The Bible is full of weird and wonderful characters: a guy who built a giant boat with no water in sight, a woman who killed a general by pounding a tent peg through his temple, a king who had 700 wives, a prophet who was swallowed by a giant fish, a virgin who became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and so much more!
Some Bible characters are worth emulating while some are definitely wicked. Others confuse us by being a mixture of both. Humans today are exactly the same.
Looking at characters in the Bible gives us a glimpse into how God relates to all kinds of humans and thus how He also can relate to us personally.
Comparing the lives of Biblical characters with other truths we find in Scripture helps us have a better understanding of whether their actions were righteous or not. This helps us study our own lives and actions and convicts us in areas we need to change.
So how can we best study Biblical characters?
Step 1: Search and read
Pull out your concordance or Bible app and do a search for all the places in the Bible where this character is located. Sometimes we think we know the story of that person, but there may be details about them located in unexpected places in the Bible. For example, an Old Testament character may be referenced in the New Testament.
Read all the verses and stories, doing your best to understand the context in which each was written. If the person is also a Biblical author, check out their writings. A lot can be learned about Paul, for example, through reading the letters he wrote.
Step 2: Compile as much information about the character as you can
- When and where did they live?
- What kind of culture did they live in?
- What were their strengths and weaknesses?
- How did they relate to God?
- How did God relate to them?
Download this infographic for more questions you can ask as you compile information.
Some Biblical characters don’t have a lot of information given about them, while others will have a lot. Looking up the person in a Bible dictionary (there are plenty of free ones available online) can give you extra information that may not be found directly in the Bible.
Step 3: Apply it to your life
What can you learn about God and how He relates to us from the life of the character?
What can you learn about how you should or shouldn’t live?
Whatever principles you pull from the life of a character should be backed up by principles found in other places in Scripture.
Looking at Biblical characters is one more way we can immerse ourselves in the Word and grow closer to the Author of that Word.
He is, after all, the main character of the Bible and is as alive and active today as He was in the lives of those portrayed in Scripture!
Looking for an easy way to apply these steps?
I have put together some free resources to help you!
Lori is originally from Canada and has been with YWAM for over 15 years along with her husband, Jeremy, and sons, Monty and Reuben. Lori is one of the teachers on our Discipleship Training School. She is passionate about helping others know and understand the Bible in a way that allows them to apply it to their lives. A fun fact about Lori is that she lived on a YWAM Medical Ship for 2 years!