Reading Vs. Studying the Bible

bible study Jan 25, 2020

There are two different ways you can break up your time spent in the Bible. They are reading and studying. You might be thinking those are the same thing, but they are actually very different. Today, I would like to share with you what it means to read the bible, versus what it means to study the Bible. 

First, let’s start with reading the Bible. When reading the Bible, the goal is familiarity with the text and understanding what you are reading and how it fits into the bigger picture of Scripture. You will probably want to read larger chunks, from 2-3 chapters to complete smaller books of the Bible to see how it flows. The purpose of this is not to understand 100% of what is there, but instead to get familiar with the way that the story is being told, the main details, and how that story fits into the larger story of the Bible.  Reading plans that are one year or less are usually for the purpose of reading the Bible instead of studying it. I like to read through the Bible at least once a year, and in the past few years I have done this chronologically, or in the order that the events actually happened, instead of cover to cover. I have included a link to a chronological reading plan in the show notes below.

On the other hand, Studying the Bible is different. You can spend as little or as much time as you like studying a specific chapter of the Bible and keep learning more and more as you do. This is where you would dig deeper and ask more questions of the text. What is the key theme of this section? Why did the author put these two thoughts together? Why is this repeated? How does this compare to other sections of Scripture? Studying the Bible can be more complex, but helps develop a greater understanding of God’s Word. 

I like to think of it like visiting the Grand Canyon. Reading the Bible is like looking out across the canyon from the Rim, and getting to see the big picture of the Bible from the top. Where studying the Bible is more like hiking through the canyon and seeing the terrain changes, and how each part fits together on a more intimate level. Both are valuable and need each other to get a complete picture. 

Most days, my personal Bible time is spent reading the Bible. I save one or two days a week to go deeper. You will want to find a rhythm that works for you. 

When you are just starting out, either reading or studying, look for a guide. A reading plan is a great guide to help you with reading the Bible. To get started with studying the Bible, a great resource is the Deep Dive Scripture Journal. This journal asks basic questions to help you dive in and really study the Bible. 

I would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments if you prefer reading or studying the Bible!