Different Bible Study Methods: 10 Foundational Types Explained


Lord’s Library explores foundational types of Bible study so you know the different Bible study methods by heart.

The Bible is the Word of God and the ability to study it effectively is imperative to all Christians. Luckily, there’s a way for each individual to study the Bible in a way that best fits into their own comprehension patterns. The different study Bible methods are just a few small ways that The Lord finds one where they are in their faith walk. There’s a study Bible for each Bible translation, but surprisingly, not for each individual study method.

It’s with this in mind that the editors at Lord’s Library decided to assemble this list of the different Bible study methods. Our chief aim here is to help you with Bible study best practices for getting the most out of your study time. In addition, we also wanted a place to link to different Bible study tools, book titles, and study aids that can improve your time inspecting God’s Word. Generally, each style brings a slightly different approach to the table.

Note: The different Bible study methods are listed in no particular order.

The Gospel

Different Bible Study Methods

Scripture Verse Mapping

For this method, all you need is a single verse of the Bible you’d like to study. Take that verse and look at different translations of it side by side. What commonalities and differences do you see? What do different translations highlight over one another? What can you learn from these comparisons?

It’s important to note that when you see different things highlighted, it has to do with the original language of the verse. For instance, words in the original Biblical languages often have a depth of meaning associated with them. Translators may choose different aspects of that word to highlight in their translation based on their interpretation of the original text. This is why Scripture verse mapping is a powerful way to study the Bible. Through it, you can learn of the different depths of meaning a particular verse may hold without having to know the original Biblical languages.

While you likely don’t have that many Bibles available, nor the space to lay them all out at once, it’s much easier to accomplish online. Sites such as Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway, and Bible Hub, just to name a few, allow you to view a single verse in multiple translations side by side. Not only will these sites show you the different translations but also point you to other verses related to the verse you are studying.

Bible Journaling

Bible journaling has become a very popular method of study, due in part to the increased publishing of dedicated journaling study Bibles. The practice is exactly as it sounds, allowing the reader to “journal” text or images while they read the Bible texts. It’s a great way to record important thoughts and questions about what you are reading, while you read it. If you’re like us, you have Bible verses written everywhere!

Journaling Bibles offer an alternative way for Christians to engage with Scripture. For some it’s also a creative outlet, allowing readers to record their journey with popular Bible journaling supplies, guides, and kits that include special pens, highlighters, tabs, and even stickers. For others, it’s the perfect way to document what they’ve learned during each Bible study session and a great way to personalize the experience.

Topical Bible Study

Topical Bible study is when you take a topic, let’s say repentance, and search for passages or verses in the Bible that speak to that topic. You can compare and contrast the different verses you find, break them down, analyze them, and read them in different translations of Scripture. There are many resources available online, such as Bible Study Tools, that will help you to find multiple verses in the Bible relating to a single topic.

Topical Bible study helps you to focus on what God says about a particular topic. It gives you a broad view of how a theme is portrayed in context, in the Bible. As such, topical Bible study is one of the best methods for gaining comprehensive insight into what God’s Word teaches on a specific subject.

Book Study

Book study refers to the practice of reading a particular book of the Bible intensively and on its own. For example, the Gospel of John. If you’ve never done a book study before, we recommend doing some background work first; know who the author(s) are, research key themes, and understand when it was written (both literally and contextually as best you can). By arming yourself with the foundational information, you will gain clarity faster. If you’re a complete beginner to book study, this guide offers a complete background on each Bible book.

Studying authorship helps you understand who the Biblical writer of the book was and their motivations. Context helps you understand the unique climates of the time in which it was written. Studying the structure of the book will give light on how the verses and chapters fit together to form a collective while taking a broad look at the overarching themes of the book will help you to understand its contents.

The Memorization Method

This method is simple, but much more effective than it may sound. It consists of memorizing important Bible verses for easily recollection. The memorization method of Bible study will keep God’s Word at the front of your mind and help you to make His commands second nature. In conjunction with an active conscience, the memorization technique is great for new Christians looking to make good on their fledgling repentance. There’s even topical memory system workbooks and family game cards to make the process more engaging.

Learning how to memorize the Bible can be more challenging for some than others. But remember, it’s not a race. Even a few key verses learned over time can make a huge difference in the living out of your faith.

