How to do a Bible Study for Beginners (5Ws & the H Method)

Hi friends! A question we often hear is “how to do a Bible study.” It is a skill many new Christians struggle with. I am writing this post to summarize the 5Ws and the H Method we teach at Evidence 4 Faith to use as a beginner Bible Study guide and get you started on your journey in God’s Word. There are many other Bible study methods you can learn, but we will not cover them here. The 5Ws and the H method is one of the simplest methods for beginners to start a Bible study.

Before you start a Bible study know what a Bible Study is.

A Bible study is a time to come meet and listen with God to learn, be blessed, and find answers. Before you start, make sure you have prepared the time and space to be with God. Here are some steps you can follow to help you prepare for your first Bible study (based on Exodus 19-20).

Step 1: You need a place to be alone with God

Exodus 19:2 (ESV) “They set out…and they encamped in the wilderness…before the mountain.”  

The space you use for your Bible study must be:

  • Accessible
  • Void of TV, radio, cd players, etc.
  • A place of no distractions
  • A quiet place

If you can set aside a private or semi-private place, this is ideal. Some spaces may be more private at certain times of the day. For instance, your dining table can be a good spot first thing in the morning before the family or roommates are up. My father likes to use the front porch first thing in the morning for his daily Bible study. I have a writing desk setup in my bedroom with my Bible study tools.

You may need to experiment with a few different setups and locations to find “your” spot and routine that works best. You can organize your Bible and supplemental study materials in a kit to easily set-up and put away wherever you choose to do your Bible study. If finding a semi-private or quiet place is hard (for example while traveling), consider the use of ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones during your study.

This porch by the lakeside can be a great quiet place to start a beginner Bible Study.
Find a quiet place like a porch, table, desk… etc., where you can be alone with God Photo by cottonbro studio on

Step 2: You need to be ready to meet with God

Exodus 19: 10-15 (ESV)

  • (10)“…consecrate”
  • (10)“…Let them wash their garments”
  • (12)“…Set limits for the people”
  • (15)  Abstain from sexual relations

In Exodus 19:10-15, the people had to alter their daily plans to meet with God. They had to prepare themselves and be ready to meet Him. Getting ready means setting time aside for this meeting. They were told to wash their clothes. We need to wash our inner minds and be at peace with God (and don’t forget to put some pants on too).

Make sure you have prepared enough time to do your study. Most theologians recommend at least 30 minutes. If this is your first time trying to do a Bible study, it may take more time to figure it out at first. Include some margin in your schedule to compensate for this. I personally recommend adding 15 minutes as margin when scheduling your Bible study in your personal calendar. The added time can help prevent feeling rushed.

I should note that the goal of a Bible study is not to get all the answers in one sitting. You can be working on just a couple of verses over several days. There is no hard rule that you need to do a new passage every day. So, if 30 minutes is all you have in the day, make the most of it and keep working the same passage every time you have your Bible study time. You will be impressed at how much you can learn from just a couple of verses!

Step 3: Unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit (Open your Bible!)

Exodus 20:1 (ESV)“And God spoke all these words saying…”

In Exodus 20, for the first time in history, God is giving people His Word. God spoke it aloud. Try reading your Bible aloud. It becomes more alive and understandable. Make a pattern or an organized plan to study. Take your time to read God’s Word and read the passage more than once. Ponder what you read. Ask God (pray) to make it clear to you. Ask him what this verse or passage is saying.

Step 4: Bring a pen or pencil

Exodus 34:27 (ESV) “And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.””

Write down what you learn from God as you go along. You can’t have a healthy relationship with God without listening to Him speak to you through His Word. You can use a separate journal to write down what you learn. I use a separate journal to write down my thoughts but sometimes annotate specific passages of scripture in the margins. Some Bibles also allow for more notes to be added to the margins. Find a way to record what you learn so you can go back to it and keep building on what you learn.

Make use pf pens and a separate notebook or journal to build upon what you learn everyday in your Bible study.
Keep track of what you learn in a separate journal or notebook. Photo by Jessica Lewis on

How much should I study in one sitting during a Bible Study?

