Study the Bible Yourself

Some people are content to listen to pastors and teachers tell them what the Bible says and means.  Others want to go further and deeper and study the Bible for themselves.  Recently I helped someone start studying the New Testament book of 1 Peter. I put together information and steps that you might find helpful.  For now I’m just going to put the simple outline up.  I’ll probably come back later and explain some of it more.  I tried to make the approach as simple, accessible, and economical as possible.  This is a starting point – go dig in the Word!

Resources

John MacArthur Study Bible   Available in several English translations; the New American Standard is the most literal translation from the original languages.  If you want to buy a study Bible, I recommend this one.

Commentary on 1 Peter – D. Edmond Hiebert  Hiebert is one of the best commentators on New Testament books.  Any book by him is worth buying.

www.blueletterbible.org – Online Bible study site that includes Hebrew and Greek word definitions and other resources.  It takes a little time to learn how to use it, but it’s worth the effort.

Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps & Charts – This is an extremely helpful book that contains background information and outlines of every book of the Bible.  I highly recommend it!

Steps

Pray.  Use Colossians 1:9-12 and Ephesians 3:14-21 to guide you in what to pray for.

Read material before 1 Peter in the MacArthur Study Bible, especially “Background and Setting” section.

Take a paragraph at a time.  Use the paragraph divisions shown in some Bibles (NASB, ESV).

Write out sentences in outline or diagram form.

–          Main idea – determine if the sentence is information, instruction, exhortation, command

–          Subordinate ideas – these explain, tell how, when, why, who, to what degree, in what measure, what makes it possible, for what purpose, what it accomplishes, what is the resource, etc.

Look up key words.

–          Blue Letter Bible

–          Look at background information on the word.

–          Look at the basic definition of the word.

–          Look at possible synonyms.

–          Don’t force alternative meanings if not necessary.

–          Remember, context determines precise meaning of words.

Write the paragraph out, or key parts of it, in your own words. This can be detailed or just summarize.

Think of what unclear phrases might mean.

Look at related passages (shown in cross references).

Read commentary for more insight into meaning.

Think about questions:

–          What is God revealing about Himself, His plan, His will?

–          What did this mean to the people who first read/heard it?

–          How does this section (sentence, paragraph) fit into the overall theme and message of the book? (refer to background info)

–          What is God’s message to me?

–          What are possible ways for me to respond?  What should I believe? How should I think?  What can/should I do?

Journal anything and everything you want – study notes, devotional thoughts, personal applications, prayers.

Share and discuss what you’re learning with a friend!

Don’t get discouraged or frustrated with not understanding everything, or as much as someone else seems to.  You will benefit and grow!

A Core Truth of the Christian Life

I’m leading a class that is studying the Book of Romans in our Wednesday Workshops.  Tonight we begin a close look at Romans 6.  This chapter presents one core truth and some corollary truths.  The core truth is stated several times, but most clearly in verse 5:  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection…  (NKJV).  Those who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ are joined together with Him, specifically in His death and resurrection.  This is a spiritual reality that has the greatest of implications for our lives.  Because we have been joined to Christ, we have the ability and motivation to live righteously.  I’m thrilled to renew my understanding of our union with Christ as I study today, and looking forward to sharing it in our workshop tonight.