Studying the Bible isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work. That might be why a lot of people get their “Bible study” only from church on Sunday. There’s times where we’ve tried to get more out of the Bible but we get lost so we give up. We tell ourselves “it’s too hard” so we just leave the studying to the pastor. But the Bible is for everyone.
We should all be trying to understand and study it for ourselves. Some of us are more studious than others. But whoever you are, you can learn and understand the Bible for yourself. Here is a four step process on how to study the Bible.
(Need to remember it easily? These four steps make an acronym: ROAM )
The first step in studying the Bible is reading a passage. Seems pretty obvious right? It is. But I don’t mean read it just once. I mean read it multiple times. Take your time while you read it. Don’t just try to read through it as fast as you can. Studying the Bible will take time. I recommend reading through the passage at least five times.
You may read that and think that is too many times. But it’s only a lot if you are reading a massive text. When trying to study, I recommend looking at passages in small sections. Our modern Bibles have split up the Bible into chapters with paragraphs and subtitles. Take it a paragraph at a time. Read only one section with a subtitle.
Sometimes you will have to read more because you are looking at a story or a parable with an explanation. That’s okay! It will just take more time for you to study it. Start with what you are comfortable with. That could be a few verses or a whole chapter. Just start reading!
Now that you’ve read your passage at least five times, make some observations. What is written right before this passage? What is written immediately after it? Does the author repeat any words or phrases? Are there transition words like “but” or “therefore?”
Biblical authors use repetition to bring things to our attention. They use Old Testament scriptures to make their point or to expand on what the Old Testament said. These quotations are usually found in you Bibles in all caps or in a different style.
Knowing who the author is writing to and why he is writing to them is important to observe as well. Look at the beginning of chapters or letters to see who the author is addressing.
Are you stuck in your observations? Do you see phrases that seem important but you don’t understand? This is the time to look at commentaries. Now I know we don’t all have the full John Macarthur Commentary set in our libraries but you can find many resources online now. Do a quick google search for commentaries on a certain verse. Biblehub.com has many commentaries on each passage. John Gill and Matthew Henry’s commentaries are free online. CCEL.org has a ton of resources for free. Google is an incredible tool. Use it!
You can also search for sermons on these passages to see what other pastors have said about your passage. Many churches put their sermons online now so they are easy to find. The internet is your best friend for commentaries nowadays. You can also always ask a friend or your pastor for commentaries they may have.
James says, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Never go to scriptures to just read it because you have to. The Bible should be transforming you. In your study of the Bible, don’t allow it to just be an academic exercise.
Know what it is saying and what you should do with it. How does what you’ve learned affect your everyday living? For example, take the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. It tells us to “make disciples of all nations.” How are you making disciples right now? Are you supporting missions efforts to see the gospel brought to the world? The Bible should cause us to look at our lives and see how we can honour God.
Does the passage mention a sin you need to forsake? A duty you need to fulfill? An attitude you should have? Always apply what you’ve read and studied.
The final step is to meditate on what you’ve read. I’m not talking meditate like sitting there and clearing your mind. I mean thinking upon what the passage has said to allow it to stir your affections for Christ. The Bible not only teaches us and shows us ways we need to change. It also causes us to love God more.
The Bible is an endless chasm of wisdom and truth. Be meditating on what you’ve read throughout the day or week. There have been times where I have read passages of scripture and it hasn’t left my mind for weeks. Allow scripture to renew your mind. The Bible is a precious gift from God and it should be on our minds constantly.
So there you have it. Four step to study scripture. It’s a simple process but it is definitely something that takes discipline. If you still find it hard to study on your own then try to study with a friend. It will keep you accountable and will allow you to grow together.