God’s Word allows us to reconstruct our thinking, mature in our spiritual growth, and equip us with the knowledge to take His light into the world. The Bible is meant to be examined, in some ways even solved, for there is a truth in the text and it is ours to discover.
So, in this article, we will discuss three (and a half!) great methods for Bible study and why they are so effective:
- The S.O.A.P. Method (1.5 The OICA Method)
- The 5 Ws
- The Chapter Summary Method
We will also discuss two methods that you should avoid if you want to get the most out of your Bible studies:
- Using tutorial and educational content instead of directly reading the Bible.
- Making ourselves the main character
How do YOU study the Bible? This is a question that many new christians ask, and there are a variety of answers. Some people say that you should find the one method that works best for you and stick with it, while others recommend using multiple practices to catch something you may have missed with just one. Regardless, in most cases, you will be using an inductive method of Bible study.
What is an inductive method of Bible study?
It is a method of study where you observe the text, draw conclusions based on what you have read, and then apply those conclusions to make a biblical interpretation. There are many different ways to use inductive method(s) opposed to deductive methods which can often be more linear in their approach. Deductive methods proceed from the broad to the particular, whereas inductive methodologies go in the opposite direction.
Inductive methods are unique in that they require you to be more engaged with the text and really examine what you are reading.
Reading the Bible versus Studying the Bible
Let’s get started!
The Bible is not a book that we simply read from cover to cover. It is a book that we study, and there are many different ways to do so.
What does it mean to read the Bible rather than study it? When we read the Bible, we are simply reading the text for information or for enjoyment. We might read it to find out what happened in a particular story, or to get an overview of a book. On the other hand, when we study the Bible, we are looking at it in a more critical way. We want to understand what it is saying and how it applies to our lives.
The Bible is not just a book of stories; it is the Word of God. It is a living and active book that has the power to change our lives. If you want to grow in your comprehension of biblical truths, commit to reading and studying it for yourself!
Why can’t we just read the Bible?
We may simply read the Bible, but if we want to understand it and apply it to our lives, we need to study it.
What does it mean to interpret the Bible?
Interpreting the Bible means finding out what it says and what it means. It is important to remember that we interpret the Bible through the lens of our own experiences, beliefs, and worldview.
What are some principles of interpretation?
Some principles of interpretation include:
Context is key. We need to read the Bible in its historical context in order to understand what it was originally saying.
The Bible is not a science textbook. It should not be interpreted literally in every instance.
We need to be careful of our own biases. As we read the Bible, we need to be aware of our own preconceptions and allow the text to speak for itself.
Why Should We Study the Bible?
There are many reasons why we should study the Bible. Here are just a few:
- To grow in our comprehension of the Lord.
- To understand what God has done for us.
- To know how to live according to the Lord.
- To be equipped to share the gospel with others.
These are only a few of the reasons why Bible study is so important!
Tips for Beginners Studying the Bible
If you are new to Bible study, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start small. Don’t try to tackle the whole Bible at once. Start with a book or a section that is manageable for you.
- Find a method that works for you. There are many different methods of Bible study we’ll talk about, so find one that fits your learning style and get started!
- Get a study buddy. It can be helpful to have someone else to discuss what you’re learning with.
- Be patient with yourself. Bible study takes time and effort, but it is worth it!
These are just a few tips to get you started in your journey of studying the Bible. Remember to start small, find a method that works for you, and be patient with yourself.
What Tools do we need for studying the bible?
To study the Bible effectively, there are a few tools that you may want:
- A good Bible. Make sure you get a Bible that is easy for you to understand, if you need help deciding please reference our article here.
- A journal. This is a great way to keep track of what you are learning and how God is speaking to you through His Word. You can take notes, write down questions to revisit later, keep track of scripture that has inspired you, and note what you should pray and reflect upon.
- A pen. This might seem like an obvious tool to include, but a pen is essential for underlining and taking notes in your Bible.
