Guide for How to Read the Bible Effectively

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I am working on a guide to hand to people who want to get more out of their personal Bible study. I want to make sure it says enough without it saying too much (getting in minutia or things that are less helpful). What would you include in a study guide like that and what would you want to leave out?

0 Responses

  1. So you are thinking of creating a simple little outline – that should be easy.

    Oh, wait, no, I meant to say – that is a HUGE undertaking. Good luck.

    I think the things that have helped my bible reading the most are: 1) knowing that I need to read different genres differently (a section on Hebrew poetry would be good); 2) learning that not everything in the bible is of equal importance (you might suggest certian places they could start); and 3) understanding that the story of the Old Testament IS the story of the New Testament, they are not separate works, but they must be understood together.

    I might avoid getting into text criticism and pseudepigraphical/apocryphal writings I think that might just confuse the issue at first.

  2. I would include a couple of principles:

    1. The Bible does not mean what it never meant. Do not try to find “new” meanings in a text. Try to find the orignal intent of the text. After that, you can make appropriate applications (which may be new to your situation).

    2. Ask three questions of a text (in this order):
    A. What does the text say?
    B. What does the text mean?
    C. What does the text mean to me?
    The order is important because if we start with “What does the text mean to me?” without understanding what the text says and means, we could miss the point entirely.

  3. With the key being personal Bible study, I would focus on these 9 questions when reading the text. A text may not answer every one of these, but will always answer at least one:
    1. Is there a sin to confess?
    2. A promise to believe?
    3. Attitude to change?
    4. Command to obey?
    5.Example to follow/or avoid?
    6. A prayer to say?
    7. Error to avoid?
    8. A truth to believe?
    9. Something to praise God for?
    I first saw this in freshman Bible at Harding, but most decent in Rick Warren’s book on Bible study methods. It has been quite helpful.

  4. There are a couple of things I have learned over time to do when studying (and that I encourage others to do as well).

    1. Write down questions that come up as you read the text. Then begin your study with those questions.
    2. Understand the genre. You don’t need to get deep on this as a student – just understand is it history, poetry a narrative, etc.
    3. Read the entire text through if it is written to be read as such. For example, the Pauline Epistles were written to be read in one setting.

    Best wishes with this project. I’d love to see what you come up with.


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