Jesus is the Word (John 1:1-5). And the Holy Spirit gives us understanding as we read the word. Reading and studying the Bible is a daily lifelong journey and as we read and reread, we see and learn more.
It is important to read the Bible and to study it. I don’t know theologically, but here’s how I think about the difference.
For me, to read the Bible is to pick it up and read through it like I’d read a book. Just read it. You might have questions and highlights and comments but may not engage with those things deeply immediately. Whereas to study is to read with the intention of gleaning something, finding the answer to a question, understanding something new and so on.
Think about reading a novel versus studying for an exam. So you might also have additional resources when you study: multiple versions, commentaries and concordances, devotionals etc.
I think these two things have value. And I think the more we read and study, the more they become intertwined. The more you study, the more likely it is that when you read, you subconsciously in your head start to do some analysis and study.
I don’t think the distinction matters, what I think what matters is that we engage with the Bible. We are encouraged from the Bible to read and study
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. — Joshua 1:8
In 2 Kings 22, we see that during Josiah's reign, the Book of God's Law was found in the temple and it was read aloud to him and he saw the errors of their ways and this led to repentance. In Nehemiah 8 as well, we see Ezra read the scriptures to the people and they also repented and were restored (verse 7-8 say that there was also further explanation). This shows us that reading alone is also beneficial.
The Bible is one of the primary ways God chose to reveal himself to us. when we read the Word we learn about God. Who He is. What He likes. What He hates, what He desires. We know His will. We see Him and hear Him. If out of the abundance of a heart a man speaks, how much more God. To know God's heart, you have to know His word.
In one of my favourite parts of the Bible, Psalm 119, David prays to God: Open my eyes [to spiritual truth] so that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law (verse 18, AMP).
<aside> 📖 Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope — Romans 15:4 (NIV)
<aside> 📖 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (AMP)
<aside> 📖 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12 (BSB)
<aside> 📖 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. — 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)
From these verses of scripture, we see that we should read God’s word