How to Write and Lead 30 Minute Bible Studies

By Narelle Atkins


Teaching God’s word through small group Bible studies is an important and fulfilling ministry. Have you thought about writing your own Bible studies and then wondered whether or not you’re qualified to do so? In this article we will go through our approach to creating Bible studies, including:

  • working out what to study;
  • the deductive method of Bible studies;
  • formulating appropriate questions to meet the needs of your group;
  • an example of developing a Bible study series;
  • an example of a step by step approach for developing a Bible study;
  • avoiding heresy;
  • handling difficult questions; and
  • maintaining effective group dynamics and confidentiality.

Conception of 30 Minute Bible Studies

Back in 2004, Deb and I made the decision to start writing Bible study questions that met the unique needs of our group members. Our big issue was time. Our children were small and with all the interruptions it would have taken us two or three hours to do a typical one hour Bible study. We had a two hour time slot, assuming everyone arrived on time. Prayer and fellowship were important elements of our group that we didn’t want to leave out. So we wrote questions that were designed to take thirty minutes without interruptions. We wrote application questions that were relevant to our group members. And the 30 Minute Bible Study concept was born.

What to study?

The questions you’ll need to ask are:

  • What does your group want to study?
  • What is the make up of your group? For example, does your group consist of new or mature Christians, or a mix of both? Do they lack Old Testament Bible knowledge? Do they understand important Biblical concepts?
  • What is your group interested in learning? For instance, are they interested in learning about specific people or a particular book in the Bible?

You’ll find numerous Bible study resources at your local Christian book store. Our blog also provides resources that you may find helpful.

Method of Bible Study

We use a deductive Bible study method where we systematically explore the meaning of the set Bible passages in the context of the Bible as a whole. It’s a process of discovering Biblical truths that can then be applied to the life situation of group members. This is a widely used method of Bible Study that relies on the Bible as the absolute truth and the source of all the answers to the study questions.

For example, our Gospel of Mark studies are an in depth, verse by verse approach to Bible study. We worked our way through the Gospel of Mark, studying each verse in the context of the Gospel of Mark and the Bible as a whole. Our Messages from the Messiah studies explore different Biblical themes. Our People of the Old and New Testament studies focus on a particular person in the Bible.

How to write Bible Study questions

It’s essential to consider the purpose of your questions. The questions should do a number of things. They should help group members to understand the meaning of the Bible verses for the original readers. The questions should reveal the context of the Bible passage; how the passage relates to Jesus’ teachings and fits into the Bible as a whole. The questions should challenge group members to think about the implications of the Bible verses to them. It’s also helpful to consider the actions and motivations of the people in the passage. For example, in Study Ten of our Gospel of Mark studies we ask questions like: “Why did the disciples wake Jesus?” and “Of what were they afraid?” (Mark 4 verses 38 and 41). The questions should help you and your group members to apply the Biblical truths to your own lives.

Try to avoid questions that rely on “stating the obvious”. If you have seekers or new Christians in your group then a few easy questions can give them confidence and help them to feel more comfortable in your group. You don’t want to frame questions that force a meaning which isn’t there in the related passage. This can be problematic when writing topical or issues based Bible studies. Avoid picking out verses from here and there and throwing them together to present your viewpoint on a specific topic or issue. Always look at the Bible as a whole and don’t ignore the passages that contradict your initial premise. Your application questions should not misrepresent the meaning of the passage.

It’s important to be careful that you don’t have a strong bias in the studies that leads people down a particular road. You can’t assume that even if all your group members attend the same church that they share the same set of beliefs in all areas. The Christian faith contains different denominations precisely because there are gray areas that people can’t come to an agreement over. Well known examples include the debates on creationism versus evolution and predestination versus free will. Treat each other’s opinions with respect. Even if you disagree, do so with a loving attitude.

Phrase your study questions in such a way that they are not too open-ended but are not a simple yes or no answer either. If a question appears to have a simple yes or no answer, then dig deeper and ask why. It’s important to not only learn Biblical truths but to understand why they are important and the underlying foundation for these beliefs. For example, in our Abraham and Sarah studies, God makes a covenant with Abraham. It’s great to know that God made a promise to Abraham: God would give him land, his descendents would be a great nation and they would be blessed. But it’s important to understand why this covenant is significant and how it fits into God’s overall plan of salvation through Jesus.

Writing application questions

Writing application questions can be a challenging exercise. In general, the last one or two questions in your study will be application questions. You want to challenge group members to consider the Biblical truths they have learned in your study and how they are relevant to them and can be applied to their individual life situation. Some groups will have a strong caring and sharing element and detailed discussions will be generated from the application questions. Other groups will have members who prefer to individually ponder the set questions and there will be limited discussion. Knowing your group members and their comfort levels in sharing can be very helpful when writing application questions.

The process of developing a series of studies

As an example of how we develop our studies, I have outlined below a summary of Deb’s approach to preparing our James’ Bible studies.

1. Preparation

Our group decided that they would like to study the book of James. We prayed about this and Deb started to prepare the studies. Deb firstly read James all the way through, without any notes or distractions. Things came to mind that she wanted to share with our group and work on ourselves. Deb noted difficult sections that would require additional help to understand.

Deb then read “Vital Signs”, a commentary by John Dickson and Simon Smart (Aquila Press 2006). This assisted her in preparing her studies, providing cross references to other Bible passages and ideas for questions to bring out the main themes.

