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In the past, I’ve shared three easy ways to do a Bible study how to do a SOAP study, and even how to do verse mapping, but in this post, we are going to learn a different Bible study method: a Bible character study.
Some days, we open God’s Word and have no idea what to read or, perhaps, we wonder how those biblical people relate to us, in modern times. Maybe, you are just “stuck” in your Bible study and need to look at it in a different light.
For these reasons, I’m going to share with you, what a Bible character study is, why you would want to do a Bible character study, and how to do a Bible character study.
I’ve even included a free printable Bible character study worksheet for you to print and use in your future studies. (See the bottom of this post)
You don’t need to buy a Bible study book or even find a free one online, God’s Word was meant for you to read and study and you can do it on your own. I promise you will get so much out of it.
He wants you to spend time in His Bible because when you spend time in His Word, you are spending time with Him. God’s Word is powerful and transformative. His Word is alive and active, penetrating our hearts, teaching us and guiding us, renewing us, and convicting us.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
Even on the days you just don’t feel like studying or reading your Bible, or when you feel stuck or don’t know where to begin, I encourage you to open your Bible and perhaps, try a Bible character study.
Ask God for thirst and hunger for His Word and to reveal to you what He wants you to know in your study. I promise you that He will bless you, transform you and you will feel His love.
What is a Bible Character Study?
A Bible character study is a Bible study method that is focused on one person in scripture. It is done to learn more about the person, their lives, and key Bible verses as well as to learn from their mistakes, trials, and triumphs. It is also meant for us to understand their role in God’s plan and to learn how these lessons apply to our lives.
Why Do a Bible Character Study?
If you have never done a Bible character study, this method may seem a bit daunting to you, or you may wonder what the benefits would be.
Bible characters are human, just like you and I. They are sinners and have flaws, as well. Studying them can show us the struggles they faced, how they dealt with them, and how God used them and teach us lessons about how to live our lives in service to the Lord.
We can learn what we should and shouldn’t do as a believer and, it’s kind of neat to learn more about a Bible character in a more in-depth way than you may have learned about them before.
How to do a Bible Character Study – Step-by-Step
Bible character studies begin with choosing a character to study, finding key scripture about the character and asking then answering questions about the character’s life, and identifying how to apply the lessons learned in your own life.
I’m going to walk you through my own method (that you can do with the Bible character study worksheet) on your own, but I’ll share a bit about why each step is important and what you can learn from it.
1. Choosing a Bible Character to Study
You may decide to learn about someone you’ve recently read about. Perhaps you have been studying Ephesians and would like to know more about Paul or Tychicus. You might just choose a character that you admire, such as Esther or Ruth.
It doesn’t matter who you choose, you will learn from all of them! Some, you’ll find tons of information on; others, very little.
Once you’ve chosen your character, write their name in the “name” box.
2. When/Where Did they live
Looking at the timeline of this person in biblical history and where their story took place can reveal much about not just the person but their role in biblical history. You can dive deeper, if you wish, and look up what was happening in the world at the time this person lived.
Was it during the slavery of the Israelites? Was it during the forty years of wandering in the desert? Was it while Jesus ministered on earth? Look at the historical context to get a better understanding of the Bible character you are studying.
3. Summary of the Character’s Story
In this step, you’ll be looking up their stories and the passages and verses they are in. You need to have an understanding of who they are before you can complete some of the other steps later on. Some characters will have A LOT of content on them, others will have a short story. For those that have a plethora of passages, it’s okay to skim through them to get an overall feel of who this person is, what they’ve done, and what they’re known for. But it’s more than okay to read all about them.
This study doesn’t have to be finished in one go. You can spend a few days on this study. It’s entirely up to you and how much you want to learn.
When you feel like you have a good understanding of this character’s story, write a summary of it. Write down some highlights and some key points in their life. Jot down some things that stood out to you. But because this is a summary, keep it short. Narrow things down. Try and write only a handful of sentences or bullet points.
4. Key Bible Verses
Now that you’ve read about this person and have a good feel for their story in scripture, pull out a few key Bible verses and jot them down. You can choose just the chapter and verse name and number or, you can write out the whole verse. That is entirely up to you, however, I find that writing scripture has many benefits.
Can you identify any of this character’s relatives? If so, add them here. This is especially enlightening when we look at the lineage of Christ, but also interesting to note if relatives are mentioned here. Their relatives may be a good starting point for your next Bible character study.
6. Major Events
Similar to the summary above, but more specific, which major Bible events were this person involved in or did they live during? For example the flood or Jesus’ time on earth. If you have time or desire, you can use an online Bible study tool or one of the reference books mentioned above to learn more about the significance of these events in biblical history.
