A Simple Method for Studying the Bible One on One
It can be quite daunting meeting up with someone to look at the Bible together, especially if you have never done it before. However, even if you have never read the Bible with someone else before, it is possible to mine the riches of the Scriptures and to hear what God is saying to us in them, which is a great privilege. The aim of reading the Bible with another person is to hear what God is saying to use through the part of the Bible we are looking at.
What follows is a very simple method of looking at a passage of the Bible either with one other person or in a group. It is an approach which can be used to examine any book of Scripture, but works best for the New Testament and particularly for the letters in the New Testament. If you have never read the Bible with someone before and don’t feel you know the Bible too well, you may like to start by reading the book of Colossians one chapter at a time with someone. You could then follow on by looking at 1 Thessalonians then Titus. After gaining confidence in doing this, you could then move to bigger letters like Romans and 1 Corinthians.
Here is the simple method:
For any passage, have as your aim to answer these three questions:
1. What questions do you have about what this part of the Bible is saying?
Most chapters of the Bible will raise questions for us; some of which can be answered simply by reading the next chapter, others for which there is no answer. The aim here is to note down all the questions we have about a passage. Time can then be spent trying to work out the answers from the passage as much as possible. However, don’t be daunted by questions that can’t be answered; the point as this stage is to come with questions which arise from the text of Scripture.
2. What strikes about what this passage of the Bible is saying?
This can be anything from the funny names in the text, to amazing things that are said about God, to commands which seem difficult to obey. The aim here is to look closely at that the text is saying. Looking for repeated words, reasons given and commands made can all be helpful. Sometimes looking closely at things that strike you will answer some of your questions too!
3. What do you think this part of the Bible is telling us to do?
The Bible contains ‘truth that leads to godliness’. Whenever we hear it, the challenge is to faith and repentance – to believe God’s word and change. It is always good therefore to consider how God may be wanting us to change as a result of hearing a particular part of God’s word. It will be more obvious when the particular passage gives a command.
Having spent time working on these three questions, there are two other questions which will give you a sharper understanding of the part of the Bible you are looking at:
4. What do you think is the heart of what this part of the Bible is saying?
In other words, any part of the Bible may say many things, but there is usually a key message which a passage is trying to get across. Try to work out what that is, based on what you have noticed about the passage.
5. What do you think is the main application of this part of the Bible to our lives?
Again while there might be many things we ought to do in response to a particular part of God’s word, usually there is a ‘main change’ which the part of God’s word is aiming at. Again, based on what you have noticed about the passage, it is good to work out what that might be.
These five questions give a helpful way of investigating any passage of Scripture. It is possible to run through a chapter of the Bible and the questions in 10 minutes with someone, or to take hours contemplating a single section of Scripture with someone using these questions. Whichever you do, the aim ought always to be the same: to hear what God is saying to us through the part of the Bible we are looking at, to believe and to live by it. With this in mind it is best to pray, asking for God’s help before you look at the Bible and after it.
You can download a PDF version of this training resource here. Feel free to print and hand out these notes to your youth leaders.