- A Highlighter. This is a great way to mark important passages as you read. You can highlight key points, verses that speak to you, or anything else that you want to remember.
- A quiet place. To really focus on what you are reading and learning, it is important to find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.
Bible study is a lifelong journey, and there are always new things to learn! These are just a few tools to get you started. The most important thing is to have a desire to grow in your comprehension of the Gospel.
Bible Study and How To Make it Easier to Understand
The Bible can be a complex book, but there are ways to make it easier to understand. Firstly, if you are overwhelmed by the idea of Bible study outright, maybe start by reading a few verses, or even just one chapter. The important thing is to do it consistently so that you can gradually build up your mastery and confidence in the text. While it is important to study the Bible, forcing yourself to do it before you are ready can often make the process more difficult.
Secondly, another way to make it easier to understand is by using a study Bible. Study Bibles are Bibles that have extra resources in them to help you understand the text. These can include things like maps, timelines, articles, and even pictures.
Last but not least, remember that you are not alone on this journey, reach out to family, friends, or members of your congregation for support if your struggle continues.
Old Testament versus The New Testament
The Bible is divided into two main sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s people from creation to the time of Jesus. The New Testament tells the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, as well as the early history of the church. For an article that briefly breaks down all 66 books of the Bible, click here.
Why Study Both Testaments?
It is important to study both the Old and New Testaments because they each give us a different perspective on who God is and what He has done for us. The Old Testament shows us God’s character, while the New Testament shows us how that character is put into action. By studying both testaments, we can get a well-rounded view of who God is and what He has done for us.
Jesus Christ and the Importance of Learning His Lessons
One of the most important things we can learn from the Bible is who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He came to earth to save us from our sin. It also tells us that through His death and resurrection, we can have eternal life.
3 Great Methods for Studying the Bible
Many methods for Bible study are actually quite similar. Here are three that have worked well for us, and two practices to avoid.
1. The S.O.A.P. Method (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer)
The S.O.A.P. method is a great way to study the Bible because it helps you to understand, apply, and pray over what you are reading. It stands for:
Scripture: Read a passage of Scripture
Observation: Identify the context and what stood out to you. Write down what you observed about the passage, perhaps a key verse, or the main subject, and consider why it was written. What does this tell you about God? About the Bible?
Application: What does this passage mean for your own life? How can you apply it?
Prayer: Pray over what you have learned and ask God to help you apply it to your life.
Step-by-Step Example of the S.O.A.P. Method
Let’s say you are studying the book of Philippians. You would start by reading the scripture, such as Philippians chapter four.
Then, you would observe what the passage says and take some notes. For example, in Philippians chapter four, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything and “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He also tells us “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
After you have observed what the passage says, you would then apply it to your life. In this case, you might decide to pray about anything that is causing you anxiety. You would also try to focus your thoughts on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.
Finally, you would pray over what you have learned. You might ask God to help you from being anxious for nothing and to think on things that are true, honorable…etc.
1.5 The OICA Method (observation, interpretation, correlation, application)
The OICA method is similar to the S.O.A.P. method, but it adds in a step for interpretation. This can be helpful in the same way if you are struggling to understand what a passage means. The OICA method stands for:
Observation: Read the passage and make some observations about what it says, consider why it was written. What does this tell you about God? About the Bible? Any key words.
Interpretation: What does this passage mean? Why was it written? Always remember the context of the scripture when you make your interpretations.
Correlation: How does this passage fit into the overall story of the Bible?
Application: What does this passage mean for your own life? What is the potential personal application?
Step-by-Step Example of the OICA Method
Let’s reference the text in Philippians chapter four once again.
We have observed what the passage says and taken some notes: in Philippians chapter four, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything and “…in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He also tells us “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
We can interpret that Philippians chapter four is telling us not to be anxious and to think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.
This correlates to the overall story of the Bible because it is teaching us how to live our lives according to the Gospel.
