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10 Practical Bible Study Methods for the Layman

November 3, 2010

I know there are big fat Greek words for Bible study methods, but here’s how to do it from a layman’s perspective (but this is not exhaustive!):

  1. Read the passage through multiple times. If studying an epistle, read it numerous times before commencing to study it.
  2. Make notes (sometimes only mental) of what the passage says in plain English. Later see if these thoughts stand up under the scrutiny of closer study.
  3. Use a trusted translation. The Timothy Project will use the 1977 version of the NASB (in the Key Word Bible) with “Thees”  and “Thous”.  The 1995 revised version would be preferable, but the features and study tools of the Key Word Bible by far outweigh the drawbacks of dealing with the archaic language.
  4. Check the context of the passage, before and after the passage, and make yourself aware of the author and his style, and the timeframe, occasion and setting of the writing.
  5. Study the key words in the passage in the original language and check out the tenses. This is easy using the Strong’s concordances in the back of the Key Word Bible, the editor’s notes (but do note that these may be slanted), and the grammatical key provided with its explanations.
  6. Look for any margin notes. Check where else the particular word is used (cross references).
  7. Let the Bible comment on itself if at all possible, but after much of the work is done so as not to become lazy, consult a trusted commentary or two for some general insight and background, and to double check your conclusions.
  8. Culminate the process by writing your own commentary on the passage, and a brief alliterated outline with principles and life applications. Try also to paraphrase the passage in your own language. Write out some illustrations that could be used if you later teach the passage. If truly inspired, write a full devotional incorporating all you’ve discovered about the passage.
  9. Memorize portions of the passage so that they might be meditated on “day and night.”
  10. Most of all, rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth, and to keep you from error. Don’t publish anything until you are fairly certain you are on target, and until it’s prayed over.

With study Bibles and commentaries at our fingertips, it is easy to become lazy in our approach to the study of the scriptures. You get out of it what you put into it. Dig deep and experience more blessings and confidence when and if you are called upon to share “a word.” If you do there will be no “out of season.”  

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