We all understand that studying the Bible is important. But what is the best way to jump in? Here are five types of studies you may want to consider.
A topical study is a study of … you guessed it, topics. Rather than starting with a passage, you begin with a topic and find every reference that addresses that theme. Using all of Scripture you build the foundation and the conclusion of your topic.
Example – If I wanted to study the Biblical concept of “love,” I would study passages like: 1 Corinthians 13, John 3.16, John 15, Romans 5.5-11, Romans 8.35-39, Galatians 5.22-25, Ephesians 2.1-10, Ephesians 3.14-21, etc.
A character study is a study of a person (or place) in Scripture. These kind of studies can be of great benefit when you want to know the heart, attitude, and personality of an individual or the importance of a particular location.
Say for example you want to do a study on the mountain Hebron. Ever hear of it? Did you know that in the mind of the Israelite, Hebron was a significant place? It was important in the life of Abraham, it became controlled by giants, Caleb expelled the giants and took ownership, David was crowned king on it, priests used it … so did murderers. Check it out: Genesis 13-18, Genesis 23, Numbers 13.17-33, Joshua 14.5-15, Joshua 20.1-7, Joshua 21.9-13, 2 Samuel 2.11, 2 Samuel 5.3, 2 Samuel 15.7-10.
A chronological study is where you study through the Bible chronologically – ie: in the order events took place, not necessarily how it was written. While there is a reason Esther, Esra, and Nehemiah are placed toward the middle of the Old Testament, they actually didn’t happen (chronologically) until the end of the Old Testament time frame.
There is tremendous value in reading and studying the Bible through chronologically. It allows you to discover new insights and make connections between passages and books that can often be overlooked.
Want to jump in and don’t know where to start? Here are some options:
- IntoThyWord.org has created a great downloadable pdf that walks you through what you should read each week.
- The One Year Bible Online has created a chronological list of verses to read based on whatever date you want to start.
- BibleGateway.com has a condensed 61 day chronological reading plan that covers all the key stories in Scripture in order to get a quick overview of God’s plan from Genesis to Revelation.
- Want a hard copy? The NKJV Chronological Bible might be a great resource. Not only is the entire Bible in chronological order, but there are tons of maps, charts, and study notes.
A book study is one of my favorites, and what I recommend the most. Context is critical when it comes to Bible study and working through a book systematically helps you understand its context.
Studying a book is simply walking verse-by-verse (or paragraph-by-paragraph) through the book in order to understand what the author was saying. You look for parallels, contrasts, and a host of other things (the How to do a Book Study post is coming soon). This often involves inductive or exegesis Bible study methods (more on this soon) to dive into richer and deeper insights.
What are you waiting for? Pray, pick a book, and start studying!
A word study is often in conjunction with one of the other studies. As you study, you often come to a word that needs greater clarity or insight, and thus the necessity of doing a word study.
Looking at where the word is used throughout Scripture can give you a greater understanding of how the word is used in a particular passage. The best method of doing word studies is to look up the word in its original language (ie: Hebrew for Old Testament, Greek for New Testament). Because Hebrew and Greek words can be translated in several different ways, when you search using the Greek term, you find all the English words used and can therefore gain a greater understanding of its meaning.
BlueLetterBible.org is a great free resource that allows you to quickly study a word, its meaning, and where else the word is found.