How to Study the Bible for Beginners in 7 Easy Steps

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Are you wanting to study the Bible but are unsure where to begin? 

We get the struggle! The Bible is a large book composed of 66  books. That’s a lot of information to understand. The Bible is God’s Word, His story, His instructions and our tangible ability to know Him. Who God is can be discovered on every page and His essence in every chapter. 

The Bible is also how you can discover who you truly are and whose you are. 

Let’s make beginners Bible study easier by answering some of the following questions and sharing our favorite way to begin studying the Bible. 

How should a beginner study the Bible?
What is the best way to study the Bible? 

What book of the Bible should I study first? 
What book of the Bible should I read to get closer to God? 

Easy Beginner Bible Study Guide

Studying the Bible is the only way to know more about God, life and who you are. 

  • God is the Creator. 
  • The Bible is His Word to us.
  • Only He gives us life.  

To know more about Him, we have to be students of His Word because He is the author. 

 

 

For us to tell you how to study the Bible, we need to begin in the beginning to best understand what the Bible. is. After all, who begins a book in the middle expecting to understand the characters, plot or villain?

 

In the beginning Bible study

Even good books written today tell you a little about the author. So in our opinion, the best way to begin studying the Bible is in the beginning where you can begin to  to know the Word. 

John 1: 1-5 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Bible is the only book that tells us where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going!

In the Bible you will find information about before time, beginning of time, periods of time, and the future of time all in one beautifully written book.

The Bible tells us about our God.

     ● His nature

     ● His love

     ● His dealing with mankind

     ● His plan and purpose for life

     ● His care and reward for faithfulness

Whether you are a Bible study beginner or you have studied the Bible all of your life, we all can learn new ways to study the Bible and gain fresh insight into who God is 

What book of the Bible should I study first?

That is not an easy question to answer. As we said above, the beginning is the best place to begin.

Genesis is the first book of the Bible and means “beginning”. 

God’s Word is a story of Who He is, what He as done, His relationship with His people and what He wants for you. Like story book, you would begin at the beginning and read to the end. 

But there are several books in the Bible that you can read alone to discover details about God that do not read exactly like a story, such as Psalm, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon. 

If you read those apart from understanding who wrote them, what they are referring to or their purpose, you will miss key insights into a deeper relationship with God. 

This is where a good Bible resource or handbook to the Bible comes in “handy”. It can give you background information  that helps better understand the books of Law, poetry, the prophets, the Gospels, and the letters which make up the books of the Bible.

 

Bible Story Timeline

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Bible story timeline printable
Bible and building blocks

Fun Bible Facts:

• The Bible is made up of 66 books comprised of the Old and New Testaments

• Those 66 books read like one, yet they are not in chronological order of events.

Studying the Old Testament is important to understanding the New Testament.

• If you only read the New Testament, you miss understanding the beginning of the story, found in the Old Testament.

• The History of the Bible covers a period of 4100 years from 4004 B.C to 96 A.D. according to James Ussher, the Archbishop’s Chronology of the Old Testament. . In these 4100 years, the history of God’s dealings with humanity has been written in one complete volume.  

It was written over a period of 1500 years. 

40 different writers make up the Bible.

It is the inspired Word of God. 

How to understand the Bible for beginners

Understanding the Bible is not complicated when you learn more about what the Bible is, how it applies to your life and the structure of Scripture. Bible study can actually begin with studying the inner pieces of the Bible.

The Old Testament

• Mostly written in Hebrew before the time of Christ, but very much about Him. 

• The Old Testament contains prophecies and predictions fulfilled by Christ. It is divided into Historical books, Poetic books and Prophetic books. 

• The History of the Old Testament is in complete harmony with secular history. 

• The study of the the Old Testament confirms the inspiration of all God’s Word.

2 Peter 1:20-21

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:15-17

and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Old Testament is our tutor to
bring us to Christ.

The Old Testament was written for our learning.

1 Cor. 10:6 & 11

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

The New Testament

•  New Testament contains over 450 quotations from the Old Testament!

• The New Testament is a book of Letters or Epistles written to various people to be shared and spread. 

• The first 4 books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels telling of the gospel, or good news, that Jesus is the Son of God who died for the sins of the world. He is grace and forgiveness if you choose Him. 

• Romans and Hebrews would be hard to grasp without understanding the Old Testament. The prophecies of the Old Testament are telling us more and more about Jesus, the Word, and of His love for His creation.

John 5:39

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

The New Testament delivers Christ, the Messiah, His birth, purpose, teachings, actions, love, sacrifice, death and being raised to life.

Just like the people in the Old Testament were waiting for the Messiah to come and be their King, we are awaiting Christ, the King’s return!

Bible translations

Why are there so many translations of the Bible?

