Edit: The Bible study method below is more precisely outlined in the page above – A Bible Study Method.
Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve started a new blog: Jono’s Bible Study Notes.
The idea behind the new blog is to post, partly for my own storage, the notes from my Bible study time. My friend and I meet once per week for fellowship, accountability, and to study the Bible. I’ll be posting the notes from these studies as well as others.
I will be continuing to post to this By the way… blog on the usual issues of our ambassadorship, biblical literacy, apologetics, etc.
My friend and I are going through the book of Acts. We spent about 19 months going through Luke’s Gospel and we thought that Acts would naturally be the one to follow Luke. We’re in Acts chapter 13 right now.
We meet on Wednesday mornings and discuss the passage that we’d studied over the week since our last meeting. I’d like to share with you how I study the passage between meetings. I use an 8-step plan that has gone through several revisions over the years. Currently it looks something like what’s outlined here.
I get up early. I’m a morning person so the early morning hours is when I do my best study of God’s word. After doing some light exercises and eating breakfast, I make my coffee and head upstairs to the office (the 2nd bedroom that my wife and I turned into an office). I read a psalm or a chapter from whatever through-the-Bible plan I’m using at the time, just to get my mind into the Word. I then spend some time praying. I have a prayer method that I like to use that keeps me on track and focused. Perhaps I’ll share that sometime later. When I’m done praying, I go into my study. Over the course of a week, I use this plan; I usually complete 1 or more steps per day. I start each day’s study by praying for clarity and focus. I also make sure I read the passage with its context at least daily.
Step 1 – I read the passage several times, with context, in the ESV and other translations.
Step 2 – I write down initial observations, any questions that come to mind, and a summary of the passage as a whole. I try to spend a lot of time on this step. This step may span a couple of mornings.
Step 3 – I look up notes from the NET Bible, the ESV Study Bible, the NASB MacArthur Study Bible, and the Expositor’s Bible Commentary. These notes will often lead me to other sources like Josephus or the writings of the early church fathers. This step may also span more than one morning.
Step 4 – I look up any parallel passages.
Step 5 – From the insight gained from the steps 3 and 4, I adjust my observations, answer my questions as much as possible, and I make adjustments to my summary of the passage.
Step 6 – I prepare my notes for my meeting with my friend, including LFL (Lessons for Life) and personal applications. I also prepare any maps or charts that might apply to the passage.
Step 7 – I meet with my friend to discuss the passage. During this meeting I make notes of his observations and conclusions, and other things that come to our minds while we’re discussing the passage.
Step 8 – I add the notes from our meeting to my notes, making any edits or adjustments to my notes from step 6.
I then start all over again with the next passage.
I have found this method to be very helpful to me, but I think the most helpful part of this whole process is the accountability and fellowship of my friend. He’s going to be ready each week. I use that to motivate me to be as prepared as I can be, and that keeps me in the Word every morning.
One more note about this: I think it’s important to limit the passage to 10-15 verses whenever possible. If it gets much longer than that, it’s harder to get through those steps in a week and it tends to be too much of a chunk to effectively study and discuss. Sometimes the passage has to be longer because there’s no clean place to break it up. Acts 13:13-41 is an example of that. It’s 29 verses altogether, but it’s all one piece with no place to break it up cleanly. So, we tackle it as a whole. That being said, it’s also important to remember the context of the passage. Sometimes, when I have a block of time, I’ll sit down and read through the entire book or the major section of the book, including at least several chapters. This keeps the greater context in mind when studying the 10-15 verses.
Well, there it is. Perhaps this method will help you if you don’t already have a Bible study method. Tweak it to suit you. Change it up, add or remove steps, etc. Whatever keeps you in the Word and helps you to gain a better understanding of it.
The notes that I’ll be posting in the new blog will be in bullet note format. I won’t be taking the time to turn it into any kind of commentary; indeed I don’t have the time to take. There will be the verse followed by bullet points. I also won’t be posting any maps or charts. It just takes too long to scan them into digital images and upload them. I may reference a map or chart, but that’ll be it. If you have the resource that I reference, you can look it up there. In no way do I intend this new blog to be a complete Bible study guide. I hope it will end up being an aid to study, but it won’t be nearly polished or complete enough to be use as a study guide.
As always, I welcome any comments on my notes or on the Bible study method above.
Stay in the Word!