There is no law saying that you must read a whole chapter in one sitting. Sometimes just studying a few verses or a paragraph yields more. As mentioned before, you also don’t need to get all the answers in one sitting. A Bible study is your time to be with God and learn at the pace that best suits you. It is not a competition. So, take proper time with the passage you decide to study, whether that is a day or a week, to really understand and meditate on it.

How to start your first Bible Study

Step 1: Find the Thesis or Topic Sentence.

When you have chosen the section you want to study, you need to make sure you are not taking it out of context before venturing further. To find the context, find the thesis sentence of the original paragraph. This is usually the first sentence of the paragraph. If you take a passage or verse out of context (as in ignore the thesis sentence and paragraph it is in), you will be able to find verses all over the Bible to justify strange things. The thesis sentence of the paragraph will tell you what the paragraph is about and help you follow the full thought of the author.

Many modern Bibles break up the original paragraphs and format the Bible so it is easier to reference but not so easy to read. Check the preface of your Bible to find out if and how they mark the beginning of the original paragraphs from the ancient manuscripts. I have added pen marks in my own Bible to mark where the paragraphs start and end.

If your Bible does not mark the original paragraph breaks, there are other ways to check. Some Bible translations have the paragraphs marked as a default. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) bolds the verse numbers where a new paragraph starts. The Interlinear Bible follows the exact format of the ancient manuscripts by showing the original language, the pronunciation, and translations of each word. You can find these Bibles for free online through sites like Bible Hub (

Step 2: Read & write down study questions using the 5Ws & the H

The 5Ws and the H stand for: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. You can use these to help formulate research questions to make sense of what you are reading. It’s like being a journalist or a detective. This step is just about coming up with questions. You may need to use external tools and resources to answer some of them (but we’ll worry about that later). Here are some question suggestions you can use:


  • Who is mentioned? 
  • Who is speaking? 
  • Who is listening?
  • Who…?


  • What is happening? 
  • What has happened? 
  • What is the object being described? 
  • What has this got to do with me?
  • What…?


  • When is this occurring? 
  • When did this happen? 
  • When will it take place?
  • When…?


  • Where is the story located? 
  • Where is the person from? 
  • Where is the person going? 
  • Where is it geographically located?
  • Where…?


  • Why is this included?
  • Why did this happen? 
  • Why this reaction?
  • Why…?


  • How did it happen? 
  • How did they get into this situation? 
  • How could this be avoided? 
  • How do I apply it to my life circumstance?
  • How…?
When learning how to do a Bible study, you will need to access supplemental tools like a library.
In the next step you will research your questions. Keep reading to find out how to access resources to help in your Bible Study! Photo by Ricky Esquivel on

Step 3: Research & answer your questions

The exciting step is finding the answers to your questions! Take your questions one by one. You may need other resources to research your questions. Here are some you can use:

  • A concordance to cross reference scripture
  • Different Bible translations and/or study Bibles
  • Commentaries
  • Bible college textbooks and reference books
    • If your local Bible college has a library, take advantage of it!
    • You can also look up or ask about the books they use for their Bible courses. Many times, these can be purchased or borrowed on sites like Amazon for a low cost.
  • History and archaeology books and sources to understand historical periods and cultures.
  • A very good search engine (make sure to carefully vet websites!)

Step 4: Make it a habit

Does this sound like a lot of work? Well, I would personally say the rewards outweigh any hardships (this is spending time with your Creator!). It may take you time to get through your first Bible study. You might feel discouraged or frustrated at times when answers are hard to come by. The important thing is to keep showing up. Submit any frustrations you have about the process in prayer to God. I am by no means a veteran Bible study scholar myself, but like any skill, it gets better and sharper the more you practice it (and don’t forget the praying about it part, that helps a lot too!).

Creative & Technical Director

Listen to a demonstration of this method:

Matthew 13:44-46 Beginner Bible Study Demonstration (Parable of the Treasure & the Pearl)

Luke 10:25-37 Beginner Bible Study Demonstration (The Good Samaritan)

What’s next? More resources for How to do a Bible Study & Christian Living:

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The purpose of this apologetics course is to help new believers (and maybe not so new believers) get started in apologetics. This course will help you understand the building blocks of your faith and be equipped to investigate the difficult questions about your beliefs. Welcome to our course on apologetics for beginners! What is The…

The Armor of God | 18-29 min

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