After searching the internet for 30 or 40 minutes, I finally gave up trying to find the perfect Bible study tip sheet for my Sunday School class. There were a lot of good ideas out there, but nothing that fit our needs perfectly. We generally choose a book and go through it one chapter at a time, so I needed something that would fit that format. Anyway, here’s what I came up with. If you have similar needs, perhaps it will be useful to you!
Here is a link to download the pdf, along with the complete text below.
Who: Look at the beginning and ending of the book. Is it apparent who is speaking and who is being spoken to? If not, see if you can find out by looking in a reference book or getting online.
What: Read the whole first chapter. Is it easy to tell what’s going on? If not, you may have to read the entire book first or look up a summary of the book.
Where & When: Can you tell when and where the book was written?
Why: Why is the writer of the book speaking to his audience? Again, you may have to do a little digging for the answers.
You may want to spend the entire first week finding out the answers to these first few questions, before beginning with chapter one. If you decide to use outside sources for your information, and by that I mean anything other than the Bible, be sure you don’t just accept the first thing you read as truth. Check to see if the facts are widely agreed upon by Christians and if they can be supported. (Even then, be wary. Satan has his own agenda, and it is sometimes hard to discern.)
Chapter by Chapter:
After satisfying your curiosity about the previous five questions, you will have a good foundation for understanding the individual chapters of your chosen book. Beginning with the first chapter, follow the simple steps found on the next page. Commence each step with prayer. Genuinely seek the face of God and His will for your life. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” Psalm 27:8 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7
- Read the chapter, noting any questions you may have along the way. For instance, what does _____ mean? Do the Jews still carry on this tradition today? Why would he have said that specifically? Etc.
- Spend some time searching out a few more scriptures that address common topics or themes. Scripture is best understood in the light of other Scripture. The Bible is a uniform whole, communicating to us the story of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.
- Pray. This time, ask for help staying focused and finding helpful information. Look up the answers to your questions, and write down the results.
- Cultivate a desire for God’s truth, and ask for eyes to see the big picture. Read the chapter a second time, and write down any of your own thoughts and opinions. If another scripture comes to your mind while reading, look up the reference and make note of it.
- Pray again. This time pray for discernment before you read the opinions of others. Find out what other Christians believe about this chapter. This is where you need the most discernment, and if you aren’t sure, you may want to skip this step until you become more grounded in the Scriptures.
- Ask for strength to apply the Word of God in your daily life. Read the chapter one last time, writing down any personal applications you can find.
- Find your favorite verse from the chapter and memorize it. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2
In the instance of preparation for a weekly group Bible study, these steps can be accomplished one day at a time throughout the week, spending 10-20 minutes in study each day. If you split the steps like this, be sure to begin each daily session with prayer.