If you are new to studying the Bible, you may be wondering how to study the Bible for beginners. If you are looking for tips and ideas on how to study the Bible, (whether you are a newbie or have been reading the Bible for years), you’re in the right place!
The Bible is one of the most widely read books of all time–and can also be one of the most difficult books to understand at times. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Studying the Bible does not have to be a chore, a drag, or a dry academic activity. On the contrary, studying the Bible can be one of the most fulfilling, enlightening, and powerful daily practices that you will ever implement in your life.
Why? Because when we seek God through prayer and intently study the truth of Scripture, we will experience the incomprehensible love, grace, and truth of our Lord. As God beautifully declares in Jeremiah 29:13,
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
So what is the best way to study the Bible, especially if you are a beginner? Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can study the Bible to gain a better understanding of the depth of our Savior’s love!
How Should a Beginner Read the Bible?
If you are new to studying the Bible, it may be helpful to think of the Bible as the greatest story of all time. God is the great Author who spoke the world into existence with the power of His words. Every great story has major components, like characters, a setting, the plot, the conflict, and a resolution.
The Bible is made up of 66 individual books, and they all point to the same overarching story that is woven throughout the pages of Scripture. They all point to the truth that God loves the world, and that he demonstrated his love for his people by sending his only son Jesus to save the world from sin. (John 3:16)
When you are reading the Bible, think of these key story elements:
Characters: Who are the people in the passage? Where is God in the story? When we think of book characters, we often think of fictional characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales. But biblical characters are REAL people who had real problems and struggles.
God used everyday, ordinary folks to impact the history of the entire world. Whenever we are reading a portion of Scripture, it is important to take careful note of who we are reading about.
Setting: The setting is where the story takes place in the Bible. As you study the Bible, it is important to know where the people live, where they are going, and where they have come from. That is where geographical maps in many study Bibles can come in very handy.
Plot: The plot is simply the events that happen within a story (source). What is happening in the Bible passage you are studying? What are the people doing? Why are those events happening? These are great questions to ask yourself as you read the Bible. After we understand the what within the story, we can then ask the why–why are these events happening, and what does it mean?
Conflict: As we read through the plot and events within the Bible passage we are reading, we can then ask ourselves what conflict or problems the people are facing. What difficult situations are the people up against? Where is God in the midst of their problems? How do the biblical characters deal with those conflicts?
Resolution: The resolution within a story addresses how the conflict or problem was solved. Was there a main event in the story that resolved the problem? How did the people respond to the resolution? How was God part of the resolution?
When we approach the Bible as the greatest story in history and discover new insights within the pages of Scripture, the Bible will no longer feel like a dry text book filled with dated information. We will begin to see powerful glimpses into the heart of God. The Bible is living and active, filled with the life-giving Spirit of God.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
How to Study the Bible with Delight, Joy and Wonder
How do we usually study the things we are most interested in? If I had an interest in learning how to garden, I would probably read lots of books about gardening, watch videos about gardening, read the latest gardening magazines, and reach out in my community to find people who are also interested in gardening.
After I have done all my research, I probably would invest in a few gardening tools, buy the best soil, and start a garden in my backyard. Over time, if I diligently apply the gardening techniques I learned, I would eventually have a thriving garden.
The same steps can be applied to studying the Bible. If we truly have a genuine desire to study the Bible and grow in our understanding of God’s Word, we can read books about studying the Bible, watch videos, and reach out to our community to find other people who are interested in growing in their faith through Bible study.
7 Steps to Understanding the Bible
Here are 7 steps you can take to better understand the Bible today!
1. Read Books about Studying the Bible
Just like the gardening example, you can learn to study the Bible better by reading books other people have written about how to study the Bible.
Here are some helpful resources.
I really love the Precepts Bible study resources that Kay Arthur produces, and this book will really give you a great foundation on how to study the Bible. In this book she teaches how to study the Bible (for beginners for anyone else) using the inductive Bible study method. This method of studying the Bible includes observation (discovering what the Bible says), interpretation (understanding what the Bible means), and application (discovering how the Bible transforms your life).
