Archive: Some Bible Study Plans and Resources

suggested by the Editor of Good News (Charles W. Keysor)

The Holy Scriptures are amazingly rich! Study in almost any part of God’s written Word can be “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

The following are some of the specific studies which I have found exciting during my nine and one-half years as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Elgin, IL, and for the past three years teaching a Sunday morning Bible study class for seminarians and their wives attending The United Methodist Church in Wilmore, KY.

1. Sermon on the Mount. A profound body of truth requiring careful analysis and discussion. Care is needed to avoid superficial ethicism, and to see the full range of Biblical doctrine found directly and indirectly involved in this great teaching of our Lord. (Our seminary class worked each Sunday from early September to May and barely covered Matthew, chapters 5 and 6. So allow plenty of time!)

2. Parables and Miracles. A study of almost any length can be made, focusing on either the parables or the miracles of Jesus. These can be combined to study a parable one week and a miracle the next, in alternation.

3. James. The strongly ethical nature of James’ message makes it ideal for discussion, especially for those having a first experience with depth Bible study. The leader should be well-versed in Biblical doctrine, to bring out the implications underlying some of the ethical emphasis in James. For example, James’ teaching regarding faith and works must be seen in the light of the full range of Biblical teaching on this subject.

4. Psalms. A great treasure-house of study material. Leader should select Psalms of different types. Allow ample time for providing background and for discussion. Ask class members to choose a favorite Psalm-use these as your study guide.

5. Revelation, chapters 1-3. Letters to the seven churches make for a rich study. The remainder of Revelation is highly speculative and should be attempted only by those having considerable depth knowledge of the Old Testament, as well as broad knowledge of the New Testament and its doctrines.

6. Pastoral Epistles. I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, I and II Thessalonians. Each of these makes an excellent study, with special emphasis on such doctrines as Christ’s return, the nature of the Church, and Christian leadership.

7. The Nature of God and Mankind in Proverbs. This is a “topical” study, tracing a doctrinal topic through one portion of Scripture. This can be done also in Psalms and elsewhere.

8. The Holy Spirit in the Bible. Get a concordance and check out every reference to the Holy Spirit from Genesis to Revelation. Trace the operation of the Spirit through the whole Bible. A long study, but highly important in a time when study of the Holy Spirit is too often limited to Acts.

9. Topical Study: Prayers of the Bible. From the Scripture select certain prayers. Study them for what they reveal about 1) God, 2) the person praying, 3) principles for effective prayer.

10. Hard Places in the Bible. Invite each class member to bring in one passage of Scripture that he or she finds difficult to understand. Then study and discuss each, seeking illumination of the Holy Spirit.

11. Gems of the New Testament: Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians. Each offers a rich and rewarding study, especially for mature Christians.

12. Two Treasures From Romans: chapters 8 and 12. A long and rewarding study can be done in each chapter. The Holy Spirit is especially prominent in chapter 8; the ideal Christian life is sketched in chapter 12.

Those wanting real depth in Bible studies will need to use commentaries which, instead of including all the Bible, concentrate on one or several related books of the Bible. A great variety exist; some are solidly Biblical, others dangerous because they operate off humanistic presuppositions and tend to interpret the Scripture in terms of humanistic philosophy, rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.

Here are a few valuable commentaries and study helps.

Barclay, William, The Daily Study Bible Series. Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA. These small commentaries contain a wealth of helpful material about key Biblical words and ideas. Generally excellent, but occasionally include questionable interpretations.

Douglas, J. D., Editor, New Bible Commentary. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Ml. Top quality, single volume commentary covering the whole Bible. Excellent scholarship, solid theologically. If you have to  get only one commentary, this would be a good choice.

lnterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL 60515.

This distinguished evangelical publisher has produced a number of highly useful, theologically reliable commentaries focusing on specific portions of the Bible. Serious Bible students will find these enormously useful and should keep up to date on new offerings.

Lenski, R.C.H., Commentaries on The New Testament. Augsburg, Minneapolis, MN. Twelve volumes with technical data but deep insights valuable to serious Bible students.

Leupold, H. C., Exposition of Psalms. Augsburg. Superb study of all 150 Psalms.

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. (2 vols.) Eerdmans. A superb commentary for those wanting depth analysis of the Sermon on the Mount. Profound, practical, sound theology.

New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans. Fourteen volumes have been published on the New Testament, with three more projected. New Testament is covered in great depth. Orthodox, with first-class scholarship. For more serious students. Theological training helpful. (To date four volumes have been published in this series in the Old Testament; no final number has been projected.)

Tyndale Bible Commentaries. Eerdmans. 20 vols., New Testament; 10 vols. so far, Old Testament. Smaller, less technical commentaries covering entire New Testament and part of the Old Testament. Excellent, thoroughly reliable theologically.

Ladd, George Eldon, The New Testament and Criticism. Eerdmans. An excellent book to help explain the various kinds of Biblical criticism taught in our seminaries and expressed in the teaching materials produced by our denomination. If you really want to discover how the Bible’s authority has been undermined by humanistic scholars, read this book.

Phillips, J. B., The Ring of Truth. Macmillan, New York, NY. An outstanding Bible scholar writes about the authenticity of the Scriptures. Important in a time when many stress Scripture’s UN-reliability.

Schultz, Samuel, The Old Testament Speaks. Harper and Row, New York, NY. A companion introduction to the Old Testament, combining broad overview, excellent scholarship, plus good introduction to basic messages and themes of the Old Testament.

Tenney, Merrill C., New Testament Survey. Eerdmans. An overview of the New Testament by an outstanding orthodox scholar. A “must” for one wanting a broad and deep understanding of the New Testament, its content, and background.

Traina, Robert A. Methodical Bible Study. Privately published by Dr. R. A. Traina, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY. A helpful, practical guide to Bible study by a master teacher.

Eerdmans’ Handbook of the Bible. Includes maps, brief commentary, articles on books of the Bible, and various Biblical themes. Highly recommended as an all-purpose tool.

Eerdmans’ New Bible Dictionary. Excellent in every way. Thoroughly orthodox, with an awareness of various Biblical criticisms.

Nave, Orville J., Naves Topical Bible. Southwestern Co., Nashville, TN. A useful listing of all Scripture references given for many topics, such as “faith,” “judgment,” etc. Excellent help. Nelson’s Complete Concordance. Thomas Nelson, New York, NY. Lists all word references in Old and New Testaments. Revised Standard Version. Extremely useful.

Zondervan ‘s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Ml. Useful illustrated work. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Abingdon, Nashville, TN. Excellent and authorative for users of King James Version. Includes Hebrew and Greek so these can be used by anyone without language skills.


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