Really, it is an ongoing lesson for me too so I’ll share as I go. For starters, let’s look at some of the tools we can use. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is simply meant to be used as a guide to walk you through practical ways you can get the most out of your study time and to find out for yourself the meaning of scripture as well as it’s origin. Over time you will develop your own techniques and style for studying God’s word and that is how it should be!
I am about to embark on some new learning adventures and I’ll definitely share them with you. Before you read anymore here is a short two minute video about all you really need to study the bible.
- Bible (several translations if possible, including the KJV and Amplified) This list is an explanation of the most popular versions. I prefer the NASB and NKJ. For casual reading I still lean towards the NLT translation.
- KJV (King James Version) – This is the original English version written in the 1600s. Over time, as Old English was spoken less and less, it became increasingly hard to read and understand this version. It was predominantly written word for word from the original Greek and Hebrew even though English is not spoken using the same word order. It is the most widely accepted version and most all bible study tools use it as a reference which is why it is important to own this translation.
- NIV (New International Version) – This translation has tried to balance between emphasis on word-for-word translation and emphasis on meaning. It attempts to preserve the literal text, while bringing forth the concepts and ideas of the message.
- NKJ (New King James Version) – This version is similar to the KJV but it was translated putting less emphasis on word order making it somewhat easier to read and understand. It still contains idioms and metaphors which are highly suited for more advanced readers.
- NLT (New Living Translation) – This text is clearly written and easy to understand. It is translated thought by thought from the original Greek and Hebrew and places more emphasis on overall meaning instead of word for word translation.
- NASB (New American Standard Bible) - This version translates the original texts as literally as possible, preserving word-for-word equivalency and original sentence structure in English wherever possible.
- Amplified Bible – The Amplified Bible captures the full meaning behind the original Greek and Hebrew fully defining the words along the way.
- The Message – This vivid meaning by meaning translation provides the reader with an easy to understand and applicable approach to the original language. It is not translated word for word and uses modern slang.
- Colored pencils (for highlighting in your bible) It is important to note that liquid highlighters leave marks, fade, and bleed so it is typically better to use dry colored pencils on the thin sheets of the bible.
- Notebook (for recording your findings) – Any notebook will do. JUST GET ONE! There is no greater disappointment than knowing God showed you something about a particular scripture or event in your life but not remembering exactly what it was that He showed you. If you write things down then you will always be able to go back over it.
- Concordance (preferably Strong’s Concordance) – The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the most complete, easy-to-use, and understandable concordance for studying the original languages of the Bible. Combining the text of the King James Bible with the power of the Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, you can gain a clearer understanding of the Word.
- Bible dictionary- The bible dictionary contains a wealth of varied information in an easy-to-find alphabetical arrangement. It cross references scriptures for most translations. It is filled with facts and pictures as well as a guide to the arts, cultures, geography, geology, theologies, philosophies, maps, and lifestyles of biblical times.
- Bible handbook (preferably Halley’s Bible Handbook) -The bible handbook provides time-tested help for understanding the Bible—not just with the mind, but also with the heart. It includes a concise Bible commentary, important discoveries in archaeology, related historical data, church history, maps, and more.
The basic formula for study could be derived from these key elements:
- Choose a book or topic to study.
- Read and ask who, what, when, where, and why.
- Study using tools to discover history, context, and author.
- Record findings.
- Continue to pray.
We will dissect one scripture as a guide. Let’s use John 3:16.
1. Read the entire chapter of John to get a greater understanding of the time, place, people spoken to, and relevance.
2. Look it up in a couple of different translations. Do you notice anything different?
3. Look it up in the concordance. We’ll use the word “believeth” as an example. We find that the Strong’s number is G4100 and it is used 248 times in the bible. The original transliterations is pisteu? meaning:
1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in a) of the thing believed
1) to credit, have confidence b) in a moral or religious reference 1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
3) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith 2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity a) to be intrusted with a thing
4. Look up belief in the dictionary. Look at some of the scriptural cross references.
5. Record you findings.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” –2 Tim. 2:15.
What are some ways that you study the word?