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
A Method of Study
There are many possible ways of studying the Bible. The method given below has proved to work well in regards to group study. This works well for a Bible study, for everyone to do this on their own, and then come together to share what they have learned. It is good to do this with small books of the Bible (e.g. Titus, 1&2 Peter, 1&2 Timothy, Jude, etc.), covering about ten verses per week.
For the purposes of being able to communicate clearly, we will use as an example, a group that is going to study the book of 2Timothy, that meets once a week, for about one hour.
Read the entire letter through as many times as possible each week. The repetitive reading of the Scripture helps to keep in context the entire letter, as you look at smaller individual sections each week.
Some have found it helpful during this repetitive reading, to read from a variety of translations. For example, someone reading from the King James Version may also want to read from the New King James Version, New American Standard Version, etc.
Along with our repetitive reading, in preparation for the first meeting we would want to paraphrase Chapter 1.
Write the Scripture in your own words. We are asking “Lord, what are you trying to say here?” The goal here is to “seek the plain sense of Scripture”
For Chapter 1, everyone should try to have a minimum of one cross-reference per/verse, which justifies why you have paraphrased something a certain way. This searching for cross-references encourages each person to compare Scripture with Scripture and try to avoid one’s own private interpretation.
After each person has paraphrased the chapter and found cross-references, he should seek to find some time to get alone with God to pray and meditate upon this portion of Scripture asking “Lord, what does this have to do with me?” Ask God if there are any:
- Sins to confess or avoid
- Promises to keep
- Examples to follow
- Commands to heed
- Knowledge to understand Him better
The goal of this time would be a time to ask God for specific practical applications or responses to this passage of Scripture. For more details on this see the article on Meditation.
5. Group Study
During the weekly meetings, after prayer, people can individually read their paraphrases, the others listening intently. The goal here is to see if anyone has added anything to the Scriptures or if anyone has taken away from the Scriptures. Again, we just want to seek the “plain sense of the Scripture”.
Secondly, the group should consider each verse of that Chapter individually, giving each person the opportunity to share their cross-references.
Thirdly, each person should be encouraged to share the practical application that God has shown them during their meditation on this passage.
6. Follow Up
After having heard other people’s paraphrases, and cross-references, and practical applications, it may be helpful to go back and consider that passage one more time, to see if there is something we can learn after having the “iron sharpening iron” experience.
Acts 17:11 says (in reference to the Bereans):
“These were nobler than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11
We should strive to be Bereans!
For Ezra had set his heart to [c]study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. Ezra 7:10 (NASB)
Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2 (NASB)
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 (NASB)
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 (NASB)
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)