Online Bible Study Classes to Help You Grow

Online Bible Study Classes to Help You Grow

Christianity has a major impact on all our lives. Believer and non-believer alike are affected by the writings in the Bible. From how it has changed history to how history has viewed it, there is much to learn from looking at its role in society. Beyond this, many find spiritual enlightenment through the words of the Bible and seek to further their understanding and growth through deep and meaningful Bible studies.

To help you find the best online class for your Bible study, we have compiled the top classes from a range of sites.

What Should You Look For in an Online Bible Study?

Before choosing the Bible study class that is right for you, it is important to think about the things you want to get from it. What are you hoping to take away from these classes, and what are you willing to give in order to get this? Can you spend hours every week to complete exercises, or do you prefer to make your own way? Are you in a position to pay extra for the sort of expertise you would normally only get from a university?

Why Take an Online Bible Class?

There can be many reasons to read the Bible. It is a text that has influenced the history of Europe and the Middle East for thousands of years. It informs many of today’s societies around the world. It informs the law.

Beyond the historical and political context, it is a source of wisdom and peace for millions of people around the globe. Learning how to get the most from the Bible means gaining a new perspective of Christianity, and what we can take from the life of Christ and the prophets to add to our own lives.

Because there are many reasons to be part of an online Bible study, it is important to look at whether the course will fulfil those reasons. Some classes focus on the context of the writing, while others look at ways to interpret the text. Others still offer guidance and meaning for our lives by using the text as an example of how to live.

History Buffs, the Spiritually Curious and Committed Christians

What do I want out of a Bible study? Once you have a clear answer to this question, you will find it a lot easier to find the online Bible study class that best suits you.

If you are searching for a better understanding of historical context, some courses suit this. If, however, you are more interested in finding spiritual growth through the teaching of others, those same courses may not have what you are seeking.

By looking at the focus of study in a course, you can find which ones are most likely to answer your questions; the ones from which you will gain the most satisfaction.

From Whom Are You Learning?

We want to be taught by experts. We want those people to be experts in what they are teaching. If we are looking for historical context, we want to be taught by historians, rather than ministers. If we seek spiritual guidance, it won’t be from translators. Learning a little about the teacher of a class can assure us that the information we receive will be useful.

What Resources Will We Need for This Online Bible Course?

Taking an online class can consume time, money, and effort. Before starting any class, it is worth looking at what it expects from us. Can we keep up with weekly lessons? Are videos short or long? Some classes are completely free, while others may cost hundreds of dollars.

From history lessons to personal philosophies, included here are the best classes you can find online for your Bible study.

Top 10 Best Online Bible Study Classes 2021


1. Christianity Through Its Scriptures

  • 20+ hours over 4 weeks Free (or pay $$ for certificate) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Prof. Karen L King, Sarah Griffis
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Focus of Study: History, Historical Context, Common Interpretations
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

Offering a wide range of Christian perspectives, this Harvard-based course gets right to the most interesting parts.

The Content

The beauty of Harvard University’s introductory course to the Scriptures is that it suits all audiences. While the text remains the focus, the teachers look at the historical context behind the specific passages, how different important Christian leaders have interpreted those texts over time, and how these texts are seen today.

Information is sourced and referenced, so don’t be surprised if this course ends up being to blame for buying more books for your study.

The Teachers

Professor King has previously written about apocryphal texts and has a PhD in the History of Christianity. Her expertise shines in this course, but it never feels too academic. New terms are explained clearly, and the course isn’t afraid to cover the controversies that surround Christianity in the modern world.

Overall Impressions

While this course takes a bit of work to complete, you walk away knowing a lot more about the Bible and feeling fulfilled in your studies. The certificate is also well worth getting if you are interested in working in religious fields. EdX is a non-profit organization providing courses for the sake of education, not to make money.

For the most well-rounded course by a well-respected institution, take the time to study “Christianity through its scriptures.” If you’re looking for the basics, though, you might prefer a shorter introductory course.

