Many people study their Bibles without much of a structured plan. Reading the Bible simply for enjoyment can bring a blessing, but having a structured study plan can bring deeper understanding. Deeper understanding of Scripture in turn can enhance one’s Spiritual walk and act as a doorway to a closure personal relationship with God. These tips will bring rewards both to those new to Bible study and old hands alike. Some of the ideas we will discuss may seem quite simple or obvious, but you would be surprised at how many who count themselves as believers don’t take advantage of these simple tools. Please don’t make the mistake of underestimating the strength of simplicity.
Tip 1 Read your Bible completely from cover to cover.
This sounds like the proverbial no-brainer. You would likely be surprised though at how many who claim to believe the Bible have never taken this crucial first step. Sometimes people will claim to have read the Bible, but in actuality all they have done for years is dip in at random places. This practice is fine for inspiration, comfort or enjoyment but will be found lacking if one really wants to have an understanding of what the Scripture actually says or the coherent story it presents. What book or story do we ever read in this piecemeal fashion? When reading other stories don’t we do so from beginning to end? You needn’t be too overwhelmed by the size of the task. Just read some amount each day, picking up each time from where you last left off. The trick is consistency or reading some each day and/or at regular intervals. This should be done as a crucial first step to gain an understanding of the Bible, even before other types of Bible study if possible. Why not start today? If not now, when?
Tip 2 Look up words in a concordance.
Concordances can be found in both new and used bookstores. There are concordances that can be accessed and used for free on the World Wide Web by anyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection. A concordance is a dictionary of sorts. Modern Bibles are translated from older texts which were originally written in other languages. Often the translator had no direct translation for some words so they just “did their best”. Or at times they may have translated a word from the original inconsistently in English. For example did you know that the word ‘Nation’ and the word ‘Gentile’ have the same meaning in the original texts? The translator just made a choice as to when to render it in these two different manners. Sometimes one English word used in different places in Scripture can actually refer to multiple words in the original language. By making use of a concordance one can look up words from verses, trace them back to the original language and discover the meaning of that word in the original language. I have been quite surprised at times to find the original meaning of words the definitions of which I mistakenly thought were obvious in English. Digging into the deeper meanings of words can in turn give deeper understanding to your Bible readings. Can you imagine somebody learning English and never being exposed to a dictionary? Why are we never encouraged to use a similar tool for Bible study?
Tip 3 Follow a keyword from a concordance to all associated Bible verses
Once you find a word in a Bible verse that you want to study and go to look it up in your concordance, you will find a list of verses that have the same word in them. Say for example you want to do a study to gain a deeper understand of the concept of ‘Grace’. When you look it up in your concordance there will be a listing of all the Bible verses that use the word ‘grace’. If you look up each verse and read it in context you will gain a deeper understanding of the Bible’s message and use of the word. This practice may give you a deeper and different understanding of the verse you are currently reading.
These tips form the bare minimum tools and practices I suggest to Bible students. They are simple and easy for anyone to put into practice. I can almost guarantee they will produce a deeper understanding of Scripture and be more practical and useful as study tools than the all too common “hunt and peck/piecemeal” approach that most are putting to use. Be blessed and happy studies.