If you are new to the Christian faith, there are so many new things to learn. Bible Study for beginners is one of them.
Bible reading is where you will start.
But at some point, you will want to understand more about what you are reading, what it means to you personally, and how it applies practically to your everyday life.
Why should we study the Bible?
Because the Bible is a collection of the very words of God, we should have a type of hunger to study the Bible and to know Him better.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man (or woman) who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 ESV (explanation added)
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
We all have a deep longing inside that we try to satisfy with relationships, possessions, and status. But that longing, that hunger or thirst will never be satisfied apart from a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus also said:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
Bible study then is to gain more understanding about God and what He wants for our lives. It is not just an intellectual activity, but to change us.
“The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” D.L. Moody
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (changed) by the renewal of your mind … ” Romans 12:2 (explanation added)
Bible study tools for beginners
Think of Bible study as going on a treasure hunt. Certainly, you don’t know what gems you will find when you start out. But usually, they are not found on the surface.
When digging for gems, you would need a pick and shovel as the bare minimum of tools. Bible study requires a certain amount of tools also.
Nowadays, there are many online tools to help beginners and mature believers alike to study the Bible. Here is the bare minimum to get you started.
- An easy to read Bible such as the English Standard Version (ESV)
- Pen and paper, journals, or workbooks
- Blue Letter Bible online (free, but a donation is suggested if you use it often)
- Dictionary (Bible dictionary preferred, but a regular dictionary will work)
- Commentary (use last)
Easy to read Bible
Many people love the King James Bible. However, for beginners and for the younger generation there are many old English words that we no longer use. Examples include thee, thou, wilt, hast, mayest, doest, art, and whilst.
Furthermore, if we are wanting to know more about the original Hebrew and Greek meanings, it is better to use a word-by-word translation like the English Standard Version. Many other translations are phrase-by-phrase or sentence-by-sentence translations.
Pens, pencils, journal, workbooks
These simple tools will help you remember what you study and how it applies to your life.
Reading is great, but the process of using muscles to write what we are learning helps take it from a thought to action.
This process helps develop neural pathways in our memory bank.
Blue letter Bible
One of the advantages of living in the age of the internet is that you don’t have to be a seminary professor to understand the meanings of the original Greek and Hebrew words. The Blue Letter Bible has it all.
Additionally, you will find cross-references as well as some commentary. This is a great tool for all levels of Bible study.
If you are a visual learner like I am, you will find pictorial instructions for use of the Blue Letter Bible in “How To Do A Topical Bible Study – Step By Step”.
You can find good Bible dictionaries online. These are a couple that I like.
- Vines Expository Dictionary
- Naves Topical Bible
Even a query online will give a fairly good definition of many Biblical words. Just type “what does the word _________ mean” into your search engine.
There are many helpful commentaries available. Many are online, and can be found at:
Just be sure to use them after you have read the Scriptures and done preliminary observations. Otherwise, you are likely to be influenced more by the writer’s interpretation than by what the Holy Spirit wants to teach you.
Bible study methods for Beginners
There are many ways to study the Bible, but for beginners, you want to keep it fairly simple.
S.O.A.P BIBLE STUDY FOR BEGINNERS
The SOAP Bible study method is sometimes called the “devotional” method. It can be as short or long as you want it to be.
When you read a passage of Scripture you ask 4 questions about it.
- S – What is the Scripture? Write it in your journal if it isn’t too long- or write a verse or two that stand out.
- O – What things do you observe? Write that in your journal.
- A – How does this apply to my life?
- P – Pray about it – ask God to give you opportunities to live what you just read.
Under O (observation), ask yourself a couple of questions.
- Who wrote this and why?
- Does this tell me anything about God?
- What does it tell me about myself or mankind in general?
- Any other observations?
Under A (application), ask yourself a couple of questions.
- Is there something I need to do?
- Is there something I need to avoid?
- Do I have questions about this verse(s)?
The SOAP Bible study method is fairly easy, and most beginners can do it without any assistance.
TOPICAL BIBLE STUDY FOR BEGINNERS
Topical Bible study is for when you want to know what God says about a certain subject. Examples would be:
- New Life In Christ
- God’s Faithfulness
There is no end to topics that you could study.
One additional tool that is helpful for this type of Bible study is OpenBible.info/topics.
Once on the website, you can type in your topic, and it will give you a list of verses that talk about that subject matter.
This illustration shows a list of verses for the topic “ability”.
The great thing is that many Christian writers have already used the Open Bible to group verses by topic. Better still, all of these topical Bible studies are free to download. Here are some of my favorites:
- Undoubted Grace – covers
- goals and planning,
- simplicity and simple living,
- mental health and anxiety,
- rest and relaxation,
- fear and insecurity,
- charity and giving to others.
- Susan Davis – covers
- promises of God,
- love of God,
- Holy Spirit,
- life in Christ,
- and joy.
- Megan Allen Ministries – covers
- loving others,
- spiritual battle,
- and names of God.
- The Creator’s Classroom – covers
- new life in Jesus
- no greater love
- facing adversity
- showers of blessing
- bloom where you are planted
- run to God the father
- freedom in Jesus
- words of Jesus
- the importance of the Bible
- His name shall be called (names of Jesus)
To go deeper into the topical Bible study method, be sure and read “How To Do A Topical Bible Study – Step By Step”.
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY FOR BEGINNERS
The inductive Bible study method is a little more involved but can be done by beginners if you take the time to dig in deep.
This method examines a passage and its context to answer these questions:
- What does it say (your summary)
- What did it mean to the ones it was written to
- What does it mean to us today
Part of the context for a given passage can be found in many Bibles at the beginning of each book. It will tell you who wrote it, who it was written to, the conditions under which it was written, and why the book was written.
Context can also be found by reading your chosen verses, as well as the verses before and after them. Further context is often found in commentaries.
As a word of caution, use commentaries sparingly. Give God time to speak to you before you are influenced by a human’s take on the Scripture.
Where should a beginner start studying the Bible?
The topical Bible study method is fairly easy. You choose a subject and go from there.
For SOAP or inductive Bible study methods, beginners should start with easier passages. So good choices would be any of the Gospels or most of Paul’s letters to the early churches. These would include the books of:
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (especially the sections where Jesus is speaking- in many Bibles it is marked in red)
- Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians
Probably the easiest thing to do is study one chapter at a time.
Final thoughts and a gift
Studying the Bible is a worthy pursuit if it is for the purpose of becoming more like Jesus. It is in the application of any study that we benefit the most. Furthermore, it is God’s plan for us to be changed for the good.
In order to accomplish the goal of Bible Study for beginners, I want you to have the following workbook sampler. It is a free download and no email is required.
If the worksheets bless you, tell your friends to visit here to get their own copies.
When you are ready to jump in and do the full 36-page workbook, it is available here. You get enough pages to do 9 full studies using each Bible Study Method 3 times. Also included are beautiful note sheets.