Before you begin, never forget the golden rule. Studying the Bible is not an intellectual exercise, but rather a supernatural-spiritual experience. You should never open you Bible without prayer first. Jesus said "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). In your prayer to the Father, ask for the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. With that said, take a moment to pray to the Father, in your own words, for Him to be an active part of your study and for the Holy Spirit to be your teacher, then we will begin our lesson.

Be Prepared

Before you begin your studies make sure you have the proper atmosphere for studying:

  • Proper desk or table space with good lighting.
  • Proper materials - the essential items to have is your study Bible, a concordance (with a lexicon or Hebrew and Greek dictionary in the back), a standard dictionary, a pen, and notebook or computer for taking notes.
  • Additional items to help, but is not essential for your study, may include 5" by 3" index cards to write down passages to memorize, access to the internet for quick access to on-line Bibles, lexicons, an expository dictionary, and Bible atlas.

Don't be afraid to write in your Bible. Remember, the main point of studying your Bible is to get to know the Author, developing a relationship with Him, and understanding what is expected of us. If you don’t want to write in your Bible - then go get a Bible that you can write in. Don’t idolatrize the Bible. God has given us His Book for our learning and to be good students of the Scriptures. Consider the prophecy of the destruction of the Jewish temple recorded in Luke 19:41-44:

"41Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."  

This prophecy came to past exactly as predicted 40 years later when the 5th, 10th, 12th, and 15th Roman Legions destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish temple, stone by stone, in 70 AD. But notice the reason Jesus gives in verse 44 why Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD - because they did not recognize the time of when the Messiah was with them. How were they to recognize the visitation of the true Messiah? Through studying their Scriptures and becoming familiar with what it says! And just like they were held accountable to knowing their Scriptures, we too are held accountable to knowing "what thus said the LORD!"

Remember The Following Points As You Study

The Bible is a supernatural book.  You must believe that the Bible is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is your teacher (John 14:25).  In theology (the study of God) believing is seeing!  The more you believe, the more that will be revealed to you.

Remember, you are reading a translated book.  The original books of the Bible were not written in English or Spanish.  The definition of some of the English/Spanish words used in some of the modern translations may not have the same meaning as the words used in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek language of the Bible, or the translation is not very accurate (several examples are used in this lesson).

Also remember that the culture described throughout the Bible is eastern, not western.  So, not only is the original language different, but so are the customs and manners of that time (some of which may seem very strange to those of us in the west). Keeping this in mind will help you avoid westernizing the Scriptures and embracing false doctrine. 

Barriers to Spiritual Growth

You must be aware of the enemies of Spiritual growth and avoid them at all times.

1)    Presumptions - one of the greatest barriers to truth is the presumption you already have it!  Let go of your presumptions and let the Bible speak for itself.

2)    Hatred - hatred is the opposite of love, and the opposite of the nature of God.  It stands in contrast to the teachings of Jesus Christ and will always corrupt your understanding of the Bible. Here are just a few things Jesus taught about love:

·         "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 22:37-40

·         “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."  Matthew 5:44-45.

·         "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also.  And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either."  Luke 6:27-29

·         "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  John 13:34-35

·         "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me."  John 14:23-24

·         "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."  John 15:12-14

·         "These things I command of you, that you love one another."  John 15:17

These are just some of the things Jesus taught about love.  The point is, if the god you worship teaches that it is alright for you to hate or mistreat others because of race, nationality, religious background, sexual preference, or any reason at all, you are not Christian.  This stands in opposite of the general message of the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ.  We are commanded to hate the sin, not the person.  Hate the act, not the offender.  For truly we must remember where the hateful act is coming and who is the author of hate, and the purpose it serves.  The true enemy and author of hatred is Satan.  The person or persons committing the act are being manipulated and used by him for his pleasures.  As followers of Jesus Christ we must remember this and respond according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh.  This is a lot easier said than done......but perhaps remembering Jesus' final words as He hung on the cross to pay for our sins may help, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do!"

3)    Ignorance Due to Laziness - notice how willing we are to study hard to get good grades in school, or work harder on the job to get a promotion or gain desirable recognition, but how lazy we can be in our approach to the word of God.  The following passages are good Bible texts to study carefully and memorize.  They teach us the importance of understanding what the Scriptures says and how to use what the Spirit has taught you.

