Just reading the Bible is not the same as studying it. Christianity holds that the Bible is the divine word of God and therefore deserves respect. It is one of the most misinterpreted books ever written, and most people find it very difficult to understand. A lot of time and many cultures have passed between the time of her composition and the modern age. The purpose of studying the Bible is to understand the content in the original languages. If you don't know where to start your reading, how often to read your Bible, how much to read in a session, or how to get information from it, this article can help.
Method 1 of 4: General Approach
Step 1. Plan your study
Make time and place to study. Develop a plan of what you want to do. You can write one in calendar format, assigning what you want to read each day. Putting together a plan will help you stay motivated and have a structure.
Step 2. Get a good study Bible
Choose a translation to use during your study. You should select translations rather than simple paraphrases as this ensures you are reading the text as it was meant to be read.
- There are two main schools of thought when it comes to translating: dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence. Dynamic translation is thought for thought, while formal translation is word for word. In word-for-word translations, you'll find that sometimes a word literally means one thing, but functionally another (like the English word “blue”, which technically means the color blue, but functionally can mean “sad”). However, less reliable or highly biased translators can make a dynamic translation inaccurate. A mixture can help, but if you're not sure, just look at recent (from the last 20 to 40 years) Bible translations, from the original text, and made by reputable scholars.
- Good formal equivalency translations include the Jerusalem Bible. A good dynamic equivalency translation is the Pilgrim Bible.
Step 3. Study the Bible with a prayerful attitude
This should be the first step in understanding her. Bible study should be approached with a prayerful desire to learn. Discipline yourself to stay with the Word. The Bible will come alive for you, after all, it is spiritual food.
Step 4. Pray.
Ask God to help you understand His Word before you even begin. Understand the Bible literally. Don't assume that something is a parable or story just because it seems vague. Don't try to interpret the Bible. “Knowing this first: that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. For prophecy was never produced by the will of any man, but holy men of God spoke inspired by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) That's where disagreements come from.
Step 5. Focus on the New Testament first
Although it complements the Old and the Old complements the New, it's best to read the New Testament first if you're a beginner. This will make the Old Testament more meaningful.
Step 6. Consider reading John first
It's best to start with John, which is the easiest Gospel to read, identify who Jesus really is and prepare you for others 3. Reading 2 or 3 times helps to get a good understanding of the author, theme, context and characters. Read 3 chapters a day. Focus on your reading and be patient.
- When João finishes, move on to Mark, Matthew and Lucas. Those tend to be the next easiest material. Read all the books - one after the other - until you have read all the Gospels.
- When you're done with the Gospels, consider reading Romans' letters to Judas. Since Revelation is pure prophecy not covered in the New Testament, leave it out for now. When you are well acquainted with the main prophets, try Revelation.
Step 7. Select topics to study
A topical study is very different from studying a book or a chapter. The thematic index of most Bibles has specific areas of study. Once you've found an interesting topic, start by rough reading the verses. This will give you an overview of what they have to say, for example: salvation, obedience, sin, etc. Remember: reading a chapter over and over will help you find things you may have missed or skipped before.
Method 2 of 4: Study Techniques
Step 1. Use a dictionary
Search for the words of the chapter you are reading. This will help you understand the Bible better.
Step 2. Have a Bible notebook
This will make you responsible for reading every day. Also, ask questions and write them down in your notebook. Use the formula “who”, “what”, “when, “where”, “why” and “how” in your studies. For example, "Who was there?", "What was going on?", "Where was it going?", "How did it end?". This simple formula will make the story make sense.
Step 3. Highlight things that are important or that you really like in your own Bible
But don't do this if it belongs to someone else.
Step 4. Use cross-references and footnotes if you have them in your Bible
The first are numbers and symbols that tell you to look elsewhere in the text if you want more information, or show you when something was discussed earlier. Footnotes, usually found at the bottom of a given page, will tell you where information comes from or explain complex ideas or historical events and concepts.
Try picking a few words that catch your eye and look them up in a concordance to find other verses saying the same thing
Step 5. Follow the references in your Study Bible to see the first time they have been used
This is where a good reference Bible becomes essential.
Step 6. Keep a journal
You don't need to write a lot. Just use a notebook page with the date, book/chapter/verse at the top. Ask yourself a few questions and outline what you are reading. This will help you see what God is revealing to you through the Word. Write down ideas, verses, or thoughts that come to mind as you read. Think “who, what, when, where, how”. Answer all possible questions in each category. So study them and pray about them.
Step 7. Get rid of all distractions.
Turn off the television or radio. Unless you're studying in a group, try to find a quiet place where you have a table to read and take notes. This is a time between you and God.
Method 3 of 4: Studying with Others
Step 1. Find a Bible study group
Find a group of people you can study with. The text is very complicated, and having some help going through it will be very important. The group will also help you stay motivated and inspired.
Step 2. Share what you find with others within your study group
Discuss what you read with others who may have more experience reading and studying the Bible than you.
Step 3. Take what someone else says about a topic just as a guide
Let the Bible inspire you. Increasing your knowledge of biblical principles will only come after years of dedication, hard work, and reading.
The Bible is not just a book from Genesis to Revelation. There are 66 books, each by different authors at different times. Several authors have written more than one book, but they were written at different times for a variety of reasons. You will find similar themes and meanings throughout every book of the Bible
Method 4 of 4: Sample Study Plan
Step 1. Decide your order
Of course, you can read the New Testament in order if you prefer, but there are some plans that read the books out of order for a purpose. One is described in the steps below.