She started to divide the letter of James into “bite-sized” chunks for study. She found these sections didn’t neatly line up with either the chapters in Vital Signs or the headings in her New International Version (NIV) Bible. So she read over her notes again and started from the beginning; refining questions and adding other verses for illustration and understanding.

Our first James’ Bible study will be an introductory study. An introductory study gives the group a chance to “meet” the person who wrote the book or letter, and maybe discover a little about the circumstances in which it was written. Things to consider included: the intended audience of the time, the context and the kind of writing it is, especially whether it is descriptive (what happened), prescriptive (commands and advice about how to live) or even apocalyptic (about the end of the world), symbolic, poetic etc.

James introduces himself and his intended audience in the opening chapter. He calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. “Vital Signs” points out that the title of servant is one of both humility and honour, for a servant both serves the master and speaks on the master’s behalf. Verses from the Gospels, Acts, 1 Corinthians and Galatians helped to establish the identity of the author of this letter as James, the brother of Jesus. James was a well respected figure in the early church, although he did not believe in Jesus until after his resurrection. James met the risen Jesus, he was regarded as a leader in Jerusalem and he was considered an apostle by Paul. In 62 AD he was martyred for his faith.

James’ intended audience were the Jewish Christians who had been scattered among the nations, many after the death of Stephen. Writing for the “Twelve Tribes” affected his choice of examples and emphases in the same way that it affected Paul writing for a primarily Gentile Christian audience. James’ closeness to Jesus is evident in his phraseology and his bluntness, often so similar to his brother’s own teaching, especially the famous Sermon on the Mount. Deb found she had seven questions regarding the first verse of James, with 13 other references to help draw out all of the above.

2. Drafting the questions

From the first verse of James, Deb wanted to get across James’ identity, his audience and his intentions in writing the letter. She wanted to draw out the similarity of style James’ shares with Jesus and how the letter of James is relevant to us.

Hebrews 4:12 says: “For the word of God is living 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.” 1 Timothy 3:16 and 17 adds, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”‘

She decided that the above verses were a good foundation upon which to write application question. She wanted to hear how our group members think the Bible is relevant, and maybe find out some of the pre-conceived notions they might have about James.

The remainder of the questions used the format of: How; What; Where; Why; and When questions. Deb wanted the questions to flow naturally as we examined James 1:1 and the other verses that help introduce us to James and his first century readers. The questions needed to be simple so they could be answered by someone who might not be familiar with the Bible or for whom English is not their first language. At least one question must ask: “How will you respond to what you have heard today?”

3. Road testing our studies

Deb and I test and refine our rough drafts before we present them to our group, and we run a “practice” study. During our practice study we pull out questions that don’t make sense, questions that can be answered so simply that the point is easily missed or insensitive application questions. This is the stage we are now up to with James.

Deb and I also brainstorm the most difficult or distracting questions and side-tracks that may pop up. This gives us an opportunity to do some extra research and to try and have an answer ready in case it comes up in our group.

Step by step example of writing questions for a specific study

There are many questions that can be drawn from a Bible passage. In this section, we provide a brief description of how we wrote Mark Study Ten. We chose to do a verse by verse approach of study for the Gospel of Mark. For a thirty minute time frame we wanted no more than eight or nine questions. We looked at the natural breaks and sections within the chapters. We ended up splitting the Gospel of Mark up into forty five short studies, starting at Mark 1:1.

Mark Study Ten includes the verses in Mark 4:30-41. The NIV Bible splits these verses into two sections: The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-34) and Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41). In Mark Study Eight we asked questions that defined the meaning and purpose of parables. So we didn’t need to cover this again in detail. Our group had an understanding from previous studies about why Jesus taught using parables. We consulted our reference books, including The Servant King: Reading The Bible Today – Mark by Paul Barnett (Aquila Press 2006). These books and commentaries helped us to understand the meaning of these verses.

We discovered that Ezekiel 17:22-24 contains prophesy about Jesus. The Messianic promise in these verses uses the imagery of God’s kingdom being like a tree. This led us to thinking about how the Bible often describes kingdoms as being like trees that provide shelter. So we had the foundation for our first question: The Bible often describes kingdoms as being like trees that provide shelter. (Read Ezekiel 17:22-24) What is special about the tree in Jesus’ parable?

We then looked at Mark 4:30-32: ‘Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”‘

The above verses talk about the mustard seed being the smallest seed you can plant. Yet the mustard seed grows and can become the largest plant in the garden. We thought about the parallels with God’s kingdom and formulated our second question: Out of what small beginning does God’s kingdom grow?

Next we studied Mark 4:33-34: “With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything”.

Jesus explained many Biblical truths through the telling of parables. Then later he would explain in detail the meaning of the parables to His disciples. We pondered the length of time and numerous discussions that Jesus would have had with His disciples. We thought about what affect Jesus’ teaching of His disciples would have on the Kingdom of God. This led to our third question: How did Jesus’ slow and patient teaching of His small band of disciples grow His kingdom?

Since we were looking at two different sections in one study, we decided that three questions on the first section would be sufficient, given our time constraints. We chose to write three questions plus an application question at the end on the next section of verses.

We next looked at Mark 4:35-38: ‘That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”‘

We thought about what it would have been like to be one of the disciples in this situation. The disciples were stuck on a boat during a fierce storm, with waves breaking over the boat. How would they have felt? Did they fear the boat would sink? And what would they have thought about Jesus, who was asleep at the back of the boat whilst the storm surrounded them? This led to our fourth question: Why did the disciples wake Jesus?

