7 Bible Study Tips for Beginners

Whether you’re a new believer, or you’ve been a Christian for a while but just haven’t studied the Bible much, I hope you’ll find these 7 Bible study tips for beginners helpful.

Bible study tips for beginners

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I totally get it… the Bible can be quite intimidating, when you’re first starting out! It’s a HUGE book, and some parts of it might seem pretty mysterious too.

But, the benefits of Bible study are numerous, and the only way to take advantage of all the truth and wisdom in God’s Word, is to start reading. In other words, just dive in!

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus described God’s kingdom as a field with treasure in it. Upon discovering the treasure, the man sold all he had to acquire that field. And God’s Word is like that too!

Think of the Bible as a field with all kinds of treasure hidden in it. What you might see on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg! If you spend time in a field like that every day, with a metal detector and a shovel, just imagine all the treasure you’d find! And that’s a great way to approach the Scriptures…show up each day with Bible study tools in hand, ready to unearth a new nugget of truth.

In my experience, it seems like God planted each bit of ‘treasure’ in His Word just for me to find on that particular day. And when I ask for help—for wisdom on what to do about a particular dilemma—He always points me to what I need.

God's Word is full of truth and wisdom

What is the best way to study the Bible?

All of that being said, the Bible is still a very large book. So how do you know where to start reading the Bible for beginners? Really, you can approach it however you like. Just dive in!

While there is no single ‘best’ order to read the Bible for the first time, I definitely recommend starting with the book of Genesis (the story of Creation). After that, you can continue reading the books in sequence (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, etc.) if you prefer… OR you could jump to the book of Luke, to read about Jesus’ life, teachings, death and resurrection.

If you want read the Bible cover-to-cover for the first time, I recommend following a one year Bible reading plan for beginners like this one. This way, you’re not reading every single word, but just the highlights. I do recommend reading the Bible word-for-word later on, but for most people that takes several years to do, depending on how much you’re reading each day. (Case in point, I started reading cover-to-cover several years ago, and still haven’t made it halfway through yet).

But, feel free to jump into other books of the Bible as you desire! The Psalms provide excellent examples of raw, honest prayer. The book of Romans provides a great overview of the Christian faith, and what it means to be saved by grace. The book of Ruth is a prime example of loyalty to God and family. The Bible is filled with so many wonderful testimonies of God’s love and faithfulness, examples of Godly living, stories of patience and perseverance, and so much more.

Even if you start reading the Bible from beginning to end, you can always press pause to dive into those other books out of order. I’ve done that before many times… While working my way through the Old Testament, I’d stop to read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Then later, I jumped into the book of Acts. And then, I’d pick back up wherever I left off in the Old Testament.

how to study the Bible for beginners

7 Bible Study Tips for Beginners

But, you might still be wondering, “what about the daunting task of actually understanding what I’m reading”? I hear you!

I think of all the Bible study tips for beginners, I really wish I had known this one truth: It’s okay and totally expected to NOT understand some things at first! You may even feel downright confused or clueless. But as you grow spiritually, God will reveal new truths to you, and things you didn’t understand before will become clear as day.

So, don’t worry about trying to understand it all at once! Just start with these basic tips for how to study the Bible for beginners, and day by day you’ll begin to see what God is teaching you through His Word.

1) Set aside time for it each day

This is numero uno of these Bible study methods for beginners (very important)! Choose a time each day when you’ll sit down to study your Bible. There may be some days when you have more time, like an hour, and other days when you only have a few minutes, and that’s okay. For a lot of people, mornings work best, but of course if afternoons or evenings work better for you, then do that!

The point here is to establish a dedicated appointment with God each day, when you study His Word and spend time with Him in prayer.

2) Always begin with prayer

It seems obvious, but before you read God’s Word, take a moment to ask Him for understanding. Pray something like this: “Lord, speak to me through Your Word today. Show me what you want me to learn about you, and how you want me to live. Grant me the wisdom to understand what I read, and apply it to my life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN”

3) Use a study Bible

This is one of the Bible study tips for beginners that has helped me most. Study Bibles, like the NIV Life Application Study Bible I use, have so much great information. The study notes provide lots of extra insight into what each Scripture means, and how it applies to my life. There are also quite a few other study Bibles available, like the Woman’s Study Bible, the Chronological Study Bible, and the Recovery Bible.

4) Understand the context

This is an essential tip for how to read the Bible for beginners! Many times, I’ve made the mistake of reading a Bible verse without looking at the other verses around it. And because of that, I misunderstood what that verse truly meant. So, if you hear a Bible verse quoted and you wonder what it means (or think you already know), take a minute to read the whole chapter or at least a few of the verses before and after. It’ll help to see the full story, and not just that one verse.

The same goes for historical context. By understanding the history and culture of Biblical times, you can better understand some of the teachings in the Bible. For example, in Matthew 5:13 when Jesus says “you are the salt of the earth”… it’s essential to understand the Biblical significance of salt, to know what Jesus actually means by that. (This is another reason I highly recommend using a study Bible, since it provides a lot of useful historical and cultural details).

salt and light Bible journal

5) Read different versions

If you’re completely new to the Bible, this is one of the Bible study tips for beginners that may surprise you. Yes, even within the same language, there are numerous different Bible translations! I personally prefer the New International Version (NIV), as it’s known for being a very straightforward and accurate translation from the original Hebrew and Greek that the Bible was written in. (When I took Bible classes in college, the NIV was the version my professors recommended).

BUT, there are other great versions as well, each with its own flavor and purpose. I refer to the Amplified version (AMP) a lot, because it breaks down more of the original Greek and Hebrew meanings. If there’s ever anything I want more clarity about, the AMP is where I look first. I also like The Message (MSG) for its modern paraphrasing of the Bible. And I’ve become quite fond of the New Living Translation (NLT) also, for its easier-to-understand wording.

Of course, there are many others, like the old-fashioned King James Version (KJV) that my parents and grandparents grew up with, and the English Standard Version (ESV) which many people prefer. So, definitely explore some different ones and see which versions you like best.

If you’re reading along in your Bible, and want clarification on a particular verse, it’s easy to compare other translations for free in the YouVersion Bible app, or on a site like BibleGateway.com.

6) Seek help when you need it

After all the previously mentioned Bible study tips for beginners, if you’re still struggling with some aspect of the Bible, definitely pray about it first. Then, seek advice from your brothers and sisters in Christ who are more advanced in their faith. Join a Bible study group at your church, or ask your pastor or other church leader for help.

If you want more solo study help, Through the Word is a great Bible study for beginners app; it has audio devotionals to guide you through each book of the Bible, which can be especially helpful for some more-difficult-to-understand books like Ezekiel or Revelation.

Proverbs 31 Bible journaling page - fear the Lord

7) Find the study techniques that work best for you

And finally, as you establish a good daily Bible reading habit, and begin to delve deeper into God’s Word, try out different types of Bible study methods to see what works for you! Things like verse mapping, Bible journaling, and Scripture writing can be very helpful. You can also try doing ‘inductive’ Bible study, or the S.O.A.P. Bible study method.

Did you find these Bible study tips for beginners helpful? If there’s anything you still have questions about, feel free to ask.

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