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Profitable Bible Study Techniques

The Bible is God’s Word


The Bible is the inspired Word of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What does it mean that God inspired the Bible? It means simply that the Holy Spirit acted upon those who wrote the Scriptures. Peter explained inspiration a little more clearly when he said, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Therefore, the Bible was not written by the men who penned the words. They were instruments in the hand of God. The Holy Ghost came upon their minds and hearts, revealing to them the Word of God.

When the ancient writer Isaiah wrote his prophecy, it was God Who said, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). Notice that God said “my word” goes forth out of “my mouth.” Because the Bible is His Word, blessed by His Spirit, it does not return to Him void. Much good has been accomplished by the teachings of God’s holy Scriptures.

Long ago the psalmist of Israel reminded us of the importance of the Bible and declared its benefit to us. He spoke of God’s Word when he said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). Those who recognize the inspiration of the Bible will discover that its teachings will illuminate their path of life just as light shines to drive away the darkness of the night. Walking in His light, we will be able to avoid the harmful pitfalls we encounter in life.

Not only will God’s Word guide us but it can fill our hearts with hope for the future. Paul reminds us of this truth when he said,“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). This blessed hope emerges only if we understand that the Bible is actually God’s Word. Paul said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Five Reasons to Study the Bible

1. God Commands Us to Study His Word!

The greatest reason to study the Bible is because God commands us to do so. Paul wrote to Timothy these words, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Were those words intended for Timothy alone? Absolutely not. No doubt, they are for all the redeemed.

Paul used Old Testament Scriptures to teach New Testament believers the duty of pastoral care. He wrote, “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope” (1 Corinthians 9:9-10). In a similar way the words of Paul to Timothy apply to us, and all whom God has saved by His grace. Obviously, we need to study the Word of God to understand Who He is and what He requires of His children as we live in the present evil world.

2. We Better Understand Sin.

This is a very important reason for us to diligently study the Bible. John wrote, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). If breaking God’s laws constitutes sin, obviously it will be beneficial if we know what His laws are.

We need to remember that in the beginning Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship with God. When sin entered their lives, everything changed for the worse. They lost fellowship with God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Obviously the consequences of sin were great. Sin was also devastating for Israel of old. God reminded them that their sins and iniquities hid his face from them. Consider what Isaiah said to them; “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). We can rest assured that sin will also affect our lives in a very detrimental way. Therefore, not knowing the Word of God can be very dangerous. We need to know what God considers sinful and displeasing in His sight. The Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11).

3. The Bible is Our Spiritual Weapon.

The third reason we are to read and study the Bible is because it is our weapon against Satan. Paul wrote, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). If we remember the temptations that our Lord endured at the hands of Satan, we will also remember that Jesus resisted the devil, quoting to him the Word of God. First, Satan tempted Jesus to miraculously provide food to end His fasting. In response Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3. Later, when Satan carried Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and encouraged him to jump off, Jesus quoted to him Deuteronomy 6:16. In the third and final temptation, Jesus was carried to a high mountain and tempted to worship Satan. Jesus then quoted Deuteronomy 6:13. In all three temptations Jesus made reference to the teaching of the holy Scriptures. His example is invaluable to us. Today we can use the Word of God as a sword to fight against Satan and his many temptations. When Satan tempts us to commit sin, remembering what God taught in His Word can help us resist. But how will we know what God requires unless we study the Bible?

4. Study to Share God’s Word with Others.

It is important for us to understand this truth; our knowledge of God’s truth has the potential of helping others, as well as ourselves. If we have a genuine concern for other people, we need to become vessels of Scriptures, which can be shared with them. One example of what I am talking about is the experience of Apollos of Alexandria. He was an eloquent man, and “being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:25-26). They were able to share their knowledge, which then enabled him to share it with others.

There are people all around us who need to know what God has to say about the situations they are experiencing. Sometimes, they are members of our family or church. At other times they may be friends or even strangers. How can we share that Divine knowledge if we do not know it ourselves? There are so many people we can help if we know what God says in His Word. Therefore, our ignorance of the Word of God may deprive others of knowledge that could mean a great deal to them.

