We are continuing our series on How to Study the Bible. Lesson 1 was an introduction to in-depth study. Lesson 2 covered Devotional study. Lesson 3 we will cover Character Bible study. This is my favorite type of in depth Bible study. I hope you are enjoying these posts on how to better study the Bible.
FOCUS VERSE Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope
One of the most enjoyable ways to study the Bible is through the study of it’s characters. A major goal of Christian living is to develop godly character. What better way to gain better character than to study the lives of the people of the Bible?
Through the lives of the great characters of the Bible we are able to see the successes and failures of men and women. God did not leave out the flaws, He gave us the ability to look into each life without leaving any thing out. And through this type of study we are able to reflect in our own lives where we must grow and change.
Biographies are exciting to read because they give us a look into reality. Unlike fiction, biographies give us a glimpse into people’s lives. When you go into a bookstore there is a whole section given to biographies. Go through the checkout line at the grocery and see magazines given to tell the stories of people. People intrigue us, we want to know their story. Just at the end of last year the best selling book was a biography of Steve Jobs. Why? People want to know how they became successful, so we can somehow imitate that success.
The Character Study involves finding out what the Bible says about a particular characteristic of a person, with a heavy emphasis on personal application.
People’s lives are complex. You can’t sum up one person’s history in one study. Each event in that life can give more details of a person’s make up. This makes character studies interesting in the Bible. Because, one event may show one side of their personality and another event may show a completely other side.
In our study of a character we learn from their mistakes and their victories. Then we learn to apply those qualities for our lives.
You cannot learn to avoid a bad characteristic or attain a good characteristic unless you study the lives of others. The greatest teacher is history, we must learn what it teaches us. If we fail to study history we are certain to make the same mistakes.
Steps for Character Studies
You will first need;
- A study Bible (Scofield, Thompson Chain etc…)
- A concordance (Cruden’s, Young’s or Strong’s)
- Bible dictionary (Smith’s, Baker’s)
These will help you gather all the scriptures about your character. There can be other references about this person other than one book of the Bible. Paul is introduced in the book of Acts, yet his life is described more in detail by his own words in the epistles he wrote. David is mentioned in 1 Samuel-2Chronicles, but is also found in the Psalms and New Testament. With Character such as David and Paul, they can become lengthy. Start this type of study with a character that may be a little easier to gather information.
Only work on one character at a time. Take your time on a person but don’t try to exhaust your study. You will find a person’s life is complex, and as you grow in Christ that character you study will help you grow even more. How you view someone in your study can change over the years, so don’t try to exhaust your study.
- Pick a character (David, Paul, Moses, Ruth, and of course Jesus)
- Do a background sketch- Where are they from? Parents? Brothers and sisters? What was their occupation?
- What’s their name mean? – There’s much to be written on the meaning of a name. For instance Judah means praise, Nathan means gift from God, Jacob means trickster. This is a very cool study!
- Write down interesting facts as you study.
- Look for qualities that can be positive. Look for negatives that you must avoid.
- Memorize a Bible verse about them- This will help you remember a certain characteristic about that person. (Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.
Remember, studying the Bible is about applying it to our life. After this study you must apply what you have learned and apply it to your life.
How did the person please God? How did the person fail God? What were the positive characteristics to that person’s life? What were the negatives? What can I learn from his or her’s life? How can I become more like them? How can I become less like them?
These are a few books that I’ve gleaned from over the years in studying Bible characters. There are many more to be found, but these are the ones that will be easier to find in your local bookstore.
All the Men of the Bible- Herbert Lockyer
All the Women of the Bible- Herbert Lockyer
Twelve Ordinary Men- John MacArthur
Bible Personalities- Warren Wiersbe