7 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


7 Tips for Personal Time in Scripture

There are many ways to study God's Word. Here are some tips to help get the ball rolling.

1) Pray. Surprisingly, 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 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.  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.

Note Taking

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.  

Here are a couple of favorites:

  • Desiringgod.org
  • Biblegateway.com