April 17, 2018
How might you learn to read the Bible in a way that would be more meaningful and help you understand on a deeper level? Here are ten steps.
1. Begin with prayer. Take a moment to clear your mind and focus your attention. Ask God to guide you.
2. Read the passage several times. Try reading it in different translations.
3. Determine who is speaking in the passage and to whom they are speaking. (You may have to go back several verses or chapters to find this if you are not making your way through an entire book of the Bible.)
4. Identify the characters in the passage. Do they appear anywhere else in Scripture? What is their backstory?
5. Be aware of the genre of literature. Biblical genres include narrative, law, prophecy, letters, wisdom, and apocalyptic literature. Identifying the genre helps you know how to read the passage—is it meant to be understood literally or figuratively?
6. Explore what the original language says. This may sound daunting, but online tools make studying the Greek and Hebrew accessible to any reader. Try Blue Letter Bible. Type in the Bible reference, then click on a specific verse to see it expanded in the original language. From that view, you can select a word and connect to its entry in Strong’s Concordance. You can see where else in the Bible this word has been used and the ways other translators have translated it, giving you a more nuanced understanding of its meaning.
7. Be aware of what comes before and after the passage. This helps understand the passage in context.
8. Identify what are the characteristics of the whole book. You may want to consult a commentary, online Bible resource, or notes included with your Bible.
9. Determine what is the passage’s message to its intended audience. Consider who is listening to the message, who the book was written to, who this writing spoke to on a wider scale.
10. Reflect on the passage’s significance for you. Take time to contemplate and listen to the moving of the Holy Spirit in your life. Let the words and observations take root inside you. Let the passage’s meaning mature in you over time.