Happy New Year!
As we get into a brand-new year, I thought I’d begin the year with some Bible study helpers. Reading the Bible is something many Christians should spend more time doing, but many people are scared off because the Bible can sometimes seem overwhelming. Let me offer some suggestions for how to get started with personal Bible study.
The Bible is divided into two sections – the Old and the New Testaments. The former focuses on the relationship between God and Israel, and the latter focuses on God’s relationship with the Church (us) through Jesus Christ. Both testaments have several different writing styles – narrative history, prayers and wise sayings, letters, prophetic sayings, etc. I note this because genre does affect the way we understand what was written. If Bible study is new to you, I suggest starting with the gospel of Mark. It is short with loads of action. From there I suggest the book of Acts followed by the New Testament letters.
When reading, there are six questions you want to consider:
- Who wrote it,
- why was this written,
- when and
- where was it written,
- what happens in the passage, and
- how does it apply to your life.
That last question is critical; remember, knowledge without application is a waste of time. Some of these questions are answered in the introductions to the particular book you’re reading written by the publishers. Commentaries also have some of this information. The more you start asking these questions of the Bible, the easier it will be to find the answers.
If you are tech savvy, you may find help with some online resources. Here are some helpful sites:
- Bible Study Tools is a very user-friendly site that will give you limited online access to different translations, commentaries and other resources. You can even access the devotional Our Daily Bread through this site (though a subscription might be necessary).
- Bible Hub has numerous online tools. They are all helpful, but you may find the sheer volume of resources overwhelming.
- Crosswalk is also a good site, but it also contains links to Christian news stories and other non-Bible study information. You may fall down the “rabbit hole.”
- BibleGateway is one of my favorite sites. It’s basic but very useful.
I hope these resources help. I desire that all of us would become students of scripture, that our faith in Christ would grow and flourish.