Studying the Bible can be really intimidating — especially if you’re new to it.
Maybe you find it difficult to understand verses or passages. You’re not alone. It’s a struggle to understand the Bible when it’s new to you.
In the book of Acts, Philip asks a man if he understands what he’s reading. The man says, “How can I unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31 NIV).
My hope is for this article to be your guide on how to start studying the Bible.
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How to Study the Bible as a Beginner
You’re ready to start studying the Bible but you need some guidance. Here are the steps you should take to prepare for studying the scriptures.
Get a Good Bible
The first step to studying the Bible is getting a good Bible.
As a new believer, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. There are so many translations and study versions.
When choosing a Bible, consider your goal.
Do you want to understand the Bible more? Get a translation that’s easier to read.
Do you want an in-depth Bible? Get a Study Bible with a good commentary that will guide you as you read.
For new believers, my best recommendation is the NLT New Believers Bible.
Pray Before Reading the Bible
Before reading the Bible, pray to God.
Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us.
If you’re having trouble understanding the Word, pray for Him to give you understanding.
If you’re having trouble obeying the Word, pray for Him to incline your heart to obedience.
He hears our prayers and He is faithful to answer.
“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened,” (Matthew 7:8 ESV).
Opening Prayer Example
Thank You for giving me Your Word. I know it’s still relevant for us today.
Teach and help me understand the passage I read today. Help me believe and trust what You say is true. Incline my heart to love Your Word and obey it.
Make it clear what You want me to learn today. Be with me today as I read Your Word.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Start in the New Testament
When I first sought to read the Bible, I started with Genesis. Many do.
It makes sense, right? When you start a book, you start in the beginning.
But it was so dry… and really hard to stay consistent.
You have to keep in mind the Bible is a collection of books — 66 books to be exact.
For new believers, I recommend starting in the New Testament.
It’s easier to understand and will give you the essentials to the faith. Also, when you read the New Testament first, the Old Testament starts to make more sense.
The first four books of the New Testament are known as the gospels.
The gospels retell the account of Jesus’ life and ministry. These books are central to the Christian faith.
I recommend starting with one of the four gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Many recommend John in particular, but any of the gospels are good to start with.
After reading one or all of the gospels, read on from the book of Acts to the end of the New Testament in chronological order.
Read With the Context in Mind
When reading a passage, keep the context in mind. It’s very easy to isolate a verse or passage and make it about anything we want.
You don’t want to do that. You want to understand the meaning of the passage in its context.
Some ways to keep the context in mind are:
- remember the purpose of the book
- read the surrounding context (previous chapter/current chapter).
- remember the intended audience
- read good commentaries if you’re unsure of the meaning
Apply Scripture to Your Life
Once you’ve read with the context in mind, the final step is to ask yourself how this passage can be applied to your life.
In the book of James, he tells believers to “be doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22 ESV).
This is reinforced by Jesus himself when he says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV).
We can’t simply read and study the word. We must obey and do what it says. This proves our love for God.
So next time you read and study the Bible, ask yourself: “How can this passage be applied to my life?”
Bible Study Methods
In addition to these steps, you can also follow a Bible study method. There are many Bible study methods out there you can use to your advantage.
I’ve listed a few of the most popular methods below.
The SOAP Method
The SOAP Bible study method is one of the most popular methods out there.
SOAP stands for scripture, observation, application and prayer.
Scripture: First, choose a passage you’d like to study. It doesn’t have to be long, it could be just a couple of verses. You then write this scripture down (yes, with a pen or pencil and paper).
Observation: Observe what’s going on in this passage. Write down anything that pops out at you. It doesn’t have to be deep or profound, just write down anything you’ve noticed.
Application: Think about how you can apply this passage to your life. What is God telling you through this passage? How can you take action?
Prayer: Finally, pray about your time spent with God. Ask God to help you apply this passage to your life.
Topical Bible Study
Another popular method of studying the Bible is to do it by topic.
This is a really simple way to start understanding what the Bible says about various topics such as relationships or anger.
All you have to do is do a quick google search or search a Bible concordance. When you do this, you’ll find various passages about the topic you want to learn about.
After you find these passages, compare the verses and learn more extensively about what the Bible has to say about the topic. This method allows you to easily learn and apply the passages to your life.
Beginner Bible Study Plans
Similar to using methods, you can follow a bible reading plan that’s laid out what you’ll read for you. Here are a couple of simple bible study plans perfect for beginners.
Bible Reading Plan
This 15-Minute Bible Reading Plan is perfect for beginners.
This Bible reading plan system only takes 15 minutes out of your day. What’s even better is this unique scripture schedule starts with easy-to-understand, practical books of the Bible and works slowly into more difficult passages of scripture.
Plus, it not only includes a reading schedule, you’ll get Prayer Resources, Spiritual Goal Setting Sheets, Bible Verse Flash Cards, and so much more! Download a copy instantly of the 15-Minute Bible Reading Plan and save 50% with this discount code: savehalf
Topical Reading Plan
Similar to the topical bible study method mentioned previously, this reading plan goes over topics like your identity in Christ, loving others, and having joy.
This free topical Bible reading plan includes daily passages related to the monthly topic that only takes about 5 minutes to read each day. A great start for beginners who are just learning more about the Bible.
More Bible Study Resources
There are other resources you can use to add to your bible study time. Using good Bible study resources can give you a deeper understanding of what you’re reading.
Bible Hub is a place you can find good commentaries, a concordance, the Hebrew/Greek text of the Bible, and more. This website/app is my go-to when I need to find more information about passages.
It’s perfect for new believers because everything you could ever want is in one place. If you want to look up a certain topic, you can do that. If you want to find the original meaning of a word, you can do that. If you want to find commentaries, you can also do that.
Blue Letter Bible
Blue Letter Bible is similar to Bible Hub. This website includes a concordance to find anything you might want to learn about a topic, devotionals, commentaries, and more.
Although similar to Bible Hub, I find it useful to use this website alongside that one. I might find something new from this website versus the other.
Bible Gateway is one of my favorite places to read the Bible if I want to read it online. You can look up any passage you want in multiple translations and read them alongside other ones.
This is helpful when you might not understand a passage in one version. Reading it in another translation might give you clarity or help you see it in a different way.
Bible Gateway also offers study tools and Bible reading plans to keep you on track.
I recommend the Bible Project to every new believer. Bible Project is a YouTube channel that provides helpful videos on biblical topics.
I love the Bible Project because they use their artistic abilities to demonstrate what the Bible is teaching. It’s really easy to digest, which is why it’s perfect for beginners just starting out.
Are you ready to start studying the Bible?
- Get a good bible.
- Pray before reading the bible.
- Start in the New Testament.
- Read with the context in mind.
- Apply scripture to your life.
- Utilize bible study methods.
- Utilize bible study plans.
- Utilize other resources.
Studying the Bible doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to becoming a Bible pro!
Do you have any questions or challenges when it comes to studying the Bible? Are you intimidated by the Bible? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
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