- write your own group Bible study
- be able to write more group Bible studies
Choosing Your Passage: Where to look
The whole Bible is the inspired word of God. However, some passages work better in a group Bible study setting than others.
I really enjoy studying stories, sermons, and letters. Because they have a good flow for group study along with a clear point you can lead your group to discover.
Here are some great places to look for a passage of study. You might just choose one passage from within these for a study or you might want to study a whole book over several Bible study sessions.
- Genesis is so foundational! It leads us through where and how everything came to be and sets up how to read the rest of the Bible.
- Judges presents some interesting and challenging stories that really create dynamic conversation for a group.
- Mark is the most action packed book of the Gospels. This is a fun book to experience and better understand what Jesus did on earth.
- Matthew 5-7 is the greatest sermon ever given. It is often called the Sermon on the Mount and is what Jesus preached to thousands of people who hung on his every word.
- Acts 2 contains Peter’s sermon that was inspired by the Holy Spirit following Pentecost to a group of people from all over the world.
- Roman is not an easy book but it will shape and reshape how you understand salvation.
- Hebrews is one of my favorite letters but make sure your group is ready to study the sanctuary service from Leviticus at the same time.
- Ephesians is an uplifting letter that will also challenge your group to Love those in their lives by putting others above themselves.
Choosing Your Passage: Narrow your focus
Do not attempt to cover a lot of passages in your study because you will lose opportunities to dig deep and explore what the passage is telling you. A good passage length is often seven to twenty verses long. However, stories can be a bit longer.
Your goal to find a passage that develops a whole idea that is easily identifiable. Most modern translations, like the New International Version, will have subheadings that break up passages where a complete idea or story is found. One or two of these sections is usually the right amount of verses for a study.
For the purposes of this course, take some time and select a passage to create your study with. You will be creating your own Bible study alongside me. I am going to be using 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 as my example passage. I encourage you to select a different passage.
Need help choosing a passage? Matthew 5-7 has a lot of passages that work well for a group Bible study.
Pro Tip: To help me identify where a passage starts and ends, I like to use the Transline Bible.
Studying Your Passage
Before you create your Bible study you should spend prayerful time studying your chosen passage. Don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers about your passage but you should have an understanding of what the author is saying. God will use your group to further unpack the meaning of the passage together.
Step one: What is the context?
What is the context of where the passage is found? A lot of Bibles will have a few paragraphs at the start of each book explaining who wrote it, when they wrote it, who they wrote it too, and its theme. These ideas unlock so much meaning for your passage.
I find the Bible Project’s videos on books of the Bible help to provide context and an overview.
Step two: What is the passage saying?
Prayerfully read over your passage and its surrounding verses a few times for a greater understanding. As you read, identify key points that the author is making. These will guide you in your study.
Step three: What are the challenging parts of your passage?
Identify areas that might be challenging and explore these parts further. Do not try and understand everything. Your goal should be able to anticipate questions and do a little bit of research to provide context.
Tools to help you study
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek and you probably don’t know those languages but you can use great tools, like the Blue Letter Bible, to give you a deeper understanding of what the original language was for keywords.
Bible commentaries are a great tool to help you understand the passage better. These are not inspired like the Bible is, but they are written by people who have spent a lot with the Bible.
Create Your Study
The One Question
Step one: Identify what is your passage saying
The author who wrote your passage was convey a message to their audience. Your job is to identify what that message is? Uncover what key idea they want them to understand.
EXAMPLE: In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 the author, Paul, uses the first 8 verses to build up to the main point that he makes in verses 9 & 10. This main point is that “God’s power is greater than ours ever will be, especially when we are weak.”
Step two: Flip the main point into the ONE question
Now, I want you to take the main point that you identified and turn it into a question. You should be able to answer your this question with the main point of passage.
This question will become the ONE question that you use to start your Bible study discussing and then use to guide you though the rest of your study.
EXAMPLE: For 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 we can flip the main point into this question “Where can we find strength, especially when we have none left?”
You will now build the rest of your Bible study to lead your group up to discovering the answer to the ONE question that you just developed.
- To do this chunk your passage into smaller sections, about one to three verses each. These sections should create one complete idea that you will be able to discuss.
- Then create discussion questions for each of these chunks of verses. You should have one or more discussion questions for each chunk of verses that help your group unpack what is important about each chunk of verses.
Remember that your overall goal is to lead your group in answering the ONE question, however, you will be unpacking other related ideas along the way.
EXAMPLE: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
– What was he previously boasting about?
– Why is he boasting?
– Why is continuing to boat?
– What is he describing here?
– Why is this something worth boasting about?
– Did Paul have things to boast about?
– Why don’t we usually boast about our weakness?
– Who was having the great surpassingly revelations?
– What is this thorn in his flesh?
– Why doesn’t he tell us what it is? (So that everyone can relate to it.)
– Was this from God or Satan? vs. 8- What do you think Paul’s pleading was like?vs. 9-10- What was God’s response?
– Was the “thorn in his flesh” removed?
– Did God give him a yes, no, wait, or different response to his pleading?
– What can we learn about prayer from this passage?
The conclusion is the most straight forward part of the Bible study to write. You already did it.
Through out your study, you have been leading your group to answer the ONE question that you started with. Now, restate that question to your group and ask them how this passage answers the question for us and applied to our lives.
The Bible is a practical book that will lead your group to living better lives.
Any images not credited here have been used under a Creative Commons 0 license or are in the Public Domain.
Creation image – https://bighugelabs.com/onblack.php?id=6364758657&size=large
Sermon on the mount – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ideacreamanuelapps/3541399009