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How to Study the Bible Effectively

elizabeth-george how_to_study_the_bible_effectivelyConsider this as a guide to walk you through practical ways you can get the most out of your study time and to find out for yourself the meaning of scripture as well as its origin. Over time you will develop your own techniques and style for studying God’s word, and that is how it should be!

  1. Choose a translation you can understand. There are many good modern translations you can use without having to stumble over difficult terms or archaic language.
    • KJV (King James Version) – This is the original English version written in the 1600s. Over time, as Old English was spoken less and less, it became increasingly hard to read and understand this version. It was written from the original Greek and Hebrew even though English is not spoken using the same word order.
    • NIV (New International Version) – This translation has tried to balance between emphasis on word-for-word translation and emphasis on meaning. It attempts to preserve the literal text, while bringing forth the concepts and ideas of the message.
    • NKJ (New King James Version) – This version is similar to the KJV but it was translated putting less emphasis on word order making it somewhat easier to read and understand. It still contains idioms and metaphors which are highly suited for more advanced readers.
    • NLT (New Living Translation) – This text is clearly written and easy to understand. It is translated thought-by-thought from the original Greek and Hebrew and places more emphasis on overall meaning instead of word-for-word translation.
    • NASB (New American Standard Bible) - This version translates the original texts as literally as possible, preserving word-for-word equivalency and original sentence structure in English wherever possible.
    • Amplified Bible – The Amplified Bible captures the full meaning behind the original Greek and Hebrew, fully defining the words along the way.
    • The Message – This vivid meaning by meaning translation provides the reader with an easy to understand and applicable approach to the original language. It is not translated word-for-word and uses modern slang.
  2. Don’t try to see how fast you can read your Bible. Read at your normal rate or even slower. Don’t read just to see how fast you can turn the pages or finish a chapter. Read to have your life changed. Read for wisdom and encouragement. Read for greater understanding. Read so that tomorrow, or maybe even a year from now, you’ll remember what you read today. Be a thoughtful reader, and not just a quick skimmer. You can use the following resources to further research verses of scripture:
    • Concordance
    • Bible Dictionary
    • Bible handbook
  3. Read with a pen or pencil in hand. Underline passages or words that stand out to you. If you don’t understand something, put a question mark beside it so you can research it later. Write an exclamation point in the margin for something that excites you, or a star next to verses you want to remember or read again. If you are nervous about marking your Bible, don’t be. It’s not the physical ink and paper that’s sacred, but God’s message itself. God wants you to understand your Bible, so go ahead and mark it! All your interaction with a pen or pencil will help you to better grasp God’s message to you.
    • Notebook (for recording your findings) – Any notebook will do. Just make sure you have one. There is no greater disappointment than knowing God showed you something about a particular scripture or event in your life but not remembering exactly what it was that He showed you. If you write things down then you will always be able to go back over it.
    • You can utilize colored pencils for highlighting in your Bible that speak to you. It is important to note that liquid highlighters leave marks, fade, and bleed so it is typically better to use dry colored pencils on the thin sheets of the bible.
  4. Always read Bible verses with the surrounding passages in mind. Keep asking, what happened in the section before the passage you are currently reading. If you have a study Bible, read the explanatory notes and comments. If the book of the Bible you are reading has an introduction, read what it says. The basic formula for study could be derived from these key elements:
    • Choose a book or topic to study.
    • Pray.
    • Read and ask who, what, when, where, and why.
    • Study using tools to discover history, context, and author.
    • Record findings.

Good observation isn’t just about the simple mechanics of reading the words themselves. It’s about reading for understanding.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” –2 Tim. 2:15.


Lord, my heart’s desire is to fill my mind with Your Word. I want to be able to pull up Your truths and promises in a split second, to be able to comfort my soul when needed, and to speak a word in season to those who are weary. Amen.


jim-george a-young-mans-guide-to-discovering-his-bible

God's Word can change your life―for real. But that can't happen until you commit yourself to knowing the Bible. A Young Man's Guide to Discovering His Bible by Jim George can help you do that.



What are some ways that you study the word?


Immerse yourself in Scripture. And pray as you read. Commit yourself afresh to spiritual growth and the practice of Bible reading.

Jim and Elizabeth George

Jim and Elizabeth George are bestselling authors and national speakers dedicated to helping people live a life after God’s own heart. Together, they have written over 150 books with more than 14 million copies sold around the world. For over 35 years, the teachings and steadfast example of Elizabeth and Jim have helped countless men and women:

  • Simplify life by focusing on God’s priorities.
  • Appreciate God’s Word and apply it to everyday situations.
  • Respond to circumstances with confidence by seeing yourself through God’s loving eyes.
  • Increase closeness in marriage by serving and honoring each other.
  • Powerfully shape the hearts of children and teenagers.
  • Enjoy greater intimacy with God.

Learn more about Jim and Elizabeth George here.

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