Bible Reading vs. Bible Study: Which one is more important?

Jana Carlson

Jana Carlson

Which one is more important - Bible reading or Bible study? Read the Bible for breadth, study it for depth. Learn how and why in this post.

I think most people mistakenly believe that Bible study is better than Bible reading. We tend to feel “more spiritual” when we’re studying the Bible rather than just reading it.

Bible reading is for breadth. Bible study is for depth. We really do need both!

Knowing your Bible both “deep” and “wide” is valuable and enriching. Bible reading and Bible study are twin disciplines; they complement each other. When you only immerse yourself in one for long periods of time, you’ll miss out on some of the rewards of the other.

I Used to Just Read the Bible

As a child, I read the Bible. For most of my life, a made a sincere effort to read my Bible every day. After years of diligence, I still felt spiritually illiterate. I didn’t understand the continuous thread of God’s story from Genesis through Revelation. There was a serious disconnect in my heart from what I was reading. And my mind sensed that there were major gaps in my understanding.

I got my first taste of real Bible study in a youth small group. Our youth pastor led us through a verse-by-verse study of the book of James. This stirred up in my heart an insatiable appetite for more. But I didn’t learn how to study the Bible on my own for several more years.

That study in James was enough to get me reading entire books of the Bible instead of the “lottery” method of letting my Bible fall open and reading wherever my eyes landed, or simply reading the recommended passage from a devotional book. As I read more Scripture in context, my understanding of the message of this priceless Book grew.

How Reading the Bible Impacts My Study of the Bible

Today, I love spending time in in-depth Bible study, but it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if I didn’t also spend time simply reading it. My Bible reading informs my studying by exposing me to recurring themes and keeping the timeline of God’s story at the forefront of my mind. I make connections from one book to another, from the New Testament to the Old Testament.

My study is enriched by my reading, and my reading is enriched by my study.

Real World Bible Study

This week, I’m privileged to be a guest writer at Real World Bible Study. I’m talking about:

  • What Bible reading is,
  • How to read the Bible for breadth,
  • Which translation to read,
  • How to decide what parts of the Bible to read, and
  • What Bible study is.

When you click through and read the rest of my post over there, you’ll be surprised by how much of the Bible you can read in just 5 minutes a day!

Then you can come back here to learn a simple method of studying the Bible for yourself.

22 Responses

  1. Reading and study are both important. One of my favourite things to do for study is to pick a small book such as Galatians, or Ephesians. Then, I read the whole book every day for a week. Every day, God reveals something new and it’s a fun way to get familiar with His word.

  2. Yes, there’s a difference in studying and reading the Bible, but both play a vital role in meditating on God’s Word, hiding it in our hearts, helping transform us, and for Christian living!

  3. I love this post Jana! I do both reading and studying. God has helped me along the way to understand, usually as something happening in my life. When I go through a season, suddenly a verse or passage jumps out at me and has more meaning than it did before when I was just reading. ❤

    1. I love it when my heart and mind make the connection between the Truth of God’s Word and how it applies to real life! It reinforces the fact that the Bible is LIVING and ACTIVE. Thanks for your encouragement, Donna!

  4. I just started the chronological bible in a year…I love it! I am so excited to read it every morning!

    1. I haven’t read the chronological Bible in many years, but so many people have commented about it lately. I’m thinking maybe I’ll try it again next year. I love your enthusiasm! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Diving into Bible study can be life-changing and so beneficial!

    Tweeted, pinned and will be sharing on the IE Facebook page.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

  6. Makes sense! I used to think that it was important to get out my Bible study journal and my pens and highlighters every single time I open my Bible. Now I do take time to just read instead of waiting ’til I have time set aside with zero distractions.

    1. I think that’s a common hindrance to time in God’s Word, Amy. We so often procrastinate because we’re waiting for an ideal time or an ideal situation. When we do that, we end up waiting for a time that may never come! Much better to do a bit of simple reading than to spend no time in God’s Word at all!

  7. I go through it say with a topic say righteousness, holy as so on then get what the scripture says on this in many aspects am left having a lot than taking a book like Phillipians.

    1. Topical studies can be very enlightening, Joseph. I love exploring what the Bible says about a single topic from Genesis through Revelation. There’s a wealth of spiritual nourishment in God’s Word! And no time spent in God’s Word is ever wasted! Thanks for reading today.

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