Pros

  • Great for those interested in interpretation or context alike
  • Full of informative but easy-to-understand information
  • Doesn’t shy away from controversy
  • Little bias for or against Christianity
  • edX is a non-profit organisation

Cons

  • Requires a lot of time to fully appreciate
  • Certification costs money


2. 7 Rules of Bible Interpretation EVERY Christian Should Know

  • 4+ hours video plus exercises $ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Prof. Gustavo Karakey
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Focus of Study: Christian Interpretation
  • Resources Required: Bible, Printer (optional)

Why we like it

There are a wide variety of ways you can interpret the Bible, and this course offers a great look at how to get the most from a Bible study.

The Content

For a new Christian trying to find how to get the most from their Bible study, this course offers a step-by-step way to get the most out of any reading. Walking through from the first read to end impressions, extra time is spent to ensure you are comfortable with each new lesson before moving to the next.

This course is also wonderful for offering new ways to lead group Bible studies, especially if you are only used to offering studies for long-term followers of Christ.

The Teachers

Gustavo Karakey is a professor of New Testament studies at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia. With 15 years experience as a teacher of the Bible, he has a PhD from the London School of Theology and has taught in multiple countries around the world.

Overall Impressions

Rather than tell you what to take away from any Bible verse or passage, this wonderful course shows you how to find your own meaning through studying the verse, the book it is found in, and the world in which it was written. The course is non-denominational and doesn’t present any specific viewpoint of the Bible itself.

While it might not be as useful for someone coming to Bible studies while not a Christian, for a new Christian or new teacher, this course is an invaluable resource. Those looking for a course from a secular perspective might prefer a more historically-focused course.

Pros

  • Designed to help you come to your own conclusions
  • Simple, step-by-step lessons for new Christians and teachers
  • Presented by a highly qualified teacher
  • Non-denominational viewpoint

Cons

  • Assumes you are a Christian


3. The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

  • 20 hours over 4 weeks Free (or pay $$ for certificate) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Dr. Jacob L. Wright
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Focus of Study: Historical Context, Historical Interpretation
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

The most comprehensive course on the contemporary context and impact of the Bible.

The Content

This course from Emory University provides a comprehensive look at the history surrounding the creation of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. By looking at both the texts of the Bible and other ancient texts, it attempts to provide a historical overview of the literary impact of the writings and how they informed the political decision-making of the leaders of Israel.

The Teachers

Dr. Wright is an associate professor of the Hebrew Bible at Emory University. He has written several academic texts on subjects as wide-ranging as political theology to warfare in ancient Israel.

Overall Impressions

A Christian may be upset by the distinct avoidance this course makes to the spiritual aspects of the Bible, and the role the book plays to the modern human. However, for those interested in the contemporary world of the Bible, what was happening during its creation, and its impact at the time, this course is quite an eye-opener.

For historical context and contemporary political interpretation, this course covers what is important.

Pros

  • Detailed information about the contemporary context of the Bible
  • Uses other ancient texts to help provide a wide view
  • Created and presented by an expert in the field
  • Carefully designed curriculum

Cons

  • Offers no comment on modern interpretations
  • Avoids any religious or spiritual viewpoints


4. Worldviews, the Bible, and the Believer

  • 4+ hours plus worksheets $$ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Prof. N.T Wright, Prof. David P. Seemuth
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Focus of Study: Historical Context, Historical Interpretation
  • Resources Required: Printer, Bible, Textbook (details below)

Why we like it

A serious look at how historical context can inform an interpretation of biblical texts, and how we can be aware of our own bias.

The Content

A unique Bible study to say the least, “Worldviews” deeply examines how the cultural context of the reader can affect how they interpret the Bible. This helps a reader not only understand why a text may use certain techniques but also helps a reader avoid common pitfalls created from their own experiences.

What sets this course apart is that it doesn’t just look at the worldview of the writers and today’s readers. It also examines the worldview of readers throughout history and how a passage can be interpreted by them in a way today’s may not.

The Teachers

Professor Wright has an impressive resume. He not only received his PhD from Oxford but has also taught both there and Cambridge. He is a recipient of the Burkitt medal for New Testament Scholarship and is now a professor at St Andrews, Scotland.