For our fifth and sixth questions, we studied Mark 4:38-41. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

We considered addressing the concept of miracles in this study. After reviewing the next few chapters, we decided that Mark Studies Thirteen and Fifteen were a better place to explore this issue. Again, time constraints played a big factor in our decision. We wanted to define why the disciples were afraid, which became our fifth question: Of what were they afraid in verses 38 and 41?

Jesus’ response to the disciple’s fear of drowning was insightful. He challenged the disciples to consider why they were afraid and how that related to their faith. We pondered why the disciples might have lacked faith in Jesus. This became the foundation for our sixth question: What faith did they lack?

We looked at the overall meaning of the passages. How could what we learned in these verses be applied to our lives? The disciples faced a difficult situation during the storm and Jesus questioned their level of faith in Him. Did the disciples believe that Jesus would look after them? Did they understand that Jesus had authority over nature and could calm the storm if He chose? We thought about how our faith affects the way we cope with difficult situations in our own lives and came up with our application question: How can faith impact on the way we cope with difficult circumstances?

Tailoring studies for your group

Studies can be customized to suit the needs of your group members. For example, you could use the questions in our studies and mould them to be more relevant for your group. This can be helpful if you want to increase the theological depth of the study to make the study more interesting and challenging for group members. On the other hand, decreasing the theological depth of the study can help seekers and new Christians understand and learn the more basic theological concepts. It’s a matter of knowing your groups needs and setting the study at the right level. But you need to know what you’re doing. You don’t want to lose the essential meaning of the studies by adding or removing questions.

“Postcard from Palestine” by Andrew Reid (Matthias Media) is an excellent resource that will give you more information on how to write Bible studies. Other resources we recommend and have used in the preparation of Bible studies include: NIV Study Bible, New Bible Commentary, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale commentaries, The Bible Speaks Today series and Reading The Bible Today series (Aquila Press).

Leading Bible Studies: How to avoid heresy

A major concern for all Bible study leaders should be to avoid teaching heresy. Heresy is doctrine that is contrary to the teachings in the Bible. In 1 Timothy, we are warned to look out for teachers who teach false doctrines. The consequences of teaching heresy are spelled out in the following verses.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 says: “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain”.

In James we are told to take very seriously the role of teaching God’s word. James 3:1 says: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”.

As a leader you need to understand the theological concepts that you are teaching your group members. Formal theological training is very helpful because it provides you with a strong foundation of Biblical knowledge to draw upon. Reading books written by well-respected Biblical scholars on the subject matter before you lead the study is also a good idea. Prepare detailed leaders notes so you will be familiar with the concepts being discussed. It’s a good idea to anticipate in advance some of the curly questions that may arise from the study.

Tangents and difficult questions

Be prepared for difficult questions in advance. If your group is under a tight time schedule then you can set up “group rules” where you don’t discuss tangents or complex and difficult questions that aren’t directly related to the study until a later date. You could have an “Ask a Question” week where you gather up all the difficult questions and discuss the answers. This is always a good week to ask your Pastor to visit your group, so your Pastor can address these difficult questions for you.

You will never know all the answers to all the questions asked in your group. Be honest and admit when you don’t know an answer. You can find out the answer for the group later. Always remember that some tangents can be helpful and will add an additional level of understanding to the subject matter at hand. As the leader this is your call to make, as well as shutting down tangents that are irrelevant or distracting group members from focusing on the content of the study.


For some groups it can be helpful to set homework. If a number of your group members have read the passages beforehand then the whole discussion will probably be deeper and more considered. If a study contains lots of passages from various parts of the Bible, it may be helpful to print out the Bible passages and distribute copies to your group members. This will save time by not having to flick through the Bible in search of passages. It can also be less embarrassing for those who are not so familiar with the Bible to have a print out of the Bible passages in front of them. It’s helpful to do this if you have group members who regularly forget to bring their Bibles to the study group.


Make prayer a normal part of your study. Before the study: Pray that God will reveal Himself to you as you read and study His word. After the study: Pray for something you have learned and want to apply to you life.

Group confidentiality

Group confidentiality is very important. Set rules so that your group members are aware of their responsibilities. Prayer points need to be kept confidential and are not to be discussed outside the group without permission from the relevant group members. Gossip outside the group about personal comments made within the group will only cause dissension and grief for everyone involved.

Following Jesus’ example

As a leader you need to aspire to follow Jesus’ example in how he taught others. Don’t be judgmental or arrogant in the way you teach and lead your studies. Avoid making group members feel inferior or guilty. Show love, generosity and humility as you lead others to grow in their faith. Be a good role model and example for your group members. The way you live your life will have an impact on the members of your group.

This article is intended as a short introduction on our approach to writing and leading Bible studies. I hope you have found this article informative and welcome your feedback. I encourage you to keep on teaching God’s word and leading your group members to a greater understanding of the Bible so they can grow in their faith.

