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Seven Steps on How to Study the Bible Effectively

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For many generations the American people and many others around the world turned to the Christian Bible to find answers for their lives. Even if they did not consider the stories to be real accounts, the morals behind each account served as a guide of what to do or not do to be faithful to God and succeed in this life. However, in this current generation most people have turned away from the Bible as a positive source of inspiration or personal instruction. It is no wonder that we are experiencing a higher prevalence of corruption in both the private and public sector.

For those who wish to revisit the Bible but don't know how, this hub serves as a basic guide to how to study the Bible effectively.

Effective Bible Study Outlined

  1. Pray and Ask God to Open Your Mind and Heart
  2. Read through the Passage 30 Times
  3. Observe the Passage: Ask basic questions about the passage
  4. Interpret the Passage: Find explanations for anything you don't understand
  5. Apply the Passage: Ask yourself how you should respond
  6. Pray and Ask God to Help You Put the Lesson into Practice
  7. Track Your Progress in a Journal


Step One: Pray and Ask God to Open Your Mind and Heart

The first step to effective Bible Study is to pray and ask God to help you open your mind and heart to what the passage says. The Bible contains spiritual insights that come from the Mind of the Living God. God is infinite and we are finite. This means that God has no limits and we do. In order to understand God's ways we need His Holy Spirit to help us. God is directly interested in you and your life. He wants you to live the best life possible. Accordingly, he wants you to understand the words of the Bible which he gave to us that we might know him and his ways. So, if you want to get the most out of your Bible study, it is imperative to pray and ask God to help you.

Step Two: Read the Chosen Passage 30 Times

The second step to effectively study the Bible is to read through your chosen passage 30 times. Whether you plan to study one chapter at a time or a whole book of the Bible, it is important to read through your chosen passage numerous times in order to get a strong overview of that section. After you have a good overview of the entire passage, you are ready to break it down into bite-size chunks.

Step Three: Observe the Passage

The next step in an Effective Bible Study is to observe the passage by asking basic questions about the verses. Such basic questions include: who? what? when? where?and how?

Step Four: Interpret the Passage

Invariably, when you read and study the Bible, you will come to some personalities or concepts that you will not understand without further research and explanation. In this fourth step, a person who wants to study the Bible effectively will do further research on the related subjects. Some effective tools for further research are Bible commentaries (like the People's Commentary or J. Vernon McGee's verse by verse commentaries), Bible handbooks, and Bible Dictionaries.

Step Five: Apply the Passage

The fifth step to effective Bible Study is to discover all the possible application or action points related to the passage. Any one set of verses may contain multiple application points. A well-executed Bible study will lead the person to list out all the possible action points.

Step Six: Pray and Ask God to Help You Apply the lesson

The sixth step in effective Bible Study is to pray once more to ask God to help you apply the lesson to your life. This means that you need to ask God to clarify which of the discovered application points is most important to put into practice. As discussed above, any one passage might have numerous application points. In this section, you will discover which one or two of those points best addresses your current life situation.

Step Seven: Track Your Progress in a Journal

 The last step of an effective Bible study is to track your progress in a journal. After you have discovered which action point relates to you most, write it down in a journal and from time to time evaluate how you are doing in that area.


ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 07, 2014:

Thank you Deborah for sharing these insights. They are very helpful.

Deborah Sexton on July 02, 2014:

Traditional Jewish sages identify four levels of interpretation of the Scriptures, called  (pardes), an acronym formed from:

 - P'shat (literal meaning based on historical intent of author)

- Remez (hint, allusion, analogy, allegory)

- D'rash (application, exposition)

- Sod (looking for the mystery, "deep" meaning)

Scroll to Continue

You should also ask the regular question of who, what, when, where, and why when reading scripture.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on April 08, 2012:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you will be with Larry. Help him Lord. Guide him by your Holy Spirit that he may thrive to the best of his God given abilities in this life and bring glory to your name in all his endeavors. In Jesus' name, Amen.

larry on April 08, 2012:

thanks for the help i need everone pray and help on my life

dani on March 23, 2012:

its great and very relevant . GOD BLESS U !!!!!

dani on March 23, 2012:

its great and very relevant . GOD BLESS U

Efeoyibo Sylvester on February 25, 2012:

Its nice to have people like u who writes on such an intresting topic i.e guardlines on effective bible study.Please keep up with the good work.God bless you sir.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on October 05, 2011:

