Although it is an honour to engage in
the immensely rewarding task of Bible
study, make no mistake, it's hard work!
The Bible calls its students labourers, 2
Tim 2. 15. With that in mind it might be
helpful to list a number of benefits
connected with personal Bible study:
1. It facilitates real personal spiritual
growth, Heb. 5. 12-14
2. It corrects and guides in the
Christian life, 2 Tim 3. 16
3. It equips for evangelism, 1 Pet. 3. 15
4. It preserves personal holiness, Ps.
5. It ensures victory in temptation,
Matt. 4. 4
6. It partly qualifies for leadership, 1
Tim. 3. 2
7. It produces spiritual discernment,
Heb. 5. 14
8. It provides material for worship,
Eph. 5. 19
9. It fits the believer for useful service,
2 Tim. 3. 17
Prior to engaging in this profitable
discipline there are a few essentials one
needs to have in place:
- A regular time set aside each
morning, Ps. 63. 1; Acts 17. 11
- The determination to stick at it over
the long-term, 2 Tim. 2. 15; Job 23. 12
- A prayerful teachable spirit,Ps. 86. 11
- A tidy desk in a quiet place
Once you have chosen the
book you wish to study
(Colossians will be used for
the purposes of this article)
the following three stages will
help you get to grips with it:
1. The Observation
- Begin each day by praying
for light and help from God
- Read right through Colossians in
one sitting daily, using various
sound Bible versions such as KJV,
NKJV and JND (inaccurate and
misleading paraphrases like The
Message, the CEV and the Good
News Bible should be avoided)
- On a notepad, write down anything
you notice such as recurring words
and phrases, themes, ideas and
doctrines that link to each other
both within Colossians and with
other books of the Bible
- At the end of the week look up
these recurring words (in a Wigram's
Concordance, not a Strong's
Concordance, because you want the
Greek not the English) and note
down the actual occurrences and
try to list them under headings.
If you have a computer, a
programme like Powerbible
(available on CD) or E-Sword (a free
download from the internet) will be
very helpful and speed up your
research by at least a factor of 10.
While continuing to read Colossians
daily, research and write down (using
commentaries and bible dictionaries):
- The setting and background
(historical and cultural) of the
epistle and how it relates to you
- The author of Colossians and his
relationship with them
- The audience (who were the
Colossians?) and how they are like
- The date of writing (when did Paul
write ¨C and how can you prove this?)
- The place of writing (from where did
- The purpose for which Paul wrote
- The key theme and principles of the
- Key words Paul uses in the epistle
- Divide the book up into sections
and sub-sections and give them
headings (alliterated if possible)
2. The Interpretation Stage
Week 3 onwards
After prayer, read just the chapter you
are working in.
- Keeping your outline handy, start
working down chapter 1 one a verse
at a time
- Don't leave a verse until you
understand all that's in it (to the
best of your ability and with the
- Read along as you go in two or more
sound evangelical commentaries
(William MacDonald's Believer's Bible
Commentary is the best one-volume
Bible commentary available)
- Have a Greek Interlinear open
nearby at all times
- Look up interesting or difficult
words in Vine's Dictionary
- Check places where these words
occur elsewhere in the Bible using
- Keep notes in your Bible margin, in a
folder, on a computer or in a system
of your own design
- At the end of each chapter write out
a summary of the chapter, proving
that you know and understand the
flow of the argument and the
To obtain further profit
Can you find a number of things in the
book you are studying that could be
linked with another book or group of
books (or perhaps with items
connected to the tabernacle, the
offerings, the life of Christ or the
prophetic plan of God). In other words:
- If you have 4 points
can they be lined up
with the 4 gospels?
- If you have 5 points
can they be lined up
with the Pentateuch,
or with the 5 major
- If you have 3 linked verses can they
be lined up with 3 Bible characters?
Also, as you proceed, remember to look
at the passage from different angles:
- The devotional angle ¨C how can I
apply this to Christ?
- The dispensational angle ¨C is there
anything relative to God's plan for
Israel, the church and the nations?
- The typical angle ¨C is there any
typology to bear in mind?
- The practical angle (see below)
3. The Application Stage
Week 3 onwards
Daily ask the following:
- What can I give to God in worship
from this passage?
- What warning should I heed?
- What command must I obey?
- What truth must I believe?
- What promise can I claim?
- What attitude can I adjust?
- What priority must I change?
- What activity should I cease?
- What offence must I forgive?
- What sin must I confess?
These questions can be boiled down to
two pertinent statements that reveal
the true purpose of the study of God's
word, 2 Tim. 3. 17.
After all, the purpose of Bible study is
not just to inform me; it is also to
change me. I am responsible before
God for what I do with what I know.