Walk into a store or go online to purchase a Bible and you will find more choices than you can filter through in a day. With so many different translations it can be hard to know which Bible to choose.

 Understanding how the many translations came to be will help you understand when you are beginning your Bible study. 

The Tanakh

Tanukh the Bible

The original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew. It was divided into 3 areas: The Law, The Prophets and the Writings. Or in Hebrew they would be known as Torah, Nebiim, Ketubim comprising the first of the letters, T N K also known as the Tanakh. 

Although the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, it was not a  language used by everyone. That would be Greek. 

The New Testament was mostly written in Greek. 

Historial: Genesis – Deuteronomy

Poetic: Job- Songs of Solomon

Prophetic: Isaiah – Malachi 

The Septuagint

Septuagint- Bible translations

The Septuagint established to convert the Hebrew into Greek. It would later aid in the translation used in Rome for the Latin Bible, the Vulgate. 

The Septuagint changed the order when translating it into the Greek language to what we have today.

But when the Catholic church was shaken by Martin Luther and the Reformation began, the Hebrew Bible would be the translation used over the Septuagint Greek. 

Translations

Bible translations

For you to have the Bible in your hand today, many men would sacrifice their lives. The 40 men who compose the Word of God were inspired by the very breath of God. 

With the Word of God spreading throughout the world, it would need to be translated into the languages for the people to read and understand. We aren’t all Hebrew and Greek speaking people!

There would be many men making this happen. Wycliffe 1382 (used the Vulgate), Tyndale 1525 (used the Hebrew and Greek), the Geneva Bible 1560 (divided the Bible into verses) and the King James Version published in 1611.

Most Bible translations today use either a word for word approach or a thought for thought approach. 

So how do you know which Bible translation to use? 

What Bible translation will help me understand the Bible?

That’s a question we get asked many times. There is no perfect answer. Although there are many opinions!

Some will tell you that the King James Version is the only accurate translation to use. It is the only version authorized by a King, but he was also a King who disliked the Christians. They caused him trouble. 

It was translated by 56 scholars who used the Greek and Greek- Latin texts to bring us an English version . It is a word for word type of translation. But sometimes this approach can be hard to read in our modern language. 

Many of the other translations we have are a thought for thought translation which can make Bible reading easier. The struggle with this translation approach is that it can become a paraphrased version of the Bible or leave several verses out from the King James Version translations. 

Though many are easier to read in our modern times, they can water down the meaning a bit or change the actual direction of the original word or phrase. 

 

KSV and ESV Bible translation comparison

Bible translations

KSV and NIV Bible translation comparison

Bible translations

KJV and The Message translation comparison

KJV and the Message Bible translation

You can see that thought for thoughts can be easier to read, but the KJV’s word for word helps understand the original meaning of words. Some passages will resemble the KJV while others translate differently or are missing several words or verses that seem important from the original text.

For all these facts and reasons, we like to use a parallel Bible for our Bible studying because it allows us to compare the word for word translation of the King James Version next to another version such as the English Standard which is a more thought for thought translation.

One is easier to read while the other is great for deeper study. 

You might even find us with a comparison of 4 versions at a time! No, really. You can purchase a side by side comparison Bible or find great Bible translations online to compare. 

The Bible in black and white

Understanding the Bible

The Bible is black and white on what God desires for His people. 

It has been said that the Bible was written on a 9th grade level of understanding and comprehension.

That may be true, but we’d dare say that even children much younger can understand the basic concepts of the God’s Word. 

The Bible is:

  • God’s Word
  • Instructions for how to live
  • Great stories that give examples of who God is and what He wants the world to know about Himself. 

If children younger than a 9th grade comprehension level can understand these 3 facts, we adults can learn much from them! Why? 

Jesus wants you to come to Him not with your adult understanding, opinions and thoughts. Nope. He wants you to come to Him with your child like eyes and heart to be amazed and awed….to see the simple in the complex.

When we come to Him with our opinions and thoughts, we will struggle with what makes sense to us and what we’ve been taught. We get in our own way of understanding the Bible. 

What do we mean by this? Here’s a classic example. 

Genesis 1, tells us that God created the world and all that is in it in 6 days and rested on the 7th. 

The world tells you so much information trying to contradict that basic understanding. Science stumbles to understand that there is a God who created all things and that it could possibly been done in 6 days. Science believes the world was created from 2 particles of dust. 

Scientists and Science books will tell you contradicting information. This is why studying the Bible is so important. 

How to read the Bible for Beginners

Reading the Bible can be as hard as you make it. There are several variables that can make your reading easier than others. 

We talked about the many different translations. The King James Version can feel like a reading a Shakespearean play with all the Old English wording. The KJV was written for the English speaking people, but that was in the 1600’s and our language has shifted and morphed in words and meanings. 