Hi debby, Thank you very much for your feedback. I am thankful to God that you found this hub useful and relevant. May the Lord bless you in all you do in his name and for his glory.

debby on October 05, 2011:

i really appreciate this steps. They really are useful and up to standard. I declare that God will continue to increase you in his wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. And to set the records straight, i believe you gave the best response to pik.artistquoting t

'juwon owolabi on July 22, 2011:

Reading the intended passage(s) thirty times is a good way to memorize the scriptures. Thanks for this particular one.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on April 05, 2011:

irenemaria, thank you for sharing and I appreciate your concern for the point "Interpret the Passage."

irenemaria from Sweden on April 05, 2011:

Interpret the Passage you say. That is why there are so many different religions today. The Bible shall not be interpreted - the answers are first in the Bible if you have all the scriptures. then there is details about that ancient time that you must know.

Joel on February 07, 2011:

Hi. This is one of the better method to study the bible with holy spirit. It was really amazing.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on December 06, 2010:

yolanda, I am glad that you found this to be a useful resource. May God bless you as you study his word.

yolanda yvette on December 06, 2010:

Love this. I'm putting it into practice right away. Thanks.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 16, 2010:

pjk arrtist, I am not worried about whether human beings with finite minds are able to grasp the historical facts of Jesus' life on earth from the virgin birth to feeding five thousand with five loaves and two fish to calming a storm to the resurrection on the third day. The Apostle Paul said it well "the Wisdom of God is foolishness to men." You can lay out all the New Age mystical arguments you want e.g. you are god and the god within you, but two thousand years after the fact you cannot offer any credible evidence that these things did not happen except the ordinary affairs of human experience. That is not good enough. No matter what version of the origin of the universe you choose to believe you still believe that life came from nothing. If you believe that life sprang from nothing which is an impossibility to the human mind and experience then why is it difficult to believe that there is a God in heaven who can place a fertilized egg in the womb of an ordinary woman. Jesus is not merely a "consciousness" he was, is, and will always be real. He is not me or you or any other person than himself. He is a real historical figure who existed as the One and Only God, stepped out of heaven to be born of a poor woman, showed us the ways of God, died as a sacrifice for my sins and yours, resurrected on third day, presented himself to 500 others including his 12 disciples, and then ascended to reign again with the Father in heaven. I have a verifiable historical artifact dated within an acceptable time frame of Jesus' life, a proven document that bears witness to these facts - the Bible. If you know of some other series of documents dated from the 1st century which dispute these facts then present them to me and I will study them. But if all you are able to offer are opinions based on finite human intellect and tied to the ordinary logic and experience of men then your argument is not credible nor relevant because it is based on conjecture and not hard evidence.

Jesus does live in me through his Holy Spirit, but the Scriptures bear witness that he is not me and I am definitely not him.

I would suggest you buy and read the books I wrote to you about. If you are not willing to do so and all you want to do is exchange opinions based on conjecture and not historical facts then please contact me through the contact section of hubpages and not through the comment section of this hub.

At this point this discussion is outside the spirit of this hub which is written for those who wish to study the Bible for themselves and are not sure how to go about doing so.

Show me facts (not conjecture)from the 1st century which dispute the historical records presented in the four Gospels of the New Testament or respectfully and humbly there is not much reason to continue this thread of conversation.

I serve the Living God. You are a masterpiece of his almighty hand created to be the special person you are. He sent his One and Only Son as a sacrifice for your sins that you might have an intimate relationship with him and be counted as one of his children. "For to all who received him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God."

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 16, 2010:

Another popular misinterpretation passed on from generation to generation.

Jesus IN you is the son of God (and the father of David...but we won't go there just yet.)

Of course he comes in the flesh...YOURS!

My friend, the chronological inconsistencies the you noted and I've seen others note elsewhere become completely "moot" when you interpret scripture the way I suggest. The birth from above is experienced within you. (or to bring up another popular argument) Do you really think people would accept a woman suddenly becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child after never having intercourse? Would you accept an "immaculate conception story" from your wife? No. It is not possible in this world. Now. If I explain to you that there was no little baby born. There was a birth from above which occurred within you. You saw it in the form of a vision. You saw a babe in swaddling clothes...and he called you father. There were three witnesses present.

Additionally. Why can nobody ever find Jesus when they're looking for him? "Don't you know that I am about my father's business?" They're trying to tell us to look within to find Christ.