Mark Studies 38-45 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark Studies 38-45

Mark Study 38

Read Mark 14: 1-11

1. What is the “Passover”?

2. Why might the people have rioted?

3. Why did the woman pour expensive perfume on Jesus’ head?

4. Why did this upset the disciples?

5. What is Jesus’ response?

6. What teaching and warning does Jesus give the disciples?

7. What does Judas Iscariot then do, and why?

8. How do we show our devotion to Jesus?

Mark Study 39

Read Mark 14: 12-26

1. What new meaning did Jesus bring to the Passover Meal (The Lord’s Supper)?

2. Why is it significant that Jesus’ death happened at the Passover?

3. Why do we include the Lord’s Supper in our church services?

Read John 1: 29 and 1 Corinthians 5: 7

4. How do the disciples react when Jesus declares that one of the twelve will betray him? (verse 18)

5. What does Jesus mean when he says: “You will all fall away”?

6. Why does Peter declare that he will be different and not fall away?

7. What does this show us about the promises we make to God?

Mark Study 40

Read Mark 14: 32-42

1. Why did Jesus go to Gethsemene?

2. Why did Jesus take Peter, James and John with him?

3. What does Jesus’ prayer reveal about his humanity and his relationship with God?

4. Why did Jesus rebuke his disciples for falling asleep?

5. What does this passage teach us about:

  • God
  • Prayer, and
  • being a good friend?
Read Mark 14: 43-52

6. How was Jesus betrayed?

  • by Judas,
  • by the Jewish Authorities, and
  • by the Disciples?

7. What was Jesus’ response to being arrested? (Read Isaiah 53:7 and Mark 10:33)

Mark Study 41

Read Mark 14:53-65

1. Where was Jesus taken after his arrest?

2. Of what crime was Jesus accused?

3. Were the Sanhedrin interested in the truth?

4. What conclusion did the Sanhedrin draw? (verse 64)

Read Mark 14: 66-72

5. Why was Peter in the courtyard?

6. Why did Peter deny he knew Jesus three times?

7. How did Peter respond when he heard the rooster crow twice?

8. In what way do we deny Jesus?

Mark Studies 32-37 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark

Mark Study 32

Read Mark 11:27-33

1. Why were the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law questioning Jesus’ authority?

2. What was Jesus’ response and why?

3. Where did the chief priests’ authority come from?

4. Why do they have difficulty answering Jesus’ question about John the Baptist?

5. Where does Jesus’ authority come from?

6. What characterises the religion of the Jewish authorities at this time as opposed to Jesus’ teachings?

7. What are the dangers for the modern church authorities and how can we best look to God?

Mark Study 33

Read Mark 12: 1-12

1. What is meant by:

  • The Vineyard (Read Isaiah 5:1-7)
  • The Servants
  • The Son
  • The Owner
  • The Tenants
  • The Inheritance

2. What do the authorities understand Jesus to be saying?

3. What is their response?

4. What does it mean for Jesus to be the “capstone”? (Read Psalm 118:22-23

5. Why does Jesus talk in parables?

6. What insight does this give us into God’s plan for salvation?

Mark Study 34

Read Mark 12:13-17

1. Why did the Pharisees and Herodians ask this question?

2. What are the implications for Jesus if he answers either “yes” or “no”?

3. What is Jesus’ answer? Why?

4. Why were the crowd amazed?

5. What does Jesus’ answer mean for us today?

Read Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17

6. What do we “owe” God?

Mark Studies 25-31 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark Studies 25-31

Mark Study 25

Read Mark 10:1-12

1. Why do the Pharisees ask Jesus this particular question at this point in time? (Remember John the Baptist and Herod in Study 14, Mark 6:14-29.)

2. Why did Jesus refer to Moses in His response?

3. What was God’s original idea for marriage? How did this arrangement protect women and children?

Read Malachi 2:15-16

4. Why does God hate divorce?

Read John 4:7-18

5. How did Jesus treat this divorced Samaritan woman, and why did it shock her?

Read Mark 10:13-16

6. What does it mean to have a “child-like” faith?

7. How can one receive the Kingdom of God like a child?

Mark Study 26

Read Mark 10:17-31

1. In verse 15 Jesus told people how to receive the Kingdom of God. What has this young man misunderstood in asking what he must “do” to receive eternal life?

2. What does it mean to be “good”? What is Jesus saying about himself?

3. What are the 10 commandments? (Read Exodus 20) How has this young man broken the first commandment?

4. What is the “Treasure in Heaven” to which Jesus refers?

5. What does Jesus ask the young man to do? Why does he walk away?

6. Why is it so hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? How can we be saved?

7. What does this passage tell us about how God’s perception of His people differs from the world’s perception?

8. What idols do we put before God?

Mark Study 27

Read Mark 10:32-34

1. Why are Jesus and His disciples going to Jerusalem? (Contrast Jesus’ sense of purpose with the bewilderment of the disciples)

Read Mark 10:34-45

2. What do James and John ask for?

3. What would it really mean to receive it?

4. What is Jesus about to do for them? What do the cup and baptism represent?

5. What light does this passage shed on the relationship between Jesus and God the Father?

6. What does it mean to be great in God’s Kingdom? How is Jesus our example in this?

7. What does this mean for us in our:

  • Relationships with others
  • Role in the Church
  • Attitude in prayer

Mark Study 28

Read Mark 10:46-52

1. Why did Bartimaeus say “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”? (Read Isaiah 35:3-6 and Psalm 51:1)

2. Why was Bartimaeus told to be quiet?

3. Who had the better understanding of Jesus’ mission?

4. What did Jesus mean by “your faith has healed you”?

5. What was Bartimaeus’ response?

6. How was he different from the “rich young man”? (Refer Study 26: Mark 10:17-31. Hint: What was the rich young man’s name?)