Professor Seemuth not only has 25 years of experience as a teacher, but 16 of them have also been in online teaching. This is reflected in how well-presented the videos are, and how clearly the worksheets are designed.

Overall Impressions

“Worldviews, the Bible, and the Believer” is one of the most expensive courses out there, especially when you factor in the need to purchase the textbook “Subversive Christianity” by Brian Walsh. However, for an academically rigorous look at the Bible that will also challenge and improve your spiritual growth, a person who can afford such costs will find them well used.

That said, someone looking for a more affordable option might prefer "Principles of Interpreting the Bible" which covers similar ground at a lower price—though it's even more academically complex.

Pros

  • Academically rigorous material
  • Well-presented by experts in online learning
  • Helps examine our worldviews when reading the Bible
  • A broad view of historical contexts

Cons

  • Quite expensive compared to other courses
  • Maybe too academic for some


5. Bible Study Skills 101 – Introduction to the BSS Curriculum

  • 1+ hours including worksheets $ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: G. T. Frey, Jr.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Focus of Study: Christian Interpretation
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

The first step in a wider study, it provides the information needed to avoid common mistakes.

The Content

Before diving into specific passages, it is often useful to look at the skills required to interpret the Bible. This course looks at some of the common mistakes that Christians can make when getting involved in Bible study. It also examines how you can work out if your interpretation fits what God wants.

This course is the first in a much larger series but works well as a stand-alone.

The Teachers

Frey is a Professor of Bible Hermeneutics at EGFM School of Ministry and is passionate about teaching Bible studies skills. He is a passionate believer in what he teaches and approaches the work with great conviction.

Overall Impressions

This course offers some useful approaches to helping you make interpretations, and its advice for avoiding common mistakes is useful. One warning that must be given, however, is that Frey unapologetically approaches the Bible as if there is only one acceptable interpretation and only one acceptable way to take that interpretation.

Pros

  • Offers really helpful advice for avoiding mistakes in interpretation
  • Presented by a passionate and convicted teacher
  • Examines spiritual involvement of Bible studies more than other courses do

Cons

  • Not suitable for wider context
  • Presents only one interpretation
  • Pushes other courses a little too much


6. Jesus in Scripture and Tradition

  • 20+ hours over 4 weeks Free (or pay $$ for certificate) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: John C Cavadini and Gary Anderson
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Focus of Study: Historical Context, Christian Interpretation
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

By focusing on the person of Jesus Christ, this course sheds some of the less typical parts of studying the Bible.

The Content

This course uses the Bible as the primary source to examine the history of Israel, the importance of Jesus, and how the early church formed. It then builds on this knowledge by looking at outside texts, including the letters of the early church and contemporary accounts of Jesus.

The Teachers

Cavadini is a Professor of Theology and the Director of the Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to the International Theological Commission. He was also created a member of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, classis civilis, by Pope Benedict.

Gary Anderson is a Professor of Catholic Theology at the same university. While both come from a catholic tradition, they avoid taking only this interpretation when examining the Bible.

Overall Impressions

The course does take a Christian viewpoint when discussing Christ (as compared to a historical, Jewish, or Islamic one). However, it does touch on these other views and examines texts that are not included in the Bible. The focus on the person and importance of Jesus brings a fresh perspective for us to use in our Bible studies.

Pros

  • Strong focus on life and the importance of Jesus Christ
  • Uses texts outside of the Bible to help better understand it
  • Taught by internationally renowned professors

Cons

  • Takes a specifically Christian view while claiming to be a historical course
  • Claims to be “introductory”, but requires far more work than other beginner courses


7. Effective Preaching and Teaching

  • 2+ hrs $ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Dr. Michael Bogart
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Focus of Study: Christian Interpretation
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

One of the few courses designed to help you run a Bible study, rather than simply be in one.

The Content

This course is a great course on teaching the Bible to beginners and intermediate users alike. Helping us work out the themes and messages we want to focus on as well as how to structure lessons and sermons in a captivating way, not just informative.

