4 Ideas On Choosing What Bible Text To Study [BIBS]


When choosing a Bible text to study, beginners will often take the Bible-flop approach: flop open their Bible, stick their finger on the page and start reading. While God IS on that page, that approach may not be the best for your daily practice.

Choosing your text is still easy. Why? Because “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” (2 Timothy 3:16a) No matter where you turn in Scripture, you will be able to find something that is profitable.

It will not all be equally profitable, because your needs are not the same as your dad’s needs, your teacher’s needs or your friend’s needs. Your needs are unique to you, so the profit in one passage might be more helpful to you than it is to someone else. But it is all profitable.

Anywhere you turn in the Bible will bring you some profit. You can be helped by every passage. Wherever you turn, apply the BIBS principles and you will find a way to be helped.

Even though you can be helped by any random text, that does not mean that you should be random in your Bible study. You should not just flip open your Bible anew each day and half-heartedly see what God reveals to you that day.

Rather, I would recommend a more systematic approach. Choose a book of the Bible to study, and get into the author’s flow of thought. Study the Big Idea of the book by reading broadly (observation) each day, and also working on a deeper daily study of a smaller passage (interpretation).

There are a number of ways you can choose your text, but the following are a few suggestions:

Whole book. Study a whole book of the Bible. The book might be long or short, but it will have a Big Idea. Consider working on the overall theme of a book. Start on a small book at first, and work up from there. Perhaps the book of Philippians will be a blessing (here’s a hint: it has a lot to say about joy).

Paragraph markings. Another way to choose a Bible text to study is to notice the paragraph markings in your Bible (looks like a backwards P or D). The paragraph divisions are not inspired (man divided the Bible into chapters, paragraphs and verses so we could read easier), but the paragraph divisions can serve as a guide to finding chunks of thought. New ideas often start with new paragraphs, and one Big Idea might emerge from a single paragraph section.

I have a Cambridge Cameo Bible that is sectioned off into paragraphs rather than verses. The poetry sections like Psalms, Proverbs and places in the prophets are laid out like modern poetry—each new phrase begins on a new line—and the rest of the Bible looks like a regular book—with big, flowing paragraphs rather than verse divisions. I love it! I read that Bible completely differently because I can get into the author’s flow of thought. I read the story of David running from Saul like different scenes in a play. I read the dialogue between Job and his friends as if I am reading a novel. It makes the stories come alive, and I am able to think of the characters as real-live humans rather than mystical creatures from ancient history.

Section divisions. If you have a study Bible, your reading may already be sectioned off for you. Many study Bibles include headings that introduce each little unit of thought. Each heading breaks that chapter into smaller chunks of Scripture, like a Hershey’s chocolate bar breaks into smaller chunks. Many times, choosing your text is as simple as choosing one of the chunks that someone else chose for you.

Devotional books. When we introduced the BIBS process to my youth group, we had an accompanying BIBS devotional book. The BIBS devotional is designed to be both deep and wide. Each day, the teen would read several chapters to get into the flow of thought (wide), but he or she would also spend time interpreting a smaller section of Scripture already chosen for them (deep). Consider using the BIBS devotional, or use a devotional of your own. These devotionals will give you a text for the day’s study.

In addition, certain reading plans section off your texts for you. Some reading plans have a daily reading devotion as well as a daily portion of Scripture to read along a topic. If these Scriptures are a help to you, consider using them as your text to interpret each day. No matter where you turn in Scripture, you will have God’s truth.


This article is an excerpt from the book BIBS: Big Idea Bible Study.