7. What can we expect when we pray for healing?

Mark Studies 16-24 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark Studies 16-24

Mark Study 16

Read Mark 7: 1-23

1. During the Babylonian captivity the Jewish rabbis made many new rules to help the people keep the Law of Moses. These “Traditions of the elders” were written down in 200 AD in the “Mishnah”. What tradition had the disciples broken?

2. What was it in the marketplace that was considered to be “unclean? (Or whom?) Why?

3. What is Jesus’ accusation against the Pharisees and teachers of the law?

4. How did Jesus’ teaching differ from theirs?

5. What does Jesus say makes a person unclean?

6. What traditions can distract us from seeking God whole-heartedly?

7. Why do people sometimes call Christians hypocrites?

Mark Study 17

Read Mark 7: 24-30

1. When Jesus hesitated before healing it is usually because he has an important point to make. What is the meaning of the mini-parable he tells?

2. In Jesus’ time a slang word for “Gentile” (i.e. non-Jew) was “dog”. Accepting she is not one of the “children”, in what does the woman put her faith?

3. This woman is the only person to address Jesus as “Lord” in the whole of Mark’s gospel. What has she understood that the disciples have missed?

Read Mark 7: 31-37

4. Why did Jesus heal the man privately?

5. Why did Jesus command the people to not talk about the healing?

6. Read Isaiah 35:4-6. What is the significance of this particular miracle? How does it point to Jesus’ true identity?

7. What risks did Jesus take in healing people, both personally and in compromising his mission? How can the church show true compassion without becoming just another charity?

Mark Study 18

Read Mark 8: 1-13

1. What is Jesus’ response to people in need?

2. How do the disciples respond?

3. What is the church’s response to people in need today?

4. Why did Jesus perform miracles for the crowd but refuse to do so for the Pharisees?

5. What signs of God’s kingdom had already accompanied Jesus’ teaching?

6. Why were the Pharisees blind to these signs?

7. Do miracles help people believe and have faith? What signs of God’s kingdom at work can we see today?

Mark Study 19

Read Mark 8: 14-21

1. A tiny amount of yeast ferments a large amount of dough. In the previous passage the Pharisees had demanded a sign. Their religion was very legalistic. Herod, on the other hand, was a ruthless politician and employed military might to get his way. What corrupting “yeast” does Jesus warn the disciples to avoid? What were the risks their influences posed in corrupting the early church?

2. What corruption does the church face today? In what should our faith be?

3. Why does the disciples’ discussion about bread frustrate Jesus?

4. What does it indicate about their faith in his ability and willingness to provide for them?

5. What explanation did Jesus provide for why some people do not understand His teachings?

Read Mark 8: 22-26

6. How are the disciples like the blind man?

7. How is Jesus’ compassion evident in this healing? Why is it done away from the village?

8. What does it take for people to see Jesus clearly?

Mark Studies 8-15 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark Studies 8-15

Mark Study 8

Read Mark 4: 1-20

1. What kind of teaching is a parable?

2. How is the word of God sown?

3. Under what conditions does it fail to prosper?

4. When does it thrive?

5. How are the secrets of the kingdom revealed?

6. How is this parable a key to all others?

7. How can our hearts be “good soil” for God’s word? What will be the result?

Mark Study 9

Read Mark 4: 21-25

1. In what way was Jesus like a light that had entered a dark room? (Read John 1:4-9)

2. How can Jesus’ words shine forth?

3. What “measure” do we bring to Jesus that will always be filled to overflowing?

4. How can we increase our receptiveness to Jesus’ words?

Read Mark 4: 26-29

5. How did Jesus broaden the disciples’ understanding of His role, not only as sower but also as reaper?

6. How is the mundane action of a plant growing like the time between accepting Christ and the day of judgement?

7. What warning is there for us in this short parable about the Kingdom of God?

Mark Study 10

Read Mark 4: 30-34

1. The Bible often describes kingdoms as being like trees that provide shelter. (Read Ezekiel 17:22-24) What is special about the tree in Jesus’ parable?

2. Out of what small beginning does God’s Kingdom grow?

3. How did Jesus’ slow and patient teaching of His small band of disciples grow His kingdom?

Read Mark 4: 35-41

4. Why did the disciples wake Jesus?

5. Of what were they afraid in verses 38 and 41?

6. What faith did they lack?

7. How can faith impact on the way we cope with difficult circumstances?

Mark Study 11

Read Mark 5: 1-20

1. What power did the demons have over this man? Of what were the demons afraid?

2. How was Jesus’ power even greater?

3. Of what were the people of this region afraid?

4. The healed man and the townspeople made very different requests of Jesus. How did this reveal their priorities? What do our requests of Jesus reveal about our priorities?

5. This time Jesus does not ask the healed person to keep quiet, but sends him home as a missionary. What was his message and how might it have been received?

6. What kind of impression did the healed man make, and why?

7. Has the message that missionaries bring today changed? How is their message received?

Mark Studies 1-7 ~ Bible Study Questions

Gospel of Mark Studies 1-7

Mark Study 1

Read Mark 1: 1-18

1. What is the “gospel” (good news) about Jesus?

2. In the Old Testament God promised to send a messenger to prepare the way for His Messiah (or Christ). In the light of these prophesies, what was John’s own understanding of his mission?

