3 Steps to Help You Study Your Bible
Last week I wrote an article and recommended 5 ways to improve your Bible reading. Today I want to give you some helps on how to study your Bible well. Lord willing this cluster of articles helps to demystify the way you approach the Scriptures.
Cross Referencing and Commentaries
I mentioned using a pen to jot down questions in the last article. This is where I would have you pick your pen back up and get ready to write down answers to your questions. First, cross reference passages that are difficult for you to understand. Many Bibles have a cross-referencing system in the margins. If you've ever wondered what the Scripture references were in your margins, they correlate to the verses you are reading. Simply, look at your chapter and verse number, and find the chapter and verse number in the margins that match the passage you have questions about. Sometimes you will notice two or three Scriptures that relate to the verse (or verses) you have questions about. Write these verses down and look them up. Below is a picture of what the cross-reference system looks like:
If you do not have a cross reference Bible, you can purchase one here. If you already own a Bible and do not want to purchase another one, you can look at places like Bible Hub and quickly find cross-references.
Often times, these additional passages will help shed light on the particular passage(s) you have questions about. Be sure to write down your answers or insights you discover as you read.
Additionally I utilize commentaries to help shed light on certain passages of Scripture. There are many good commentaries that I could direct you to, but I am going to recommend some intro level commentaries that I think you could benefit from:
My Dad bought this commentary for me when I became an ordained pastor and I still use it to this day. MacArthur may be one of the best expositors of God's Word living today. You would do very well to spend 17 bucks to buy this commentary and use it in your studies.
My Dad taught me how to study the Bible using this commentary. I watched him utilize this specific commentary growing up and there is rarely a day that goes by that I do not pick up a Matthew Henry commentary. Matthew Henry has been so influential in my life that I named my son after him. His commentary is warm, devotional, practical, and biblical. You can own this commentary for under 13 bucks.
This is a good place to start in regards to studying the Bible for yourself.
Know the Overarching Theme of Scripture
The Scripture is one cohesive story of redemption. It is a story of how God is taking everything that is wrong in the world and making it right. There are some real practical helps for you to help you grasp the theme of each book in the Bible. Crossway just published a new study Bible called "The ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible" and in an effort to promote the new study Bible they published introductions to every book of the Bible for free. On their website, you can read how the gospel narrative is evident in every book os the Bible. Click here to check it out.
The Best Study Bibles On the Market
Finally, I want to introduce you to the very best study Bibles on the market. There are some really terrible ones. I've tossed those out and below you will find a list of my absolute favorites. I have listed them in the order I like the most.
There is no better study Bible on the market. Nothing even comes close to the thoroughness of this Bible. It is my daily go-to study Bible. It is large and heavy, but totally worth it. It is carefully crafted by the best conservative scholars in the field. I commend it to you.
I read out of this study Bible before I owned the Reformation Study Bible and it does not disappoint. John MacArthur has influenced my thinking tremendously. This is probably my Dad's favorite study Bible and it is very thorough and biblical and you will benefit from it tremendously. My only word of caution is that MacArthur is a dispensationalist. I am not. You will see that theological persuasion influence his commentary.
This is another fantastic study Bible and one I highly commend. My only beef with this particular study Bible is that is glosses over some of the more challenging parts of Scripture.
There we have 3 different helps for those of you new to reading and studying your bible. We have covered cross-referencing and commentaries, knowing the overarching theme of Scripture, and getting your hands on a good study Bible. Are there particular issues I can address for you? Feel free to reach out to me and I'll be sure to put together a blog article in response. Thanks so much for reading!