10 of the Most Common Approaches to Bible Study
What is Bible Study?
To understand “next level Bible study”, we first must understand normal Bible Study wouldn’t you agree? In this exercise of defining what we think normal Bible Study looks like reminds me of when I asked our prayer team members what a prayer meeting normally looks like. Go there for a moment in your mind. Place yourself in a room of people who have gathered to pray. What you find is a quiet atmosphere in a room with only a few people. Of those present, they are usually older men and women, mostly women. There is nothing exciting or inviting about what happens next. In the same way, think of Bible Study. What images come to your mind? It’s this image that next level Bible study is designed to change.
Allow me to settle in on that thought for a moment and give you some feedback I have collected from others when asked the question, “what do you think Bible study is?”
What is Bible study to you?
What do you think about when you hear the words “Bible study?”
- Learning God’s word.
One of the goals of Bible study is to learn God’s word. May I ask a question then, are you interested in learning God’s word in a traditional Bible study setting?
- Study a particular book of the Bible.
Bible studies include but are not limited to studying a particular book of the Bible. Which book of the Bible then are you interested in studying? Do you even know what books are available and what would make you select one over another?
- Study a particular word or phrase from the Bible (i.e. pride or peace).
Bible studies do at times focus on word studies. However, who is selecting the words or phrase? Why is the phrase most of the time religious in nature or church oriented? Why is it that the Bible phrases we use for study aren’t practical phrases (i.e. planning, serving in armed forces, mathematics, etc.)? We have been told that the Bible has every subject and can address all things.
- Contextual study of the history applied to what was going on at the time.
Bible studies occasionally focus on relating past events to present day events like pandemics and such. But why is it that most of the time the events focus on calamities and catastrophes and very rarely good times? Is the Bible only good for addressing the challenges of life?
- Patterns of behavior of the people.
The Bible is used to formulate patterns of behaviors. When reading scripture and it speaks of nations and other people groups, one of the most common themes people study is the behaviors displayed by those groups of people. Usually, the study focuses on the negative behaviors that get highlighted more often than other behaviors.
- God’s character.
There is only one way to get a picture of God’s character and that’s via the Bible. There are studies that pick out this theme used for the focal point of the Bible study. That leads to a question, where do you find God’s characteristics in the Bible? Is there a legend or a key for this?
- Navigating your Bible.
A Bible study that focuses on navigating the Bible implies that one must learn to navigate the Bible. In other words, there is an order or a way in which one is to read it or handle it that isn’t common knowledge. Do you know how to navigate your Bible?
- Creativity in your Bible.
There are some Bible study techniques that are offered in Bible studies. In Bible studies, one might focus on journaling or understanding how to reference certain portions for other needs. It may be used to single out key verses to save, memorize, or even display.
- Deep studies.
Then, there are some Bible studies where people “go deep into its words.” They target topics like separating the law from grace and other deep topics that church people often find themselves in. “Deep” in this sense could also mean, confuse me. Can you name a few deep topics you’ve heard before?
- The order of the Bible.
Some Bible studies are devoted to studying the Bible in chronological order or by a historical timeline. Most people have no idea that the chapters, the books, of the Bible are not presented in the order that they occurred in history. Why would that be the case?
You might be thinking after reading those 10 points that there is more to Bible study than what an individual thinks. Therefore, what can we conclude from all of this? We have noticed that with each of these common Bible study approaches, there is something that is missing that would entice us all to desire studying the Bible. Therefore, I propose that we need to take these ideas to the next level. If we do Bible study, the same way we have always done Bible study, then we are guaranteed to get the same results we have always gotten. I suggest that we use these approaches as the baseline or ground floor to our view of Bible Study and build up those to take it to the next level. The goal is to make this so appealing that you desire to study the Bible and I am afraid that these 10 approaches alone aren’t enough to take the desire for reading the Bible to the next level.
Question: Which of these 10 approaches are you the most familiar with?
Highlights from the Bible (Genesis)
Genesis is the most read of all the books of the Bible. The reason why is because it is the first chapter of the book. The problem around that thought is Genesis is not a chapter; it is an entire book. In its pages, one will find some of the most historical stories documented about mankind. Those stories include, but are not limited to these:
- how the world was made,
- the first family,
- Noah and the ark,
- the history of Abraham and his descendants,
- and much, much more.
Uncommon Truth to Pique Your Interest (The Tower of Babel)
You have heard the story of “the tower of Babel” found in the Book of Genesis. We were told in Sunday school (for some of us) that the people got in trouble trying to build this tower that reached Heaven. As that story goes, there are a few questions that go unanswered when you get older and think about it. That’s when Bible study becomes critical. Bible study in this instance will help you put meaning and understanding to a story you were told without having all the details. Allow me to elaborate in this short, uncommon truth discovered when we study for ourselves, the story of the tower of Babel.
- The Descendants of Noah (Japheth, Ham, and Shem)
In the book of Genesis, chapter 10, it speaks of Noah’s descendants who survived the flood that destroyed everything on earth. They were people who had the task of repopulating and inhabiting the earth.
- The Tower of Babel and Descendants of Shem to Abram
Fasting forwarding to Genesis chapter 11, we find these descendants building this tower together as the records go.
Let me remind you of the purpose of this short study, what happened to these people that caused them to get into trouble with God?
- The purpose of the record of descendants was to show “the migration of people across the Earth.” These people had an assignment from God to migrate across the Earth.
“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words.
As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. [they stopped migrated there]” – Genesis 11:1-2 NLT
- God’s goal was for people to inhabit the planet following the flood.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. – Acts 17:26-27 NKJV
- The people were attempting something that went against this migration plan.
They wanted to make themselves famous and they wanted to keep from scattering all over the world.
Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. “Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.”” – Genesis 11:4 MSG
- God made sure they would continue to spread and migrate across the earth.
But the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said.
“The people are united,
and they all speak the same language.
After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!
Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages.
Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city.
That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages.
In this way he scattered them all over the world. – Genesis 11:5-9 NLT
Resources | Summary of Genesis
If you would like to hear a summary of the book of Genesis, please see the videos we discovered at The Bible Project:
- Book of Genesis 1-11
- Book of Genesis 12-50
- Book of Genesis 1-11 (Torah)
- Book of Genesis 12-50 (Torah)