Ministry Resources

How To Study the Bible

Once we have chosen to follow God's plan for our lives, we are not only responsible to conform our lives and characters to Christ's image, but to share Christ's love with others so that their lives can also be transformed. We can best fulfill our responsibilities as we respond to the Holy Spirit when He reveals God's mind to us as we study the Bible. This 132-page course by Thomas Maphori gives a great deal of necessary insight for those who are interested in organizing their study of the Bible.

Individual Book Study

It might seem easier to rely on a few favorite Bible verses to guide and nourish us spiritually. But we need a “full diet” of God’s Word in order to grow into the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). We must eat heartily of God’s Word day after day in order to reach this goal.

Jesus said, “I am the bread…He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). As the bread of life, Jesus is our source of life. To better understand our life in Christ, we need to study what each book of the Bible says about Him. Our belief increases with our knowledge.

When the people asked Jesus what they could do to please God, His answer was that God wanted everyone to believe in His Son. When we believe in Him, then we can do what God wants us to do (John 6:28-29).

In this lesson you will study:

  • The Benefits of Book Study
  • The Approach to an Individual Book The Book of Colossians

This lesson will help you:

  • Better understand the purposes of Bible
  • Put into practice what you have learned about Bible


Objective 1. List personal benefits of individual book studies.

In time your studies of each book of the Bible will provide you with a strong familiarity of God’s whole revelation. You will be able to see how the events of the Bible fit together. You will be better informed and spiritually prepared for the fulfillment of prophecy regarding Christ’s second coming. You will build a solid foundation for other studies on specific spiritual lessons and truths.

A very important benefit of studying God’s Word book by book is being able to see particular teachings in context. Often we can understand the intended meaning of a passage only when we see its context. Thus, familiarity with the whole Bible will help you to recognize and resist false teachings. They are as widespread today as they were in the early church. Many of the Epistles   in the New Testament deal directly with false teachings that arose with the rapid spread of the gospel right after Christ’s death and resurrection.

The greatest benefit of studying the Bible book by book is that the Bible will become the living Word in you. Any time you have problems in your daily life, you will be able to turn to teaching in the Bible to strengthen your faith and instruct you in what to do.


Objective 3. Identify main ideas in the book of Colossians.

Before you go any further in this lesson, please stop and read Colossians. You may want to read it several times before trying to interpret it. If you are using the Good News Bible: Today’s English Version, be sure to read the “Introduction” and “Outline of Contents” at the beginning of Colossians. This brief description tells that Paul wrote this letter to the church at Colossae to oppose the false teachings there. His main point is that “Jesus Christ is able to give full salvation.”

After you have read the book once, continue your study by rereading and making notes on your first impressions of the book. Notice how often these words or ideas are repeated: “faith,” “set free,” “life in Christ.” Notice repeated words as you read. They help you to identify main ideas.

Objective 4. Use some of the rules of interpretation to study selections from Colossians.

Colossians is written in the literary style of the letter. The writer, Paul, is discussing the false teachings about salvation. He uses figures of speech to help the people picture in their minds what union with Christ really means. For example, in verse 2:8, he says, “see to it, then, that no one enslaves you.” When we are united with Christ, we are set free from the bonds of manmade rules regarding salvation. Salvation is not imprisonment. We are not slaves.

Paul also uses different ways of organizing his ideas to emphasize his main points.

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