The course doesn’t assume that there is only one style and gives a range of examples and worksheets to help. It helps develop your own special way to offer up Bible studies.

The Teachers

Dr. Bogart has written several books on world religions but is better known for being the pastor of Grace Baptist Church, California through the nineties.  He has studied and taught around the world.

Having said that, Dr. Bogart received his PhD in Education and has little academic experience. So, while he is passionate and experienced about the Bible, there may be aspects of historical or scientific accuracy that may bother you.

Overall Impressions

For a better understanding of how to craft Bible studies and create great communication when discussing biblical meanings, this is a wonderful course. However, it is not one for the rigorously academic study of Christianity and Christian interpretations.

Pros

  • Examines how structure and thematic threads can improve Bible studies
  • Taught by an experienced pastor and communicator
  • Accepts a range of styles and interpretations of the Bible

Cons

  • Not academically rigorous or interested in historical contexts
  • Offers little in terms of creating interpretations


8. The Bible in Light of the Ancient Near East

  • 30+ hours over 9 weeks Free (or pay $$ for certificate) Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Dr. Nili Samet and Mr. Yuval Daraby
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Focus of Study: Historical Context
  • Resources Required: None

Why we like it

A deep dive into the contemporary influences and historical contexts of the Old Testament.

The Content

This course doesn’t attempt to interpret the Bible or offer spiritual insights into the book. Instead, it provides an in-depth look at the context surrounding specific parts of the Bible, especially the world in which the authors lived.

Units include flood stories in ancient tradition, examining the historical knowledge of the tower of Babel story, and how biblical laws compare to laws in other countries at the time.

The Teachers

Dr. Samet is a teacher at the Bar-Ilan Research University in Tel Aviv. She has written nearly two dozen papers on ancient history and how it relates to the Bible. Along with her research assistant, she has been able to take her expert knowledge and present it with all the quality you would expect from a university-level teacher.

Overall Impressions

For providing a historical context to the Old Testament, this course is impressive. The teachers know what they are talking about, but break it down so that anyone can learn it. The amount of work required to get a strong understanding is surprisingly low, but they also provide further resources if you want to take your studies to the next level.

Unfortunately, this course concentrates entirely on the early books of the Bible, and rarely touches on even the later books of the Old Testament. To get a full look at contemporary biblical contexts, you would need multiple courses like this.

If you are interested in a comprehensive look at just one aspect of Bible studies, this is the course for you.

Pros

  • A comprehensive look at the context of the early Bible stories and laws
  • Covers countries other than Israel and how they compare in myth and history
  • Presented with easy-to-follow language
  • Expert presenters

Cons

  • Only covers a small section of the Bible
  • Does not go into any spiritual interpretation of the text


9. Hermeneutics: Principles of Interpreting the Bible

  • 1+ hours $ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Dr. Stuart Pattico
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Focus of Study: Christian Interpretation, Historical Context
  • Resources Required: Bible

Why we like it

This course focuses on many unique topics and is a great deep dive into biblical interpretation given its quick runtime.

The Content

This course offers a range of topics not found in other Bible studies, including examination of Bible translations, features of biblical poetry, and common terms found in theology courses.

A range of passages from across the Bible is used. Each one reflects a particular skill that is being taught, which can then easily translate to other passages.

Impressively, this course also comes with an eBook written by Dr. Pattico, for free.

The Teachers

Dr. Pattico has written many texts on Christian spirituality and beliefs. While Pattico’s original Bachelor’s Degree was in Information Technology, he has a Masters in Bible & Ministry from King’s College, London, as well as a Doctor of Ministry.

Overall Impressions

While Dr. Pattico is open about his interpretations of the Bible, the information he offers can help form independent beliefs. This will rely on being able to see what hasn’t been included in the teachings, which will require a high level of critical thinking.

For a specific interpretation, with backing from historical context and a literary understanding of the Bible, it is worth considering this course.

