You Need to Know How to Study the Bible Like a Textbook
You need to know how to study the Bible like a textbook. But before you can do that, you need to evaluate how you USE your Bible.
Which type of Bible user are you?
Are you the never-write-in-my-Bible-ever type?
What about the drawing-beautiful-artwork-to-highlight-scriptures in your Bible type?
I happen to fall right in between those two – I do not have much artistic ability, but I do like using color to highlight things, underline, and color-code in my Bible. I own several Bibles. One that I use for taking to worship and Bible study, and currently two others that I use for my studies when at home: a NASB wide margin Bible and an ESV interleaved journaling Bible.
If I am addicted to Bibles and studying them, well, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to!
I have always written or marked in my Bible. As a pre-teen, I had highlighted so much, that where the colors bled through the page they mixed in a lovely (may not so much) murky green color that made reading the words difficult. I still have that Bible, but have since figured out that I need to balance my need to reference what I have learned with keeping the Word still readable (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 3:4)!
Over the years I have noted things in different ways. I chain common threads: things that connect the blood of Christ from Genesis through Revelation, for example, I would write those in red. I would start at a reference in Genesis then write the next connecting reference next to it.; things that connect God’s plan to bring about our salvation I would chain in blue or black.
One of my other Bibles had a marking system that suggested putting a picture of a clock next to references of time in the color green. I liked that one, so have kept it into my other Bibles. “The next day”, “Sabbath”, “first day of the week”, “early in the morning”, and similar references would get this mark in the margin. This same Bible also suggested using a highlighter to differentiate between the author of a given book and the recipient. I prefer to do this by underlining, but it is most helpful! Especially in the book of Acts, where instead you mark references to the apostles vs references to other brethren. This helps to know what was given only the apostles and what was given to all Christians.
Then, a year or so ago, I stumbled on the Bible Coloring Chart created by Courtney Joseph at www.womenlivingwell.org. Her system goes along with her SOAK method of Bible study. (We have used a similar system called GOAL that we used for homeschool Bible study for a couple of years.) I loved the idea of color coding full sections of scripture! Her system uses eight colors. In order to get those colors though, you have to combine colored pencils, crayons, and highlighters to get the full system into your Bible.
While I LOVE pens (I just might need to write a post about that, the pics of my pen collection are, um, interesting), I also love being able to take my pens with me anywhere I study. That many colors – with matching writing pens – proved too much to carry around. So, I adapted the system to fit a couple of sets of highlighters and pens that I already was using regularly.
As highlighters go – these Bible Hi-Gliders are far and away my favorites.
For pens – there are two sets I love – the 10 piece Inductive Bible Study set, and the pens all match the colors of the six Hi-gliders – OR the Pigma Micron Inductive Bible Study set, this also has pens that match the Hi-gliders, although the orange color pen is more of a light brown. I like the way the Micron pens write much better. I can make clear writing and neat lines. Some day I will own this set of Papermate InkJoy Gel Pens that contain the correct colors I need, and I suspect those will be a close second to the Micron! I do have a smaller set of the InkJoys now, and I love them for taking notes. I just have not used them in my Bible yet.
With my tools ready to use, I adapted the Good Morning Girls coloring system into my own Bible Marking Guide. I moved a couple of the topics around so they made more sense to me and I left off coloring in the passages on sin/Satan/false teachers etc. I thought those would stand out quite a bit not being colored.
Included below are links for a full page sheet of the guide as well as a bookmark sized printable for you to download. Please share your use of the Bible Marking Guide on Instagram or in The Diligent Woman Facebook group. Use #BibleMarkingGuide when you post so I can search to see all of your great images. I will share my images as I go through different books of the Bible. Maybe I will even get brave and do a Facebook Live video about the Guide! You’ll have to be in the group to see those!
No matter where you fall on the “marking in your Bible” spectrum, the real key is to be IN your Bible. But I cannot suggest strongly enough that you use your highlighters and pens as much as possible. The Bible is the textbook for your life. Each one of us can only pass the “test” to become joint heirs with Christ and to live eternally in Heaven by knowing what is in the book. Revere the Word as the true words of God (Jn 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) and then delve into with gusto!
Studying it like a textbook means reading it through once, reading it again and noting the players in the situation or the focus of the topic, making note of time and geographical information, listening for information about the author, reading to understand who the audience is, marking keywords, and looking to understand the full context. Compare passages that are on similar topics to get a full understanding of God’s teaching on the matter. Keep a notebook or journal for longer note taking.
There is so much that you can do to delve into scripture – and it is like an onion – you will find new layers every time you read it and as your own education progresses. Enjoy the journey and share what you learn with others!
Download your own Bible Marking Guide
Bible Marking Guide – bookmark (when you print this choose “fit to page” for a larger bookmark. Unmark “fit to page” and scale to 45 for a smaller one.)
More resources on this topic that you might find interesting…