In this final post on how to develop a personal Bible study time, I’d like to offer three additional steps for those who wish to dig deeper.
A word of advise: these steps are optional and should only be considered after spending time on Reading, Receiving, and Responding. Let God’s Word speak directly to you before researching what other people have to say about it. If you have a study Bible with notes, I’d encourage you to use self-control and avoid reading them until the very end of your study time. When we don’t fight for understanding on our own, the learning process is short circuited. God might give you an insight unique to your situation that you won’t want to miss!
There are three websites I routinely visit when studying a passage:
Enter the verse you are studying (ex: “Luke 8:22”) in the search bar. Below the verse you will see “Luke 8:22 in all English translations”. Click on the link and 59 translations of that verse will come up. It’s helpful to read other versions to catch nuance and expanded interpretation.
For instance, the Message Version of Luke 8:22 says, “One day he and his disciples got in a boat. ‘Let’s cross the lake,’ he said. And off they went.” Did you catch the difference? It’s subtle! Jesus got them into the boat first before saying, “Let’s go.” How does that impact your thoughts on this passage?
This site will give you access to the original language of the scriptures (Hebrew for Old Testament, Greek for New Testament).
Go to “Library” on the left menu and choose The Holy Bible: HCSB Digital Text Edition. Then go back to the “Workspace”. Choose a book, chapter and verse from the drop down menu. Then click on the three vertical dots on the top toolbar. Click on “Strong’s Numbers”. Numbers will be added to the text which you can click on and see definitions and usage.
Example: The word “cross over” in Luke 8:22 has “G1330” above it. Click on that and you will see other words that have that same number and how often they are used in the Bible. Included in the dictionary definition of the Greek word used here is the phrase “pierce through”. How does that aid in your understanding of what Jesus was doing? (He was crossing over the lake in order to pierce through the evil that was on the other side.)
This link takes you to a commentary written by David Guzik. There are many wonderful commentaries you can choose from, but I like this one because it explains things clearly and simply. There are cultural and historical insights that we wouldn’t otherwise be aware of without the research and knowledge of other scholars.
Guzik cited this fact about Luke 8:22 — ““The Lake of Galilee is 13 miles long at its longest, and 8 miles wide at its widest. At this particular part it was about 5 miles across.” That helpful information gives details to enhance our study. The disciples rowed for 5 miles while Jesus slept!
Feel free to take or leave these extra study ideas!
I’d love to hear about resources you find!
One last word: Many people love devotionals which contain inspirational thoughts and reflections based on scripture verses. I enjoy them too, and have even written some myself. But don’t let devotionals take the place of focused time engaging with God’s Word. Consider using devotionals in the evening (or in the bathroom!).
Blessings on you as you commit to becoming a student of the Word.
May you find much joy in the journey!