We can apply this passage by praying about anything that is causing us anxiety and by trying to focus our thoughts on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable.
2. The 5 Ws Method (Why, What, Who, When, Where)
By young adulthood, many of us will already know of the 5 Ws from our schooling days. This is a great way to study the Bible, especially when trying to understand a particular event that is mentioned in Scripture.
For example, let’s say you are reading about the time when Jesus was crucified. You would ask yourself the following questions:
Why did Jesus Christ have to die?
What did His death accomplish?
Who was involved in His crucifixion?
When and where did it take place?
By answering these questions, you will gain a deeper understanding of what happened and why it was important.
Step-by-Step Example of the 5 Ws Method
Why did Jesus Christ have to die?
Jesus had to die because He is the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
What did His death accomplish?
His death accomplished new life and redemption for every person who believed in Him.
Who was involved in His crucifixion?
Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, the soldiers, and the Jews were involved in His crucifixion.
When and where did it take place?
Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover, around 33 AD. He was most likely crucified outside of Jerusalem, near a place called Golgotha.
By answering these questions, we have gained a deeper understanding of the events that took place at Jesus’ crucifixion and why it was important.
3. Chapter Summary method of Bible study
Chapter Summary is a study method that takes pieces of the practices above to get an overview of a particular chapter of the Bible as you work your way up to mastering each book. It isn’t a radical change, but it may feel more academic compared to other methods. However, in studying God’s word by each chapter, your knowledge will layer up to an understanding of each book, and thus, the Bible itself.
To do this, you would start by reading the entire chapter that you are studying, preferably several times. In your own words, make note of the following:
- How would you caption the chapter?
- What are the contents?
- Who are the important figures?
- Which verse best represents, or stands out, in the chapter?
- Any key words you may or may not understand.
- Do you take issue with anything in the chapter?
- Cross-reference the chapter against others, are there any other passages connecting to this chapter?
- How is Jesus Christ involved or tied to this chapter?
- What are the central themes and lessons?
- How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own life?
The personal application here is endless and what you’re doing, in essence, is developing a study method that allows you to quiz yourself. You are writing your own questions to answer and after you have done this, you will have an appreciation of the deeper meaning of each chapter and be able to better understand each individual book.
Step-by-Step Example of Chapter Summary
For an example of a chapter summary, please reference this brief article here on John 2.
As you can see, many different methods can be used when studying.
The important thing is to find a method that works for you and to be consistent in your studies. By doing this, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of His truth and how it applies to your own life.
Why Do We Recommend these methods?
First, they are all great ways to ensure that you are getting the most out of your Bible study time. By using one of these practices, you will be able to understand and apply the Word of God to your life.
Second, these methods can be used by people of all ages and stages of life. Whether you are a new Christian or have been doing Bible study for years, these practices can be beneficial to you.
Finally, we believe that these methods are essential for anyone who wants to grow in their faith and knowledge of God. By using one of these practices, you will be able to deepen your relationship with God and better understand His will for your life.
We hope that you will use one of these practices the next time you sit down to study the Bible.
Methods to Avoid while doing a Bible study
1. Tutorial and educational content reliance
Watching tutorials or reading educational content has its place, but it should not be your primary method for Bible study. This is because you are relying on someone else to interpret the Bible for you.
While there is nothing wrong with getting help from others, you should be careful about who you listen to. Make sure that they are reliable sources and that they have a good grasp of the Bible themselves.
2. Making Ourselves the Main Character
Another method to avoid is making ourselves the main character in the Bible. This is when we only read the Bible to find out what it has to say about us. It is great for Christians to be introspective and draw personal applications from Scripture, but we should not make that the focus, let alone the goal.
For example, let’s say you are going through a difficult time and you turn to the Book of Job. You might only read it to find comfort and not pay attention to the other lessons that it has to teach, such as God’s sovereignty.
