Free Bible Study Guides

Series 1 - The Bible and You: Practical Answers—Real Hope

Hi, friends! Welcome to this Bible study lesson on "How Can I Find Things in the Bible?" Sometimes it's good to read through the books of the Bible in order, but sometimes you need the answer to a specific question. The Bible is a big book with a lot of valuable information and advice, but it can be daunting to find the topics and answers you are searching for. Let's look at some tools you can use to make your searches faster and more effective.

Lesson 2: How Can I Find Things in the Bible?

Bible Study - How Can I Find Things in the Bible?The Bible is a book filled with wisdom and insight for how to live life. But with its incredible amount of content, how can you expect to find what you need, when you need it?

A Christian in Arizona shared this story of how she came to be interested in the Bible:

"When I was 13 years old, I picked up my Bible and decided that I wanted to read it all the way through. My parents had always taken us to church when we were young, but by that time in my life church attendance was sporadic. We also never read much from the Old Testament, so I was curious what it had to say.

"As I painfully read through the old English used in the King James Version, I began to realize that the Old Testament had a lot to say about what should be done in life and also what was supposed to come in the future. I read about things that would last for all generations and also about God's plan for an unknown time in the future. It made little sense to me at the time, but the seeds were planted. Why had I not been taught these things and why was this part of the Bible ignored so often?

"This reading brought up more questions than answers at the time, but I continued to learn bits and pieces as I read more, and in my mid-20s I was more able to comprehend what I had read. I finally began to understand the depth and meaning of what I was reading, and it changed my life forever."

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Navigating the Bible

Between the two covers of your Bible lies an matchless treasure trove of practical advice and straightforward instructions for living the best possible life you can now, while preparing for a wonderful life forever.

But to a new student of the Bible, it can seem to be a daunting, mammoth collection of print. So how can you effectively find your way through this sea of words to study a specific topic or find a particular verse?

Unlike ancient times—when, long before the invention of the printing press, owning a copy of even one of the books of the Bible was rare—today inexpensive and even free Bibles are readily available. And there is a wealth of resources—"Bible helps"—to assist you in pinpointing exactly what you're hunting for in "the Good Book." We'll help you get started in learning what to use and when.

First, let's look at a few passages that talk about why it's important to study the Bible in the first place.

Does God appreciate those who search the Scriptures daily?

Acts 17:11
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

The Bereans were commended for their diligent searching of the Scriptures until they found the truth of the matter. Reading the Bible through and studying the context are still excellent tools for gaining familiarity with this priceless book. A program of reading the Bible through (such as The Good News Bible Reading Program) is foundational in gaining an overview of God's revelation to us and will help make it easier to find specific things later.

What can we gain from studying the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God inspired the writing and compilation of the Bible to give us the spiritual instruction and correction we need to change and become more like He is. He does this for our good because He truly loves us!

What is the ultimate benefit of Bible study?

2 Timothy 3:15
...and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Salvation means being saved from the sinful way that leads to misery and ultimately death, and being given access to God's way that leads to true happiness and eternal life.


How to Use Concordances and Other References

I'm looking for a verse, but I don't remember where it is and can only remember a small phrase from it. What can I do?

A concordance is a good tool for this situation. It lists, in alphabetical order, the English words used in the Bible along with what verses they appear in. If you can remember a specific word from a verse you're trying to find, look up that word in a concordance, and you'll see a list of verses that contain the word.

If you're still having trouble finding the verse you're looking for, look up another word from the verse instead. Also keep in mind that a concordance typically lists the words found in only one specific translation of the Bible, and you may be thinking of the verse as it is rendered in a different translation. Also, try to get a concordance that is not too abbreviated, since condensed concordances list fewer words. The best concordances are called "exhaustive" or "complete" concordances.

I'm trying to study a specific topic in the Bible but don't have any verses in mind. How can I start?

One good way to do this is to look up related keywords in a concordance (see previous comment).

You can also find verses related to many topics with a topical Bible (sometimes called a topical concordance or topical index). Such a reference work contains an alphabetical list of topics (e.g., "Armageddon," "Melchizedek," "resurrection," etc.) and collections of verses that relate to them. For example, if you were trying to find out what the Bible has to say about love, you'd simply turn to the section on "Love" and check out the verses that relate to love, even ones that don't include the word "love."

Many Bibles also list related scriptures in their side or center margins. It's good to remember that both topical Bibles and marginal references are selectively chosen by whoever published them, so they may have some doctrinal biases.

I'm looking at a scripture, but I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out what it means. What can I do?

First, each time you read the Bible, pray for God's help to have spiritual understanding—the kind of comprehension that Jesus gave His disciples after His resurrection (see Luke 24:45).

A critical key in Bible study is to let the Bible interpret the Bible. Studying the context of the verse and looking at other verses that talk about the same subject are the best places to start. Looking at how the verse is translated in other Bible versions can also be helpful.

You might also find it helpful to do a search about the subject or the verse on this Web site or our United Church of God site. Our Frequently Asked Bible Questions, lessons, articles and booklets contain a lot of background information and many related scriptures on a wide variety of subjects. Our The Good News Bible Reading Program also has commentary and background information on much of the Bible (currently, most of the Old Testament). The ministers on our Personal Correspondence team are also happy to answer Bible questions sent to

Bible reference books can also be useful. Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias can explain a given subject or what a word meant in Bible times. A commentary is a volume or series of volumes in which authors record their interpretations of many scriptures.

It is important to remember that, while these references are written by well-educated people, they reflect the doctrinal and denominational biases of the authors and often various commentaries will disagree with each other. Don't rely on a commentary as a final authority on any issue; rather, commentaries best serve as a starting point for finding possible explanations of a verse. From there you must be sure to carefully check that explanation against what the Bible itself says.

Okay, but some of these methods require reference books I don't have. Is there a quicker and less expensive way?

The Internet provides many ways to go about the above methods quickly and for free. Sites like and provide an easily accessible Bible in a huge variety of translations and languages, as well as the option to search for any word or even phrase within the selected version. also features the ability to view the corresponding Greek or Hebrew words for each word in their online King James Version (click on "Show Strong's"). also includes online versions of Nave's Topical Bible and Torrey's New Topical Textbook.

Other options include free-to-use Bible programs such as e-Sword and Online Bible. Downloadable from, e-Sword allows Windows users to easily choose from and customize their personal copy of the program with a huge variety of Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries, maps and various extras like Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews. (Many of these add-ons are free, though some must be purchased).Windows and Mac users can download the free Online Bible software at It also offers dozens of free downloadable public domain Bible versions and helps.

Many more software and online resources are listed in our booklet How to Understand the Bible in the section on Bible Study Software and Online Resources.


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With these resources at your fingertips, you now have the ability to find just about anything you need in the Bible. You are also well on your way to having effective Bible studies about whatever topics you'd like to delve into.

As an exercise for practicing what you just learned in this lesson, do a Bible study on how to please God. Using your Bible, concordance, topical index or Internet sources (such as doing a search on our Web site), dig up at least five related scriptures. Then try to come up with five specific things you can do to please God.

Next Lesson: What Happens After Death?

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

Keys to a Successful Bible Study

Learn, Live and Love the Bible

How to Understand the Bible

The Good News Bible Reading Program

Frequently Asked Bible Questions