Though the KJV can be harder for beginning Bible reading, it’s great for digging into the words and their meanings because we have  tools such as the Strong’s Concordance that gives us the original word meanings from the Hebrew and Greek languages. 

A thought for thought translation is easier to read. But as we mentioned before, sometimes the words in our language are lost in translation…. meaning we may not have a word that conveys the same meaning. 

That is why we like a side by side comparison or parallel Bible for Bible study and a thought for thought translation such as the English Standard Version for reading. 

There are so many online versions available with the parallel, Stong’s and other tools to help you understand more about the Bible. 

Our favorites are Biblestudytools.com, BlueletterBible.com and Biblegateway.com 

How to study the Bible for beginners

5 steps to beginning Bible study

Studying the Bible can seem hard with all the prophecies, instructions, concepts that seem contrary to what the world is telling. and trying to grasp how old stories from ancient life years ago can be applied to your modern life. 

Well, that is why studying the Bible is important so that we can learn how all those hard things to understand affect and apply to our life. 

Anything in life that we want to know more about or learn how to do requires research, study, knowledge and experience. You will find this is also true of Bible study. 

We like to begin Bible study with these 5 simple steps. 

  1. Pray
  2. Read
  3. Dig in the Word
  4. Research
  5. Pray
pray in the Bible

#1 Pray

Prayer is talking to God. When we pray, we are opening our hearts, minds and mouths to communicate with God. The more you pray, the easier it is to talk to Him and see Him in the world around you. 

Why? 

When you talk to someone on a daily basis, don’t you get to know them more? When you tell someone about your day, struggles and thoughts, doesn’t it make you miss them when you aren’t talking to them? 

When we talk to the Lord in prayer, we become more in tune with seeing Him, hearing Him and trusting Him with our life.  After all, we have life because of Him. 

Start up a conversation with Him today! He already knows all about you. There’s nothing you can hide from Him. So go ahead and tell Him about yourself and get to know Him more. 

Bible study for beginners/forgethimknot.com

#2 Read

We’ve already discussed how God is the Creator. The Word was with God, was God and was with God in the beginning and all things were made through Him. 

If you read a little further down in John 1, you will discover that the Word is Jesus. 

Reading the Word is how we learn more about Jesus, the Word and what He has done for us. 

It is how we get to know more about Him. 

Everytime you pick up the Bible to read it, you will learn something new about Him. Even if you read a story multiple times, you will pick up a new and fresh word, phrase, or instance that you may have prior missed. 

Reading God’s Word can seem hard if you don’t know where to begin. 

We advise you to begin in the beginning! Read a verse, several verses, a passage of verses, a chapter or a full book. Just begin reading. 

Then dig a little deeper into the Word. Make notes of what you read, don’t understand or want to look up for better understanding. 

Digging deeping in the Bible

#3 Dig in the Word

What do we mean by digging a little deeper? 

When you were in school, you would be given an assignment to read a chapter from a book. Later, you teacher may have asked you questions to see if your reading comprehension. 

You may have even had to do a book report about the book. 

You know, where you wrote down who, what, when, where, how and why the book was written and then an essay about what the book was about. 

Did you have vocabulary words? Sometimes, teachers would give a list of words that they wanted you to know more about or understand their meanings. 

They may have even asked you to use the words in a sentence. Why? To see if you comprehend what the book or words were actually about and could you apply them to a concept. 

Being a student of God’s Word can apply those same steps to digging deeper into the Bible. 

Ask questions.

Who wrote the book or passage?
To whom was the book or passage written?
Who is God talking to in the chapter?
What is He saying?
Where is God?
What is He doing?
Where is “man” ?
What is he doing?
What should he be doing or what should be the response to God?

What is the overall theme of the book, chapter, passage or verse you read?

You can find this handy Bible study checklist in our Freebie Library

Bible study questions for reading the Bible
Freebie Library/ forgethimknot.com

Visit our Freebie Library for Bible verse coloring page, worksheets and printables to help you forget not the Lord!

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Bible Art journaling

#4 Research

Researching the Bible is a great way to better understand what you are reading.

Digging deeper gives you the facts and researching gives you the deeper meaning.  

We love to use our Work the Word method we explain below. 

Sometimes when we only read a passage, we might miss the theme or repeating ideas from other areas in the Bible. That’s where researching tools come in handy. 

We have several tools that we love to use when we study the Bible. 

Once you have a Bible to read and maybe even a few other translations, a good dictionary for the Bible is needed. We love a Strong’s Concordance. 

Modern day words can thank Webster for his dictionary, but a Strong’s Concordance can give us the meaning of Hebrew and Greek words. This helps us in our reading to better grasp the author’s intent in meaning. 