5. Study to Glorify God More.

This reason is of tremendous importance to all of us. We should study God’s Word because it enables us to glorify God. How does that work? Well, the more we read and study the Bible, the better we will know and understand God our Father and Christ our Lord. The Apostle Peter admonishes us, saying, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). There is a connection between the knowledge of God and His glory. The reason is that if we do not know much about God we are likely to assign to Him human attributes and think that He is weak and often defeated in His will and purposes. However, if we know that God is truly sovereign and has all power (Matthew 28:18), we will understand that all things are truly possible with God (Matthew 19:26). The more we know about God’s nature and being, the more accurate and perfect will be our worship of Him. Therefore, Jesus gave these words of encouragement, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Four Methods of Study

Method 1 - Studying Only the Bible
Let us go back in time, way, way back before this enlightened age. Look back to a time when people had nothing but the basic Bible and maybe an occasional preacher who passed through expounding the Word. We might well look back to Christians a few generations ago and ask, “How did those people understand the teachings of the Bible? There was a time when some people had a Bible but few if any other books or study helps. So how did they grasp and understand the truths of God’s Word? People a few generations ago often had a better understanding of the Bible than many Christians today. The difference was that those people often read and studied the Bible, while many today seldom read or study it because television and computers often monopolize their leisure time.

It is my opinion that if Christians today spent more time with the Word of God, they would know more than they do. This time tested method of studying the Bible is simple: spend time on a daily basis reading and pondering the Scriptures. It also involves our praying for the Holy Spirit to guide and give understanding. When God’s people read the Bible frequently, they eventually retain it in their hearts and minds and rejoice in His Word. We can all benefit from such devoted study. If we spend enough time reading and studying the Bible, gradually in time, it begins to come into focus.

I am convinced that as we consistently study the Bible, we begin to connect verses that speak to the same subject. For example, if you read Genesis 6:8 you will see immediately that it speaks about the subject of grace. Then, when you read Ephesians 2:8, you will notice that it also speaks of God’s grace, and so on and on. Each verse that deals with the subject of grace will be like a piece of the puzzle. Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together and the picture begins to emerge. In time, the picture is complete, glorifying God and edifying us.

Of course, this simplistic approach to studying the Bible takes time, even years, before we get a strong and comprehensive picture of the many and varied subjects which are to be found in the pages of Scripture. In times when there were no study helps, it was the only option available. Yet, after years of reading and study, the wonderful teachings of the Bible became a clear guide to the lives of our ancestors. It will work the same for us today, but only if we are willing to invest the time and prayer necessary. However, we are blessed to live in times when knowledge has increased. We can now gain a better understanding of the world around us and also the teachings of God’s Holy Word. Therefore, we will briefly ponder some study aids that are available to us now.

Method 2 - A Bible with Study Helps
Study Bibles have information that a standard Bible does not have. In addition to a concordance and perhaps a few basic maps, a study Bible will have columns in the center or on the sides of the inspired text. These columns will contain a list of subjects and selected readings. By using the alphabetized index you will find a wide variety of study helps on various subjects. Related Scriptures have been compiled so they can be easily found, read and studied.

The study Bible I have used during my ministry is the “Thompson Chain Reference Bible.” A word of caution should be given, men often give titles or headings which convey their opinions as to the meaning of some Scriptures. However, if you read and study the verses or passages themselves, you will hopefully come to a better understanding of the Bible.

Let me give you an example of these helps. The first word found in the index is “Aaron.” He is listed as topic number one. Looking at the study helps we find that he was the son of Amram and the first high priest. General references are Exodus 4:14; 5:20, and on and on the list of Scripture references continues. It also gives information to find that he was made spokesman for Moses and helped Hur hold up Moses’s hands, etc. Scripture verses are listed so that you can actually turn to the supporting Scriptures and read the entire passage.

My study Bible has a host of helps which include character studies, studies of books of the Bible, as well as topical studies, biographical studies, and studies of chapters and important passages. There is also a parallel study of the four Gospels. Additional studies show the travels of Christ during His ministry and list the chain of events involved in His death and crucifixion. The list goes on and is too long to detail in this brief look at this study Bible. There are, of course, many other study Bibles on the market and your pastor may use another he has found beneficial. Ask around and look at different Bibles before you make your selection.

Method 3 - Other Study Helps Available
The most basic study help and the most familiar to most of us is the dictionary. It is simple to use and its benefits are limited to the definition of words. However, understanding the meaning of a word may help open the verse we are studying. For example, if we read about “importunity”in Luke 11:8, the definition of the word will enable us to understand what God is talking about. Many of the words we find in the Bible, we already know and understand, but there will inevitably be words that we do not understand. In such cases, a dictionary will be a helpful and beneficial asset to us.

There is also a Bible Dictionary. Like other dictionaries, the words are listed alphabetically. The advantage of this book is that it often gives more information than just a definition. It will likely include Bible references which will enable you to look and study a bit more in-depth. The book I like is “Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary.” It gives more specific details and pertinent information that is often more applicable to ancient biblical times.