"Show us the Father" they asked Jesus. "If you know me, you know the Father" he replies. "What????" they say back bewilderedly. "Oh sorry I should have been more clear. I and the Father are one and we exist in you. In your skull. In the form of your IMAGINATION."

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 15, 2010:

pjk artist respectfully the letter I John is a refutation of your last paragraph. The author of the letter says very pointedly that all who claim to be followers of Christ must acknowledge that he is the Son of God and that he came in the flesh. Anyone who says Jesus only came in the flesh and is not the Son of God or only the Son of God and did not come in the flesh is not a true follower of Jesus.

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 15, 2010:

Good Reply. Eco. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I think it was Blake who said "Truth told in the form of a tale enters in at lowly doors"

If I write a story about Obama as a boy, meeting a stranger in New York, and planting some seeds which grow into a giant bean stalk which Obama climbs etc etc. You might be inclined to believe the truth of the story because we know Obama existed and we know New York existed and we can prove that my story (although translated many times into many languages) has been mostly unchanged for the last two thousand years. Do I make my point?

Christianity is not bogus...merely deceived. Christians have been taught to believe (and to teach) in a Jesus external to themselves...despite the authors of scripture's best efforts to show them that HE exists within You.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 14, 2010:

pjk artist. Thank you for clarifying your intentions. I appreciate honest inquiries and am glad to discuss the Bible and its claims.

The main theme of the Bible is reconcilation with the posited One God who made all things and wants a personal relationship with every man, woman, and child on the planet throughout all time. The postulated mediator of that reconciliation was to be the Messiah or the Christ first alluded to in Genesis 3:15; again in Genesis 12; and most prominently in Isaiah 9 and 53 among other places. According the Christian sect, Jesus was the long awaited Messiah and he himself claimed to be equal with God and the only source of relationship with God. The disciples of Jesus also made that claim.

For these claims to be taken seriously, the Bible has to be at least fairly accurate in its depiction of geographical places and historical events and Jesus has to be exactly whom the Bible purports him to be.

The oil barron discovered oil in the Middle East when he read about the tar pits in Genesis chapter 14. After reading about them, he went there to see if the reports in the Bible were accurate and they were and are. The Bible talks about Sodom and Gomorrah and how God rained down sulfur to wipe out those towns. Today, one of the largest sulfur deposits in the world is found in that area as depicted in the Bible. Josephus a Jewish historian in the 1st century wrote extensively about the Christian sect that followed Jesus and corroborated on much of the political and historical setting recorded around the Bible.

As you suggest, the four gospels were written from four different perspectives and their chronologies of events are not the same e.g. John puts Jesus's encounter with moneychangers at the temple at the beginning of Jesus' ministry when the other gospels place the incident during the last week of his life and Matthew puts his calling by Jesus after the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee and Jesus calmed the storm while Mark and Luke place Matthew's (Levi's) call before Jesus calmed the storm and healed the demon-possessed man in Gerasenes. Still, it is important that these events (in whatever order) actually took place or the rest of the claims are bogus.

Most of all, the information about Jesus including his death and resurrection must be real events or Christianity is bogus. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 if there is no resurrection from the dead, then eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. Fortunately, there is much evidence to the accuracy of the depictions of geographical, historical, and political events including the city of Jerusalem, the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augutus, King Herod the Great and his sons, and others.

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 14, 2010:

Thanks Eco. I'll check 'em out.

I hope you realize I am in no way trying to belittle the contents of the bible. I do believe they are a record of sacred history. i.e they told what happened to them. I do not believe they are accurate depictions of chronological historical events. (although the odd actual event may have been referred to.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 14, 2010:

pjk artist, thank you for another excellent question. Fellow hubber James A Watkins has written extensively on this subject. Even so I would begin by reading Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands A Verdict and or Lee Strobel's Case for Creation and Case for Christ. Both of these men were hardcore skeptics before they investigated the veracity of the claims in the Bible and found the evidence compelling.

By the way, do you know how the founder of Standard Oil (Rockefeller (sp.?) I think)found oil in the Middle East?

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 14, 2010:

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I was not aware of any evidence corroborating the historicity of biblical scripture. Could you please direct me to some....or better yet write a hub?

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 14, 2010:

pjk artist, that is a very good question. If there was as much corroborating evidence to prove "The Three Little Pigs" story was a historical event as there is for the historical accuracy of the Bible, then yes I would accept that book as history too.

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 13, 2010:

Hey Eco. Do you think the "The Three Little Pigs" was a history book too?