Related: Check out more on the inductive Bible study method and 13 other Bible study methods in this post!
Jen Wilkin’s approach to helping women study and understand the Bible is very inviting and easy to understand. She teaches the foundations of how to study the Bible by looking at how to study the Bible with purpose, perspective, patience, process, and prayer. A very helpful guide for understanding the Bible!
2. Use Bible Commentaries
If we go back to our example of learning about gardening, using a Bible commentary is kind of like reading through a huge book of expert gardeners who have all written about plants and gardening techniques. A Bible commentary is a compilation of Bible scholars, pastors and experts who explain every Bible passage verse-by-verse. It is a great resource to have handy as you study the Bible.
3. Use a Study Bible
A study Bible is another great way to study the Bible if you are just beginning, or if you have been a Christian for years and are ready to dive deeper in your faith. A study Bible includes comments and notes of Bible scholars right within the margins of the Bible. It also includes helpful charts, timelines, maps, and summaries of each book of the Bible.
Related: Check out this post on how to choose the best study Bible for women here.
4. Choose a Bible Translation you can Understand
Since the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, it’s important to choose a Bible translation that best helps you understand the Bible. There are many different Bible translations to read, and sometimes it may be challenging to pick one that works best for you.
I grew up reading the NIV (New International Version), but many people also use the ESV (English Standard Version), New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New Living Translations (NLT), and others. Try reading a passage you are familiar with (like John 3:16) and use Biblehub.com to look up the verse. Once you search for a particular Bible passage, the Scripture will be listed in several different Bible translations. You can use that as a guide to choose a Bible translation that is easy for you to understand!
5. Use Free Online Bible Study Tools and Apps
There are many other free online Bible study tools similar to Biblehub.com, where you can read the Bible in different translations, look up geographical maps, read commentaries written by biblical scholars, and understand the Bible by looking up words in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
Some of these Bible study tools are:
- Biblegateway.com (also available as an app)
- Biblehub.com (also available as an app)
- Blueletterbible.com (also available as an app)
Some free Bible apps include:
We certainly live in a day and age where having the Bible at our fingertips is easier than ever!
6. Watch Videos and Sermons on How to Study the Bible
Youtube makes it easy to find videos on how to study the Bible. Here is a video by Jen Wilkin, author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. She has a 5-day video series where she explains how to study the Bible using the principles in her book. In this video series she dives into how to study the book of James.
7. Join a Bible Study Group in your Church or Community
One of the best ways to study the Bible is to study in a community setting. When you are able to study the Bible with a group of people who also desire to grow in their faith, you will not only develop meaningful relationships with others in your community, but you will be able to ask questions and see how other people study the Bible.
Check your local church community for group Bible studies in your area and grow in the Word with others! Bible Study Fellowship is a great organization that offers free in-depth Bible studies, and you can find Bible Study Fellowship groups in your area by going to their website.
How to Study the Bible and Understand what you Read
Once you have a better understanding of how to study the Bible with the tools and resources available to you, you are ready to dive into the Word of God! Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you understand what you are reading in the Bible.
Start with Prayer
It’s always a great idea to start your Bible study time with prayer. I love the Scripture in Psalm 119:18 which says,
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
What a powerful prayer! Before we turn the pages of our Bibles, we can turn our hearts to God in prayer. He will certainly answer us when we ask him for wisdom as we seek to understand more of who he is through Scripture.
Choose a Bible Passage to Study
Some people struggle with which Bible passage to read. There are so many Scriptures to study, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start. I like to choose one book of the Bible to study, and I alternate between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
I usually read one chapter a day, but if the chapter is a bit long I may read only a few portions of that chapter and pick up where I left off the next day. (I also love reading the Psalms, so I usually try to read a few verses of a psalm in addition to my Bible study reading-I just love the psalms!)