Step 2. Start with the Gospels
Each Gospel paints a different picture of Jesus. Matthew shows Jesus as King; Mark shows him as a Rabbi (many scholars believe that Mark is Peter's son (1 Peter 5:12 and 13); other studies show that this Mark is actually the missionary who worked with Paul (2 Timothy 4:11); Luke shows Jesus as a Man (Luke was a physician, probably a Greek, from Asia Minor (Col. 4:14), and John shows Jesus as God, that is, the Messiah.
Read John again for continuity. This will give you a more complete view of the Gospels. John was the last written Gospel. Those from Matthew to Luke are known as “synoptics” because they tell the same basic story, bringing their points of view. John fills in the gaps of others. It is a book that completes the story of the Gospels
Step 3. Read Acts next
Acts, also known as the "Acts of the Apostles", was written by Luke and is a picture of the revelation and development of the Church.
Step 4. Read from Galatians to Philemon
These six shorter letters are Paul's personal letters to three of the churches he visited and to three of his friends, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
- Read the Epistle to the Romans. It shows the means and the way to salvation. Then read the Epistles to the Corinthians. This is the introduction to the Holy Spirit and develops His doctrine and Gifts. Follow with Hebrews to Judas, the teachings of the elders of the first Church.
- Unless you've been a Christian for a while and have a good background in prophecy, leave Revelation to serious students in their study times.
Step 5. Move to the Old Testament
It is compiled in order for convenience, not chronology. You can read it in groups to make things easier. There are 929 chapters in it. If you read three a day, you will finish it in 10 months.
- Read Genesis. This is creation and the early relationship with God.
- Follow Exodus to Deuteronomy. This is the Law.
- Read the history books. Joshua to Esther.
- Following the history section, read the wisdom and poetry books.
- Job, often held to be the oldest book, shows how a man's relationship with God came about and is full of lessons about how it could have been better. It's a great lesson about what God expects of man.
- The Psalms are the writings of a king of Israel who was a man after his own heart despite the fact that he was not only a sinner but a condemned murderer.
- The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs, was written by King Solomon in his youth. It was a work of poetry done by a passionate young man. King Solomon was the wisest and richest man in the world.
- Proverbs are the writings of King Solomon as an adult, when he was king of Israel and was learning hard lessons.
- Ecclesiastes are King Solomon's laments as a man who spent his life in song, with many wives, concubines, wine, wives, and wild living. It's the lesson book of what not to do.
- Following the books of wisdom and poetry, start with the 5 main prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
- Move on to the 12 minor prophets to finish the Old Testament.
- When you begin your Bible study, ask for the Holy Spirit's help. John 14:26 says that he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance the sayings of Jesus. I John 2:27 is similar.
- There are 261 chapters in the New Testament. If you read 3 a day, you will have completed it in about 90 days. If all you want to do is read the entire Bible, you can read 3 chapters of the New Testament in the morning and 4 chapters of the Old Testament in the evening, and that would finish the New in 87 days. You would have 668 Old Testament chapters left. If you read 3 in the morning and 4 in the evening to completion, you will have read the entire Bible in about 6 months. However, it is much more beneficial to read 3 chapters a day. Don't worry about how long it takes to read everything.
- There are enough reference books and study guides to fill a library. Don't feel like you need to get them all. This would cost thousands of reais. Pick what works for your needs. Don't get overwhelmed.
- Search for the translation or version you are going to study. Is it accurate? Is it just a modern, readable version, or is it intended for study?
- The reason for reading the Gospels out of order is that each one identifies Jesus in a different way. John = God; Mark = servant; Matthew = king; Lucas = man. Plus, you don't want to get bogged down in genealogies in Matthew and Luke right away. Each serves a different purpose, and familiarity is helpful.
- As a means of continuing with daily reading, you can use a One Year Bible. It is not for study, but you will go through the Bible in one year, which will give you more familiarity with each book as you study it.
- At first it may seem daunting to read every day. But when you're in the Word, it clears your mind and prepares you for the day. Reading the Bible is a necessary part of this. Do not give up. If you feel discouraged, ask the Lord for help.
- Pray before starting any Bible study or reading. Ask God to clear your mind and show you things in His Word before you start reading. There is a prayer for wisdom and revelation in Ephesians 1:16-23, and you can pray it for yourself.
- Make a promise to yourself. Get up a little earlier in the morning for your reading. The thing is, "No Bible, no breakfast, no exceptions." King David studied the word morning and evening (Psalm 1:2).
- After going through the Bible at least once, with the help of a good teacher, read a good layman's guide to hermeneutics and apologetics. They will help you know what to ask as you read and study.
- The Bible was not written in Portuguese, but in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. This means that some words and concepts are not direct translations but attempts to express the feeling and meaning of the passage. Some have been translated literally, and others functionally. Read with an open mind, pray, talk to others, and try to understand what the original writers' views were.
- Don't read what every Bible expert says about a topic. You will see conflicting opinions, and this will make you confused and give up. Be like the people of Berea and judge everything you hear in scripture with sharp questions and trying out the proofs (Acts 17:11). Let the Bible speak for itself. The author (God) will both reveal himself to you and inspire you.
- Sometimes a scientific fact or common sense will seem to deny the Bible. If this happens, be careful not to make rash decisions; remember that your interpretation of the Bible will never be perfect. That's why you shouldn't interpret it (2 Peter 1:20, 21). Find the passage that bothers you and study its context and tone. Generally, your understanding of the words will be to blame, so try to find an alternative meaning that satisfies your doubts and agrees with the rest of your studies. If you are still dissatisfied, ask a friend who knows the Bible well to explain it to you. If you still go unanswered, know that whatever your conclusion, it must agree with the rest of the Bible. The part that is not clear now will be explained elsewhere in the Word.