·          John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

·         Acts 17:11 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

·          1 Corinthians 2:15 “But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.”

·          1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

·          2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

·          2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Remember, all things are to be judged and tested through the authority of the Holy Bible, especially our own thoughts, actions and motives.  The only way to do this is by becoming familiar with the contents of the Bible, being honest with ourselves, and performing a self evaluation each day. 

4)    Pride – the original sin.  Pride gives way to selfishness (greed).  Selfishness gives way to covetousness (envy).  Covetousness gives way to lust.  Lust gives way to stealing.  Stealing gives way to lying.  Lying gives way to hatred.  And hatred always leads to spiritual and/or physical death.

Questions To Answer As You Study

As you go through each passage of the Bible, look to answer the following questions:  

  • Who is the writer and who is he writing to?
  • What are the conditions of the people, place, and situation he is writing about (make note of whether the conditions are good or bad)?
  • What is the cause of the condition (was it reward or punishment)?
  • Why is he writing? (What is the reason?)
  • Where is he writing from?
  • How does this apply to me?

What To Do If You Get Stumped - A Fascinating Exercise!

Don’t be discouraged if you don't discover the answer to some of these questions right away. Sometimes the answer may not be as obvious. But have faith that the Holy Spirit will be your teacher and will reward the diligent student who treats the word of God with the respect it deserves.

  • Make note of anything you studied that is confusing, doesn't make sense to you or appears to be in contradiction to another part of the Bible. This is key!
  • After writing down these things in your notebook take it to God in prayer and ask Him to help you understand these things. Have faith that He will answer your prayer.
  • When He reveals the solution to you (it may be instantly or at a later time) after giving thanks to Him go back to your notebook and write in the solution.

As time go on, you will have build a journal of the supernatural works of love from the Holy Spirit moving in your life. Trust me, this will become one of the most precious items you will own in your life time and will serve as a strong encouragement especially when dealing with trying times.

Biblical Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is defined as the art or science of interpretation. It is the branch of theology that deals with the principles of interpreting the Bible. It begins with an observation of a subject and those things that affect the subject. A consistent set of principles govern the rules of the observation to ensure accurate and unbiased interpretation. As the observation becomes more complete, so does the interpretation. It is scientific in that these principles must be systematically apply to the entire council of God, without injecting personal opinion, definitions, or hypothesis (this is called eisogesis). The observation is done in such a way that exposes truth and facts in a consistent manner that harmonizes the entire Bible. Proper hermeneutics leaves no room for eisogesis.

The rules of hermeneutics are:  

  • define words and terms as they meant in their original context;
  • perform scriptural comparison to test consistency of the message;
  • accept literary interpretation unless the grammatical context shows that it is figurative language by the use of similes, metaphors, parables, allegories, symbols, or types, or is contrary to Scripture or to what the author is saying (remember, if the plain sense makes sense look for no other sense or all you'll end Click image to go to to order this book.up with is nonsense);
  • identify the original audience of the message; considering the history, culture and geography of the audience.  A good easy to read book that will help you understand manners and customs of the people in the Bible is a book titled "The New Manners & Customs of the Bible" by James M. Freeman (ISBN 978-0-88270-745-7). 

Learning hermeneutics is not very hard. Applying it however, requires prayer, diligence and patience.

WARNING: Don't ever try to prove a point or look for verses to support your position. Rather, allow the word of God to tell you the point and to instruct you on the position to support. In other words, be very careful not to torture the text to force it into confessing your position.  Allow the Bible to say what it says and to interpret itself.


Exegesis is drawing out the original meaning from the text based on applied hermeneutics. Because of the availability of expert tools such as commentaries, dictionaries, handbooks, etc., everybody who has access and knows how to use such tools can exegete. Even with just minimal access to these tools, anyone can do good exegesis of the Bible if the following tips are followed:

  • following the hermeneutical approaches described above before attempting to draw-out the meaning;
  • consider the meaning of the passage in light of the message of the entire chapter, the previous chapter, the proceeding chapter, and the theme of the entire Bible;
  • do not add to the meaning.  Let the passage speak for itself!  

Your most important tools in understanding the message of the Bible is reading. You must read and reread the passage that you are studying. You must pay attention to all the details and ask questions as you go along. Do not assume that an interpretation you have heard before is the correct interpretation. By taking The Berean Approach, you should be able to know the context and identify the theme or main point of the passage.

