Knowing how to study the Bible as beginners doesn’t have to be difficult. Here’s a simple 5 step process to help you get the most from your Bible reading.
A Beginner’s Guide to Studying the Bible
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1. Choose the Right Bible
If you have ever visited a bookstore or done a search on Amazon for a new Bible, you can quickly be overwhelmed by the many choices for a Bible.
The first thing you will notice about Bibles is that there are many different versions. You have probably heard of the KJV (the King James Version) but maybe you haven’t heard of the English Standard Version (ESV) or the Amplified Version. What are the differences between these different Bible translations?
Understanding Bible Translations vs. Bible Paraphrases
A Bible translation is the process of converting the Bible from the original text/language into a modern language. Good translations will stay as close to original text and meaning as possible. Many good Bible translations are available today. Here are a few:
As you grow in your faith, you may find comparing passages from different translations will help you understand the Bible better. But as a beginner, one good translation will work.
What is a Bible paraphrase? A Bible paraphrase is a loose translation of the Bible that conveys the meaning of the Bible text in a more modern literary presentation. Many scholars and Bible readers feel Bible paraphrases are not as true to the original texts. Here are examples of Bible paraphrases:
- The Living Bible
- The Message
- Amplified Bible
Should you choose a Bible translation or a Bible paraphrase? A Bible translation that remains true to the original text is the best option to understand and study the Bible. However, Bible paraphrases may be helpful to understand difficult passages but should not be relied on as your only study Bible.
2. Select a Bible Study Plan
After choosing a Bible, the next step is to choose a Bible study plan. I suggest a Bible study plan for beginners because it will help you focus on a topic or even reading the entire Bible.
A Bible study plan might last a week or two or even the entire year. Here are of my some favorite places to find a Bible Study plan:
- She Reads Truth – has a free daily Bible reading on their website or you can purchase a printed Bible study or download their app (free and paid Bible studies).
- Bible Gateway Reading Plans
- Book of the Bible Study
3. Read the Bible Text
This step is the heart of understanding the Bible.
You have to actually read the Bible. Read the text and see for yourself what it says. Don’t just read books about the Bible or Bible stories. The Bible is God’s Word. Take time to read the original source.
More importantly, when you read the Bible with an open heart, you will hear from God. The Bible is God’s Word to us. It’s a living book, not just a story, not written by men, but the holy, inspired Word of God. No other book can make this claim.
The words of Bible have power to change our lives like no other book.
4. Use Commentary and Study Bibles to Aid Understanding
If you have spent time reading the Bible, you know some passages that can be difficult and challenging to understand. To understand these difficult passages, you’ll want to use a study Bible or commentary.
My personal favorite study Bible is the Reformation Study Bible (ESV translation). Here are a few more study Bible’s to consider:
- The Woman’s Study Bible (New King James Version) This study Bible has great study notes focused on issues for women.
- Chronological Study Bible (New King James Version) This study Bible organizes the Bible in order. You might find the timeline of Bible events is different than you expected.
- Parallel Bible (New King James Version and the Amplified Paraphrase side by side for comparison to improve understanding)
You can also use Bible commentaries to aid in your Bible study. Bible commentaries provide background and in-depth insight for all passages in the Bible.
- MacArthur Bible Commentary
- Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible
- The Wiersbe Bible Commentary
5. Reflect and Meditate
After reading the Bible and studying a commentary, take some time to reflect and meditate on what you have read. Consider how you can apply it to your life today. Although the Bible was written thousands of years ago, it still provides us instruction and truth for today.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to open your Bible, quickly read a passage, close your Bible, and tell yourself you have read your Bible for the day. But if you want your Bible reading experience to be a relationship with God more than just checking the box you have read a chapter today, then you need to take time to reflect on what you have read.
Prayer and meditation on God’s Word allow it to penetrate our hearts, too. Daily journaling what you have learned each day and writing scriptures will help you with meditation and application.
For further study you might like:
How do you like to study the Bible?
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