Read the Bible Passage once without Taking Notes
Try reading the Bible passage you have chosen once without taking any notes. I like to call this a “bird’s eye” view of reading the Bible. When you read through the passage, try reading it as you would read a story. As you read, make a mental note of who is mentioned in the passage, where they are, and where you see God.
Read the Bible Passage Again (this time take notes)
Many researchers have concluded that our brains retain more information when we take notes.
After you have read the passage first by making mental notes of what is happening in the Scriptures, read the Bible passage the second time as if you are mining for gold. Read through the passage slowly, and mark words and phrases that are unclear to you. Write notes in the margin of your Bible or in a separate notebook.
Feel free to use highlighters, markers, or colored pencils to highlight certain portions of the Scripture that you want to investigate further. Write down questions you have and key concepts in the passage. You can look up words that you don’t know by using a dictionary or by looking up key terms in blueletterbible.org.
Read The Bible Passage in Another Translation
If you have time in your Bible study, read the same Bible passage in another Bible translation. (You can do this in Biblehub.com) You will be amazed at how much more insight you will get from a Bible passage by simply reading it again in another translation. Different Bible translations use a variety of words and synonyms, which can give us a more complete understanding of the passage we are reading.
Visualize the Scriptures through Drawing and Doodling
Another great way to study the Bible is to doodle what passage means to you. For example, if you are studying a passage like Psalm 23, you might draw a shepherd’s crook or a sheep to represent how God is your shepherd.
I am not artistic at all, but I understand the value of not only writing my thoughts, but drawing them too–no matter how silly my sketches might look! Drawing pictures to visualize what we read in the Bible helps us understand and grasp Scripture even more, so that we can recall those passages later in our memory when we need them!
Related: Check out this post on 10 Creative Ways to Study the Bible!
Apply what you have Learned to your Life
Now is the time to actively apply what you have learned in your Bible study. After you have a better understanding of what you have studied, you can ask questions like, “What does this mean to me?” Jot down the ways you can apply what you have learned to your life. Think about how God’s amazing story is connected to your own story.
Other questions to ponder as you apply the Scriptures to your life could be:
- What can I learn from this passage?
- How does God’s truth in this passage equip me to better live for him?
- What areas in my life do I need to change after reading this Bible passage?
Applying the Scriptures to our lives challenges us to not only HEAR God’s Word, but to become a DOER of the Word.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.James 1:22-25
This passage in James powerfully expresses how we can put God’s Word into action and apply it to our everyday lives!
End your Bible Study Time with Prayer
Just as you began our Bible study time with prayer, you can also end your time in prayer. We can conclude our time in the Word thanking God for giving us wisdom and insight through the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to illuminate your heart and mind with the powerful truth of Scripture, and ask God to give you the strength to apply what you have learned to your life each day.
Free Printable Bible Study
Take a look at the free Bible study on Garments of Freedom on how to find true freedom and peace through Christ! You can use this Bible study in your personal study, or use it in a group setting. May you experience the joy of the Lord as you seek his face each day through studying the Bible!
More Free Bible Study Printables
Check out these other free Bible study resources that you can also use in your Bible study time!
Feel free to download a free devotional planner to help you study God’s Word and draw closer to him! I have created two versions of this devotional planner–a floral one and a fun confetti planner.
You can print the floral devotional planner here.
Print the confetti devotional planner here.
I hope that you have found this post helpful on how you can study the Bible as a beginner. You can use these ideas if you are new to studying the Bible or if you are just looking for new ways to approach God’s Word with awe and wonder. Studying the Bible doesn’t have to be a boring task that we do out of duty, but when we understand how to better understand Scripture, it is a delight, a joy and a privilege, as we get to know God better, one page at a time!
Looking for ways to deepen your prayer life? Read the BOLD Prayer Challenge blog series! In this four-day blog series on prayer, you will receive a short devotional discussing how different people in the Bible prayed with boldness.
You will can also download a prayer guide, Scripture reading plan, Scripture cards, bookmarks, and a Bible journaling page!
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