How do I study the Bible?

Here are some thoughts to remember when you start a Bible study.

-Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has been given to help you understand the Scriptures and make them alive to you as you study them.

-Choose what you study carefully. A book like Zechariah was written to the Jews at a specific time in history. Although we can learn about the character of God in this book, little can be gain to help us in our walk with Christ. The writing of the apostle Paul, Psalms, or Proverbs would be a good place to start.

– Interpret the Bible literally. Take the words to mean what they do in ordinary usage. Pay attention to the grammar, sentence structure and paragraphs. If the passage is historical in setting, read it as such, if poetic then read it as poetry. Understand that allegory and figures of speech is often used throughout the Bible.

– Consider the immediate context. The specific setting of the words is tremendously important. It will usually show you when a nonliteral interpretation is called for and will help you understand the passage you are reading. If you are studying a verse, look carefully at the preceding verses and the verses that follow. If you are studying a chapter, look how it fits in the book.

– Keep the whole Bible in mind. Developing a firm understanding of the total message of the Bible will keep you from building a false doctrine on the wrong interpretation of one verse.

– Know who wrote that passage of Scripture and why. Who did he write it to and what did God inspire him to teach the readers. Don’t take promises meant for the Jews and apply them directly to you.

– Get the big picture first. Read a large section or an entire book in the Bible before you try to deal in depth with the smaller chapter and verses within it. Each writer had his own style and a particular message in each book.

– If you are having difficulties, purchase a study Bible or a one volume commentary.

And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

A Philippians 1:9-10