Old Doxoblogy

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Biblical Study 2: How To Do It

Here's a short list of tips (in no particular order) to enrich your personal Bible study. Of course, as always, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study.

1. Read through the Bible. The purpose for reading through the Bible is so that you can grasp the overall big picture of divine revelation, so to speak. Use a reading plan. I enjoy using the method Don Whitney has endorsed. "My favorite plan involves reading in five places each day. I begin in Genesis (the Law), Joshua (History), Job (Poetry), Isaiah (the Prophets), and Matthew (the New Testament) and read an equal number of chapters in each section. A variation of this plan is to read in three places daily, starting in Genesis, Job, and Matthew, respectively. The three sections are roughly the same in length, so you will finish them all about the same time." -Don Whitney (Click here to go to Don Whitney's Ministry Resources page, then scroll down to the article titled 'Bible Reading Record'.)

2. Choose your translation to suit your purpose. I read almost exclusively the ESV. Sometimes, however, for simple reading, I will read the NIV. With the NIV you have a thought-for-thought translation that makes it easier to grasp the big ideas in Scripture. For in-depth study, however, you will want to use a word-for-word translation, such as, NKJV, NASB, or, the ESV. The ESV, in my opinion, has the perfect balance of readability and accuracy.

3. Use a variety of translations. One translation may bring out a nuance in the text that is overlooked by another. Add to your Bible study by using a Literal translation, such as Wuest's or Young's. (I'm stupid, I had Phillips here before. Thanks Matt Gumm.)

4. Avoid paraphrases. With paraphrases you are going to be influenced by the paraphraser's biases. Instead, write your own paraphrase. Paraphrasing Scripture, very simply put, is putting Scripture into your own words.

5. I'm assuming if you're reading this that you have access to a computer. If so, copy a book from the Bible into a Word document. Then go through and remove all chapter and verse divisions. Divide the book then into paragraphs and read straight through. If you are studying a New Testament letter, then you may want to read the letter straight through once a day each weekday. Then, on both Saturday and Sunday, read through the letter five times. Longer books may need to be divided up into sections, if you do not have sufficient time throughout the week.

6. Do your Bible reading in the morning and Bible study at night. As you read in the morning, pick out a phrase that especially strikes you as important or relevant, memorize it or write it down to take with you during the day. You can meditate on the verse and apply it to different situations as they present themselves as the day progresses. You will also have a good starting point for your Bible study that evening.

7. Buy a couple of Commentaries on the book you wish to study. Look for an Expostional Commentary and an Exegetical Commentary. The Expositional Commentary will give a more complete look at the book and how it's various themes fit together to form one over-arching theme. The Exegetical Commentary will give you technical information such as, word studies, background information, and theological content. If you can only afford one Commentary, get MacArthur's if available. MacArthur's commentaries are a good blend of exegesis and exposition. However, they are only available for most of the New Testament at this time.

8. Get a hymnbook. After you finish studying, look for a hymn that you know and that matches the theme of the passage you have just studied. If you can't find one that you know then read through one. If you know the hymn, sing it quietly (if you're afraid to let your family know how you sing) to yourself and to God. The hymn will help you remember the truths you have learned and give those truths their highest expression; worship to God.

9. Find how your passage fits into the over-arching theme of redemption in the Bible. Bryan Chappell writes in 'Christ-Centered Preaching' that all scripture can be divided into one or more of these four categories:
A. Predictive of Christ (prophetic)
B. Preparatory for Christ (leading and pointing to Christ)
C. Reflective of Christ (the Gospel accounts)
D. Resultant of Christ (our riches in Christ, exhortations to right living, and the Church's growth)

10. Review constantly. Don't forget what you have learned. Pray for the Holy Spirit to apply Scripture to your living and your worship. Use it to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ.


Dinsdale said...


Thanks for the post. How do you mix in other books? Your other reading? Do you have a plan?

Am I getting ahead of an upcoming post?

I'll be quiet now.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Dinsdale (if that is your real name),

I might have to post about that.

I think we should have a steady and balanced diet of the Church Fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans, in addition to some modern authors, like MacArthur, Sproul, Piper, etc.
The only plan that I have is one suggested to me by my brother, one 100-200 page book a week + one 500 page book a month.
I rarely meet this goal, but it's a good standard to shoot for. For instance, I'm in my second month on volume 1 of Spurgeon's Autobiography. I should've finished it last month and started volume 2 this month, but things came up, plus it's too good to read over.
I usually end up reading one book every two weeks as well.

I also wouldn't make how many books to read in a year a law. It will breed more discouragement than incentive.

I think I'll write a post on it this evening to clarify.

BugBlaster said...

This is a good post. I like you better without the evil eyes and lightsabre.

Gummby said...

Literal translation = Phillips'? I must be missing something. Did you mean Youngs'?

Otherwise, great stuff.

Jeremy Weaver said...

You're right, Matt.
Young's it is. I'll change it later.