The next book I will mention is one of the most beneficial study helps available. It is fairly easy to find and does not cost a prohibitive amount of money; this combination plus ease of use makes it very beneficial to a vast number of people. I am speaking of a Bible concordance. Some may already be familiar with the concordance because many Bibles contain an abbreviated version. Even though it may not be very comprehensive, it certainly can be a great help in finding a verse of Scripture. In the Bible there are a large number of subjects, and many of the more prominent subjects will be listed in the concordance.

It works basically in the same way as a dictionary. Because it is alphabetized, you can look up a word by the first letter of the word. For example, if you should want to find and read verses that deal with the subject of faith, you would go to the letter “f.” In the concordance you will find many verses that deal with faith so that you can find them and read what the Bible says about the subject.

The concordance I have often used over the years is a “Cruden’s Complete Concordance.” It not only lists many related Scriptures but also subdivides them to make it easier to find specific clusters of verses related to the subject. For example, if you look up the word “name, ” it will list Scriptures that have that word in them but will also group verses that mention “his name,” “my name,” “thy name,” etc. Thus, it makes it easier to find the specific verse you may be looking to find.

The next book I want to mention is a larger and more complex version of the concordance. It is called an analytical concordance. Please do not let the name discourage you from acquiring this beneficial book. Its advantages are many and varied, and understandably, the cost is usually higher. This book is also alphabetized to make it easier to use. I use the “Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible.”

In addition to the information you will find in a more basic concordance, the analytical concordance will give you the meaning of the word in the Hebrew or Greek language. This is important because our English Bibles were not originally written in English; they were translated from other languages which were generally more complex and expressive than ours. The Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language and the New Testament in the Greek language. Those languages often used different words that were more specific. However, many times there was only one English word to convey the many varied ideas. So the analytical concordance will subdivide our single English word into the different words which expressed the original ideas.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. The English word “love” is used to define our connections and feelings for God, family, pets, hobbies, etc. However, in the Greek, the highest form of love would be “agapao.” They used a different word to express the lesser love of a friend; it was “phileo.” For an example, look at John 21:15-19. John wrote, “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). (Greek words inserted).

It is interesting to note that when God said, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10), the word “loved” is agapao - to love. When Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12); love is agapao again. Yet, when Peter said he loved Jesus he used the word “phileo” which meant to love as a friend. Therefore, knowing the original meaning helps us to understand more about the conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter answered, “I love you as a friend.” Jesus asked again the same question and Peter affirmed again that he loved Jesus as a friend. The third and final time Jesus asked Peter, “Do you really love me as a friend?” Again Peter professed his love for Jesus as a friend.

Without knowing the different words used in the original text, we would not have fully understood the conversation which took place so long ago. Obviously, not understanding the ancient meaning of words, we would have missed some details because our English language does not always convey the complex division and meanings of words.

There are, of course, a great many different books on the market that are designed to assist you in studying the Bible. They are so numerous that I cannot possibly mention all of them. I have tried to give you some basic books but you may also wish to purchase a set of Bible commentaries. The first commentary I purchased was “Gill’s Commentaries.” There are a great many similarities between what Gill believed and what we believe as Primitive Baptists. However, there are occasional differences and we must remember that all of us will disagree at some time or other. The contents of some commentaries will be dramatically different from our understanding of the Scriptures, so exercise great care in your selection and ask your pastor or other church members about the books they have found helpful.

Method 4 - Computer Helps
The list of helps that has been mentioned is certainly not all the helps available for studying the Bible. In this computer age, there is a great variety of online helps. There are Bible Programs on the internet that are free. Some people use a program called “E-Sword, which will not only download the Bible, but also study helps from many commentaries. One word of caution, commentaries are the writings of men and thus reflect their personal view and understanding of the Scriptures. Therefore, exercise care as you go online; there are both beneficial and detrimental sites.


God gave His Word for our good. Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says,”And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” (Deuteronomy 10:13). If the Word of God is given for our good, we should avail ourselves of its wonderful benefits.

I hope you will be encouraged to make an investment in some of these books. Even the more basic ones can be a tremendous help in understanding the teachings of Scripture. Regardless of which books you purchase, remember that the best interpreter of the Bible is simply the Scriptures contained in it. With or without additional helps, make a diligent and faithful study of the Bible. Studying the Scriptures will help us rejoice in what Jesus has done for us and instruct in how we may let our lights shine for His glory. May God bless you to correctly put together the many teachings of the Word of God, and rejoice in a greater understanding of His truth.

Let us thank God for such a marvelous gift and make a genuine and consistent effort to study the Bible. Peter wrote, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:2-3).

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This page last updated on November 1, 2015