learning to read the bible
When it comes to reading the Bible and actually getting something out of it, many of us feel intimidated and overwhelmed, however, reading the Bible is much easier than we make it out to be. There are many ways to study the Bible but the one that we've found most effective is O.I.A. or observation, interpretation, and application. As you read, observe what it says, interpret what it means, and apply what it means to you. Below is a list of questions that help you observe, interpret, and apply God's word more effectively.
Observation - What does it say?
- Do I understand the passage?
- Are there any words or phrases that confuse me?
- Are there any questions that I have?
- Is this similar to another passage in the Bible?
Interpretation - What did it mean?
- Who wrote it?
- Who did they write it too?
- What did the author mean when he wrote it to his or her intended audience?
- What is the context of the writing?
- What was the application for the intended readers?
Application - What does it mean to me?
- How can this passage impact my daily life?
- Are there any commandments to obey?
- Are there any promises to keep?
- Are there any examples to follow or not follow?
- Are there any areas of sin that this addresses?
- What does this passage say about God?
picking a translation and starting place
At Element, we suggest a couple different translations. Most Sundays, we teach from the New Living Translation (NLT) because its written in language we use today and its fairly easy to understand. For a more literal, word-for-word translation, we suggest New American Standard (NASB) or English Standard Version (ESV). Both of these translations are highly regarded as the closest versions to the original text. Many other versions like New International Version (NIV) and The Message (MSG) are great to read. When picking a translation, we encourage to check out a few different options and find one that you understand.
As you begin to study the Bible, we suggest starting in the Gospel of John. John's biography and account of Jesus's life and ministry is a great place to begin understanding God and his intention for our lives. As you finish John, the next book is Acts, and it describes the early beginnings of the church and how it spread across the world. If you're seeking wisdom, Proverbs is referenced as the book of wisdom and is a great place to start. Wherever you decide to start reading, we suggest that you pick a book, begin in chapter 1, and read short enough sections that you can take the time to study what you're reading using the O.I.A. method. Reading the Bible isn't a sprint, its a marathon. Give it time, do it routinely, and you'll begin to experience life to the fullest.
No website is perfect but as you study the Bible, here are some helpful links to commentaries and tools that can help you better understand what you're reading.