3. What was John’s message?

4. What is the first step to receiving Jesus? (see v.4)

Read Mark 1: 9-13

5. Why was Jesus baptised? Who endorses Jesus’ mission and how?

6. What is the first thing Jesus does on His mission? Who sent Him and what was achieved? (Read Matthew 4:11 for more detail)

7. Can Jesus understand what we go through when we are tempted? How was Jesus’ experience similar to ours and how was it different?

Mark Study 2

Read Mark 1: 14-20

1. Jesus declares that the moment has come to join God’s kingdom. How does one join?

2. What does Jesus ask the fishermen to do?

Read Mark 1: 21-28

3. How was Jesus’ teaching different from that of the teachers of the law?

4. What is the significance of the evil spirit recognising Jesus?

5. What was the reaction of the people who witnessed Jesus casting out the evil spirit?

Read Mark 1: 29-34

6. Who did Jesus heal?

7. Why did Jesus tell the demons to stay quiet?

8. List the different reactions to Jesus’ early ministry in this study. Which of these do we see today?

Mark Study 3

Read Mark 1: 35-39

1. What do Jesus’ actions first thing in the morning show about His priorities?

2. In verse 38, what does Jesus say is His purpose for coming?

Read Mark 1: 40-45

3. How is Jesus’ compassion shown to the man with leprosy?

4. Jesus instructed the man not to tell everyone. Why did the man do so anyway and what were the consequences?

5. Why does Jesus heal when the publicity threatens His freedom to preach?

6. How does understanding Jesus’ priorities in this study help to guide us when we pray?

Mark Study Four

Read Mark 2: 1-12

1. According to Jesus, what was the paralysed man’s greatest need?

2. What was the reaction of the teachers of the law?

3. What does Jesus reveal about His authority through His words and actions?

4. How did the crowd react to the paralytic being healed?

Read Mark 2: 13-17

5. Who was Jesus having dinner with at Levi’s house?

6. What advantage do the “sinners” have over the religious teachers in following Jesus?

7. How can self-righteousness hinder us?

Proverbs ~ Bible Study Questions

Proverbs Studies 1-8

Proverbs Study 1 – The Wisdom of Solomon

Read 1 Kings 2:1-4

1. What advice did David give Solomon?

Read 1 Kings 3:4-15

2. What did Solomon ask of the Lord? Why?

3. What else did God promise Solomon?

Read 1 Kings 3:16-28

4. How was Solomon’s wisdom first demonstrated?

Read 1 Kings 4:29-34, 5:12, 10:1-9 and 10:23-24

5. How did Israel benefit from Solomon’s wisdom?

6. What was the effect of Israel’s wise ruler on the surrounding nations?

Read 1 Kings 11:1-13

7. What led to Solomon’s downfall? What were the consequences for the kingdom of Israel?

Read Luke 11:27-31

8. What did Jesus recognise as the ultimate wisdom? (v28)

9. How can we be wise?

Recommended Reading: 1 Kings 2-4 and 11

Proverbs Study 2 – An Introduction to the Book of Proverbs

Read Proverbs 1:1-7

1. What is the purpose of these proverbs, and for whom were they intended?

2. On what should true wisdom be based?

Read Proverbs 1:8-19

3. What temptations does this introduction warn against? What consequences?

Read Proverbs 1:20-33

4. Why might Solomon have presented Wisdom as a woman? What relationship does he encourage young men to have with Wisdom? (See also 7:4)

5. Why do people reject wisdom and what are the consequences?

Read Corinthians 1:18-31 and 2:13-16

6. What does it mean for Jesus to be our wisdom?

7. What will characterise a person who has the mind of Christ?

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 1 and 7

Proverbs Study 3 – The Fear of the Lord

1. What is fear and when is it useful?

2. What attributes and characteristics of God inspire fear?

Read Deuteronomy 31:12-13

3. How do God’s people learn to fear Him?

Read Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 3:1-8

4. How does a proper fear of the Lord lead to trust in His greater wisdom?

Read Proverbs 14:26-27, 15:33 and 19:23

5. How does the fear of the Lord lead to security?

Read Proverbs 14:2, 19:3 and 28:14

6. What foolish ways result from not fearing God?

Read Philippians 2:12-16

7. How can fearing the Lord help us to live our lives according to God’s will?

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 3 and 14

Proverbs Study 4 – The Moral Benefits of Wisdom

Read Proverbs 2

1. How does Chapter 2 assert that a person can find protection from following wicked ways?

2. What evils are warned against, and what are the consequences of following this path?

Read Proverbs 5

3. What advice is given to help a young man avoid the sin of adultery? How is this relevant to sin in general?

Read Proverbs 6:20-7:27

4. How did the simple youth of Chapter 7 seek temptation and court disaster?

Read Colossians 3:1-17

5. What aspects of our “earthly nature” are we told to get rid of?

6. With what should we “clothe” ourselves so we can better reflect the image of God?

7. How can we do better at “embracing wisdom” rather than flirting with sin?

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 2, 5 and 6

James ~ Bible Study Questions

James Studies 1-13

James Study 1

Read James 1:1 and 2:1

1. How does James identify himself in his letter? Is this a title of humility or authority?

Read Matthew 13:53-57, John 7:2-5 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

