Tips for Studying the Bible

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession,
and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved
and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death,
to the other a fragrance from life to life.
Who is sufficient for these things?

- 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

I love the community that is beginning to form in the Round! It is wonderful to look at Scripture together and see God is the same, regardless of our personal contexts.  As you have probably noticed over the past couple of weeks, I have chosen to spend a week on a different passage of Scripture.

God has spoken to me through His Word each time, revealing different characteristics of Himself.  Each time, He shows me that He is big and I am small, yet He still loves me as His daughter.  I hope that you have come away from each week encouraged as well.

To be honest, I chose the passage that we will spend the week studying because I wanted to study it for myself.  I came across these verses, and after reading them through, I had so many questions that I just had to stop and spend some time thinking though Paul’s words.  

However, before digging in, I want to spend some time showing you how I sometimes begin studying through a passage or section of Scripture.

There are many ways to do so – in fact, since writing for LITR, my study has taken on many forms – but this is one way that I have found helpful to get the ball rolling, especially if I am to write a blog post. Later this week, I hope that you will see some of these points develop into topics used in the posts.

1) Pray. I am surprised that this habit is easily broken in my Bible study. I should always begin my time in God’s word by actually asking God to be there with me. 

2) Write out the passage, double-spaced. Yes, my Bible is right beside me. However, this first step encourages me to take my time and read the words that I actually want to study. I tend to understand the passage better than just reading it straight through a couple of times.

3) Grab some coloring utensils. I learned from a Kay Arthur study I did in college that highlighting, connecting, and even drawing pictures are great ways to further understand the text. As you can see below, there isn’t necessarily a neat method to my madness. I just use symbols, underlining, and highlighting to connect phrases or ideas.

4) Observe. Many times, I want to skip this step by going to other sources (my Study Bible, commentaries, online resources) to explain to me what I’m reading. However, it is important that I challenge myself to process God’s Word for myself. I will get to those other sources, but first, I must wrestle with God’s words on my own.

Observations from 2 Corinthians 2 : 14-16:

  • God is the focus. He leads the procession and spreads fragrance of the knowledge of Himself.
  • We are actually conquered by Him to join the procession.
  • He uses us to spread knowledge of Him.
  • God gives us HIS fragrance that smells like Christ to HIM. He finds the smell pleasing.
  • Having the aroma of Christ emphasizes our call to show Christ and tell others.

5) Ask questions. After briefly observing, I ask questions about what I do not initially understand or topics that I want to learn more about.

Questions from 2 Corinthians 2 : 14-16:

  • What does ‘death to death’ mean? ‘life to life’?
  • Where else is fragrance used in Scripture? How do those instances tie in to these verses?

6) Now use a good Study Bible.  Cross-referencing is great. They are little notes within the text that show me where I can find a similar phrase or verse elsewhere in Scripture. 

Here are a few cross-references for 2 Corinthians 2 : 14-16:

  • Ephesians 5:2 – fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  • Philippians 4:18 – fragrant offering and sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
  • Leviticus 1:9-17 – the old Jewish law of offerings and sacrifices.

7) Find other sources. I love learning from scholars and theologians who have studied the Bible deeper and longer.  There are a few resources that I tend to start with, including notes in my Study Bible, big thick commentaries like Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary, and a few Bible book specific studies that I have. However, there are so many great online resources as well.  

My top three favorites are:

I hope these study tips help as we further explore 2 Corinthians 2 : 14-16 this week.
Please comment below with other helpful ways that you study the Bible!

See You In The Round!