While it is important to find comfort in the Bible, the Bible is not about us, it is about God and His plan for salvation.
The Problem with Using Study Guides
One problem with using study guides is that they can sometimes give you a false sense of understanding. Just because you read a study guide or commentary on a passage does not mean that you understand it. It is important to read the passage for yourself and make your own observations before you rely on someone else’s interpretation.
Another problem with using study guides is that they can be a crutch. If you always use a study guide, you will never learn how to study the Bible on your own. It is important to learn how to study the Bible so that you can do it even when there are no resources available.
Which Method Should You Use?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a method for Bible study. The most important thing is that you are actually reading and studying regularly. Don’t get bogged down in trying to find the perfect method. Just choose one and get started!
We hope these practices are helpful as you study the Bible. Remember, the most important thing is to be consistent and to keep growing in your understanding of God’s Word.
The S.O.A.P method is perfect for those who want to apply the Bible to their everyday life. This method helps you to understand how the Scripture applies to your life and gives you a chance to pray over what you have learned.
The OICA method is great for those who want to understand the Bible on a deeper level. If you find yourself struggling to understand what a passage means, this is a great method to use.
The 5 Ws method is perfect for those who want to understand the context of a passage. This method will help you to understand who wrote the passage when it was written, and what was going on around the time it was written.
The chapter summary method is perfect for those who want to understand the main points of a chapter. This method will help you to understand what the chapter is about and how it fits into the overall story of the Bible.
No matter which method you choose, we hope that you will be blessed in your studies! The most important thing is that you are reading and studying regularly so that you can grow in your teaching and move forward in interpreting biblical truths.
1. How do I start studying the Bible?
If you’ve read our guide and are still having a hard time moving forward, we recommend starting with a simple study guide, reading plan, or even a Bible dictionary. You can find these resources online or at your local Christian bookstore. Once you have a study guide or reading plan, set aside some time each day to follow along, read and study the Bible. Using a Bible dictionary alongside your reading can help you take practical steps towards slowly transitioning from reading to studying without you noticing.
2. What is the best method for Bible study?
There is no one “best” method for Bible study. It is important to find a method that works well for you and that you will be able to stick with. Some people prefer to read through the entire Bible in one year, while others like to focus on one book at a time. Many different methods can be used when studying, so find one that works well for you and get started!
3. How often should I study the Bible?
There is no set rule for how often you should study the Bible. However, we recommend setting aside some time each day to read and study God’s Word. This can be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or at night before you go to bed. The important thing in the matter is to be consistent in your reading and studying so that you can grow in your comprehension of God’s Word.
4. Where can I find a good study Bible?
There are many different types of study Bibles available, so it is important to find one that will work well for you. You can find study Bibles at your local Christian bookstore or online. We recommend looking for a study Bible that has notes and commentary from a variety of scholars so that you can get a well-rounded understanding of the Scripture.
5. What are some other resources I can use to help me study the Bible?
In addition to study Bibles, there are many other resources available to help you study the Bible. There are commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, and encyclopedias that can all be helpful as you study God’s Word. You can find these resources online or at your local Christian bookstore.
6. I’m having trouble understanding what I’m reading in the Bible. What should I do?
If you are struggling to understand what you are reading in the Bible, we recommend using a study guide or commentary. These resources can help you to better understand the Scripture. You can also ask your pastor or a trusted friend to help explain what you are reading.
7. I don’t have time to study the Bible every day. What should I do?
We understand that life is busy and it can be difficult to find time to study the Bible every day. However, we encourage you to set aside some time each week to read and study God’s Word. Even if you can only spare 15-30 minutes, this time spent in the Bible will be beneficial for your spiritual growth.
8. I’m not sure where to start studying the Bible. Any suggestions?
If you are unsure where to start, we recommend reading through the Gospel of John. This book is a great introduction to the Bible and will help you to understand who Jesus is and what He has done for us.