There are over 2900 names of people in the Bible. God gives to us a summary of the most vital and important things in their lives — as a warning, or an example to follow. We can learn by the mistakes of others; through also their victories we discover PRINCIPLES of Bible truth to apply daily. Read 1 Corinthians 10:10, 11 and Romans 15:4.
We learn the power of purity through Joseph; the loss of everything of value through lack of discipline of the heart and body through Samson. Lot teaches us the awful price of worldliness. Noah's life emphasizes both the principal of determination to believe God against the tide, and the tragic consequences of drunkenness.
The Holy Spirit wants to teach you how to apply Bible truth from the lives of others.
Note the many encouragements to your growth in study from John 14:26; 16:13.
- Make study “built into your life” as a daily habit, not “tacked on” for a group meeting or religious presentation.
- Studying with others regularly, however, is a great means of encouragement and motivation. Remember, if you don't study the Word of God you will backslide; if you don't pray you will faint (Luke 18:1).
- No one can study for you, or eat for you.
- The word “character” means a distinctive mark, an impression. Each person in Scripture has left us with an impression about their lives.
Tools for Biographical Study
- A Strong's or Young's Concordance, or the best complete concordance for the translation you use daily; it will become the most valuable study aid you have, apart from the original languages.
- Remember that a plain sheet of paper is all you need, coupled with discipline to study any of the methods available to you on this web site, or in my Notebook, if you still have a copy. There is a handy Biographical Study Guide ready to read and print. You can also read our list of Character Qualities For Bible Study here.
How to do a Biographical Study
- Note the list of possible studies of this kind elsewhere on this website, or in the Notebook. Those with an * (asterisk) take longer and are more difficult. Begin with short studies as you learn the method.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you; in prayer tell Him you will seek to apply any truth you learn, in your own life. We must be appliers, not just collectors of Biblical nuggets.
- Decide on a Bible character; look up all references in your Concordance; a Naves Topical Bible is also of great value. Jot down all references. Look them up in your Bible.
- Record all positive qualities and actions together; any negative together. List quality along with reference which gave you this idea.
- Prayerfully begin to note the reasons back of actions; use “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How.” Observe, visualize the background of the person, the historical setting of the story.
- Write down conclusions and observations about the person. What lesson can I learn? Isolate principles of conduct, attitudes, and actions that made the person what they were. What part did parents play in their development? Where is the Lord in their lives?
- Isolate one key truth as a challenge to your own life — or a warning — to heed. Concentrate on the positive Biblical principle that produces victory and the quality of an overcomer.
- Specific application is vital.
- After you have picked one idea, state WHY you need this truth in your own life. Illustrate if possible an example of NOT applying this truth at some time in your life.
- Write out what God is saying to DO now to personalize the truth in your life this week.
- The application should be personal enough that a friend or a “Paul” could check up to see what you have let God do to make the principle come alive in you. The Holy Spirit deals in specifics; Satan deals in generalities such as “you didn't pray enough.” The Spirit would point out a time and place He led you to pray, and you were “too busy” or substituted a “spiritual busy-work” for His guidance.
ASSIGNMENTS FOR GROWTH
Men might study the following people:
Asa (2 Chronicles 14-16);
Barnabus (Acts 4:36; 9:26-31; 11:22-26);
- Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30; 4:18).
Women might enjoy beginning with:
- Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2);
- Mary, Jesus' mother (Matthew 1:16-20; 2:11; 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:27-56; 2:5-34; Acts 1:14);
- The women in Matthew 1.
Ultimately there are four Old Testament men who are a part of the essence of New Testament teaching and doctrine. We should master the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and Elijah to properly interpret the New Testament.