Bible Study

How To Unpack A Bible Passage

Reading the Bible with purpose

Bennett Rolan · 2 min read

The silence was becoming uncomfortable. Three young faces stared back at me, waiting for some sort of breakthrough.

“So, how did it go? Anyone want to share what they learned?”

No response.

The group of young women were new to the Bible. They were ready to study, eager to learn, and completely lost as we plowed our way through a Bible reading plan.

They were consistent in their daily reading, but aside from long lists of names and confusing stories, the text didn’t mean much.

But before abandoning those difficult chapters, we tried again.

By slowing down and changing our approach to Bible reading, the text came to life. Instead of characters in a story, the faithful men and women of Scripture felt like friends. We could relate to their struggles and learn from their faith. The God of Abraham, Moses, Esther, and Peter was the same God who was speaking to our group each week through His Word.

We didn’t have to be Bible scholars to understand God was saying. We simply needed His Word, His Spirit, and seeking hearts. Using a simple and time-tested approach to reading God’s Word, we discovered the joy of connecting with God through Scripture.

The questions below are just one way to approach a passage. Consider them as a place to begin, a guide, as you work through the Bible alone – or with others.

1. Read the Passage

What are the confusing words or phrases? Define them with a dictionary or as a group.

Where is the story taking place and why is that significant?

What are the main characters doing in the passage? Or who is the writer addressing and why?

Which points (conversations, statements, actions) seem most important?

How would you summarize the passage in one sentence?

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2. Reflect
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What is the main truth or purpose of the passage?

What does the passage reveal about God’s character and His values?

What does the passage reveal about people (or myself)?

What words or phrases stand out to you and why?

3. Respond

Is there a similar situation in your life that the passage addresses? How can you relate?

How could a change in thinking or behavior help you align with the truth of the passage?

How will you respond based on what you learned?

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4. Pray
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Now take some time to pray God’s Word back to Him. Using the truth you identified, repeated words, a promise, or your response as the foundation of your prayer, ask God to make His truth a reality for you.