Being in the Word #6 || How to Study
Well friends, the time has come for the final post of Being in The Word. I hope this series has been inspiring and encouraging to you. Writing about being in God's Word has definitely pushed me into study. As they say, you really learn something when you teach it! In this wrap-up post, I would like to share with you the ways I have learned to study the Bible. May these become tools to help us further learn and apply scripture!
1. Cross Referencing
A cross reference is a reference to to another part of the text that corresponds to the part being studied. Many Bibles have a chain reference system (see the center column in the header photo?) in which certain words in the verse will have a letter assigned to them (a, b, and so on until it starts over), which you can find in the reference column with another verse's "address".
Another way to cross reference would be to find a topic that you want to study more in depth, such as "light". You could use the concordance in the back of your Bible (which is what I did for this series) to look up the word "light" and see what verses are listed there. To get more in-depth you could use a concordance such as Strong's to see all the times the word "light" is listed. Be aware that the word may be different depending on your Bible translation!
If you prefer to use the web, try looking up a verse on the Blue Letter Bible website. One of the things on the "Tools" menu is "Cross-Refs". References corresponding to different words in the verse will be listed. Below, I discuss how to look up specific words.
2. Word Studies
Try choosing a specific word to look up! Let's say you want to know more about the word translated "love" in the King James Version. This is when it comes in handy to find a Bible dictionary! Vine's Bible dictionary corresponds to Strong's Concordance. If you find the word "love" in the concordance, you will notice that it has a number near it. If you look up "love" in the Bible dictionary, you will find the correct original language word and definition by finding the right number.
For internet-savvy blog-readers, Blue Letter Bible is helpful for this form of study. You can change the translation to match your Bible, then look up the word that you want. Once again, take a look at the Tools menu; Select "Interlinear" and find the number next to the word you want. Scroll down a bit to see the Strong's definition.
3. Reading Different Translations
Everyone seems to have a favorite Bible translation to read! I usually just read my own Bible, which is King James (KJV). However, when I'm studying, I will sometimes read another literal translation, like the ESV or NASB. Literal translations were translated with a word-for-word approach. Each translation has its strong and weak points, and one may be easier to understand than another for different passages.
4. Ask Questions
One of the ways of study that was new to me when I joined my Bible study group a few years ago was inductive questioning. It can seem tedious, but it really does help one to slow down and digest the words. In this form of study, we turn each verse into 5 W's + "How" questions, then answer them from the scripture. To start out with, I would encourage you to ask at least one simple question about each verse, then answer it either from the verse or the surrounding passage.
In closing, I encourage you to try one of these study tools in this upcoming week. If you don't already have a journal or notebook for your Bible studies, be sure to find one (and a pretty pen, perhaps ;)). May we take God's Word seriously and live by it!
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
II Timothy 3:16-17