26 Tips for Understanding the Bible | The Speckled Goat: 26 Tips for Understanding the Bible


26 Tips for Understanding the Bible

26 Tips for Understanding the Bible

Reading the Bible can be so, so hard.

That's what I've been hearing from women just about everywhere. Between conversations with the wonderful ladies in my small group, to informal polls online, to overhearing conversations between leaders at the camp where I work, the biggest struggle for so many of us is reading the Word of God.

And I get it. 

Because it's a big struggle for me, too.

And just like all those others who I've been hearing from (and eavesdropping on), I know that reading the Bible is important. And sometimes, I know that I'm standing in my own way.

The Bible is the very word of God. It's a gift. But sometimes, I get hung up. I get hung up... because is the Bible really necessary to my daily life? Is it really enough? Is it really the one true authority?

Is the Bible really understandable?

I've been digging in to understanding the Bible- because that's one reason that I find myself avoiding it. Sometimes, the Bible feels confusing. 

For the past two months, I've given you many of my tips for understanding the Bible- general suggestions, resources that I use, and some specific passages that seem so murky. I hope that they've helped.

We're not doing this Christianity thing on our own, though- we have the blessing of a community. The body of Christ. I don't want you to just take my word for it-- so I asked lots of other Christian bloggers to share their tips for understanding the Bible better.

I'm honored to be able to share some of their suggestions with you, today!


I always pray when I pick up my Bible to be given understanding and have my eyes opened. - Cate Purvis 

I usually pray and ask for wisdom to understand what I'm reading in the Bible. - -Starla Jimenez

I try to pray before I read that God will reveal to me what He wants me to learn. If I come to a section I don't quite understand or get anything out of, I will ask God what I am supposed to get from it, read it a few more times, and if nothing comes I move on. - Caytee Chapman

Click to read "When the Bible Makes No Sense"

My #1 tip is to pray first, asking the Holy Spirit to open my the eyes of my spirit so that I understand what He is saying to me personally as I read. (After all, He IS the Spirit of truth according to John and we need His truth to penetrate the confusion we have accumulated by living in this world!) - Deborah Perkins


I use the study tools available at Biblegateway.com. - LeeAnn Taylor

When I'm not understanding something, the first thing I do is go to the original Greek or Hebrew text (via concordance or Lexicon!) and read it. There are so many Greek and Hebrew words we don't have English words for, so it's often translated wrong simply because there's no way to translate it correctly. - - Cate Purvis (Mary from Martha)

I have 3 favorite resources: 1. Commentary by Rick Renner (usually takes apart the scripture in the Greek). 2. Studying the Bible as literature with the help of some literature professors. 3. Books, such as Josephus, that can give me a historical context to understand the scripture.- Karen Blandino

Click to read "Bible Commentaries"

My go-to commentaries are the IVP Background books, and The New Testament in Antiquity. I also read systematic theology books to see other people's perspectives on a particular doctrine. Finally, I ask my husband for help with Hebrew and Greek words that catch my attention. He also has the Logos Bible Software which has a great resource library to study the Bible. - Patricia Victa

I look up several different commentaries (even one's with differing opinions) to see if we can find some clarity. Those commentaries are not authoritative like the Bible, and they may still not give us the clarity we were looking for, but they may end up helping us understand. - Kristin Cook

I love to Google the verse and find verses that are similar so I can cross reference or I try to find a song that has the verse within it and spend some time focusing on how the lyrics show the verse in a more direct way. - Emilia Lenzen

I also like using Biblehub.com where I can see different versions of the same verse... I find that that helps to expand my understanding. - Aimee Walcott


Asking my pastor is my #1 resource. . . Chances are, he is able to explain any philosophical question I have, able to explain the historical context of the specific verse or section I am having trouble with, and understands what the historic context of different arguments for/against certain interpretations of troubling passages are. - Sarah Connors

I bring in my study partner: my husband! He typically has a pretty good handle on many things because he has been a Christian since he was six and has dedicated his life to studying the word (plus his six years of Bible school don't hurt).

