Updated: Apr 13, 2021
When it comes to reading the Bible, we might feel overwhelmed by the questions that flood our minds like... "where do I even start?", "How do I study the Bible?" or "What does that even mean?" and many other questions that become an obstacle, and it prevents us from reading and understanding.
Today we will learn how to approach these situations and find and answer to those questions by using practical methods that will improve our reading and understanding.
The Holy Bible consist of 66 books that are divided in two sections the Old Testament containing 39 books and the New Testament with 27 books.
Many people are familiar with these terms yet it's more profound when studied in depth. The Old Testament (OT) was in a way the shadow of things that was to come in the New Testament (NT).
In order to understand what we are reading, we must observe the specific book and its category. In the image above you will find a table that shows the structure of the Holy Bible.
The S.O.A.P Method
This simple method will help you go from just "reading" scripture to actually breaking it down, and studying the Bible. "Alright, so what is SOAP?" I'm glad you asked, It's a practical acronym that stands for: Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.
TIP: Before starting your study it's good to start with prayer. This is very important!
In prayer is where you ask God to give you wisdom, understanding, love and desire to read, learn and live by His word.
S — Scripture
Before you start, you need to figure out what are you going to be reading. You can start by choosing a short book if it's your first time reading/applying this method. In order to study them break them into paragraphs.
What's important is to be intentional and consistent. Stick with that book. Read the passage several times, and even in different versions (i.e. KJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NLT, CEB, etc)
O — Observation
Based on what you read, examine the text and its context. At first, they might look very "obvious" but the more you apply it, the more the observations will grow. Here are some examples of questions/observations:
Who wrote this passage?
To whom is this passage written?
What is the message of these verses?
What’s one thing I didn’t notice before?
What words or phrases stand out to me?
What seems interesting or unusual?
Is there any repetition, comparison, or contrast?
Do these verses remind me of any other verses or passages of Scripture?
Was this written before or after Jesus lived? Before or after the resurrection?
These are suggestions, but feel free to ask as many questions and dive
deeper in the word of God. Keep asking questions and finding the answers.
A — Application
After making observations it's time to apply it. Think about every aspect and area of your life, and how this relates and teaches you. "What is the Holy Spirit telling you through this passage?" — from what I learned, what are the things that I need to change. Nothing should be hidden or off-limits. Ask hard specific and detailed questions about your life, character, attitude, feelings, thoughts, obedience, sin, temptation, relationships, family, friends, etc.
P — Prayer
Assuming you begin with prayer, now it's time to turn your "Application" into "Prayer"
Pray about the things you learned, and studied. "Why?" because only storing information about God is not useful if there's no transformation in our hearts.
This is a good method if you are struggling to understand or how to approach reading the Bible. One thing to keep present is to not just read/hear the word but to be doers of the word. James 1:22