Bible Study Methods by Book – Part 2

Writing Answers to Key Questions

Bible Study Methods by Book
Bible Study Methods by Book


Welcome to Part 2 0f your study entitled: «Bible Study Methods: How to Study a Whole Book of the Bible.”

The procedure for studying a whole book is outlined below.

Overview of the process: Discusses the goal and the advantage to studying a whole book of the Bible.

Step 1 – Read the book through in its entirety

Step 2 – Jot down the answers to the background of the book

Step 3 – Write down your impression and some applications of the book

Details for Step 2 are outlined below:

STEP #2 – Prepare Answers to Key Questions

Now, before you read the book or section for the third time, take your study Bible, one-volume commentary or Bible dictionary and read the introductory article for the book in question.

Read critically, and read based on the two prior readings you have already done.

Next, prepare the answers to the following questions using the Bible resources at your disposal as well as your Bible:

  • Who is the author?
  • What do we know about the author from the rest of the Bible? (For example: Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians; however, Timothy and Silvanus (Silas) are also mentioned in the authorial greeting. Why are they important to this letter? And to this church?)
  • What is the date of composition?
  • What is the date of the events in the book? (Sometimes, the difference between composition and the historical events narrated can be centuries)
  • What was the occasion for writing? Why did the author write this particular book, to this particular audience at this particular time?
  • What are the main themes of the book?
  • What are some unique features of the book?

For example, Matthew’s gospel contains more Old Testament quotations than any other gospel. It has a genealogy and birth narratives. Finally, Matthew’s gospel groups large chunks of Jesus’ teaching together into distinct sections.

All of these unique features are important for communicating Matthew’s message to a Jewish audience, which is that Jesus is the long-anticipated Jewish Messiah of the Old Testament.

Re-create an outline of the book

If I were really trying to make you work, I would ask you to create your own outline for the book in question. (I personally have created all of the outlines for every Bible study in our site).

But, so as not to discourage you before you even start, I am simply asking that you “re-create” an outline for your book.

The following process will be helpful:

  • Take your study Bible, Bible dictionary or one-volume Bible commentary and open it up to the introductory section for that book.
  • Locate the outline. Make sure it is detailed.
  • Find the main top-level headings within the outline and copy these down on a sheet of paper or word processing document. You can see my example for 1 Thessalonians

I – Greetings (1:1)

II – Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians faith (1:2-10)

III – Paul’s anxiety over the state of the Thessalonian church (2:17 – 3:13)

IV- God’s will is that we live a holy life (4:1-12)

V – Lord’s Second Coming (consolation and warning) (4:13-5:11)

VI – Final exhortations (5:12-20)

VII – Blessings (5:23-28)

Next, add the second level descriptions and verse numbers under each main heading. I have done this for Section II – Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians Faith:

II – Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians faith (1:2-10)

A. Faith produced works and perseverance (1:3)

B. Gospel came with power and conviction (1:5)

C. Faith was accepted despite persecution (1:6)

D. Thessalonians became an example for all believers (1:7-9)

E. Faith saves us from coming wrath (1:10)

Now go back to your Bible and read each main section as well as each sub-section given in your outline.

Do you agree with the headings and divisions given by the particular resource you are reading?

In other words, when you read 1:3-10, does that entire section deal with Paul’s thanksgiving for the Thessalonian church, and is each of the sections underneath that heading accurately represented?

Taking a Perspective Break

This type of Bible study method may appear like a long process for you, but it is a worthwhile investment. When you complete this kind of analysis, your understanding and knowledge of a particular book of the Bible will be very impressive.

This is particularly important if you are leading studies since an in-depth book study like this will give you quite a bit of material to share with your group.

Finishing Step #2

Once you have gone through each section in your Bible and compared it to your outline, give the outline a good stare.

Notice where the breaks and natural divisions occur, where the author changes themes, which sections are longer or take more time to elaborate.

Notice if there are any repetitions in the outline. (James for example covers the topic of speech or the rich / poor a few times in his book.)

Now, lay aside your outline, and see if you can trace the contours of the book in your mind without the aid of the Bible or your outline.