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Bible Study Tips

On this page, you will find many basic tips and hints for accurately understanding the Scriptures.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
(2 Timothy 2:15)

Pray Before Studying

Pray in agreement with the Word of God before you study.  Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into God's Truths!

John 16:13 - Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

2

Exegetical Approach

This is a big theological word, but it has a fairly straight forward meaning.
 
DO - Exegesis - Take out of the Bible what it says as truth
DON'T - Eisgesis - Read into the Bible what you want it to say

Psalm 119:33 - Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

3

Context! Context! CONTEXT! - The 20/20 Rule

You must read the Scriptures IN CONTEXT!  Reading a single verse (or part of a verse) can lead to many false understandings.

Part of the CONTEXT theme.  Read 20 verses before and 20 verses after the verse you are attempting to understand.

John 5:39 - Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

4

Preconceived Ideas

Attempt to separate what you THINK the passage means and try and read it as though it were the first time.  Our preconceived ideas are very powerful and can wrongly influence our understanding of the Bible.

Isaiah 55:8-9 - (8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

5

Consider God's Character

God is perfect and does NOT change; therefore, any passage that appears to contradict the Holy nature of God should be carefully studied.

Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

6

Scripture Interprets Scripture

We must NEVER attempt to understand the Bible using our logic and intellect apart from other passages.  The Scriptures themselves must interpret other verses.  Cross-referencing is very helpful.

Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

7

The Original Audience and Purpose

Understanding the author's intended audience and purpose for writing is vital in applying spiritual truths in our own lives.

1 Peter 1:1 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

8

Rule of First Mention

This Bible study guideline recommends going back to the first time a doctrine is mentioned in the Bible and studying that reference.  Often the first mention sets the tone of the doctrine throughout the Scriptures.

Mark 10:6 - But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

9

Interpret Parts of the Bible in Light of the Whole

Understand a sentence in the light of the verse, in the light of the paragraph, in the light of the chapter, in the light of the book, in the light of the Testament, in the light of the entire Bible.

2 Peter 1:19 - We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

10

Get an Original Language Dictionary

When we read a word in our own language that we don't understand, we look it up in a dictionary.  It is very helpful when reading the Bible to have Hebrew and Greek dictionaries and look up the original words God chose.  (Many tools like this are available for FREE online.)

11

Resort to Commentaries Last

Avoid using other people's opinions (commentaries, etc.) first.  Read the passage many times, and after applying solid Bible study, then read commentaries to confirm your conclusion.

Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

12

The Bible is Verbally Inspired!

Every word in the Bible is TRUTH and is in agreement with the rest of the Scriptures.  Each and every word is inspired by God!

2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

13

Be Aware of Personal Bias

First be aware of our own bias, i.e. denominations, schools of thought, etc. Try and avoid letting your bias influence your Bible study.

Isaiah 55:8-9 - (8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

14

Get the Big Picture

Remember to understand the big picture. Never isolate a single verse to prove a point.

Romans 11:22 - Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

15

Repeated Themes

Look for similar themes in multiple places. Repeated themes can add insight from different Biblical perspectives.  For example, the New Testament often quotes the Old Testament.

16

Read the Bible "Literally in Context"

The Bible is to be understood "literally in context".  This is important!  For example, if you are reading a proverb, do NOT understand it as a promise.  A prophecy is NOT a historical commentary.

17

Put Yourself in the Author's Shoes

Attempt to try and understand where the author is coming from.  Remember always that the writer's words must be taken from the writer's position.

18

Ignore Chapter and Verse Numbers

Chapter and verse numbers are very helpful.  However, they can create artificial separations which did not exist in the original writings.  Sometimes we may stop at the end of a chapter and miss important context.

19

Human Authors were Moved by the Holy Spirit

Yes, the Bible was written by human authors.  However, they did not write of their own accord, they were moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:19-21 - (19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Prayer
Exegesis
Context
Preconceived Ideas
God's Character
Scripture Interprets
Entire Scriptures
Dictionary
Verbally Inspired
Personal Bias
First Mention
Original Audience
Commentaries
The Big Picture
Repeated Themes
Literally in Context
In The Author's Shoes
Chapter / Verse Numbers
Holy Spirit Author

Be A Berean

It is critical to know what you believe and why you believe it.

Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

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