Ready to learn how to study the Bible for yourself? This simple 6-step method makes learning how to do Bible study easy AND enjoyable!
Is it possible to attend church for years and still not understand what the Bible teaches?
I think so. Because that’s exactly what happened to me.
Growing up the granddaughter of a pastor, I was at church ALL the time.
I attended Sunday School, youth group, and vacation Bible school. I spent a lot of time reading the Bible, learning the Bible, reading Christian books, and attending Bible studies.
I thought I had Christianity pretty much figured out.
And yet, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I realized that much of what I had been taught to believe simply wasn’t correct.
Suddenly, I realized simply knowing how to read the Bible wasn’t enough. Yes, reading the Bible is important. But I had to learn how to STUDY the Bible effectively for myself too.
I had to put aside any preconceived notions, all the myths I’d been taught, and begin reading the Bible to figure out what it actually says, not what I thought it would/should say.
I had to figure out “What’s the best way to study the Bible for beginners?” and I had to approach learning the Bible in a whole new way.
*Related Reading: 10 Best Bible Studies for Women to Help You Grow in Faith
So why do I tell you this? Because if you aren’t intentionally learning how to study the Bible for yourself, you may not be reading the Bible or learning the Bible correctly.
After all, pastors, priests, Sunday School teachers and Bible study leaders aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes sometimes. And if you’re relying ONLY on what your pastor says, you might be getting an incomplete or misunderstood gospel message.
Do you really want to rest your salvation on a message someone could have confused, misinterpreted, shortened or added to along the way? Or would you rather know for sure that you’re getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
This is why it isn’t enough to know how to read the Bible. You have to know how to study the Bible for yourself too.
And that’s exactly what we’re talking about in this post.
In today’s post, we’re answering questions like, “How do you study the Bible?” and “What’s the best way to study the Bible?” So if you’re wondering how to do Bible study, how to learn the Bible, or how to study the Bible for beginners, this post has you covered.
Below, I’m sharing one of my FAVORITE ways to study the Bible. I hope it will make studying the Bible easy and enjoyable for you too!
*Related Reading: 7 Best Bible Study Apps for Christian Women — All Free!
How to Study the Bible for Yourself
Ready to learn how to study the Bible for yourself?
Reading the Bible for yourself doesn’t have to be intimidating, and learning the Bible really isn’t all that hard. Here’s the easy method of studying the Bible I’d recommend–even if you’re just getting started with Bible study for beginners.
1. Choose a Topic or Passage
First, you’ll start by choosing a topic or passage.
The key is to choose a topic you’re really interested in or curious about, rather than just picking a segment of the Bible at random. Learning the Bible is easier and more interesting when you’re motivated to learn more.
Not sure where to start studying the Bible? Here are a few ideas:
- Doctrinal disagreements with friends/loved ones
- Various religious opinions/beliefs you encounter online
- How Christians should respond to various life situations and events
- Issues you struggle with, such as pride, selfishness, vanity or poor self-esteem
- Things you aspire to, such as love, gentleness, compassion or patience
2. Find Relevant Verses on the Topic
Once you’ve chosen a good topic, you’ll want to look up as many verses on the topic as you can.
Don’t just cherry-pick one verse or section of Scripture out of context. That’s not how to do Bible study. Instead, learn how to study the Bible as a whole.
This will help you avoid misunderstanding one verse by taking it out of its intended context.
Here’s where you can find Scripture verses to study:
- Use a Concordance: Concordances list common words found in the Bible along with several places that particular word is found. You probably won’t find every word/topic listed here (depending on the size of your concordance), but if you choose a common one, you can find a TON of verses very quickly this way. Many study Bibles have these in the back.
- Consult Your Bible’s Index of Subjects: Additionally, Study Bibles have study notes in the margins that explain difficult concepts in greater detail. If your Bible has an “Index to Subjects” in the back, you can find lots of great notes this way.
- Google It: Don’t own a good study Bible? If you do a search for ” [your topic] Bible verses,” you’ll get long lists of Bible verses on just about every topic imaginable. Some will be more helpful than others, but this is a good way to find a BUNCH of relevant verses quickly.
3. Read it in Context
As you learn how to study the Bible for yourself, it’s important that you don’t get in the bad habit of reading individual verses in isolation, as taking a small snippet of text out of the chapter can completely change the meaning of the text.
Instead, take your time to read through each of the relevant verses within the context of the book and chapter or section it’s in. BibleGateway is a website that lets you do this easily if you don’t have your physical Bible handy.
- Who is writing this passage?
- Who are they writing to?
- Why are they writing it?
- What is the main point the author is trying to make (in this section/chapter as a whole)?
- What can I learn about Jesus Christ through this passage?
- What changes should I make, if any, in my life today as a result of reading this passage?
One passage that really illustrates this point is Ephesians 2:8-9. If you read these verses by themselves with no context, it’s pretty darn clear that we’re saved by Faith alone. There’s really no arguing it.
BUT when you start digging into the meaning of the text (like the fact that Paul wasn’t referring to ALL works, but works of the old Mosaic law) and cross-referencing with other portions of Scripture (like James 2), a completely different picture emerges.
That’s why it’s SO crucial that we don’t just cherry-pick a couple of verses we like, but we take the time to truly study Scripture as a whole.
