Sean McDowell | May 13, 2021

A Strategic Bible Study Method

Even though I have a ton of responsibilities with teaching, speaking, and writing (not to mention being a husband and dad!), I try to regularly study Scripture.

Here are two simple steps for how I am studying the Bible this month.

Step One: Read the Book of Galatians Daily

My focus this past month has been on Galatians. Each morning, I read the book straight through without stopping. Since Galatians is six chapters, it takes me 12-15 minutes to read it entirely.

The reason I read the whole book together is to try and understand the “big picture.” After reading it repeatedly, you will start to notice patterns, points of emphasis, and key themes. Understanding the big picture of Galatians helps make sense of individual passages.

When reading through the book, there may be some passages that don’t make sense at first. Don’t stop and focus on them. Don’t get out a dictionary and look up words. Don’t open Bible software study the Greek.

Here's the bottom line: Don’t get bogged down. Keep going and focus on the big idea(s) of the book. Individual passages will make more sense after you grasp the whole.

Step Two: Read Some Passages from a Commentary

After reading the book straight through, I spend another 10-15 minutes reading part of a commentary. For this study, I have been reading Galatians by Craig S. Keener. It’s a 300-page single-volume commentary, so it doesn’t get too bogged down on historical, cultural, or linguistic considerations (Keener also has a 900-page commentary on Galatians, which I use for other purposes).

While reading the commentary, I always have a pencil in hand so I can underline key passages that stick out as particularly insightful or helpful. Then when I am done for the month, I go back through the commentary again and highlight key passages so I can remember them.

You Can Do It!

I realize some of you may not have 20-30 minutes per day to sit down and study the Bible like this. Of course, there’s plenty of other ways to do so. Sometimes I listen to Galatians while working out or driving. Yet keep this in mind: If we want to learn Scripture, there is always a way to find time.

If I don’t have time to read the commentary on a particular day, then I just move on to the next. This is why I love this approach more than reading the Bible in a year, in which I tend to fall behind and either get lost or feel guilty.

That’s it. Of course, there’s plenty of other ways to study Scripture. But here’s my plan for the month of May and I hope it’s helpful.

If you are looking for a defense of the reliability of Scripture, check out the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict (co-written with Josh McDowell):

Evidence that Demands A Verdict (updated)

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: