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Introduction:

Welcome to the Esther Bible Study.  Thanks for your willingness to jump into this book on your own as we walk through it together at the gathering over the next 7 weeks.  Throughout the study we’ll explore a handful of different tools which are helpful for Bible study regardless of your knowledge or previous experience.  

This may differ from other Bible studies you have done, because you will have a great deal of freedom. Freedom to decide which tools work best for you. Freedom to choose to follow along on your own or grab a friend or two to meet regularly to discuss what you are learning.  At the end of 7 weeks you’ll have a better understanding of Esther, plus you’ll have sharpened skills to study Scripture for yourself.  

We’ve compiled several simple tools to aid in your study.  These are easy enough for anyone to use, but are beneficial to all.  Each week there will be a suggested course of study for the week. You may choose to follow that plan, use alternate tools from the guide, or other practices you’ve found helpful in your study of Scripture.

Esther differs from many other books of the Bible in that it is a narrative.  In the same way studying for math is different than english, studying this book will be different than studying a New Testament letter or a poetic Psalm.  One of the benefits of this particular book is that it will require us to really wrestle with God’s big plan and sovereignty. We must learn from the Bible and its beautiful diversity, rather than apply our own preferences or preconceptions to Scripture.

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This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  

  1. Approach Esther as historical narrative.
  • This article discusses how to properly study biblical historical narrative such as the book of Esther.
  • This article from Desiring God gives some helpful tips for understanding passages  that may seem difficult or challenging.
  1. Read through the book in one sitting. Repeat 19 more times. It takes around 30 minutes to read Esther.  It’s feasible to do this 20 times over the course of six weeks.  However, it requires some discipline. In fact, if you aim to read the book three times every week, you’ll have read through it 20 times before the end of the sermon series.  Reading through the entire book at once help you see the entire book as a whole rather than pulling verses out of context. It will also help you identify key themes and ideas in the book.
  1. Read the passage in multiple translations. (Suggestions – ESV, CSB, NLT, NIV, NASB).  Biblegateway.com and the YouVersion Bible app both have a multitude of different versions available for free.
  1. 7 Arrows for Bible Reading
  1. What does it say? (Write a short summary.)
  2. What does this passage mean to its original audience?

For help, check out study Bible notes (MacArthur Study Bible, ESV Study Bible (available for free in the iTunes App), CSB Study Bible).  Usually, there is a background section prior to each book in a study Bible that contains notes about the original audience and context in which the author wrote.  You can also find notes about the original meaning sprinkled throughout the study Bible notes that correspond with the text.

  1. What does this passage tell us about God?
  2. What does this passage tell us about man?
  3. What does this passage demand of me?
  4. How does this passage change the way I relate to people?
  1. Paraphrase in your own words.
  1. In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney says that paraphrasing Scripture in your own words is a way to meditate on Scripture (p. 54).  Simply rewriting the passage in your own words helps internalize it. As you’re paraphrasing, think through what the original author was trying to say at that time.  After doing this with an entire passage (chapter or subheading), then try applying it to your life.
  2. If you come to a verse or phrase you don’t understand, try reading it in a different translation, but avoid looking at a commentary until you worked through the entire passage on your own.  Simply write down a question mark and move to the next verse or phrase. This discipline will train you to learn how to work through the passage on your own rather than always relying on someone else to tell you what it says.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in the truth.  Jesus promised his disciples that he would (see John 16:13).
  1. Copying the text word for word.

If you’re someone who remembers everything you write down (i.e. – info for a test at school), then, this may be a fruitful method for you.

  1. Bible Project Videos

This is a great free tool with videos on every book of the Bible plus other related topics.  They’re continuously adding new videos.

How to Read the Bible (4 videos specifically on biblical narrative)

Esther

  1. Don Whitney’s application questions. (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald S. Whitney, p. 60)
  1. Does this text reveal something I should believe about God?
  2. Does this text reveal something I should praise or thank or trust God for?
  3. Does this text reveal something I should pray for myself or others?
  4. Does this text reveal something I should have a new attitude about?
  5. Does this text reveal something I should make a decision about?
  6. Does this text reveal something I should do for the sake of Christ, others, or myself?
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Week of May 20 | Esther 1:1-8

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 2 | Read this article  on how to study historical narrative. Then read Esther 1:1-8.  Answer #1 of 7 Arrows for Bible Reading and begin answering #2 of 7 Arrows.

Day 3 | Read Esther 1:1-8, finish answering #2, and answer #3 & #4 of 7 Arrows.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther.

 

Week of May 27 | Esther 1:9-22

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read Esther 1:9-22 three times and begin paraphrasing the passage (see #5 under “Tools for Bible Study” for suggestions).

Day 2 | Read Esther 1:9-22 and finish paraphrasing the passage.

Day 3 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther (try a different translation).

 

Week of June 3 | Esther 2

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read Esther 2 and begin copying (see #6 under “Tools for Bible Study”) or

paraphrasing the text.

Day 2 | Read Esther 2 and finish copying or paraphrasing the text.

Day 3 | Read Esther 2 and answer #3 & #4 of 7 Arrows.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther.

 

Week of June 10 | Esther 3

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read Esther 3 and begin answering the 7 Arrows.

Day 2 | Read Esther 3 and finish answering the 7 Arrows.

Day 3 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 4 | Read or listen to the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther.

 

Week of June 17 | Esther 4-5

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read Esther 4-5 and copy or summarize the text.

Day 2 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 3 | Read Esther 4-5 and answer questions #3 & #4 of 7 Arrows.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther.

 

Week of June 24 | Esther 6-7

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read or listen to the entire book of Esther.

Day 2 | Read Esther 6-7 two or three times.

Day 3 | Paraphrase Esther 6-7.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Read the entire book of Esther.

 

Week of July 1 | Esther 8-10

Suggested plan of study:

Day 1 | Read Esther 8-10.

Day 2 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 3 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 4 | Read the entire book of Esther.

Day 5 | Answer Don Whitney’s application questions (#8 under “Tools for Bible Study”) with the entire book of Esther in mind.

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