There are several styles of Bible study. These include:
Styles of study
The focus of study is on life-application. Scripture is often applied to real-life situations, and authors of devotional studies often include personal stories related to a particular concept. The goal of these studies are to produce meaningful life change
from an understanding of Scripture.
Often, original Greek or Hebrew texts are involved. Raw information derived from these studies may appear uninteresting, but when applied to other styles of study, prove to be quite useful and sometimes required
for interpretation of complex passages.
Often included as part of a
systematic theology, topical bible studies may or may not include life application, but almost always focus on factual items that can be read directly or synthesized from other information (with proper understanding,
see Technical above), including other sections of Scripture. This is where most doctrine is formed.
A study of historical events as written in the Bible. These studies may also include other primary sources outside of the Bible, for example, archaeological records or scientific papers written on ancient civilization. Like technical studies, these can
often appear to be dry, but like the Technical studies, historical context can sometimes be vital for proper interpretation of a passage.
An attempt at simply reading a large portion of Scripture. Depending on one's level of focus and the style of writing used in a particular book being studied, this may or may not be an interesting approach to Scripture. However, the possibilities
of personal application as well as use in other studies makes this style of study invaluable.
Depending on one's personal preferences, one may perform study in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most popular:
Written guide: Often used in topical and devotional study, a pre-written guide is used along with whatever is being studied. Writers insights are presented along with references to specific sections of Scripture, usually followed by a prompt for the reader(s)
to write/discuss his or her thoughts, insights or feelings.
The reader(s) simply chooses a style and subject, and begins reading. The effectiveness of this style depends on one's particular level of interest and focus.
Study is taken alone. This may be free-form or guided, depending on one's personal preferences.
Members participate in either a free-form or guided discussion of a particular topic. For devotional studies, additional benefits might occur, such as
accountability groups. Often there is a leader who makes preparations before every study session.
Large-group (aka Sermon)
One person delivers a prepared message to a large group of people. This is often the preferred method of church operation, as a large number of small groups may be hard to manage and keep all on one topic. Usually pastors deliver a sermon, however most
churches may often allow guest speakers (for example, pastors from other churches) and some even allow local members of the congregation to speak.
- Leland Ryken and James Wilhoit ,
Ryken's Bible Handbook: A Guide to Reading and Studying the Bible, (
First chapter (pdf)
- Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart,
How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth, Zondervan; 3rd edition, 2003.
- Leland Ryken, How to Read the Bible as Literature, Zondervan; 1 edition, 1985.
Bible study tools
Online study tools