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 08, 2010:

pjk artist, thank you for your feedback. You make a good point but I would say it is both a history book and a story book and has more than just "some" major lessons.

pjk_artist from Turkey Point, ON on July 08, 2010:

Jerami said 10 months ago

" I do believe that but because of Matthew 23 and 24 which is basically ONE conversation. Ya should read both chapters as if you are playing the part of Jesus in a high school play. see how it sounds?"


Luke 8 :10 And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'


free ubuntu now from on June 09, 2010:

Great study tips. Another great resource is Strong's Concordance. It takes each word back to the Greek, Hebrew, & a small part of the Bible in Aramaic. I like the mentioning of reading 30 times. Armed with scripture is a powerful weapon in the fight to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Saturating our minds with scripture and putting it to use will help keep us on track.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15.

Cedar Cove Farm from Southern Missouri on March 11, 2010:

There are many ways to study the bible, to be sure. Thank you for sharing yours. Feel free to visit my hubs and study on inductive bible study.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on January 31, 2010:

Jihan, I am so glad you were encouraged by this hub. God bless you. e.

Jihan on January 31, 2010:

The sermon i heard today was how a solid foundation is crucial for a growing christian. And the Word of God is our sword and provides everything we need to know to deepen our understanding of God. I was advised to look out for any passage that might refer to the Coming of Christ for i heard there were more than 2000 prophesies in the Old Testament pointing clearly at the coming of Christ our savior.

Thank you, your guide will really help me build a solid foundation of sound doctrines. God bless.

Grace and Peace

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on January 25, 2010:

Artin2010 thank you for your encouraging comments. John is an excellent place to start. I'm not so sure about hot dogs in heaven as we probably won't eat meat or meat by products. I could go for some juicy watermelon and mango though. many blessing to you too, e.

Art Wartenbe from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast on January 25, 2010:

Great hub e. It is my belief that a person should read the Gospel of John learn it and then, go to Genesis and forward. Isn't the Holy Bible so very fascinating and inspiring. I would rather read the Bible and study it's words than eat hot dogs and apple pie and they are really good too. Why not do both and feel almost as if you are already in Heaven! Good hub, be blessed e! Late commenting is better then never commenting at all, yes?

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on January 01, 2010:

To Elijah Returns and TJBaruch, Thank you both for your encouraging words. I am thankful to be of service to my fellow brothers and sisters around the world. ER thanks for sharing your experience. I pray the Lord bless you greatly.

TJBaruch from Clearwater, FL on January 01, 2010:

Good stuff, nice hub! Thank you and blessings...

Elijah Returns from United Kingdom on January 01, 2010:

Great stuff eccogins. The jehovahs witnesses, they only put faith in the Watchtower and their self appointed slave, who in actual fact hasn't been appointed yet as Christ hasn't returned yet to give out those rewards....took me 15 years to wake up to their nonsense....Read the bible for yourselves, ask for Gods spirit, rely on him, for he is the true source of life and light...peace out..ER Peoples Republic of China

Seeker on November 28, 2009:

This is great info. Love the idea of reading 30 times.

Bibleseo on October 20, 2009:


Reading bible passage for 30 times! That's lot of read, I guess by that time, you would have memorized it.

mwaky on September 05, 2009:

really nice hub, this would really help me read the bible!

check out my hub at

hope you like it!!

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on September 02, 2009:

Jerami and Judah's Daughter, thank you for sharing your perspectives on how to study the bible. I think both of you are right. Both the Old Testament prepares the world for the Christ and the New Testament reveals who the Christ is and how to live for him. All Scripture points to him so the better we know Christ the more we will understand Scripture and the more we understand the other Scriptures the more we will understand the Christ. As Paul says to Timothy, all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for our lives.

However, respectfully, the point of this hub is not to argue the theology of Bible study, only to offer a few tips on how to study God's Word in a meaningful way. You have both graciously added to that discussion with some of your own tips and I am grateful.

jerami from Houston tx on September 02, 2009:

Ecoggins; I don't mean to offend either you or J.D. I believe all of scripture is important. I think that the Jesus said, God said, Gabriel said, is THE MOST important of ALL !!!!!!!The rest of scripture has to fit on THAT foundation or I will keep studing harder till it does. What J.D. said is true, I do believe that but because of Matthew 23 and 24 which is basically ONE conversation. Ya should read both chapters as if you are playing the part of Jesus in a high school play. see how it sounds?

