The Development of a Bible Study Guide

I. Motivation

 While Jesus can be experienced in your life, yet he is not defined by your life, but rather by the Bible.  The more you interact with the Bible, given the right attitude, the more it will become part of your life.
"The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." John 6:63

"I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one." 1John 2:14

Apart from fellowship within the body of Christ, there are two things Jesus left us with: The Bible and the Holy Spirit. And these do not act independently.
"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the spirit in which the Bible is written. But we must read it with an application oriented mindset of submission, obedience and humility.
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21
And we are reminded of the parable of the wise man's foundation of Luke 6:47-49. We must not simply hear the word, but do it. For faith without applications is a dead faith.

Spiritual Habits and Techniques

The Bible, while cautioning against relying on fleshly rituals, advocates developing godly habits. For we are naturally creatures of habit. So why not use that to our advantage? Having a regular time of fellowship is advocated in Heb 10:24. Daniel used to have a regular time of prayer. And the Lord said to Joshua
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8
And Moses said: "They are not just idle words for you-- they are your life." Deut 32:47

Developing and applying techniques of Bible study will help to make it a part of our life. Jesus memorized scripture and quoted it, even on the cross. And I would recommend developing a habit of scripture memory and review. I've written verses I like on little cards. And then when I walk my dog, I'll memorize and review them. I bought a little pocket New Testament and torn out some pages I wanted to memorize and laminated them and carry those around to take out at a convenient time to memorize and review. We're all busy in life. But then again we all have free time. What do you do with your free time?

Much of the problem in living the Christian life is getting over the hinderances of the flesh. We're all naturally lazy. We're all naturally undisciplined. It takes effort to live the Christian life. Growing weary and losing heart is a common struggle, but one which the true believers overcome in the end.

"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb 12:3

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

But then again the Christian life is a joy to those apply their faith. And Bible study shouldn't be viewed as simply a chore, but a delight.
"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Ps 1:1-3

"With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Ps 119:13-16

Let's make Bible study fun and enjoyable. And let's interact with the Bible beyond just simply reading it.

II. Application

These days Bible study is much less tedious. Before the computer, it was more difficult to cross reference and get into the Greek and to write up your own Bible study, but now it's easy. Here's something simple everyone can do. I'm using King James because of copywrite issues. But I would recommend using a modern translation - like NKJV or NIV. Because the Bible was originally written in the language of the day.


Ephesians 1:3-14 (kjv)

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


Phrasing

Next, break up the sentences into phrases. There's not necessarily an absolute way of doing this, but the idea is break up the verses so that they don't over fill the page, but don't break them up too small. Follow the punctuation. Commas and semicolons are good places to consider a break.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (kjv)

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.
13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,
unto the praise of his glory.


Indentation & Observations

Next, indent subordinate clauses and ideas from their main thought keeping in mind the grammar. And once again there may be a variety of ways of doing this depending on your particular observation. Also notice repeating phrases. Here I also notice the phrases "to the praise of his glory" and "in whom".

Ephesians 1:3-14 (kjv)

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
 
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
 
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.
 
13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
 
in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,
unto the praise of his glory.

Adjustment & Titles

A problem particularly for Paul's letters is that the indentation can go right off the page. So let's pull in all the "In whom" phrases. And let's give titles to the main sections.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (kjv)

The Father

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

 The Son

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
 
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
 
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.

The Holy Spirit

13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,

unto the praise of his glory.

Observation

Notice the way he presents the Trinity in these sections.

The Father

The Son
The Holy Spirit
And considering the repeating of the phrase "to the praise of his glory", this section is essentially a doxology.

Notice the action words - the verbs. The main verb of this whole section is "Blessed be". Below I underline the verbs associated with what God has done for us. Also observe

The main command in this section is to praise God for his blessings to us. And also serves as an example of doing so. But it is also filled with promises to believed. In it we also can infer God's character of graciousness.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (kjv)

 The Father

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace,
wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

 The Son

7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
 
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ,
both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
 
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory,
who first trusted in Christ.

The Holy Spirit

13  In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,

unto the praise of his glory.

 Interpretation

I won't go into an extensive interpretation of this section, but when interpreting the Bible,

Discussion Questions

When developing questions:
  • Avoid questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no".
  • Avoid obvious questions which give the impression that you're talking with  a bunch of stupid sheep.
  • Make people think. But also avoid questions of arm-chair theology.
  • Try to develop application oriented questions.
  • Base the questions on the text. Don't simply use the text as a springboard to talk about anything. Keep to the context.
  • You might also categorize your questions. Here's some based on three categories
  • Observation (What do I see?)

    Interpretation (What do I infer?)

    Application (What do I do?)


    Paraphrasing

    Putting the Bible into your own words not only personalizes it, but also prepares you to speak it to others in a way that reflects your convictions and manner of communication. In my First John study, I have examples of two forms of paraphrasing, the second of which I call a "Rap", but which is simply rewriting the passage in poetic form. Here's an example of a Rap from the Parable series:

    Matt 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field." (NIV)
     

    Rap

    Once there was a man who found a treasure
    Hidden in a field, and he took pleasure
    In selling all he had to buy that field
    To gain the treasure it would yield
    God has a treasure, it's hidden away
    But seek and you shall find some day
    That treasure he offers which is life through the Son
    A life which will last after your life here is done


    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015