Pros

  • Covers historical and literary contexts
  • Transparent in providing personal interpretations
  • Comes with a free eBook

Cons

  • Quite heavily biased in interpretation
  • Never deeply discusses any one passage
  • Will require high critical thinking skills to truly benefit


10. 15 Essential Biblical Texts

  • 5+ plus dozens of articles $$ Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Teacher: Prof. N.T Wright, Prof. David P. Seemuth
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Focus of Study: Christian Interpretation with some Historical Context
  • Resources Required: Computer with Internet Access. Printer Optional

Why we like it

This broad overview through deep passage analysis is the perfect introduction to the Bible.

The Content

As one could surmise from the title, this course looks at 15 core texts of the Old and New Testaments that help give a full understanding of Christianity. It does so by taking a close look at passages from books, rather than the entire books themselves, and then providing an interpretation that can be made of these passages.

This course offers a lot of content, and it is highly recommended that the articles and worksheets are printed to make life a little easier.

The Teachers

Wright and Seemuth are the same lecturers who present “Worldviews, the Bible, and the Believer”, and their credentials as academics are clear. However, this course takes a very different perspective and offers a more personal take on the scriptures. Wright talks here as a believer rather than an academic, and unashamedly presents his own interpretation.

Because of the work of Seemuth, the presentation of these beliefs is not as dry as it could be. Without his work, however, one might find this personal perspective less appealing than other courses by Wright.

Overall Impressions

Wright is much better suited to academia, but for a great way to choose passages to study, and be provided with one of many interpretations, this is a great course. It could easily substitute for the books you find by select pastors and comes with the bonus of having those engaging videos to share with others.

Pros

  • Well presented videos from experienced teachers
  • A wide selection of passages to examine and interpret
  • A large amount of secondary content

Cons

  • A more personal perspective is quite different from Wright's other courses
  • Covers passages, not books, which is a little misleading
  • Expensive for a personal Bible study


Bible Study FAQs

group bible studyIt’s not unusual to have other questions about learning the Bible and about taking Bible classes. To help, we’ve compiled a few of the most common ones to save you the trouble of looking.

If you are someone who needs structured learning, taking an online course is the best way to learn the Bible. Classes provide not only an understanding of specific parts but help you develop the skills to understand when you read the other parts. Someone without any background in the bible would likely benefit from a basic introductory course.

Theology degrees can offer a much broader view of Christianity as a religion and have a range of subjects. These subjects can include the two thousand years of history of the church, the variety of ways the Bible has been interpreted, and practical classes on preaching, missionary work, and counseling.

The requirements for becoming a priest or minister can be different for the different organized forms of Christianity out there.

For the Catholic Church, which is the largest group of Christians, becoming a priest involves five to six years of education and experience. In the United States, this often involves getting a “Masters of Divinity”, which is a university-level, post-graduate degree.

For other church organizations, you will face different requirements. For someone uninterested in a denomination or outside support, it is quite easy to start your own church.

Starting your own Bible study doesn’t require any formal education. In the United States, religious gatherings are protected by law and you do not need permission from anyone to hold a study in your home. There are even courses dedicated to leading your own bible study.

Theology degrees can be useful for more than becoming a minister. Students of Theology learn critical thinking, communication, and analysis of social trends. Because of this, students can often be found going into the police force, teaching, politics, and journalism.

Some famous people with theology degrees include the actor Jack Gleeson, documentarian Jennifer Baichwal, and athlete Tori Murden.



A Comprehensive Guide to Bible Studies

closed bible

Whether it is a personal Bible study or an ongoing group activity, it is good to be prepared in order to have a fulfilling experience. By knowing what resources are available and having an introductory knowledge of the Bible, you can better choose an online Bible study class and have a more successful Bible study.

What Resources Can Help You in Your Bible Studies?

Most of the classes we have chosen require no previous study and do not need you to have anything other than internet access. Some can even be easily followed using a mobile application. However, we highly recommend researching and obtaining a few useful things anyway.

Bibles

Not surprisingly, one resource you need for an online Bible study is a Bible. While some studies specify what version they will be working with, many provide the texts they will refer to.

