Recently, the KJV Bibles Team posted an article entitled “5 Tips for a Meaningful Bible Study.” We pray that it was a helpful entry for those looking for a place to begin studying their Bible. We at the KJV Bibles Team believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. God gave us this revelation, sufficient and complete so that we might know Him, and learn about who He is and all that He has done. And so, studying the Bible is crucial for the Christian life. This article offers “5 More Tips for a Meaningful Bible Study.”
5 More Tips for a Meaningful Bible Study
1) Ask Questions of Your Text
First, you must find a text to study. We could take many approaches on picking one. But, for the sake of this article, we will assume you want to study one of Paul’s epistles. Let’s look at the first chapter of the book of Colossians. For now, zoom in on verse 15: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.
Our first tip for a meaningful Bible study is to ask questions of your text. By asking questions, you can begin to observe things that will deepen your understanding of what the verse or passage says. As we look at Colossians 1:15, here are some examples of the types of questions we could ask:
- Who is “who” referring to (hint: it’s Christ!)?
- What does “image” mean in this context?
- Why call Him the “invisible God” here?
- What is “firstborn of every creature”? Is Paul saying that Jesus was created?
This gives us a lot to examine from just one short verse. The answers to all these questions may come from different places. We may find some answers within the rest of the passage we are studying. Some answers might come from a study tool, such as a Bible dictionary, commentary, or the cross-references found in our Bible (more on cross-references later).
For now, let’s look at the last question listed. What is “firstborn of every creature”? Is Paul saying that Jesus was created? Well, we know Paul is not saying that Christ is created simply by looking at the next couple of verses (vss. 16-17):
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Here we see that Jesus is not created, but He is the Creator. He is not just a creator of a few things, but the creator of all things. Not only that, but He existed before all things, and everything continues to hold together (consist) because of Him.
So, Paul must have meant something else by using the word “firstborn” in verse 15. We mentioned that a Bible dictionary can be a helpful tool in instances like this. One such dictionary is Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. This Bible dictionary can be purchased at Christian bookstores or at the normal places online. However, it is also available at several online Bible study websites (some are a little more user-friendly than others). Here is an excerpt of what “Vine’s” has to say about the term “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15:
“…is used of Christ…expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the “first” to be born.
- Col 1:15; where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that He was the “Firstborn” before all creation and that He Himself produced creation.
Our Bible dictionary helps confirm clearly for us what Paul clarified in verses 16 and 17, that Christ created all things and was before it all. But, it also points us to the preeminence of Christ over all things, found in the next verse (18).
So, just by asking ourselves a few simple questions, we have begun to dig into what Paul really means in these verses. Namely, that Christ is supreme and that He is the creator of everything.
If we continued working through the chapter, we would find that He is also the Lord of redemption. Paul is showing us the preeminence of Christ in creation and at the cross. What wonderful truths we are finding!
2) Look Up References to Times, People, and Places
By looking up references to times, we mean things like months that are mentioned or a particular year during a king’s reign. You may not always be able to find information, but sometimes you can gather some treasure.
For instance, consider Joshua 4:19: “And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.”
This verse is found in the context of Israel passing through the Jordan River into the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness.
In many commentaries (even those found online), it is easy to learn that the first month of the Jewish calendar is “Nisan” or “Abib.” The tenth day of that month is the day that Israel was to take a sheep from the flock and use it in the Passover celebration just four days later.
So, we quickly see that Israel is coming into the land of Canaan just in time to celebrate Passover. This is something we may not know unless we looked it up.
Going back to where we started in the book of Colossians, we can also look up places such as Colosse (1:2) or learn more about Epaphras, who is mentioned in Colossians 1:7. This will help us learn about this church and who these “faithful brethren in Christ” were (vs. 2).
3) Look for Repeated Words
Repeated words help us ascertain the basic thought of a section or even the theme of a book. Keywords might give us more questions to dig into and answer. Keywords might lead us into a word study. A word study might lead us to other books of the Bible, where we can learn how our passage connects with the rest of Scripture. So, you can see that looking for repeated words can lead to a gamut of possibilities for study.
Colossians 1 has already given us a few repeated words that we could look into:
-things (1:16, 17, 18, 20)
-creation/creature (1:15, 16, 23)
-firstborn (1:15, 18)
Why might these words be repeated? What themes is Paul drawing from?
4) Label Your Observations
In our previous post on tips for a meaningful Bible study, we gave a bonus tip about writing in your Bible. Let’s use Psalm 1 as an example of how you can do this.
Psalm 1, King James Version (KJV)
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
If we start by underlining or circling keywords, and writing in a few observations along the way, then we can go back and label a few of those observations. This will help us note the flow of the passage and recognize our previous work quickly.
In verse 1, we might note some simple words such as “walketh,” “standeth,” and “sitteth.” We could quickly recognize that the godly will not tend to do these things, but will do what instead? Verse 2 sets up a contrast with “But,” and then describes what they will do, namely meditate on God’s law day and night. So after looking at this whole section (vss. 1-3), we might label it “The Godly.”
As we continue, we’ll notice that he switches to talking about the ungodly in verses 4-5. After making some observations, we could go back and label the next section “The Ungodly.”
Finally, we have “The Conclusion” of the matter in verse 6. This gives us a helpful record of our observations that could prove beneficial at a later time.
5) Use Cross-References
Many Bibles contain a helpful tool called a cross-reference system. If your Bible contains cross-references, the publisher created it. You can usually find these references in the footer or margins of your Bible. You can check these cross-references to see what verses might be related to the ones you are studying.
It is a good principle of Bible study to remember that Scripture interprets Scripture. You will find it helpful to check these cross-references and get a little more insight into the verses you are studying.
We hope that these 5 more tips for a meaningful Bible study help you as you continue to seek the Lord through His Word.