If we don't understand it then, I text or call a trusted Pastor or search their websites to see if they've ever taught anything on the subject. - Cate Purvis 
When I come across a confusing part, I go first to my husband. He is always helpful with discerning the scriptures.

There are also Christian women that God perfectly orchestrated into my life; that I may ask their thoughts on the confusing scripture. - -Starla Jimenez

It's even better if you can study Scripture with a small group so that you can discuss practical application, and help for when you struggle. - Gina B


The goal is to read with understanding and to be a do-er of the Word not just gather all this information... Choose a time to meet with God everyday and show up to that date, for God is waiting! - Gemma Tutu

When I get stuck on a confusing passage of scripture and it isn't a reality to speak to someone immediately, I jot down the confusing verse and move on to the next verse or chapter and continue reading. -Starla Jimenez

When I don't understand what the Lord is showing me I stop, pray for understanding and read the previous several verses and following verses, then think who is speaking and to whom it is being spoken to. Then I use my trusty Matthew Henry commentary and or a Bible dictionary. All these things in conjunction with prayer make for a moment of learning and growth which is exciting! - Diane Turner

I write my thoughts in the margins. Sometimes I read past a chunk I don't fully get and the next passage helps to clarify the prior passages. - Winter Lawson

What helps me a lot is making sure I understand the context of the verse or chapter and then possibly doing research about time periods or looks for other verses that might be foot-noted! - Abby Engelman

Click to read "Promises in the Bible"

I read, re-read, and read some more. I usually make notes on my 2nd or 3rd reading while taking into consideration the genre of the book; this is so the text discloses itself and I'm not just imposing what I think the book is about. I look at the footnotes for cross-reference and I also read what I'm studying in another translation (I love the ESV and NIV). - Patricia Victa

I give myself permission to not understand everything here and now. I'm very intellectual and it's a fine line between wanting to understand for knowledge and wanting to understand to prove myself I'm good enough. I let it go and brew under the surface. I just take a step back and wait, knowing that when I'm ready I will understand. Seeds are planted ahead of time after all. - Alessia Cesana

First things first: make sure you have the right translation for you. Different wordings register differently from person to person. - Emily Hubbard

Click to read about genealogies in the Bible

I have a colour-coded outline that I use and I highlight lines when I really want to understand what I'm reading. Is it a lesson? Is it an example of God's compassion? Is it a miraculous work? Is it sin at work? If I still don't understand, I like to research and record the meanings and significance of specific words at the time they were written. I always write my findings in my Bible so the next time I look up that passage, I remember what it really meant. - Leah Grey

I have to write, as I study. Writing. Highlight. Those are the tools that help me to really cultivate an understanding and to "hide it in my heart."- Stacey Patrick

Click to read "Who Cares About Cubits?"

When I reach hard-to-understand passages, I read out loud, look for any familiar name or place, and observe any interesting tidbit and wonder why it was included - Traci Rhoades

(Thank you so much to all who contributed to share your suggestions!)

As Christians, we know that the Bible is important. We know that our God is a God who reveals Himself to us through His Word.

We can understand the gift of the Bible. We can. It may be a little work. It may require some commitment and time. But knowing God and His plan for us is so, so good-- it's worth it.

Posts in this Series:

God still speaks Bible

The Bible is clear- a light to my feet When the Bible makes no sense Genealogies in the Bible and why they matter

why the tabernacle details in the Bible matter Bible commentaries suggestions and how to use them promises in the Bible  

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  1. I love these posts! I need to read the whole series. You do such a good job! Thank you for featuring me!

  2. Love this collection! It's a privilege being part of it. Will share on Twitter and Pinterest, then add on a link roundup post I'm publishing sometime next week. Thanks, Ally :)

  3. Hi Ally,
    What an incredible list of resources to help us understand the hope within the Bible! I love all the images and links you created to the various blogs and resources. Thank you so much for sharing this hope with us at Moments of Hope!
    Blessings and smiles,

  4. There are some really great tips in your article! Thank you. I am working on a series on prayer on my blog at tangledrose.wordpress.com. I would love to have some input from you concerning prayer.