And yes, learning how to study the Bible for yourself can be time-consuming when you start looking up TONS of verses, but unless you’re doing a super in-depth study, it’s really not that bad.
4. Read Each Verse in Multiple Translations
Another exercise that can be extremely helpful as you’re learning how to study the Bible for yourself is reading each Scripture verse in multiple translations.
Remember: The original Bible texts weren’t written in English. The English versions we read today are just translations, and not every translation always gets it right. Even something as simple as switching “a” and “the” can make a huge difference in meaning.
While most of these differences don’t change the meaning enough to be noticeable during daily Bible reading, they can make a huge difference when you’re trying to study a concept and form a doctrinal belief.
Therefore, you’ll want to look over at least a few different translations to make sure that the one you’re reading fits in line with what Bible scholars as a whole think it means.
Thankfully, you don’t need a whole stack of Bibles of various translations in order to compare. You can do this incredibly easily right on Bible Hub. Simply search for the verse you’re researching, and scroll down.
You are limited in that you can only compare one verse at a time, but I love how easy it makes to compare multiple translations all in one place with just a few clicks of the keyboard. (And it’s free!)
5. Look Through Bible Commentaries
Another exercise that can be incredibly helpful as you’re learning how to study the Bible for yourself is reading through various Bible commentaries on the key verses you’re reading.
Basically, Bible commentaries are big books where really smart theologians explain a lot of background on the text and what it means in the original language. This is where you can find some of the words in the original Greek or Hebrew, along with expanded word definitions that help you really capture what the full extent of what the author was trying to convey.
You can buy huge commentaries online, borrow them from your library, or just do your research online on Bible Hub while you’re looking up various verse translations. Just scroll down and you’ll find a bunch you can read and compare.
For example, one of the most helpful commentaries I looked up was on Exodus 20:3, which says “You shall have no other gods before me.”
At first reading, the text looks pretty straightforward. God is telling Moses that the Israelites should put God first on their list of priorities. But this isn’t actually what the text means at all.
Instead, if you look at the commentaries for this one, particularly the second half of Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, you’ll see that God wasn’t asking to be our FIRST god. He’s asking to be our ONLY God. That’s a pretty big difference!
6. Search Blogs and Online Articles (carefully!)
Another thing that I find really helpful when researching a specific topic is to look up what other writers, pastors, and bloggers have to say on the topic. (You can check these Websites for Christian Women when you start researching!)
If I’m writing on an easy topic like random acts of kindness ideas, I’ll typically do this first, just to see what’s already been covered so I’m not just duplicating what’s already out there, but taking a fresh angle.
But if I’m writing on a more difficult topic that involves doctrine, I always save this step for last, because I want my beliefs to be formed by Scripture first – not how other people interpret it.
By the time I start reading other articles on the topic, I already have a good idea what Scripture says. I’m just looking for additional information or insights to fill in any gaps I may have missed along the way. If someone has a great counter-argument, a unique perspective I hadn’t considered, or some additional information that changes things, I want to know!
** One important word of caution when learning to study the Bible for yourself: While you can learn a ton reading online articles, keep in mind that not everything you read online is Biblically sound, even if it’s written by a Christian author.
While some bloggers do have formal Bible training and actually care about getting the messages of Jesus Christ right, many others simply want to spout off opinions or write something encouraging without first checking to make sure their message is Scripturally sound. And again, we’re all just humans. Even when we do our best, we’re not infallible.
So read what others say, but always, always go back to the Bible to fact check.
Now, I know this may seem like a lot. And truthfully, it is. It can be very time-consuming. But don’t be discouraged when learning to study the Bible for yourself.
The process itself is fairly simple and straightforward, and while it can take some time (depending on the topic), it’s not like there is any type of deadline or rush. Plus, this isn’t a process you’ll do every day. Only when you have something specific you’re studying or a question you’d like to answer.
If you can figure out how to read the Bible daily and memorize Scripture when you can, then studying your Bible can be a great way to dive deeper into what you’re already doing, and make sure that what you’re learning is actually accurate to the Word of God — not just a misconception you picked up along the way.
Helpful Quicklinks: How to Study the Bible for Yourself
This article on “How to Read Your Bible for Yourself” is just one of MANY articles I have to help you learn how to study the Bible effectively and read it on a regular basis. If you’d like additional resources to help you get in the habit of reading the Bible and learning the Bible regularly, here are several other articles I’d love for you to check out as well.
Grab Your Free Quiet Time Planning Guide
How to Read the Bible – the Best Way for Beginners!
How to Read the Bible Daily (and Make it a Habit)
5 Reasons All Christians Should Memorize Scripture
10 Awesome Websites for Christian Women
Struggling to Read the Bible Consistently? Here are 7 Reasons Why
How to Get Excited About Reading the Bible
Create Your Own Bible Study Basket
Now you are equipped with some of the best ways to study the Bible. You have LOTS of tools at your fingertips that can help you learn the Bible for yourself and even how to do Bible study for beginners. Yay!
Who knows? Maybe you will find yourself teaching the Bible to others before long!
Have you taken the time to learn how to study the Bible for yourself? If so, how do you study the Bible? Do you have some tips on how to study the Bible for beginners or tips for the best way to study the Bible?