Does Bible Study Really Help?

Welcome again to the Teleios blog! We have been exploring together practical ways by which the Bible improves our lives.

“Oh, do I have to study the Bible every day?” Many people consider Bible study a time-consuming chore that they must endure to prove their faithfulness to God. The Teleios team considers Bible study as a wonderful life-enhancing activity that is part of our vital relationship with God.

We decided to evaluate the effect of a Bible study on the wellbeing of 46 healthy young adults from a Christian community environment. This was a “proof of concept” study since we don’t know of any prior research about this topic. The design was a prospective, randomized, active-controlled, single-blind interventional trial (more details here).

Subjects were randomized to either an active (detailed bible study program) or a control (minimally detailed bible study program) group in a 3:1 ratio. Ephesians Chapter 1 was chosen as the study text since it details many wonderful characteristics of our great salvation.

The results showed no differences between the active and control groups for any general or specific wellbeing measure. However, when the active group was compared to its own baseline data significant differences were observed in overall wellbeing.

It is unclear from our results why there was an increase of overall wellbeing in the active group. We speculate that the gain in knowledge about the security of their relationship with God, by faith alone, allowed for less guilt and greater confidence.

Interestingly, increased wellbeing was also observed in the control group, but did not quite reach significance, possibly because of the smaller sample size. This group also studied Scripture, but about events surrounding the creation of man in Genesis Chapters 1-4 that did not contain the salvation information from Ephesians provided to the active-intervention group.

Consequently, with a larger sample size it could be that greater wellbeing would have been statistically significant in both groups. If true, it might be that studying any Scripture, regardless of the specific content, could have a positive effect on wellbeing.

This proof of concept study suggests that increases in short-term well-being potentially can be achieved by a Scripture study program over the course of 4-weeks in young Christian adults.

More research is needed to better understand the effect of improved wellbeing associated with Scripture study both in the short and long term.