The Devotional Method

Reading a devotional alongside the Bible is one of the most popular Bible study methods. Devotionals are designed to bring the truth of the Bible into a clear and inspiring focus for each calendar day. What’s also great is that there are a wide variety of devotionals available for men, women, children, and even families. There are devotionals available for an array of different Bible books, themes, and other interests like marriage and anxiety as well.

While we wouldn’t recommend a devotional as your sole Bible study resource, they can be an important springboard for exploring topics in a way that’s relatable to different readers. Devotionals can also help fuel a consistent Bible study routine.

Chapter Analysis

Chapter analysis is best done after completing a book Bible study. Similar to book study, this technique involves the analysis of a chapter or chapters within a book. A dedicated study Bible and websites like Help Me With Bible Study are recommended resources for this method.

Verse by Verse

Similar to verse mapping, the verse-by-verse Bible study method leads a reader to an in-depth analysis of a particular Bible verse. The only difference is that the verse-by-verse approach considers a larger passage than just a single verse. Whether it’s the Birth of Jesus found in Luke 2:1-7 or a very short book of the Bible such as Philemon, this approach allows the reader to analyze the verse preceding and following the main verse under scrutiny.

Use verse-by-verse to look for repeating words, phrases, and themes. Then you can consider how they contribute to the overall context of a book. Looking up the same Bible verse in multiple different Bible versions can also make for an eye-opening study, as well as inspecting key words in a dedicated Bible dictionary. For new Christians, verse-by-verse Bible study is a go-to method for mapping out a story with important characters and events.

Word Study

The word Bible study method takes an even more detailed approach via inspection of a single word. This can be an extremely helpful approach for deep Bible study since sometimes the Biblical languages contain depths of meaning that are impossible to fully translate. You don’t need to know Greek or Hebrew to do this, either. Blue Letter Bible is an excellent web-based Bible study tool for this purpose.

For this method, select a word from the Bible you’re interested in studying. Then, look it up in a dictionary, making note of its definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. Then, look up the word in a Bible dictionary or website like The Kings Bible. Look at the meaning in the original Biblical language in which it’s found. Look up all the Scripture references found there as well, comparing the usage of the world throughout the Bible. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn by doing this.

Character Study

The Bible features many different stories, shaped by just as many individuals. The character Bible study method treats individuals from the Bible as characters, in an attempt to better study them. It’s true that God chose to teach His spiritual lessons through the trials and tribulations of His people. And it’s the ordinary people he used as examples that make character study so interesting.

OIA Method

The OIA Bible study type may also be known as the inductive method. OIA stands for:

  • Observation: In this phase of the study, simply write down your observations as you read a particular Bible verse or passage. What stuck out to you? What did the passage or verse mean to you upon first reading?
  • Interpretation: Next, write down your interpretation of the passage. What did this passage mean to you? What do you think it meant for its targeted audience?
  • Application: In the application phase, consider the practical and real-world applications for your life. What did the verse or passage teach you that could impact your life? What strategies can you develop to make sure you live out what you’ve learned?

Different Bible Study Methods: Is a Study Bible Required?

While study Bibles aren’t a method of Bible study in and of itself, they are essential to mention in this discussion. Study Bibles provide scholarly information designed to give the reader context and a more complete understanding of God’s Word. Our editors encourage the use of a study Bible for those new to the faith so much so that we listed the best study Bibles for each different translation.

One of the biggest benefits of using a study Bible is that at the beginning of every book, there will be a section explaining the book’s history, authorship, context, and structure. Then, throughout the book, there will be footnotes explaining the nuanced meanings of different passages and words found within. There will also be footnotes pointing you to other relevant verses.

Different Bible Study Methods: What About Reference Bibles?

Like study Bibles, reference Bibles seek to aid readers in understanding the Scriptures more clearly. Whereas study Bibles offer outside study notes via authors commenting on the Scriptures, reference Bibles point you in the direction of additional Bible verses themselves for guidance. This resource explains all the differences between study Bibles and reference Bibles.

Final Thoughts

Effective Bible study is an essential part of the Christian life. Through studying God’s Word, we become more mature believers. And remember, time spent reading the Bible is never wasted! The different Bible study methods above are meant to assist you in your study and helo you grow your faith in Jesus Christ.

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Timothy Andrew
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Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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