5 Questions to Ask Yourself While Reading the Bible

Saturday, November 12, 2022

How do we get the most out of our quiet time when we read the Bible? As we study scripture it's important that we ask the right questions in order to properly understand the passage we are reading. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself while reading the Bible.

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Reading the Bible isn't a checklist. There isn't technically a "right" way to read the Bible. However, there are wrong ways to read the Bible - like flipping to a random verse in the hopes that it will help you make a decision you've been avoiding. Has anyone else done that? Read random verses out of context in hopes that God might "speak to you through it"? Just me? Oh okay, moving on... 😉

While I never want you to get the impression that you have to do x, y, and z when you read the Bible because Kristin said so, I do think it's helpful and important to recognize that there are methods of reading the bible that will help you better understand the passage and understand who God is. 

Depending on the day or season of life, my Bible study habits look different. Sometimes I wake up early and read while I drink my coffee (this habit is a work in progress). Sometimes I listen to audio Bible while I'm in the car. Sometimes my husband and I do daily worship together before bed (this is a new habit we are cultivating). But regardless of what exactly my quiet time looks like, there are a few questions to are always helpful to think through regarding a passage of scripture. 

Related: FREE Bible Study on Philippians

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself while reading the bible

1.) What is the context of this passage?

When I say context, I mean things like: Who was this originally written to? Why was it being written to them? Who is the author of the book? What was going on at the time this was written/shared with the original readers? Obviously, this requires a bit of digging sometimes. A good study bible (like this one) can go a long way. You can also search for commentaries via Bible Gateway, Esword, and similar resources. But also, sometimes the book of the Bible you are reading will clear these questions up for you. Paul's letters are great examples of this. He usually starts each book with who he is writing to and where they are located, and the context of the entire book allows us to infer why he might have written the letter and what may have been going on at the time. 

Scripture is our authority. As you research commentaries and even study Bibles for context, you may come across differing opinions on certain things. This is why it is important to know the scriptures and measure everything else against them. And if certain things aren't clear to you, ask God to help you and move on. It's okay if you can't figure out every little detail. That's not the point of spending time in God's word. 

2.) How would I summarize this passage?

Once you've read the passage of scripture, think about how you would summarize it. Just a sentence or two in your own words, as if you were explaining what you just read to a younger sibling. Keep it simple. This just helps you to be sure you understand what you read and may also help you remember it better.

3.) What does this passage tell us about the character of God?

Sometimes when I read the Bible, I can get caught up in what the Bible has to say to me personally. While this is a valid question (see #4 & #5), I often forget that the Bible is primarily about God. When I read scripture, it tells me about the God I serve and his character. Every passage points to him, and when I make everything in the bible about me, I've wrapped myself up in self-centeredness.

As you make your way through the pages of scripture, look for what it tells you about our good God. Look at what it says about his attributes and character. 

4.) What does this passage say about followers of God?

What does this passage tell me about followers of God? Not just about myself (though that's included), but what does this passage say about all those who follow God? Does it give us a particular promise? Does it tell us about how we should live? Does it instruct us on how to interact with our fellow believers? Not all passages will, but many do.

5.) How might this passage apply to me?

Some passages of scripture are not instructive. Some tell a story about something that happened, but they may not be prescriptive for how we should live our lives. However, there are so many places in the Bible that instruct us, teach us, and give us commands for how we should live.

As you read the Bible, make sure that you ask yourself how this scripture might apply to your life. How does this passage apply to your current season? How does it encourage you personally? How does it convict you or challenge you? How does it instruct you to live?

I hope these questions help you as you read the Bible. When we are busy or distracted it can be so easy to fly through our time in God's word without really thinking through it, but if we will take the time to ask ourselves questions like these, we will be better off, we will know God more deeply, and we will be more aware of what God's word has to say to us. 

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