Whether you’re a new Christian or have attended church for years, there’s nothing that can replace the value of Bible study in your life. Bible study is your chance to sit down with God’s word and delve into its lessons. Regular Bible study can help you find a positive perspective during life’s most difficult times.
Developing a Bible study habit, particularly by joining a Bible study group, is incredibly valuable. It improves the quality of your personal Scripture study, helps deepen your understanding of the Word, and lets you connect with others. If you’re interested in connecting with God and the Bible through Bible study, here’s what you need to know and consider.
Which Translation of the Bible Should You Use?
There are a variety of Bible translations available. You might be confused about what the major differences between translations are and how that will impact your study. It’s important to know that there is no one translation of the Bible that everyone needs to use. Each translation has a unique place in Bible study.
Here, we’ll explain the basic differences between Bible translations, so you can choose the right version for your needs.
King James Version (KJV): Originally published in 1611 to put the Bible in the hands of everyone, this beloved translation is still used by many today. However, its formal and old-fashioned style can be difficult to understand. The King James Bible is ideal for those who are studying in traditional Protestant churches. Its accuracy is widely accepted, so this is a great choice for those in Bible study groups.
New King James Version (NKJV): Translators created the NKJV with the goal of rendering the poetry and beauty of the KJV in language that’s easy to understand. This version is a great choice for those who appreciate the literary qualities of the Bible or want to study particularly poetic books such as the Song of Solomon and Psalms.
New International Version (NIV): This translation balances word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation approaches to help make verses easier to grasp. It’s widely accepted by evangelical churches and is an excellent translation for those new to the Bible as it uses plain language but maintains some of the poetry of original biblical texts.
English Standard Version (ESV): Originally published in 2001, the ESV has steadily grown in popularity thanks to its readability. It maintains the original literary quality of the KJV while making the text accessible for readers at all levels. New Bible readers and younger readers alike will enjoy this compelling and easy-to-understand translation. Some Lutheran churches also use this as their official translation.
Understanding Different Bible Study Methods
Choosing a Bible translation is the first step in establishing a daily study habit. You’ll then need to choose how you’ll study. Four options including chronological, topical, random, and group study are described below.
If you’d like to study the Bible chronologically, you’ll read through the text of the Bible from the beginning to end. You may choose to focus just on the Old or New Testament for this type of study, or a longer course covering the Bible’s entirety.
The pros of this method include learning an overview of the entire Bible and delving deeper into parts of the word you’ve never studied.
The cons of this method include the possibility that you’ll become bored while reading through some dull sections of the text and a lack of connection between the material you’re studying and your daily life.
True to its name, this type of Bible study revolves around a single topic such as love, marriage, forgiveness, or sins. Most topical studies draw from different parts of the Bible to help readers better understand what God has to say about a certain subject that’s impacting their life.
The pros of this method include the ability to focus on a topic that interests you and possible help dealing with real-life issues currently causing you stress or anxiety.
The cons of this method include a possible need for deeper research if you don’t know the context of individual study passages and it can be time consuming if you must study many different passages in a single lesson.
In this type of study, you sit down and open your Bible to a passage that interests you. From there, you can use the footnotes in your Bible and other outside resources to study the passage.
The pros of this method include the ability to choose new topics that interest you each day and the freedom to study passages in depth without outside time constraints.
The cons of this method include a lack of helpful resources for those new to the Bible and little day-to-day accountability outside of yourself.
In a group study, you study an assigned text, then meet with others to discuss your impressions. Group studies are much like school classes and generally have a teacher or leader.
The pros of this method include fellowship and the opportunity to learn from others, support from a study leader, and group accountability.
The cons of this method include the need to find a time to sit down with others to study and the possibility you’ll become bored with the pace of the study.
Make Bible Study a Daily Habit
Whichever method of Bible study you choose, remember this is a daily habit worth developing. Start by reading a few verses a day, then work up to a few chapters or even a chunk of a Bible study book. Reading the Bible daily is an inspiring, refreshing habit that you’ll never regret taking up. All it takes are a few small changes over time and a determination to spend time reading the Bible each day – and before you know it, your regular Bible study will become an important part of your everyday life.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.