2. What was James’ relationship with Jesus?

Read Acts 15:13-21; 21:17-18, Galatians 1:18-19 and 2:8-10

3. What was James’ position in the early church? What were his concerns?

4. What do James 1:1 and 2:1 tell us about the intended audience for this letter?

Read Acts 7:59-8:4

5. Why were they scattered?

Read James 2:1-3; 4:10; Matthew 5:5 and Luke 18:14

6. What similarities can you see between James’ letter and the recorded teachings of Jesus?

7. How can this letter be relevant to us now?

James Study 2

Read James 1:2-4 and 2:6-7

1. What kind of trials were the people of the early church suffering?

2. How can a trial be an opportunity for joy?

3. What risks would there be to our faith in a life without suffering?

4. How would this affect our prayers for ourselves and others?

5. What ways does the world promote to deal with or escape from suffering?

6. Have you experienced a time when your faith has been strengthened through a trial, or seen it in the life of someone else?

7. What are we tempted to value more than maturity in Christ?

James Study 3

Read James 1:5-8

1. What is wisdom in the Bible and how can a person become wise?

2. Why is wisdom important in times of trial?

3. According to James, what is the alternative to being wise and what are the consequences?

4. Think of a person who is wise in the way James described. How is wisdom evident in their lives?

Read James 1:9-12 and Matthew 5:1-11

5. What value does James place on material wealth? What are the rewards of perseverance?

6. What disadvantages are there to “living for the moment”?

7. How does an eternal perspective change the way a Christian lives and what they value? Is Christianity just “pie in the sky when you die?”

James Study 4

Read James 1:13-15

1. Is it sinful to have desires or to be tempted? What are some examples of desires which can lead to a temptation to sin?

2. How can we keep our desires in check to prevent them from “conceiving” sin?

3. Do we tend to be too harsh on ourselves and others for being tempted or too soft on ourselves for giving in to sin? How can we keep each other accountable?

Read James 1:16-18 and John 3:1-18

4. What gift from God can deliver us from the path of sin and death?

5. Some have accused James of preaching salvation by good works. On what basis does this passage from James suggest our salvation rests?

6. What comfort would the early church have found in these verses about God and about themselves?

7. How would you explain God’s “grace” to someone who had never heard the term?

James Study 5

Read James 1:19-25 and Luke 11:28

1. What connection does James draw between hearing God’s word and the righteous life God desires?

2. What examples of righteous living does James give here? What others has he mentioned so far?

3. What does a Christian see in the mirror of God’s word?

Read Galatians 6:2, Romans 8:1-3 and 18-21, and James 2:8

4. What is the perfect law to which James refers and how does it bring freedom?

Read James 1:26-27

6. What does James mean by “religion”? What does he regard as pure and faultless religion?

7. Who are the “widows and orphans” in our midst today? How can we help to look after them?

James Study 6

Read James 2:1-7

1. How does Jesus’ glory help give perspective to differences between the rich and the poor?

Read Luke 20:46

2. What kind of person might get preferential treatment in a church today?

3. What kind of person might be discriminated against?

4. How do the rich and famous of our day exploit the common folk or slander the name of Christ?

5. What might be James’ advice to us today about how we respond to celebrities?

6. What kind of jobs and status did some of the early Christians have? Where are people of great faith found today?

Read James 2:8-11, Mark 12:28-33, Romans 13:10 and Galatians 5:6 and 14

7. What importance does James place on loving one’s neighbour? How is it consistent with the teaching of Jesus and Paul? When do we fall short of this “Royal Law”?

James Study 7

Read James 2:12-13, Matthew 5:7 and Luke 10:33-37

1. How does James’ letter build on Jesus’ teaching about mercy?

2. What modern examples of mercy can you think of?

Read James 2:14-19

3. What is James’ opinion of a faith in God which does not produce mercy and deeds of compassion?

4. What is easy or difficult about acts of charity? What could you give up to better provide for the poor?

Read James 2:20-26, Galatians 2:8-10 and 5:1-6

5. Some claim that Paul and James preached differing roads to salvation. What message do they share in common? How did their differing audiences change the context and emphasis of the message?

6. How do Abraham and Rahab help illustrate the way faith is made complete in deeds?

7. In what practical ways could you practise loving your neighbour?

James Study 8

Read James 3:1, 2 Timothy 2:2 and Jude 3

1. What special responsibilities did teachers of the gospel have in the early church?

Read Matthew 23:13-15; Luke 12:41-48 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

2. Why must teachers be especially careful to guard their speech?

Read James 2:8-11, Mark 12:28-33, Romans 13:10 and Galatians 5:6,14

3. What warnings about one’s speech do James and Jesus give?

Read James 3:9-12

4. What does it mean to praise God and curse men?

5. What is the Christian motivation for speaking to people lovingly and with respect?

6. What examples of poisonous speech can you think of?

7. What tests could you apply to your words before you say them to make sure they are pleasing to God?

James Study 9

Read James 3:13-18

1. How is heavenly wisdom revealed?

Read Galatians 6:7-10

2. How does the agricultural metaphor James uses help us to understand the relationship between wisdom and good works?

3. What is the opposite of each characteristic of wisdom and from where does this unspiritual “wisdom” come?

Read Matthew 5:9

4. How are peacemakers blessed? How can we promote peace in our community?

Read James 4:1-6, Matthew 5:21-22 and 6:24, 1 John 3:15-18

5. Why is James’ language so strong – calling his readers murderers, adulterers and enemies of God? By what have they been seduced?