Several English versions of the Bible are available for free, including The King James Bible and the World English Bible. Most local churches are happy to give you a free copy of their Bibles, while there are wonderful websites like Blue Letter Bible which offer a range of versions to look at.

Bible Dictionaries and Concordances

The Bible is full of terms that can be unfamiliar to a person who has little experience with Christianity. Having a Bible dictionary on hand can make things much easier. By looking up a term you do not know, you can gain a basic knowledge of what the text attempts to say.

A Bible concordance is a book (or software) that works similarly to a dictionary, in that it contains a list of the words in alphabetical order. Instead of providing a definition, it instead lists all the places in the Bible in which that word is used. This can be helpful when exploring particular themes or issues in the Bible.

Many Bible concordances are also dictionaries. The most commonly used concordance for the King James Bible is Strong’s Concordance. It contains not only the places in which the word is used but other places where the Hebrew or Greek word has been translated differently.

Software That Can Help You Study the Bible

Rather than working from large, bulky books, it is often easier to use websites and software to research and explore the Bible. While some are free, others are not.

Logos, for example, is a comprehensive package that helps you maintain notes, create sermons and presentations, as well as access a large library of helpful texts. Udemy has a wonderful course on how to get the most from the extensive suite of tools available in Logos.

Other Great Books for Bible Studies

Legally, the question of sharing the videos in online courses with your Bible study group is hard to answer. However, the legality of sharing passages from books is far clearer. Between this and how annoying it can be to set up televisions or projectors, many Bible studies opt to use only printed material.

Online courses that have great printed material for groups include “15 Essential Biblical Texts” and “Christianity Through Its Scriptures”.

However, there are many great Bible study books that you may also consider, including:

What to Know About the Bible Before Going In

The Bible can appear to be a strange book, and it certainly has a strange history. The first Bibles were compiled soon after the death of Jesus and today’s Bibles can appear to be very different from each other. By learning a little bit about the Bible now, we can save on confusion later.

The Bible Is More Than One Book

The Bible is actually a collection of books written over thousands of years. This collection can be anywhere between 60 and 80 books in total, with the most well-known version, the King James Version, having 66.

These books are also, in themselves, quite different. The Psalms, for example, are a collection of songs and poems, while “Romans” is a letter to the church in Rome by one of the Apostles. Because of this, some books of the Bible can be far more accessible to the modern reader than others.

Starting your study with easier-to-read books is highly recommended. That is why the Gospel of Mark, a short book about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, is often chosen as a strong starting point for the beginner to the Bible.

There Are Other Books Left Out

There are a series of books known as the Apocrypha which is included in some versions of the Bible and not others. Some books have only recently been discovered, and other early church writings from followers that were not included with the letters of Paul and Peter.

For a complete look at the early Christian church, it is often useful to refer to these other texts as well. Our top overall pick is presented by an expert on the Apocrypha, making it a great choice for anyone looking to get into this intriguing topic.

There Are Two Types of English Translations

While there are hundreds of translations of the Bible, they can easily be placed into two distinct categories. The first, formal equivalence translation, is sometimes called “transliteration” or “literal translation”. It attempts to translate the text into English words and phrases, even if the results end up being a little strange to the English-speaking user.

Dynamic equivalence, on the other hand, attempts to create a translation that sounds like it was written in English and in which the meaning is clear. However, this second version often involves subjective choices of “choosing meaning.” While the dynamic equivalence translation may be easier to read, it may not offer as clear an understanding of what the original writers were trying to say.

The New Revised Standard Version and the King James Version are examples of formal equivalence translation, while the New International Version and the New Living Translation are examples of dynamic equivalence.

There Are Multiple Ways to Interpret Biblical Text

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that, like all writing, there are different ways to interpret it. Christian ministers have, in the past, used the Bible to both preach for and against slavery, homosexuality, and abortion, while historians have argued about which ancient kings are being referred to in Old Testament texts.

Final Thoughts

We have selected a range of top-class choices for you, from some of the greatest teachers of the subject in the world, and we’re sure that the perfect one for you is somewhere on your list. Now that you know what’s out there and how to choose between them, it’s time to begin your studies.