Personal Bible study

We are about to begin a study series at our church on the gospel of Mark.  I’m looking forward to studying the book as a whole and recording thoughts about what we’re learning here in this category called “Mark on Mondays.”  If you’re looking for some structure to your Bible study this school year, please, come study Mark along with us!  We will work through Mark from beginning to end, studying a small section of verses at a time.

I enjoy being able to study a book of the Bible on my own, without needing a workbook to lead me through it.  Workbooks and Bible study guides can be great helps, but knowing how to study a book of the Bible all by yourself is a great skill to have.  It’s also a great skill to pass on to others in discipleship.  My 12-year-old daughter and I have worked through a couple of books this way, and she loved it.  She was able to personalize what she learned and creatively express herself.  She gained confidence, knowing that what the Bible says is not “over her head.”  She doesn’t feel like she needs an expert to lead her through it.

I’ve done various methods over the years, but I believe everyone should discover their own style based on how they learn and what motivates them.  You’ve probably heard the tried and true “observation, interpretation, application” method of Bible study.  Here are some practical and creative ideas you might want to use to get started.  Choose a few ideas from each section:

Observation: What it says

  • Read the passage through several times
  • Write the passage out in your own handwriting (I like using loose leaf paper in a binder and filling it with all my notes and thoughts… then you’ve got everything in one place)
  • Print the passage, double-spaced, from an online source like
  • Write out any questions you have about the passage
  • Ask the “5 Ws and an H” and make lists of what you learn
  • Mark words that are repeated in a distinctive way
  • Make a list of everything you learn about key words or key people
  • Make a list of everything you learn about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit
  • Make a list of the commands
  • Outline the passage
  • Diagram some of the key sentences
  • Give the passage a title

Interpretation: What it means

  • Use the cross-references in a good study Bible to look up other relevant passages (I like the ESV Study Bible and the one for students is great, too)
  • Do a word study on a word you’d like to know more about, using a concordance and a Bible dictionary
  • Read a commentary on the passage

Application: How I will apply it to my life

  • Keep a journal of your thoughts regarding how you can apply the truths you’re learning
  • Write about any of your questions that have been answered
  • Write a prayer or song inspired by the passage
  • Create an illustration for the passage
  • Pray through the passage, slowly and meditatively
  • Memorize a portion of the passage… or all of it!

Choose the ones that appeal to you and go for it.  The important thing is that you are spending time in the Word, letting God speak to you and allowing him to change you.  If you have your own creative ideas, please share them here so everyone can benefit from them!

Finally, as you read Mark, ask yourself these questions:

Who do other people say Jesus is?

Who does Jesus say he is?

Who do I say Jesus is?

So grab your kids, some friends, or an unbelieving neighbor and let’s study the gospel from Mark’s perspective.  This week let’s look at Mark 1:1-13 and share ideas on the passage next Monday…


2 thoughts on “Personal Bible study

  1. Pingback: Everyone is looking for you « kitchenstool

  2. Pingback: Jesus is stronger « kitchenstool

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