Judah's Daughter from Roseville, CA on September 02, 2009:

ecoggins, I hope I don't offend Jerami, but he and I have chatted before, in that he really believes all should just read the red letters of the gospels (Jesus' words) and base the rest of the Bible on what Jesus said ~ even that of Revelation.

I would say that the Old Testament prophesied Jesus' coming; the New Testament fulfilled those prophesies, then went on with the message of the gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus said His ministry was to and for the lost sheep of Israel. Paul's message and other New Testament chapters were for the Gentiles and saved Jews.

Revelation is prophecy and most Christians believe the Great Tribulation has not yet begun, where Jerami believes Jesus has already returned and the rapture has already taken place...based on Matthew 24:34.

Hope you don't mind me sharing a little more here, Jerami, as it would be good to get ecoggins' feed-back on this for you and other readers that may believe the same :-)

jerami from Houston tx on September 02, 2009:

Any bible study should lead us to greater understanding of Christ?? I believe that greater understanding of Christ leads us on the right path to understanding bible study (scripture). That sounds like an insignificant difference BUT ?????

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on September 01, 2009:

Thank you Jerami. You make a very good point. Any Bible study should lead us to a greater understanding of Christ.

jerami from Houston tx on September 01, 2009:

since Christianity is about Christ I believe that he should be where we begin our study, As you say read this 30 times until we understand "him" as much as possible. And do this with as little interpretation as is possible

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on August 31, 2009:

prziloczek, yes, you make an excellent point. Background reading can give you insights into the context of the passage. Thank you for sharing that. When reading a passage it is important to write down questions about people, places or ideas that don't make sense or that need extra explanation. This is normally done during the interpretation part of the study. You cannot interpret a passage well if you don't have a clear handle on the context in which it was written.

prziloczek from Wisbech, Cambs, UK on August 31, 2009:

Isn't a bit of background reading helpful too? I mean, in the case of Genesis, some knowledge of Babylon could be useful? Or, maybe, something about the Captivity might come in handy in, say, the Book of Jeremiah?

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on August 29, 2009:

Judah's Daughter, thank you for sharing. I appreciate it very much. Topical studies are another wonderful way to gain greater understanding of God and his ways and to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Judah's Daughter from Roseville, CA on August 29, 2009:

I love to do topical studies and use the following methods:

1. I look the topic up in the Concordance (i.e. love)

2. I look up all the definitions given for the word love

3. I then look up all the passages that use each type of love and read the context.

4. If I have questions, I look at the cross-references to that verse in another part of scripture.

I don't know that I have a favorite book of the Bible, but I do find Revelation fascinating, though the books of Acts and Romans are awesome!

ftgfmom on August 25, 2009:

Seek and you will find. I loved this hub.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on August 16, 2009:

hi genwasdix thank you for the enlightened comment.

GENWASDIX on August 16, 2009:

Christian success is gained by doing that which is in accord with God’s will. So, then, if one takes in knowledge regularly, he can expect to have that inward satisfaction that brings deep joy. It is most vital, then, that we highly treasure the commandments that God has given; ‘we should treasure them and continue living.’ Permitting our minds to dwell on this Scriptural expression brings our thoughts right back to study: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction, to understand a proverb.” To listen does not mean only to hear the voice of an individual and to take in knowledge through our sense of hearing. The same is true when we read and study the words from the printed page, information taken in through the sense of sight. In this way, too, we are “listening” to the author of the words and being taught. Thus we gradually gain understanding and progress toward maturity.

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 24, 2009:

Gicky and thecatholicexpert,

thank you for your kind comments. Peace and all God's best.

thecatholicexpert on July 24, 2009:

Excellent hub I like it a lot, there is much to be taken from this and I hope to apply it to my studies of the Bible asap. God bless!

Gicky Soriano from California on July 22, 2009:

A great tool for studying the Bible - brief and to the point. Well done ecoggins!

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on July 11, 2009:

GreatContent, Thank you for your comment. Those are three excellent ways to get the most out of the Bible.

GreatContent on July 10, 2009:

I would like to give my steps to studying the word of Yehwah

1) Study the historical background of scripture

2) Study the cultural background of scripture

3) Study the biblical languages

ecoggins (author) from Corona, California on June 24, 2009:

naa, thank you for the encouragement. I pray that your study of God's Word draws you closer to him.

naa on June 23, 2009:

i really love the idea it looks easy but has a lot in it thanks for the tips or should i say help

i pray the Lord blesses you

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