What is the difference between reading The Bible and studying The Bible?

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On my blog and in this Facebook group, I talk a lot about reading your Bible and Bible study. Today, I want to make sure we all understand the difference between reading The Bible and studying The Bible and give you some simple guidelines regarding which to use & when. 

Christian circles can use lots of words that don’t make sense to other people. Sometimes, we can also use words we think we know their meaning, but we actually don’t.


What is the difference between reading The Bible and studying The Bible?

It’s important to know the differences between the 2 and what they mean so that when I use a particular term so we can all be on the same page. 

To start us off, let’s define the terms and then, I’ll talk about what each can be used for. 

Reading The Bible

This definition may seem simple, but it’s still worth covering. 

Reading The Bible is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when someone opens the Bible and reads one verse or more. 

This may sound simple but it’s oftentimes hard to implement. 

We may look down on just reading our Bible, but I want to share a quote with you. 

This was said by Billy Graham

“The very practice of reading [the Bible] will have a purifying effect upon your mind and heart. Let nothing take the place of this daily exercise.”  Billy Graham

In today’s world, our minds are filled with images we see, dirty or mean thoughts that go through our minds, and so much more. 

One way to cleanse ourselves from all those things is to fill our minds with the word of God. 

When we know what the word of God says, we can use it to fight against the enemy. 

A perfect example of this is the temptation of Jesus. 

After 40 days of being in the wilderness, the devil came to tempt Jesus. 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Matthew 4:1-4

This verse quotes a verse from the Old Testament. 

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:3

I love this story because Jesus is showing us how to fight the devil’s lies and temptations. 

Jesus used scripture and so must we. 

The scripture is full of truth and the only way to fight against the lies of the devil is to respond with The Word of God- The truth. 

But, we can’t fight with truth unless we know it. One way we can know the word of God is to read it every day. 

Studying The Bible

Many people may have different definitions, but this is mine. 

Bible study is when you read the scripture and then take time to understand what it says through asking questions, defining words and looking at scripture and comparing it to other scripture looking at larger themes and connections across scripture. 

Studying The Bible takes Bible reading to the next level. 

I’ve just covered why it’s so important to read God’s word, but there could be a danger as well. 

When all we do is read scripture, it can become an exercise we do to make us feel like we are “doing what we are supposed to do”. 

There have been many times when I’ve read scripture, but it just went through my brain without any stops or convicting me whatsoever. 

The Bible gives us a good example of this. 

James 1:23-25For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

How many times have you read the word of God, or heard the word of God- and got distracted by something and forgotten what you read or heard? 

This happens all the time, and is normal- so please don’t take this as a judgment on you. If anything, it’s a conviction for me- because this happens more than I want to admit. 

A picture of a Bible open on a wood table with a mug close by. On top of the picture are the words, Read now, What is The Difference between reading The Bible and studying The Bible

So, what is the remedy to this? 

I truly believe that the word of God becomes so much more precious when we spend some time and study it. 

I often feel like Bible study is like a treasure hunt. You spend some time reading God’s word- contemplating it, comparing it to other scripture, and thinking about how it applies to your life. When you do that, you will always find a gold nugget. Something The Lord reveals to you shows you, teaches you. And because you were the one to find it- it’s precious to you and you remember it longer than if someone else found the nugget and told you about it. 

So, you may be asking yourself, which one should I choose?

The simple answer is- Both. 

As Christians, we should be doing both. Reading The Bible and studying The Bible for ourselves. 

They are equal to each other and not in competition. We should not be using our Bible reading habits to compare ourselves to other Christians or as a way to feel “more spiritual” than another. That is not what God intends. 

God’s desire is for us to know Him and be close to Him. He’s given us His word for us to read and holds court for us to enter into His presence anytime we want. 

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

I’ve been reading The Bible for a long time and I just want to tell you how great it is. It is living, and it is powerful and it can change your life. 

I know that Bible study can be intimidating. I also know that you may feel you don’t have the time, or you don’t know where to start. I get it. 

That is why I am so excited to invite you to The Faith in Action Conference.

The Faith in Action Conference

The Faith in Action Conference is a FREE 4-day virtual event to help Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive Bible study of Mathew 5-7 & James.

The conference is all about helping Christian women take action in their faith through a deep dive into Bible study.

16 speakers over 4 days will help you discover how to live out your faith by looking at Mathew chapters 5-7 & James. These chapters are filled with practical advice for us. Everything from how to treat one another, to marriage advice.

Click here to register for your FREE ticket today!

Author: Anne Markey

Anne is a stay at home mother of 3 who has been married for more then 10 years. She loves the Lord and is passionate about helping women learn who they are in Christ and how to live a life that glorifies Him.

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