5 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Bible Study

Are you ready to study a new book of the Bible? Then be sure to ask these five questions before you dive in. These questions will help you better understand what you’re reading so that you can rightly apply the scriptures in your life.

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The Bible is meant to be read theologically. This means it is meant to be read with a focus on God.

The Old Testament tells the story of creation, of the fall of humanity into sin, and the history of God’s people leading up to the coming of Christ.

The New Testament recounts Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven along with the history of the early church and the principals on which we live Christian lives today until Christ returns once more.

All 66 books of the Bible tell the gospel story of how sinful man can be reconciled to a Holy God, and all 66 books of the Bible were written with a specific audience and purpose in mind.

If you're ready to study a new book of the Bible, then take some time to answer these 5 questions first. These questions will help you read the book in context which in turn helps you rightly interpret scripture. #biblestudy #biblestudytips #biblestudyhelp #biblereading #studythebible

Several weeks ago I was talking with a new friend. About mid-way through the conversation I realized that she had totally misunderstood something I had said. She took me to mean one thing when I had meant another.

As I thought on this later I realized it was because she didn’t know my background. She formed an opinion of what I meant by a simple statement that wasn’t true because she didn’t share my perspective.

We simply hadn’t known one another long enough for her to understand my heart for a specific topic.

Just as we can misunderstand one another in our conversations today, we can misunderstand what a particular portion of scripture means if we do not take time to gain the right perspective.

There are five simple questions we can ask to help us read the Bible in context in order to understand the original meaning of the text so we can rightly interpret the scripture for today.

5 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Bible Study

5 Questions to Ask When Getting Started in a New Book of the Bible

1. Who wrote it?

Even though all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, God chose a particular person to write a particular book of the Bible. This brings an element of human-ness to the table because each writer is uniquely fashioned by God with a specific personality, writing style, and even relationship to God.

This means that when we read the book of James, we are able to keep in mind that he was a half-brother to Jesus. He had a front row seat to the life of Jesus as He grew up and matured into manhood.

2. When was it written?

Knowing the approximate date of when a book was written helps us to consider the cultural factors that influenced the writing.

This is important in order to understand gender roles, social structures, political influences, etc. surrounding the audience for whom the book was written.

3. To whom was it written?

Every book in the Bible was written to a specific audience in history.

We know from our study of history that things change through the years, and we know that archaeologists have worked to uncover the past to help us understand how people in various parts of history lived, dressed, worked, etc.

It’s in this question we tend to stumble most often to interpret the scriptures for today because we don’t understand the original audience and the times in which the writing is set.

All 66 books of the Bible tell the gospel story of how sinful man can be reconciled to a Holy God, and all 66 books of the Bible were written with a specific audience and purpose in mind.

4. In what style was it written?

While this might seem strange to consider, it’s not, because the Bible is a work of literature. That means that each book of the Bible utilizes various styles of literary genres. Each literary genre uses language in a different way.

The two primary literary genres used in Bible are narrative and poetry. But we can also break the genres down this way:

  • Historical narrative – Factual retelling of events
  • Parables/Storytelling – Stories with characters and a setting used to illustrate a point
  • Law – Codes of conduct
  • Poetry – Symbolism and metaphors paint word pictures
  • Wisdom Literature – Communicates principles that are generally true (not to be taken as promises)
  • Prophecy – Telling of what is true

5. Why was it written?

Each book of the Bible was written for a specific purpose. We determine why a book was written by considering the themes within the text.

5 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Bible Study

It is amazing how the Bible was originally written to others, but it applies to us today.

It is a marvel that the Bible is primarily about God, but He chooses to use it to draw us in.

Second Peter 3:16 tells us that there are some things in the scriptures that is hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction.

Therefore, before embarking on a new book of the Bible, be sure you do the work of placing that book in its proper historical and cultural context. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to dig up the treasure this ancient text holds for you today.

What about you? What other questions do you think are important to ask at the start of a new Bible study? Have you found reading with the right perspective helps you rightly interpret scripture?

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  1. Hi Leigh! Greetings of peace and love!
    I am so much blessed and glad about all the topics you have posted especially this one. Though I’m already familiar with it, it is so good to read it and re-learn again. It somehow reinforced of the things I know and validated my thoughts which special to me knowing I’m on the right track. It is also a joy to know a likeminded being like you who regarded things the way I do.
    You are such a blessing and your blog ministry. It is my prayer then that our God will continue to uphold you and your ministry despite and inspite of whatever circumstances you may encounter. I am well aware of opposition and life is not always running smoothly but then be of courage and hope for the one who is in you is greater than the world. Be blessed and be encouraged!
    With much love from Melbourne ?

  2. Greetings Leigh Ann!!
    This is really a terrific idea of getting women to read and study their Bibles. I know you said you are contracted with Zondervan and need to promote their authors, but I would like to encourage you to include Anne Graham Lotz in your titles and Bible study method. Zondervan published Anne Graham Lotz for many years. Her books are so easy to read and are basically Biblical commentaries on the subject. God has used her teachings to change my life in so many different ways at different times in my life. She is well worth the read!!
    Blessings to you & your ministry!!