How to do a Bible book summary is the next step in our series on Digging into the Word. If you’ve been following along, you’ve already started studying a short book of the Bible. Soon you will need these 5 easy steps.
Studying a book of the Bible verse-by-verse is a great way to increase your knowledge of God’s Word. It gives you the overall picture of a book instead of just looking at the topics the book covers or the events in a book. While it may seem intimidating to tackle an entire book of the Bible on your own, I have tried to make it easier by presenting each step systematically.
First, I covered how to do a book preview and provided a printable to help you in that task. Then I covered how to do a verse-by-verse study of the book and, again, provided a printable. Today we will be looking at the last step in the process, doing a book summary. Yes, there will be a printable!
But first I want to ask: have you started? Have you chosen a book to study, printed off the worksheets, gotten your pencil and notebook? Have you arranged to have some alone time for studying? Are you committed to completing this task? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” I must ask “Why?”
Are you scared? Drop me a quick note and I’ll help you any way I can. Are you unsure of the benefits? Take 20 or 30 minutes to read Psalm 119 and remind yourself of the benefits of God’s Word. Are you short on time? Can you eliminate some TV or Facebook to find the time? The truth is, we all do the things we believe are most important – we make the time and the arrangements to do them.
Now, I’m not trying to browbeat you or make you feel bad about yourself. But I do want to encourage you to prioritize time in God’s Word. You’ll never regret time in God’s Word; you’ll likely never remember what you watched on TV for more than a few days or weeks.
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How to Do a Book Summary
Just as with a book preview, you start by reading the entire book in one sitting at least once or twice. By this time, you should be very familiar with the content of the book, and the reading may seem routine. To avoid this trap, do two things: first, pray that the Lord will continue to make His Word come alive in your heart; second, try to read the book in a different version than the one you studied.
Second, you will want to re-read all your notes from the study, get out your Bible handbook, and write an outline of the book. This outline should reflect what you’ve learned, so even if you use the handbook to help you with verse divisions, make the chapter and section titles your own words.
Next, write out the key truths of the book. For example, in the book of James, one key truth could be “Real faith shows itself by its actions.” These key truths should be short and to the point statements of what you have learned. Don’t worry about what others might think; this is for you.
Fourth, write a summary paragraph of the entire book. Again, use your notes, your key truths, and the knowledge you’ve gained, and make this your paragraph. The paragraph should be short but cover the basics.
Finally, you get to the application stage. Summarize the applications you’ve had throughout the study, and then make one final application of the entire book. This should be something you could do within the next week, so you don’t forget or put it off. The application gives you the opportunity to respond to what the Lord has taught you through this book. The worksheet for doing a summary is found here. Other Bible study resources can be yours for signing up for my emails.
One Last Step
Make a point of deciding what book you will study next and when you will start that study. I have said elsewhere that doing a book study every two to three months is a good pace for beginners. In between books, fill your study time with published studies, devotionals, good Christian literature, and simply reading through portions of the Bible. Decide on a pace that will keep you studying regularly without overwhelming you.
Unsure of how and where to start? I suggest doing a book preview one week, then a chapter a week, and a book summary the final week of the study. You can go faster if you want; try not to go slower. For example, you might study Philippians for six weeks (preview, 4 chapters, summary), then spend four weeks on reading a Christian book and reading, but not studying, one or more gospel. Next, study James for seven weeks (preview, 5 chapters, summary), then spend six weeks on a published study. Just remember nothing substitutes for studying the Word for yourself. You can never read all the good books there are, nor do all the studies, nor keep up with all the devotionals. But you can, over your lifetime, study all the Bible. Systematically, consistently, purposefully.
I highly recommend the following Bible study guides for further information and instruction.