You Can Write a Bible Study!

by Kristi Briggs on

Articles 8 min read
2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 3:16

In early 2019, our pastor challenged us to dream big for God’s kingdom. What impossible undertaking could I accomplish only if God executed it?

I knew my dream—nothing thrilling that gives you goosebumps like jumping out of an airplane or moving to Africa. I wanted to write a Bible study. That’s it. And it seemed like an impossible task.

A few months later, a faithful friend asked me to lead a Bible study for her co-workers that summer. I didn’t even hesitate—“Sure!” And then the kicker… “Kristi, I think you should write the study for us.”

That was my introduction to writing my first Bible study. I’ve written four studies total and am working on a fifth with a friend. I also did an internship with a Dallas Theological Seminary professor who has published numerous Bible studies and allowed me to contribute material to one of these. Maybe God has given you the dream or task of writing a study. I know I’m not the best out there, but what I’ve learned along the way may benefit you, too.

Some things to know before you start:

  1. God is the main character of Scripture. Not you.
  2. The Bible is one large story. Each individual book fits within the large story.
  3. The words of Scripture are inspired by God Himself. (The original languages—Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic—are the inspired words.)
  4. All of Scripture is useful (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  5. It’s good to be a reader—not just Scripture, but good quality books by Christian and non-Christian authors.
  6. Practice exegesis—reading out of Scripture. Avoid eisegesis—-reading into Scripture. We make Jeremiah 29:11 a promise of prosperity in this life. This is dangerous eisegesis!

One good question—why would I write a study when I could buy 50 dozen studies on Amazon? Beth Moore has been doing this since the ‘80’s and is an excellent student of God’s Word. Plus she has great hair! Chuck Swindoll is a wise and trusted Bible scholar who has written insightful books and studies. And he has great stories!

So why would I “reinvent the wheel?” Beth and Chuck don’t know my friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I have a personal relationship with people who need God’s Word. I can tailor discussion questions for the needs and questions of the people I know.

So, how do I start the process? PRAYER! The desire to study Scripture is noble, but it’s not easy! Acknowledge God as the Source of wisdom and truth. Confess your sin and weakness. Ask for His help and leading. Ask Him to enable you to handle His Word with care and accuracy. So, don’t even think of trying this without prayer.

Next, read your Scripture several times. In general, two types of studies prevail—topical and complete book.

With a topical study, you take a look at what many different passages say about a specific topic, for instance, the “fruit of the Spirit.” Of course, you would study Galatians 5:22-23 where the fruit is listed, but there are other passages such as 1 John 4:8 or 1 Corinthians 13 that teach more about the fruit of love, or John 14:27 that speaks about peace, etc. The danger with a topical study: taking isolated verses out of their original context. Context matters a lot in Scripture. Yes, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, but you need to know that Galatians was written to a church struggling with legalism. It’s a letter about freedom in Christ. So how does the fruit of the Spirit fit within this context? Topical studies are tough!

I prefer studying a complete book of the Bible. This reduces the danger of “cherry-picking” Scriptures to fit the point you are trying to make.

Let’s say you want to write a study on Colossians. Sit down and read the entire book of Colossians. It’s only four chapters!

Now do some research. It’s not time yet for commentaries—that will come. This is historical research, and it’s fascinating! Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Type of literature of the book (poetry, narrative, wisdom, letter, apocalyptic, etc.)
  2. The author (Learn author’s history—education, conversion, etc. Were there co-authors?)
  3. From where was the author writing?
  4. The audience (Who are they? Jews or Gentiles? New believers or more established in their faith?)
  5. Geographic location of audience (Were they in a metropolitan city with many different cultures, or a small, homogeneous town? What was the primary industry? Does the town still exist? Find pictures. Locate it on a map.)
  6. What was the occasion for the letter/book? (Is the author correcting a false teaching? Does he simply want to encourage the audience? Is he telling a story?)

After you have researched the author and audience, read the entire book again. Take notes as you read. Look for themes and repeated ideas and words. What is the overall “Big Idea” for the book?

Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you read. Don’t assume that only the “professional” theologians have a monopoly on understanding Scripture. You’ve read your book at least twice by now. Read it again and try to divide it into smaller sections. You might decide that Colossians 1:1-8 belong together and verse 9 begins a new idea. I determined Colossians 1:9-23 fit together nicely, so I made that a section of its own. My next section was 1:24-2:5, and so on. Your divisions will probably be different. That’s okay! You need to be able to see a common theme in the verses within your section. What is that theme? Write the theme of that section in a short, succinct sentence. Do your section themes fit within the Big Idea of the book?

After you have read your book at least three times on your own, now read the commentaries. Remember, commentaries are not the inspired Word of God! This is a human interpretation of what the Scriptures mean. Do a little research on the authors of a couple commentaries. You might choose one or two commentaries written by an author from a similar church tradition as yours. You might also want to read a commentary from a very different tradition just to get a bigger picture. Ask your pastors what commentaries they trust.

I tend to read the commentary in conjunction with the actual writing of the Bible study. For example, if I’m preparing questions on Colossians 1:9-23, I would read that section of the commentaries. A quick tip: commentaries can also help you with your section divisions. It’s not cheating to divide your book the same way another theologian has!

Now, start writing. The goal of Bible study is to know God better through the revelation of His Word. And this knowledge should affect how you live. You want your readers to think deeply on Scripture, discuss it with others, apply it in their own lives. Teach your readers to search Scripture for the answer.

  1. Avoid questions that can be answered with one word. You want good discussion.
    NOT:  In what city was Jesus born?
    BUT:  How did Jesus’s birthplace fulfill prophecy?
  2. Show your reader where to find the answer by giving Bible references. It’s also great to use a verse from another part of Scripture to highlight how all of Scripture works together.
  3. Ask thought-provoking questions.
  4. Give the reader a few straightforward questions to build confidence, but move to more challenging questions to encourage deeper thinking.
  5. Begin your lesson with a story or something to grab the reader’s attention.
  6. Begin with observation questions. What does the Scripture say?
  7. Ask interpretation questions. What does the Scripture mean?
  8. Next, ask correlation questions. How does this Scripture fit into the overall story of the Bible? How does this fit with life?
  9. Finish with application questions. What does this Scripture lead me to do?

I recommend having at least one other person committed to reading your study as you write and giving you honest feedback. What makes sense to you may sound ridiculous to someone else!

All of that reading you do? Those books are great resources for added interest in your study! Add great quotes or background information in the margins.

You began the process with prayer, but don’t stop! With each step, continue to pray with humility. The love you had for God’s Word only deepens as you dig deep and pull up treasures you never knew existed!

Why don’t you consider getting a group of friends or co-workers together and leading them in a study you’ve written on one of the books of the Bible? I’m certain you will reap the benefits of the hard but fruitful work.


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About the Author

Kristi Briggs is a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, focusing on ministry to women. Kristi is the author of multiple Bible studies available through Amazon.