With good reading habits and proper use of available tools we can all do good exegesis.

Understand the Context

A word on its own doesn't really mean anything. A word can only have a sensible meaning in a sentence. Further, the sentences before and after will clear up the meaning of a particular sentence, and likewise, the paragraph before and after gives an even complete picture of the message. This is the reason we are encouraged to study a passage (several verses) not a single verse if we intend to get the real message the original author intended. This is also known as reading in context.

Generally speaking, when the author wrote the book he had a particular theme or message in mind. As the reader, it is important to follow the author's flow of thought. You first must see the main theme of the book, then the theme found within each chapters. Lastly, you must decipher the theme of each passage. The smaller section's theme must compliment the bigger section's theme. To understand the context you must first read the whole book that you are studying and find the units of thought that make up the book. This is not really hard to do since most of the Bible has titles for each passage and an outline at the beginning of the book. But it is a good habit to make a simple outline of your own after you have read the book.

Example: The Book of Hebrews was written to a group of people that were contemplating returning to Judaism.  In order to address the issue, the author started by establishing the completeness of Jesus Christ and His ministry and how he is much better than the angels, Moses and Aaron the high priest. You can also trace warnings about falling away. As you can see, if you began to gain this kind of information after reading the book of Hebrews, it would be so much easier to get in the author's flow of thought as you focus in on studying the book in smaller sections.

Define Key Words

As you go through the Bible, make note of key words - especially verbs and nouns. Remember, the Bible was not originally written in English and certain words don’t translate very well from the original language. Take for example the word melody in Ephesians 5:19 where it said "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord....." This passage is used by many churches to condemn the use of instrumental music in worship. This passage is translated as follows in different English Bible translations and notice the different ways the word melody is translated:

The New King James ..."singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord...."

The New International Version..."Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord..."

The American Standard Version..."singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord...."

The English Standard Version ..."singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart...."

Worldwide English Translation..."Sing and make a joyful noise in your hearts to the Lord."

Darby Translation..."singing and chanting with your heart to the Lord."

In the six different Bible translations examined above, the original word for melody, psallo in the Greek, is translated 4 different ways - melody, music, joyful noise, and chanting. Now let's take The Berean Approach and look up the word melody in your concordance and find the word that is used in this particular passage (Ephesians 5:19). It is Strong Reference Number 5567. Now go to the Greek dictionary in the back of your concordance and look up this number to see the original word that was used, its literal translation, and how this word was used in the original writing. Here you will learn the following:

Original word:

Literal translation: to twitch or twang, i.e., to play on a stringed instrument.

Original Usage: to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, hence, to sing with a harp, sing psalms.

You have just discovered for yourself that the original Greek word used in Ephesians 5:19 is psallo which means to twitch or twang. In its proper context, it is referring to singing with a stringed instrument, i.e., a harp (a common instrument used throughout the Scriptures). After obtaining this information, go back to your Bible and read the passage again, but this time begin in an earlier verse (verse 17) and end in a later verse (verse 21). This is done to ensure proper context. Because of this key word search, you now have an Click image to go to to order this book.accurate understanding of this passage and the use of instrumental music in worship.

Note: AMG Publishers has a Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible available at most book stores. This Bible is excellent for key word searches as it already has key words underlined - and often with the Strong Reference Number printed next to them, cross referencing text annotated, and grammatical structure notations of certain key words to help you understand the grammatical voice, tense, and mood of certain words.

Scriptural Comparison

The test to ensure the accuracy of your knowledge is to compare what you have learned with other parts of the Scriptures to check conformity. Using your concordance, identify other Bible passages that contain the same key word or words, and more importantly, the content, meaning or thought of the message, and look them up in other parts of your Bible to see how the word(s), content, or thought are used. You are checking the consistency of how the word, thought, or message is used throughout the Scriptures. If done right, this practice will produce much fruit! This is called Scriptural Comparison or Cross Referencing and is a crucial part to understanding the Bible. Remember, the Bible is one message from one Author. No parts of the Scriptures contain contradictory instructions, and doctrine should NEVER be built on a single verse from Scriptures. It must be compared to the entire council of God (the whole Bible) to ensure accuracy and consistency with the rest of Scriptures. This is discussed under the "Scriptural Comparison" section of this website.

"These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and search the Scriptures daily to prove whether these things were so." Acts 17:11