How to Study the Bible?

Search the Word | Vol. 25 No. 4 | May-Jun 2015

“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


The disciples of Jesus were completely devastated. All of their hopes and dreams for the new kingdom of God had been nailed to a cross the previous Friday. Reeling with grief and confusion, Cleopas and his companion slowly made the seven-mile trip from Jerusalem down to their home in the little town of Emmaus. As the sun was setting that Sunday afternoon and they trod their way down the bumpy road, a stranger drew near to journey with them. Little did they know that this new traveling companion was the resurrected Lord Himself.

Paying little heed to their fellow pilgrim, the two dejected disciples rehearsed the staggering events of the weekend, feeling more despondent with every step. As Jesus silently listened, He desperately longed to reveal Himself to His downcast friends. But the Lord deliberately shielded His true identity because they needed now, more than ever, to understand the Scriptures. If Christ had allowed these two faithful followers to recognize who He was, they would have been far too excited to listen to the important truths He had to share.

Even after three and a half years of listening to His teaching and preaching, they still did not comprehend the nature of His mission. He had plainly told them, “The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and after that He is killed, He shall raise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him.” Mark 9:31, 32.

Jesus gently interrupted their sad conversation, and for the next two hours He gave them the keys for understanding Scripture and prophecy.

Have you ever wished you had those keys, that you knew exactly how to study the Bible so that you could understand it better? It’s not as hard as you think!

First, get a good Bible, preferably with a concordance. Read the Bible straight through from beginning to end. Read it as an interesting letter from a dear friend. Do not just jump around here and there, but lay claim to all of its contents. There is a purpose running through the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, that ties the 66 books together. Do not read too fast or too much at a time; read with one object in view—to know the Word and obey the truth revealed by your sight. Dwight L. Moody used to say, “Learn to feed yourself.” So many people wish to receive all their truth from some ecclesiastical spoon.


1. What do the Scriptures say about those who study the Bible? Acts 17:11
2. When, ideally, should a person begin to become familiar with the Bible? 2 Timothy 3:15
3. How much of the Bible is important? 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
3. How much of the Bible are we to believe? Luke 24:25

The complete oracles (sacred truth) of God are contained in the writings of the Old and New Testaments. The keys to understanding the prophecies of Revelation are found primarily in the stories of the Old Testament.

5. How important should Bible study be to the Christian? Job 23:12; Psalm 119:105

The devil hates the Bible and will do almost anything to prevent people from reading it. He knows that its prophecies expose his plans to deceive the human race. So don’t be surprised if Satan attempts to distract you from Bible study. God will make a way for those who seek to know the truth to find it.

Study the words in the Bible. Use the concordance to trace a specific word throughout the Bible and find the original Greek or Hebrew meaning.

Study biblical biographies. Take the life of one person and study him or her from the cradle to the grave. What lessons can be learned from their life?

Study to find Christ in all the Scriptures. Reading 1 Peter 1:7–11, we see that Christ is the subject of the whole Bible.

Study the prophecies and their fulfillments, or the doctrines such as Creation, God’s character, and His Son, or similar subjects.

Jesus gave us an example of dividing the Scripture by subjects. He took the subject of His first advent through the whole Old Testament. Luke 24:27, 32, 44. When Jesus preached the sermon at Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He read an Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 61) and applied it to Himself and His work. Luke 4:16–20.


1. Whom did Jesus say the Scriptures and prophecies reveal? Luke 24:27; John 5:39; Revelation 1:1

The central figure in all of Scripture and prophecy is Jesus. Keep in mind that the primary focus, even of Daniel and Revelation, is Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

2. What is another name used in the Bible for Jesus? John 1:1, 14
3. How was Jesus known to His disciples? Luke 24:35
4. According to Jesus, where do we find the truth? John 14:6; John 17:17


1. Who helps us understand the Bible? John 16:13; John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13
2. What must I do to be certain the Holy Spirit is guiding my Bible study? Luke 11:9, 13; John 7:17

Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the truth of the Scriptures. This is why we should always ask the Holy Spirit to guide us before we open God’s book. I can be certain the Holy Spirit is guiding my Bible study if I ask Him to guide me, and I am willing to accept and follow the truth as He reveals it to me.

Is prayer needed in Bible study? Daniel 9:3; Psalm 119:99, 100; Proverbs 2:3–5


1. Can the unconverted and unspiritual fully understand the Word of God? 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14

Such people “wrest” the Bible out of its true meaning. See 2 Peter 3:15, 16. To encourage them in proper Bible study, read Matthew 11:25.

2. What warnings regarding Bible study are given in the Scriptures? 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 3:16

“Rightly dividing the Word of truth” means to interpret it correctly and truthfully. There is great danger in twisting Scripture to make it say what we want it to say. What I say about the Bible matters little. What counts is what the Scripture says about itself.

3. How should we test all religious teachings and doctrines? Acts 17:11; Isaiah 8:20

All religious teachings should be checked by the Bible. If any teaching does not clearly agree with Scripture, it is false and should be abandoned.

4. Are we to receive the Bible as the voice of God to us personally? 1 Thessalonians 2:13


1. What method of Bible study do the Scriptures recommend? Isaiah 28:10; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:15

Note that it brings great blessings to memorize many of these important scriptural texts. There are various ways to enjoy the study of the Word of God:

Study a book at a time and get the general outline and purpose.

Study the Bible by chapters. Never leave a chapter until you have read all of it carefully. You usually find some great truth in every chapter. Ask yourself: What is the principal subject of the chapter? What is the leading lesson? Who are the principal characters? Does it contain an example for me to follow? An error for me to avoid? Is there a promise for me to claim?

Study the Bible by paragraphs.

Study the Bible by subjects—taking the prayers of the Bible, or the parables, or the miracles, etc.

Study the Bible by verses, noting the important words.


When Jesus explained the Scriptures to His two discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus, they exclaimed, “Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” Suddenly everything made sense. They immediately rose up and went to Jerusalem to spread the good news. When we make Bible study a priority and a part of our daily life, God will help us to understand the Bible and obey His Word.


I wish to fully understand the Scriptures, and I realize the importance of making daily Bible study a part of my life in order to better know Christ.


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