So you want to get started studying your Bible, but where do you begin? Let’s begin with a few observations about the Bible itself.
First, the Bible isn’t one book. It’s a collection of 66 books. There are different writers, compilers and editors with unique styles and recognizable patterns. As you study the Bible at deeper levels, you begin to recognize the styles of various authors and editors. The Bible was compiled over 1500 years and there is an amazing consistency of purpose and message. With that in mind, you probably don’t want to just sit down and start reading from Genesis and stop when you finish the book of Revelation. There is a lot to be learned when you read the Bible from beginning to end, but that’s usually not the best way to start.
The best way to start is with the gospels. Your first goal should be to know the life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. You should know the life of Jesus inside and out. Begin with the gospel of Mark. We believe Mark was the first gospel written. Then read Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke used Mark as an outline and then added additional material. Lastly, read John. John is the poet of the gospel writers. He is the one that adds layers of interpretation to the historical account of Jesus’ life.
Read slowly. This is not a race. Read, think, pray and make a lot of notes. Remember the point is not to just get smarter, but to know Jesus. Besides a Bible that you feel comfortable with, you will need two other tools.
Next, get a good Bible dictionary. Words, names, and customs that you are not familiar with will be described in a good dictionary. After that, buy a good concordance. A concordance will have EVERY word in the Bible noted. So, if you can just remember one word from a verse, the concordance will help you get find that verse. Also, if you want to see a particular word used elsewhere, the concordance will guide you to that particular word located anywhere in the Bible. This information comes in handy as you pursue your study of the Bible. You can find all of this in our bookstore.
So, get your Bible and open it to Mark chapter 1, verse 1. Begin reading. Read until something catches your attention and then, prayerfully study that moment in the Scriptures. Ask questions, see where else something like this happens or is talked about. Write in your journal. What is Jesus trying to teach you? Remember, Jesus was often called Rabbi, which means teacher. The greatest motivation for a teacher is an eager student.
Open your Bible. Open your heart. Pay attention. Class is in session and Jesus Himself is the teacher.