This is part two of a multi-part series for women on how to study the Bible on your own. You don’t need a book, a Bible study, or someone else’s opinion: you need a Bible and the Holy Spirit.
I am not here to make you feel guilty. It is very popular today, especially among women’s ministries, to tell women that they must wake up extra early, spend 30-60 minutes in concentrated study, blah blah blah, and then God will bless them. That is not what this is about. I want you to know God more; the more you read God’s Word, the more you will want to study, because the more you get to know Him, the more time you will want to spend with Him. But if you “only” have five minutes today, start there. But start well, with the right tools, and by studying the actual Word of God, and not what someone else says about it or Him.
Now that you have chosen a Bible and gathered your study tools, it’s time to dive into study, right?
Wait! First you need to choose what you want to study. 🙂
There are three primary methods from which to choose when it comes to “just” studying the Bible: systematic studies, topical studies, and what I’ll call good old fashioned book studies. Those can be further divided, but, in general, those are the three big categories.
A systematic study of Scripture is just that: you approach Scripture in a very systematic method. I would further divide this category into four options: classic systematic theology, inductive study, biblical theology, and chronological study.
Classic Systematic Theology is going to be a study of different topics Scripture covers, usually in this order: introductory matters of Scripture, bibliology (doctrine of the Word of God), theology proper (study of God), angelology (angels, fallen and unfallen), anthropology (doctrine of man), christology (study of Christ), pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), soteriology (doctrine of personal salvation), ecclesiology (the church), and eschatology (the end times). Now…you would need a guide of some sort to help you determine which books, chapters, and verses to study for each of these topics, but beyond that, classic systematic theology is an incredibly in-depth way to study God’s Word.
Inductive Bible Study is a method made most popular by Kay Arthur’s Precept Upon Precept program. This is a method of studying a particular book of Scripture in-depth, word by word, by answering who, what, where, when, and why questions, marking key words, and studying what the original languages mean. This method takes some training, but can be found online or through reading a book or two about it. This is also a very thorough way to study a book of Scripture.
Biblical Theology is a method of breaking down the Old and New Testaments into chunks and studying them a section at a time. I don’t particularly care for this method, as it tends to destroy the unity of Scripture if you aren’t very careful.
Chronological Study is a fabulous method of study, I personally think, for your second time to read through the Bible. This is just like it sounds: you study the Bible in the order in which the events occurred, not the order in which they appear in the written Scriptures. Once you have a better grasp of when things happened, it’s amazing to see the overarching plan God has! You can find a chronological chart in many Bibles and easily online.
A topical study is where you, as the student, choose a topic you want to learn more about. This can be further divided into two categories: theological/biblical topics and personal topics.
Theological/biblical topics would include things like the kings of Israel and Judah, the Holy Spirit, the miracles of Jesus, the twelve disciples, the letters of Paul, what the Bible says about spiritual gifts, or a specific person, place, or thing in the Scriptures (the tabernacle is fascinating).
Personal topics would be things like money, marriage, parenting, or anything that you might be struggling with. I guarantee that if you are facing something in life, the Bible has an answer for you, and by studying Scripture, God can help you with whatever it is you are dealing.
Good Old Fashioned Book Study
The last category is just like it sounds: pick a book of the Bible and study it. For example, like I have said numerous times, I love the book of Leviticus. I find it fascinating. Lamentations is really good. James is an incredibly practical book on faith. I am studying Philippians right now (via inductive study) and I’m learning all sorts of things about rejoicing in all circumstances.
A Friendly Plea
One caveat, here, sisters: do not just drop open your Bible, point your finger, and say, “This! This is what I’ll study!” It doesn’t really work that way. Pray about it. Seek wise counsel. Determine what you need right now: practical, applicable, quick study on a personal topic is not any less valid or important than a year long study of the book of Matthew. We all have to start somewhere, and sometimes, we all have to start over, take a break and try something new, or ask God to teach us something new, because we need His help.
So, I hope you have your Bible, your note-taking tools, and this week I hope you spend some time deciding what and how you want to study. Next week we’ll look at how to begin!