There are so many ways to study the Bible. One of my favorite Bible study methods is Bible character studies. You will grow in faith when you dig deeper into the lives and history of real people in the Bible. Today I will walk you through how to study Bible characters and their stories.
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How to Do A Bible Character Study
Have you ever been reading in your quiet time and noticed a character that was interesting? You probably had a moment of pause but then moved on in the study and forgot all about it.
While I love Bible character studies, they are rarely the normal devotional you can pick up at Lifeway. From time to time there will be a traditional Bible Study done on a character, say Ruth or Daniel or Esther, but today I will show you how to study any Bible character and their stories on your own.
Step 1. Pick A Character
Pick a Bible character you are interested in. How do you pick a character to study in the Bible? Think back to the last time your curiosity was piqued by someone in your devotion time.
Recently I was curious about how Mary (Jesus' mother) kept hope when her blessing was so hard to bear. That led to a Bible character study of Mary and real hope.
Maybe you have a question about something you are personally struggling through. Do a quick search for Bible characters who struggled with that thing and study that character.
Recently I was wrestling with the issue of submission in marriage. While searching for Bible verses about submission I kept coming back to Sarah (Abraham's wife) and a Bible character study of Sarah was begun.
There is no wrong way to pick a character.
Step 2. Search The Bible
After you have picked the character to study you will need to search out all Bible verses about that character. It will only take a few minutes to search Google, “Bible verses about (insert character's name).
Jot down the verses that are noted and plan some time to read them.
Step 3. Ask Good Questions About the Character
When working through a Bible character study on your own you want to do more than just read the verses. You want to come to the verses with good questions to help you learn and apply what you are reading.
Think of questions about the character's life and background. You will want to understand the culture the character lived in to better understand their choices and actions.
Also, be sure to ask questions about your situation to help you apply the lessons you are learning through the study.
Don't be afraid to ask God hard questions along the way. He can handle them!
Character Study Outline
Depending on how you learn and digest Biblical information you may prefer to make a sort of Bible study character outline to help you stay focused. I think of it like the introduction of each book in the Bible in my study Bible. The Bible study character outline lists several important facts about the character to help keep me in their story.
- The character's personal details.
- Major influences in the character's life.
- Conflict in the character's life.
- What or who caused it?
- How the character responded to God.
- Are their prayers listed?
- Is there dialogue?
- Were things resolved with God?
Types of Character Studies
People have asked me, “What types of character studies are there?” There are as many types of character studies as there are types of characters:
- Gender-Based Character Study
- Women of the New Testament
- Patriarchs of the Old Testament
- Bad Girls of the Bible*(This is a study you could link to)
- Female Bible characters fill the Scripture!
Women played such an important role in biblical history. Read more about them in our Women of the Bible series!
- Couples Character Study
- Adam and Eve
- Abraham and Sarah
- Jacob, Leah and Rebekah
- Mary and Joseph
- Characters Who Messed Up
- Paul (Acts 7:57–8:1)
- David (2 Samuel 11:2-3)
- Peter (Matthew 26:34–35)
- Bible Characters with Identity Crisis
- Bible Characters with Marriage Issues
- Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)
- Issac and Rebekah
- Character Studies of the Apostles
- Bible Character Studies of the Prophets
Questions to Answer in a Character Study
Let's circle to step 3 of working through a Bible character study – ask good questions. I like to ask a lot of questions when studying the Bible. Here are some of the most basic questions I ask.
- Who wrote about this character?
- Who else is key in this character's story?
- When is the character introduced?
- Where else in the Bible is this character mentioned?
- What is the historical background surrounding this character's life and situation?
- Where on the map did this story happen?
After gathering the basic details of the character's life and story I always go deeper. Here are some questions to help you go deeper too.
- Why did God include this character's story in the Bible?
- What did the character learn about God?
- How can I apply what they learned about God to my life?
- Did other characters learn from this person's life example?
- What deeper issues caused the main problems in this character's story?
- What kind of legacy did this character pass on?
- How did this character respond to God's interaction with them?
Life Lessons from Bible Character Studies
Every single Bible character has a life lesson to teach us. As you work through your study of a Bible character be sure to dig deep enough to find the lesson. The key to applying the life lessons from Bible characters and their traits is to understand the context of the scripture and spend time in prayer allowing God to teach the lesson.
Many times we read the Bible through our 21st Century lenses and then we struggle to understand what we read. Much of the Bible is filled with farming analogies, country lifestyle metaphors, and patriarchal rules. We understand very little about those today.
Don't be afraid to read other books to help you understand the Bible. Commentaries, Bible dictionaries, historical books and expository sermons all help us better understand the Bible. While they should never replace the Bible for us, they can be amazing tools to help unlock the wisdom within.
Resources for Doing Bible Character Studies
Some of my favorite resources for doing a Bible character study are free, but others are a small investment. To be 100% honest with you, I love to stick with free resources, but investing in growing in faith is worth it. You can only go so deep for free. Don't skimp on your faith!
- Google – I always start on Google. Always. Ask Google anything! Find verses to read and sources to cross-reference. Just be cautious because Google shares everything, and not everything is accurate.
- Bible Gateway – Next, I take the verses I find to either the Bible Gateway or U Version so I can read them in many versions of the Bible. I find that The Amplified Bible and The Message help me understand the text when it is super confusing. It is also great to have a side by side comparison of scripture!
If studying the Bible better is on your list of things to do this year, be sure to visit our Bible Study Resources page where you'll find everything you need to make Bible study a regular part of your daily routine.
Bible commentaries are thoroughly researched by people who eat sleep and breath the Bible and its History. Any time I am trying to understand a passage, especially when there are cultural references I don't understand, I open a commentary.
- Matthew Henry's Commentary of the Whole Bible
- John Gills Exposition of the Whole Bible Commentary
- The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (This one is more modern so the language is easier to understand)
- Chuck Smith Bible Commentary is another that is more modern
Books and Printables To Help You Study Bible Characters
Earlier I mentioned that Bible character studies are rare in the standard devotional or Bible study but they do come out from time to time. Here is a list of devotionals and Bible studies from Lifeway.
An interesting resource on Old Testament Character Studies is “Creative Bible Lessons from the Old Testament: 12 Character Studies of Surprisingly Modern Men and Women” by Laurie Polich which you can pick up on Amazon.
Bible Character Study is a hot topic in the Homeschool world. If you search TeahersPayTeachers you will find hundreds of worksheets and printables to buy for a small investment.
Free Bible Character Study Worksheets
A great list of Free Bible Study Worksheets is always at the top of my favorites list. I've taken the liberty to include some specifics from the list below to help you choose what you need to get started with your own Bible Character Studies.
- Bible Character study worksheet profile page from The Pelsers
- New Testament Character Study worksheets and Old Testament Character Study Worksheets from Notebooking Nook
- A Detailed characters study through Exodus with a focus on gratitude from Time Warped Wife
- There are several Bible study worksheets for free at The Scribes Portion including a Character study worksheet that is very beautiful.
Bible character studies are not hard to do. You don't have to be a Bible scholar, a preacher or even a faith blogger to try one out. The steps to get started are as simple as 1-2-3:
- Pick a character
- Search the Bible
- Ask good questions
Even if you've never struck out on your own to study the Bible, you can do this! The benefits will surprise you! I can't wait to hear which Bible character you choose to study!