7. Did Their Character Change Over Time? If so, how?
Did the character start out one way and have a conversion over time? For example, Paul hated Christians and even mocked them worse. Later, he became one of the most important biblical figures. Use this section to really look at the character and note the lessons you can learn for the next section.
8. How did God Use Them
God uses the “lowliest” and the sinner in His Ultimate Plan. And, everything in scripture points to Christ and His redemption for us. The same thing for each of the people we read about in the Bible.
Sometimes they exemplify Christ. Other times their actions point us to God’s plan. Some people are in the physical lineage of Christ. Other characters reveal some of God’s attributes, whether in their example or how God interacts with that character.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you complete this step: do they exemplify Christ, and if so, how? Do their actions point to Christ and what He has done for us, and if so, how? Are they in the lineage of Christ? What attributes do they reveal about God? How do they fit in God’s redemptive plan for us? How does their sin and/or their righteousness point us to Christ?
9. What Can I Learn from Them?
Regardless of who your chosen Bible character is, there is something you can learn from them. Either you can learn to do something that they did, OR you can learn what not to do based on what they wrongly did or didn’t do. This is the application portion of this study. Look over the previous steps you’ve done to formulate some lessons that you can apply to your own life.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself: what did this person do in their walk with God that I can be doing in mine? What things did this person do or not do that I need to be doing or not doing? How did this person grow in their faith in God? What can I learn from their mistakes?
10. What Would I Ask Them If I Could?
If you were to sit down to dinner with the character you have chosen to study, what would you ask them? What would you talk about?
Use this question to tease out answers to how you would apply the lessons you’ve learned in this Bible character study in your life.
What you ask, is important to you and maybe how God is shining a light on something in your life.
Perhaps, you enjoy biblical history, and the questions you ask might point to something you’d like to study more about.
11. How Do I Apply These Lessons to My Life?
Review the other parts of your study and go back over the Scripture passages. Ask the Lord to show you some principles you should apply or some characteristics you need to build or strengthen—or avoid—in your life.
If possible, include in this section the Scripture passage from the principle taken. Jot down what needs to be corrected or improved in your life regarding this principle or characteristic. If you can refer to a specific example of the attitudes or actions you need to change, this will clarify your application and also help you see the changes in your life as you look back later.
Now record what you plan to do—in cooperation with the Holy Spirit—to help conform your life more to the image of Christ. Your part is to yield your will to Him and take steps to obey what He has shown you in His Word.
Your step of action might be to do more Bible study on certain subjects, spend more time in prayer and fellowship with God, do something practical for those in need, praise God for His goodness, or any number of things, according to the need you have recognized.
Bible Character Study Freeform
If you don’t want to use a template or Bible character worksheet, you can do one in a simple notebook, your war binder, or a blank sheet of paper.
After you have chosen the character, you want to study and locate and read the references to this person. Use an online lookup tool or a concordance to find these references or simply look for references as you read the Bible.
Consider exploring these questions in your Bible character study:
- When is this character introduced? What is the historical background?
- What do I know about this person in terms of his or her relationship with God, family members, and the community? What is this person’s profession? What else do I know about this person?
- What happens to this person? What actions does this person take? Does he or she initiate action, respond to circumstances, or both?
- What dilemmas does he or she face? What hard choices does he or she make?
- When and where did they live?
- What are some key verses related to this person?
- What gifts did God give this person? Where did God place this person? What seems to be his or her purpose?
- Do I identify with the character? Why or why not? How am I alike or different from the character? Does this change as the story progresses or as I learn more about this person?
- When thinking about this person and his or her life, what do I find intriguing, scary, and/or comforting?
- How does God act on his or her behalf?
- What I have learned that I can apply to my life?
As you reflect and research the answers to the questions, write down your responses or the answers. Take your time. Pray over the passages to allow God to speak to you through your study. Identify ways to apply what you learn to your daily life.
Learning how to do a Bible character study is a great way to dive deeper into God’s Word, learn more about scripture, and grow in your faith. When you’re struggling to know what to read and what to study or a Bible character stands out to you during your daily reading time, I encourage you to try out this Bible study method.
If you’d prefer to use a Bible character study worksheet, click the image below (2 pages) to download the PDF which I have created and use.
Have you done a Bible character study before? What did you learn from it? Which Bible character will you study next?
I’m sharing this video below with a sermon of a Bible character study for you to hear what can be included in such a study.
Because of Him,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”