6. What is God’s response to his unfaithful people? (v6)

7. In what areas do you need to humble yourself and pursue heavenly wisdom?

James Study 10

Read James 4:7-10 and Luke 18:9-14

1. What is needed when God’s people become his enemies? (v4)

2. What does true repentance involve?

Read James 4:11-12

3. Why is it inappropriate for one Christian to condemn or speak ill of another?

Read Matthew 7:15-20 and Romans 16:17-19

4. What is the difference between judging one’s brother and having discerning judgement?

Matthew 7:1-6

5. What similarities are there between Jesus’ teaching on judging and that of James’ letter?

6. What light does Matthew 7:5-6 shed on the difference between being wisely discerning and unfairly judgemental?

7. When are you tempted to be judgemental? How is this breaking the law to love your neighbour as yourself?

James Study 11

Read James 4:13-17

1. To what kind of people is this passage addressed?

2. What risks are involved in making ambitious plans without considering God’s will?

3. What advice does James give about making plans for the future? How might it be done?

Read James 5:1-6

4. To whom is this passage addressed?

Read Ezekiel 29:1-4 and Luke 10:13-15

5. The style of language James uses her is sometimes known as “Prophetic Lament”. How is it similar to the laments of Ezekiel and Jesus? Who were the words meant to comfort in each case?

6. When is the message of God’s judgement and the fleeting nature of life also a message of comfort and hope?

7. What kinds of oppression and injustice most move you? How can we seek to address injustice?

James Study 12

Read James 5:7-11

1. How is waiting for Jesus to return like a farmer waiting for rain?

2. What does James encourage Christians to do as we await Jesus’ return?

3. What quality of God’s character should encourage us to persevere?

4. How might we live differently if we truly believed in Jesus’ imminent return?

Read James 5:12 and Matthew 34-37

5. At the end of a Greek letter in James’ day it was customary to finish with a summary, an oath, a health wish and purpose statement. What is James’ opinion of the casual use of oaths and the importance of the truth?

6. When are oaths used today and why are they necessary?

7. Why is integrity so hard to find? How can we be known as people of the truth?

James Study 13

Read James 5:13

1. How does the world encourage us to deal with suffering and pain? Or with joy?

2. What is different about James’ advice?

3. What kind of prayers would be appropriate for those in trouble?

Read Matthew 26:27-30 and Colossians 3:16

4. When do you find it easiest to pray or to sing praises? When is it hardest?

Read James 5:14-18 and 1 Kings 18:1, 18:36-39 and 18:44-45

5. What should characterise the Christian community?

6. In light of his previous teaching, what does James mean by a prayer offered “in faith”? How is Elijah an example of prayer “in faith”?

Read James 5:19-20, 1 Peter 4:8 and Matthew 7:3-5

7. What is the Christian’s responsibility for an errant brother or sister? With what motivation or goal?

8. Why is it often easier to correct someone’s theology than challenge their lifestyle or behaviour? When is it loving to do so?

Redemption ~ Bible Study Questions

Messages From The Messiah

Redemption Study 1 : A Land and People Redeemed

Read Leviticus 25:8-55

1. What was the purpose of the “Year of Jubilee”?

2. To whom did the people and the land belong? (v 23 and 55)

3. What was the basis on which land could be bought and sold in the Promised Land? What did it mean to “redeem” it? (v 23-34)

4. How could a person become a slave? How could they be redeemed? (v35-55)

Read Exodus 6:6-8

5. How did God redeem His people from Egypt? Why?

6. What do the concepts of Redemption and Jubilee teach us about the nature of God and His relationship with His people?

Redemption Study 2 : The Coming of the Great Redeemer

Read Psalm 49:7-9 and 15 and Psalm 130

1. From what did God’s people expect redemption? On what basis?

Read Isaiah 35

2. This passage foretells the coming of the Lord to bring salvation. What else will He bring, and what should be the response of His people? (v4)

3. What will be the signs that the Lord has come to redeem His people? (v5-6)

4. How will the people of God respond to His coming?

Read Isaiah 49: 6-13

5. Passages like this one together formed a picture of the awaited “Anointed One”, the Messiah or the Christ. What kind of Messiah might the readers of these verses have expected? What would they expect Him to do for them?

6. How is the usual idea of a beloved King of Israel destroying the oppressive Gentiles turned on its head in verses 6 and 7?

7. What messages of hope were revealed to God’s people in these passages?

Redemption Study 3 : Jesus the Redeemer

Read Luke 2:25-38

1. In Jesus’ time many were looking forward to the redemption of God’s people. What did Simeon and Anna prophesy about the baby Jesus?

Read Luke 4:14-21

2. The Year of the Lord’s favor is the same as the year of Jubilee mentioned in the first study. How does Jesus define His ministry in terms of Isaiah’s prophecy?

Read Luke 24:1-3 and 13-35

3. What do the disciples say about Jesus as they walk on the road to Emmaus?

4. What had they hoped that Jesus would do?

5. How does Jesus go about explaining His mission to the disciples? Is it political or spiritual?

Read Romans 3:24; Galatians 3:13-14; Ephesians 1:7; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:12 and 1 Peter 1:18-20.

6. How has Jesus fulfilled the disciples’ hopes for redemption?

7. What will be the evidence for our redemption? (Read Galatians 5:1, 13 and 14) What marks a free person in Christ rather than a slave to sin?