How to Study the Bible by Chapter
A great way to study the Bible is one chapter at a time. As we continue our series Bible study methods for beginners, let’s talk about doing a Bible study chapter by chapter.
If this is your first time here, you may want to start with the post: Bible Study Tips for Beginners and work your way through the series.
Why Do a Bible Study Chapter by Chapter?
Studying the Bible by chapters prepare us to study the Bible book by book. This particular method of study works with pretty much with any type of literature but works best with historical books or epistles.
As we study each chapter of a Bible book, we have an opportunity to zoom in on the themes and lessons being taught.
Ultimately, we study the Bible because we want to know more about its author and what He expects of us. There are some chapters like 1 Corinthians 13 that are iconic and require time for us to settle in a do a deep study to get a better understanding of the text.
If you missed the first post in the series, read it now to learn more about preparing for Bible study.
How to Do a Bible Study Chapter by Chapter
The chapter by chapter method of Bible study builds on the verse by verse Bible study method. Once you’ve mastered studying the Bible in small chunks, it becomes easier for you to study longer passages of Scripture.
Steps for a Chapter by Chapter Bible Study
Start with prayer. Whenever we sit down to study our Bibles, we should first begin by inviting its author to aid our understanding and study.
Choose the book you want to study. We want to work systematically through God’s Word so we get the proper context and meaning.
Read the entire book to be studied. This can be done in one sitting if it’s a short book or over a period of days for longer ones. Alternately, listen to an audio version of the book so you can get an overview. However, once you’re ready to begin your chapter study, read the chapter for yourself.
If you’re studying the book of Psalms or Proverbs you may want to skip this step and focus on studying the chapters individually.
Read one chapter. Start with chapter one, verse one. Read this chapter 5–7 times. Read it aloud. Concentrate on what you’re reading. Read the chapter in multiple translations. As you read, take note of words, ideas or phrases that are repeated.
Also, note synonyms and antonyms. Mark references of time, place, people or events. This can either be done in the Bible or on a separate piece of paper or in a notebook.
Tired of reading? Watch the YouTube video instead.
Another option is for you to go online and copy and paste the chapter being studied in a word processing document. Remove all captions and passage headings. This will give you an unmarked copy of the Bible that you can mark, highlight and scribble on without worrying about making mistakes or damaging your Bible.
Caption the chapter. If you had to write the title for it, what would it be?
Write down the theme of the chapter. What themes or topics are discussed in the chapter? When multiple topics are discussed, write an outline for the chapter. Reference the verses that apply to a particular topic or theme. Look for repeated words, phrases or ideas.
Check your understanding. Are there things in the chapter you don’t understand? Make note of them. Use the cross-references in your Bible to see if they clarify the meaning of the text. Does the Bible say anything else about the topic?
You may want to do additional research. Start with the Bible and then expand to other materials if necessary.
As part of your research, use a concordance to find the meanings of the words in the original Hebrew or Greek.
Summarize the lessons of the chapter. As with the verse by verse Bible study method, you want to ask “Who”, “Why”, “What”, “Where”, “When” and “How” questions.
- Who is the narrator?
- Who is the intended audience of the text?
- Does the writer indicate why the text was written?
- What places or landmarks are mentioned?
- Who are the people mentioned in the verse? What places or things are referenced?
- Is there any reference to time in the verse?
- What actions are taking place in the passage?
- What new things did you learn about God the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
- What is it about? Who is mentioned in the chapter? What events are taking place? What’s the setting?
Write a summary of what each paragraph in the chapter is about. Paraphrase the main lessons or key points.
Make a personal application. Studying the Bible teaches us about God. Begin this section of your study by noting what the passage meant to the original audience. Remember, context is king.
Next, make note of what it taught about the character or attributes of God. Once you’ve done that, you can start looking for personal lessons. What applications can you make to your life? Is there an action that you need to do in response to the text?
Memorization. Choose one verse that helps cement the theme for you. Commit that verse to memory. We want to be people who hide God’s Word in our hearts. We do that when we train ourselves to remember what the Bible says.
It is these words that we study and memorize that the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance in times of trouble (John 14:26).
Pray. End your study with prayer. Thank you Holy Spirit for what He has revealed to you during your Bible study time and ask Him to write the lessons on your heart so you won’t forget them.