Some of our English words and their meanings have changed through the years, but God’s Word remains the same. Research for yourself the difference between happiness and joy. 

One is an emotion we can gain from things pleasurable. 

The other is a fruit of the Spirit only achieved by choosing to live in it even in times of struggle. 

Words and their meanings matter. 

Charts, timelines of the Bible and a good Bible guide such as Halley’s Handbook of the Bible are great bible study tools to help with your research. 

Begin studying the Bible by digging deeper into context and researching the words and their meanings to make it easier for understanding and comprehending God’s Word.  

What you don’t understand give back to God in prayer. 

Work the Word Bible Study method

What is Work the Word?

Work the Word is our method for how to study the Bible. There are many other similar methods, but we have tried to keep our’s simple. 

Grab the colored pencils and circle and underline key words in the text. 

Steps to Work the Word.

Step 1

Work the Word Bible study steps

Circle all references to God in red. (Names, pronouns and implications.) We like red to represent love and blood to represent God. 

He is the author, so His name should be all over the texts. The story is His-story… it’s your History. 

Don’t forget to circle all references such as Jesus, Christ, Holy Spirit, Son, The One etc. and all pronouns. 

Step 2

Work the Word Bible study method

Underline all action words to God in red.

Those action words will begin to pop off your text and you will see how alive and active He is. 

Seeing Him at work in the Bible will help you to also see Him at work in your life. He is still working!

Step 3

Work the Word Bible study method

Circle all references to man in purple. (names, pronouns the world etc.) We like to use purple for purpose… it’s easy to remember. 

References to people or man could also be “the world”, unbelievers, children, etc. 

Don’t forget that English grammar rule of “you” implied!

Step 4

Work the Word Bible study method

Underline the action words in purple that man is doing or the response he should do.

You will find that God gives clear instructions in His Word and our job is to obey them because we love Him, trust Him and know that He has our best interest for His glory. 

How should man respond? 

What was man doing? 

Step 5

Work the Word Bible study method

Highlight repeating words you see that create a theme. 

Light

Love

World

Peace

Obey

Grace…etc

Whatever the word or theme you see repeating. If God says it once it is important. If He repeats it, it is vital that we get it. 

Start assigning certain themes their own colors!

Step 6

Work the Word Bible study method

Doodling is a great way to put a picture to your text. A visual aid to help relocate the theme throughout the Bible, but it is also the way some of us are wired to remember!

You do not have to be an “artist” to doodle. Just give your word or text a side picture.  Then as you study more and more in the Word, you will find that you are doodling certain images over and over. 

Mark through “SIN” and it’s actions in black with a doodled X over it.

Step 7

Work the Word Bible study method

Jot down words, definitions to words, themes, and location of other passages where you see this theme connecting. 

This will give you a cross reference to quickly find your thoughts and organize your findings. 

Grab your Strong’s Concordance, a Bible handbook and any other reference that helps you better understand the passage. 

Why understanding words and their meanings are important Example: Happiness and joy

Let’s look at John 1:1-5 and Matthew 5:14 using our Work the Word method. We used a solid red circle for all the references to God and we circled in red the prepositions that were important next to His name. 

Why? Because when you look at this verse closely, you will discover a detail about God that many in the world miss. Who the Word is!

Next we look at how this verse and some of it’s theme link to Matthew 5:14. Light!

How does it apply to you? As Christians, you are the light of the world because you possess His Light. You are a container of His light for others to see clearly in a dark world. 

You are to shine His light to others so that they only see Him. 

When you circle, underline and highlight key notes in a text, you begin to see the relationship not only between words or themes, but also between God and man!

Digging deeping in the Bible

#5 Pray

Now a days when we don’t know something or understand it, we look to Google. 

Google is full of a wealth of information, but it won’t help you know God. 

You might receive information, but only God knows God and His Word is where you will find the information from Him. 

What you don’t understand after your Bible study, you ask Him about and not someone or something else. Go straight to the source. 

It is great to ask a friend, a pastor and even a Bible scholar, but for true understanding, seek the One who created all things and is the very Word of God. 

Your prayers and conversations with Him can open a door of knowledge and understanding about the Word, but most importantly, it will open a relationship with Jesus, The Word.  

Friend, that is what Bible study is about… to know Him more and more.

This is how we study the Bible and maybe it can be your method too!  

As you begin to study the Bible you will not only learn more about God, but you just might learn more about yourself in the process. 

Hebrews 4:12

 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

Free Bible study for beginners!

Bible study for beginners/forgethimknot.com

Bible Study For Beginners

Knowing God’s Word is vital to living. It is how we learn more about God, life and whose we are. Bible study does not have to be complicated. When you are beginning to study the Bible with your kids, the complication can be where to start, what to teach and how to add it into your day. 

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