Bible Reading

A-Z Questions for Bible Study

The right question makes all the difference in the world - and not just in Jeopardy. The best interviewers, whether on TV or on podcasts, ask the best questions - the most insightful, the most difficult, the ones that make their subject squirm, or laugh, or angry, or transparent. Knowing the right questions to ask of a person, or a text, usually means the difference between understanding and ignorance.

In 1884, the Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was published by Alfred Nevin. The following questions were included in it, as a guide for reading the New Testament in particular, but can be applied to the whole Bible. Helpfully, they are listed in alphabetical form. Keep these handy wherever you read and study God’s word.

In the study of the New Testament, and of the gospels especially, we need to inquire and compare. The inspired writings are infinitely rich in truth, and each verse is so connected with the rest that an intelligent inquirer may easily extend its investigations from one passage over the whole of Scripture. Without attempting to exhaust topics of inquiry, we mention the following :

A. What analogies between sensible and spiritual things may be here traced ?

A1. What prophecy is here accomplished? where found? when written? what rule of interpretation is illustrated?

B. What blessing is here sought or acknowledged, or promised, and why?

C. What custom is here referred to ?

C1. What trait of character is here given? good or bad? belonging to our natural or our renewed state? what advantages are connected with it?

D. What doctrine is here taught? how illustrated? what its practical influence ?

D1. What duty is here enforced, and how? from what motives ?

D2. What difficulty is here found in history or doctrine? how explained?

E. What evangelical or other experience is here recorded?

E1. What example is here placed before us? of sin or of holiness? lessons?

F. What facts are here related? what doctrine or duty do they illustrate? do you commend or blame them, and why ?

G. What is the geographical position of this country, or place? and what its history ?

H. What facts of natural history or of general history are here referred to or illustrated?

I. What institution or ordinance is here mentioned? On whom bindling? what its design? what its connection with other institutions?

I1. What instructions may be gathered from this fact, or parable, or miracle?

K. What knowledge of human nature, or want of knowledge, is here displayed?

L. What lofty expressions of devotional fervor?

L1. What Levitical institute is here mentioned? why appointed?

M. What miracle is here recorded? by whom wrought? in whose name? what were its results? what taught?

N. What is worthy of notice in this name?

P. What prohibition is here given? is it word, or thought, or deed it condemns?

P1. What is the meaning of the parable here given? what truth as to God, Christ, man, "the kingdom," is taught?

P2. What promise is here given? to whom?

R. What prophecy is here recorded? is it fulfilled? how? when?

S. What sin is here exposed?

S1. What sect is here introduced? mention its tenets.

T. What type is here traced?

T. What threatening? when inflicted?

U. What unjustifiable action of a good man? what unusual excellence in one not pious?

W. What woe is here denounced? what warning given? against whom, and why?

X. What is here taught of the work, character, person of Christ?

X1. What sublimity of thought or of language is here? what inference follows ?

2 Resources That Have Changed My Devotions

Is it hard for you to “get anything” out of your devotions? Is it frustrating to understand the Bible? Is it difficult for you to apply the Bible for your life today? Why is it often difficult to set aside time for our devotions? For many of us, the lack of familiarity with what the Bible says and realization of how the Bible applies to us is often what hinders us from growing in our devotional lives.

There have been various seasons of life where I have come across a resource that has greatly aided me in studying the Bible during my morning devotions. I remember my mother purchasing for me a copy of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible that I began to eat up during my college years. I remember coming across the commentary series called “God’s Word for You” (whose writers are Tim Keller, Tim Chester, Steven Lawson, Al Mohler, and others). I also have recently come across my new favorite commentary series from Banner of Truth called “Let’s Study” (whose writers are Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, Derek Prime, Mark Johnston, Iain Hamilton, Dennis Johnson, and others) which seems to be a perfect portion of reading for morning devotions. All of these resources have greatly helped me grow not merely in a knowledge of the Scriptures but in a devotional heart for the truth of Scripture while seeing it applied to real life.

If you’re anything like me, you often go through different phases of using different resources to aid your devotional studies. For much of my years since being a Christian, I have done more study of Scripture focusing on shorter sections at a time. I have not done so well of a job about reading bigger portions alongside that. Recently, the iPhone app “Read Scripture” from The Bible Project has helped me do just that. It has been the best big portion Bible reading structure for me. Other people have found better use out of other structures but for several reasons the “Read Scripture” app has worked well for me. It is easy to access and helpful to go at one’s own pace. The short video overviews of each book and some of the biblical themes in Scripture also help me to “see” the truth of Scripture better.

But, there is often a lingering thought that I have after reading massive portions of the text. How am I supposed to sink this reading into my heart more effectively? The last thing that we should want from a Bible reading plan is to get in the habit of merely completing the reading and checking off the section. Our Bible reading must go from head to heart. This leads me to the second resource that I recently discovered at the RTS Jackson bookstore that has become one of those studies that has changed my devotions.

Reformation Heritage Books has produced one of the best and most unique resources out there called the “Family Worship Bible Guide”. If I am honest, the title makes the resource sound more limiting than what it really is. This resource is an aid to applying the Bible to our lives. In very short reflections, with only 1 to 3 reflections per chapter in the Bible, the writers show what the point of the chapter is and how it affects our lives today. It is way more than merely a family worship guide, although certainly a phenomenal resource for family worship, but it is also a great resource for your own personal Bible study.

The Family Worship Bible Guide seeks to show how the teaching of Scripture changes your life. What it is trying to do is to show how the Bible reaches out and grabs the realities of life today. It has been a great way for the big chunks of Bible reading to sink into my heart more on a daily basis. For example, here is what you would read if your devotional reading this morning was on John 1:

1. When John called Jesus “the Word,” he implied that Christ not only brings us a message from God but is Himself the Message. Jesus is God in the flesh, the infinite glory and grace of the Father dwelling among men in the tabernacle of a human body. Therefore, to believe in Christ is much more than trusting Him to teach us or help us; saving faith is receiving Him as our God, our very life. What difference does it make to the Christian faith that Christ is God?

2. John the Baptist shows us that a preacher’s calling is to point away from himself to Christ and to lift the Savior high before men’s eyes. A minister can do this only by having a low view of himself and a high view of Christ. A Christ-centered ministry is particularly a cross-centered ministry, focusing regularly (though not exclusively) on Christ’s death as the Lamb of God. How can you pray for your ministers that they would be more like John in this manner?

3. To find Christ is the most wonderful discovery of all. It is too good to be kept to oneself. How can you become more like these early disciples who eagerly told their family and friends about Jesus?

Ed. Joel R. Beeke, Family Worship Bible Guide (Reformation Heritage Books: Grand Rapids, MI 2016), p. 718

That is one of the longer portions of what you would read for one chapter. Most are one to two insights for each chapter. It is a small book and easy to carry around with you anywhere you go (it is like a small Bible). It is also very reasonably priced considering what you would get from it (only $14-17 depending on where you look). In my opinion, it has been one of the best resources I have ever bought and certainly one that will aid in my devotions, sermon prep, counseling, blogging, and Sunday school. I would highly encourage you to consider using this resource for personal and/or family devotions.