The secret of knowing how to study the Bible is no secret at all. God tells me and you, “Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5.17). Through the inspiration of the apostle Paul, a young preacher named Timothy is instructed to “be diligent to present yourself approved of God rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2.15). It takes diligence to go to the Bible and seek out the will of God.
The Bible can be divided up into two categories.
You learn from Hebrews 5 that you need to grow in knowledge and maturity rather than being stagnant in my understanding of the Bible. Notice what the Hebrew writer says...
Do you want to know what the Bible says, but you don't know how to study the Bible? With the right approach and the right tools, you can find the true meaning of a passage and what the passage means in your life.
There are a variety of ways that you can study the Bible. One of the most popular ways of studying the Bible is by doing an inductive Bible study. Whatever Bible study methods you choose to use, you need to approach your study with a specific mindset.
In Acts 17, we find a group of individuals living in the city of Berea who serve as an example to us of how to study the Bible. From the example of these noble Bereans, you will find three principles that will help you know how to study the Bible.
Don’t miss what these Bereans did. It doesn’t say that they rejected the word. It doesn’t say that they rejected the word because it did not coincide with what they were raised to believe. It does not say that they interpreted the word through the filter of their preconceived ideas. It says that they received the word.
Regardless of your religious background, or level of your spirituality, you need to receive the word. You need to sit down with the Bible and allow it to direct your thoughts, what you are to believe, and what you are to do. How you study the Bible and come to understand what it says should not be based on the way you have been raised, or what you have been taught. How you study the Bible should be with a willingness to dismiss preconceived idea and just accept what the Bible says.
The word “readiness” is translated from the Greek word “prothumos.” Literally, the word means, “to breath hard towards.” These Bereans received the word, and they did so with a mindset. They received the word having a passion for what God says.
That’s how you study the Bible. You approach the Bible with a passion for wanting to know what God is saying.
Let's take what the Bereans did and apply to us. How can you be more inquisitive? By having a passion for what God says, and by receiving it, inviting the message into my life. Here are some suggestions...
That’s how to study the Bible with a readiness of mind. It is only when we are studying the Bible with a passion for knowing what God has to say that we will be able to grow in the knowledge of Christ, which is what we are commanded to do. (2 Pet. 3.18)
In the original language, the word “search” is translated from the Greek word “anakrino.” When you study that word closely, you have a word that literally means to “investigate up”.
Have you ever lost your keys and you search the house, and after a while you say, “I have searched high and low”? That’s the idea here. It means to search thoroughly, leaving no stone unturned, looking in every nook and cranny.
That’s what these Bereans did. These Bereans took the things that Paul said, took those thoughts to the Bible, and with an inquiring mindset because they had a passion for knowing what God said, they thoroughly searched the scriptures leaving no stone unturned and looking in every nook and cranny of the Bible to see if they were being told the truth.
They searched the Scriptures. How do you study the Bible? You study the Bible! There’s a novel idea! If you want to know what God has to say, you go to His word. Learn how to study the Bible and engage in an investigation of the Bible.
To help you know how to study the Bible, take advantage of the many Bible study helps that are available. These aids will make searching the scriptures much easier.
There is so much technology available today that makes studying the Bible so much easier and faster. Today, you can get a computer program, enter in a word as a search term and it will show you all the different places that word is found in the Bible.
If you are willing to invest in Bible study software, there are hundreds of resources available at your fingertips. There are three programs that I highly recommend.
Sometimes it will be said, “I think”, or “I believe”, or “my take on the passage is”. What you and I think about the Bible is irrelevant. We need to search the scriptures. Look at a passage, look at the meaning of the words, put the passage in its context, and follow the line of thought in the passage.
I’m afraid that much of how to study the Bible is not really studying the Bible. It is opinion study. It is an exercise in searching out what others think the Bible says.
It is exciting when you know how to study the Bible, because you will actually be studying the Bible. I went to a Bible class that another congregation was offering, and I sat there for an hour listening to the teacher and the students exchange their opinions. Not one time did they ever crack open their Bibles.
These Bereans did not go around asking what everyone thought about what Paul said. They searched the scriptures, and not just what somebody said about the scriptures. (2 Tim. 3.16,17)
This is very important, because we live in a time where society shuns the idea of absolute truth. If there are conclusions to be drawn, some suggest that they are personal conclusions only. They will say “for me, this mean…”
You need to learn how to study the Bible with a passion for what God says, rather than settling on a personal opinion.
This is a society which boldly proclaims, "I have the right to my opinion." It is a society where you have your truth, and I have my truth, and my conclusions do not necessarily constitute the truth for anyone else except myself. You have your belief system, and I have mine, and nobody has the right to impose their belief system on anyone else. That is the way the world looks at it.
The Bereans did not do this. They came to solid conclusions. They inquisitively and thoroughly compared what Paul said with what the Bible said. After they did so, the very next verse (Acts 17.12 above) begins with “Therefore”. That’s a conclusion.
As a result of knowing how to study the Bible, they came to a conclusion, and that conclusion led them to believe.
When these Bereans were presented with the gospel, with an insatiable thirst for what God says, they thoroughly investigated the scriptures. When they found from their study that Paul was speaking the truth, they said, "we need to do something." They accepted the facts, trusted in the facts, and obeyed the commands. In other words, they believed.
That’s how to study the Bible.