Christians are expected to know what the Bible says, and that is a reasonable expectation. The only way believers can fulfill that expectation is to take time to study the word of God. There are many options for study methods, and it can be beneficial to vary your study methods rather than using the same one all the time. It can help to bring new insight to familiar text.
One method of study is known as a book study. This involves examining an entire book of the Bible, over time, to get a cohesive picture of what is being taught, and what it contains that benefits one’s Christian life.
The things you will need for executing a book study are: a Bible of your preferred translation (or several translations, if desired), a Bible dictionary, an English dictionary, a notebook and writing instrument, and possibly a commentary.
It may be a good idea to begin with a small book, just to get your feet wet. Consider one of the few New Testament books that contain only one chapter, or an epistle like Philippians, which only has four chapters.
After selecting a book to study, begin by identifying the author of the book, approximate time period in which it was written, its intended audience, and its purpose. Many of the epistles contain most of this information in the first few verses and the last few. Some study Bibles have introductions that contain this information as well as other pertinent information about the book, the author, and the content. Write the information in the notebook.
Consider the people that are prominent in the book. This is often the author and the audience but may include other specific people as well. These people may be disciples and apostles, but they may also be secular people to whom the Christians are attempting to minister. Write down the name of each person and what makes them significant in the book. If the selected book is Genesis, Matthew, or another book with a large assortment of people, it may be helpful to list the characters timeline-style or genealogy-style to keep them straight.
Consider the book through the lenses of where it was written, what events in history occurred around the time of the writing, the political outlook of the day, the culture in which its people lived, and things the people were looking forward to or expecting.
Develop an outline of the book, identifying the primary and secondary thoughts, and adding supporting points.
Underline or highlight verses that speak to you personally. There are pens and markers that are made especially for use in Bibles, to reduce bleed-through.
Summarize what you have discovered and learned through your study and consider how you can apply it to your daily life. Remember to check back to see how successful your efforts are in following the applications you have written.
The process will require reading the entire book through several times, so it is to be expected that the study will last several days, at least, and could last for months, depending on how in-depth the study goes.
Once you have written your thoughts, understanding, and such, reading what other theologians and scholars have written about the book can increase your insight and understanding, as well. Remember to always read what they write in the light of the Scriptures; if there is disagreement, then the Scriptures are the authority that should be primary.
This type of study can easily cover over two years of Bible study, if one does every book in the Bible, taking at least a week on each book (and obviously several weeks on some of the longer books). Once the entire Bible has been finished, however, one’s understanding of it is certain to be much more comprehensive than before it was begun.
Useful resources for this type of study can be found below.
Where to Buy
Know Your Bible: All 66 Books Explained and Applied
This concise guide has basic data and summary of each of the books of the Bible.
Romans: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible)
Meant to aid in understanding and applying the word of God, this study works through one book of the Bible. (These same authors have done many other books, as well, including John, James, Isaiah, Genesis, Philippians, and more.)
The Book of Revelation Made Clear: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Understanding the Most Mysterious Book of the Bible
Revelation can be one of the most difficult books of which to make sense, but this guide can aid in discovering the meaning of the content of this complex book of prophecy.
Nelson’s Compact Series: Compact Bible Commentary
This compact commentary is abridged from Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. It is comprehensive and easy to understand.
New Wine Bible Ribbon Markers
These ribbon markers are attached to a piece that inserts into the spine of the Bible, with four colored ribbons that can be used as bookmarks.
Pigma Micron 01 Fine & 05 Medium Point Inductive Bible Study Kit
This set of eight pens contains six varied color medium point pens along with a red and a black fine point. The colors of the medium point pens are yellow, pink, green, purple, orange, and magenta.
U.S. Office Supply Bible Safe Gel Highlighters
This double-pack of 8 colors (16 markers) is made for using in the Bible without bleeding through, fading, or smearing. They are designed with a twist-up gel stick. The set also includes a study guide and a pouch in which to store the markers.
Zebrite Bible Marking Kit
This set of five writing instruments includes four highlighters, 1 black Zebra Milli pen, and a ruler bookmark, packaged in a wallet with a suggested color code. They are designed not to bleed through, smear, or fade. Ideal for thin Bible paper.
Thick Classic Notebook with Pen Loop
This notebook would be ideal for keeping notes about Bible study. The pen loop makes it easy to always have your pen handy and the elastic will keep it closed when not in use.