When I started out studying my Bible, I’d usually just crack open to an “easy” book and read a few verses, hoping something would jump out at me. Then I’d spend the day trying to remember what I read, applying it to my life at school or work. Looking back, I’m not surprised that Bible study was often confusing and boring, leaving me listless whenever I opened those pages!
Bible study is not something you will be good at from the beginning. If you’re in college, you probably took a study skills class. This is because study of any kind needs to be done in a specific manner in order for you to retain and benefit from the information! The same applies to your study of the Bible. While God can work through random verses, we miss out on the full power, meaning and context of those verses when we ignore the passages in which they are contained. If we don’t understand the historical setting in which those passages were written, we’re prone to misinterpret what’s going on. And if we don’t know how the words were translated or where else they were used, we might miss some of the impact of Scripture!
Fortunately, there are a lot of wonderful resources to help us learn how to study our Bibles. Following are five books I highly recommend to help you learn the lifelong skill of Bible study!
1. Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin: This slim book is easy to read and jam-packed with everything you need to start studying your Bible effectively. It has been compared to a 16-week, 300-level Bible course in my college’s religion program—and that’s saying something! Learn how to break down a passage and grasp the author intent, historical context and how it applies today. I can’t recommend this one enough.
2. How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur: Kay Arthur runs an entire organization devoted to teaching people how to study the Bible: Precept Ministries! This book is practical and delves even deeper into the “how” of inductive Bible study. Inductive Bible study moves from a general overview of Scripture to the specifics of each passage, teaching the reader how to use logical, inductive reasoning to draw conclusions from the Word.
3. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee: This book is consistently recommended by pastors and ministers to help believers learn how to interpret Scripture, especially those tough passages that confuse many Christians. The book includes a list of resources to supplement your own Bible study and help you get the most out of your study time.
4. Grasping God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays: I used this book for a class in my degree program. While it’s as informative as a textbook, it’s also very easy to read. What I enjoyed most were the activities at the end of each chapter. These helped me implement what I read and learn how to bridge the gap between the historical and cultural context of Scripture and modern application.
5. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien: Everyone brings a cultural bias to their reading of Scripture; we tend to read it through the eyes of experience. But in order to best understand and apply God’s Word, we need to see it through the eyes of the author and his original intended audience! These people lived many years prior to this Westernized world. That’s why this book is so helpful to understanding Scripture as it was originally written, then translating that accurately to modern times.
Do you have a favorite book you use for Bible study? Share in the comments!