Every Day With Jesus – This is another site with daily readings from Scripture that make it easy to follow along with your Bible reading plan at home or in church on Sundays.
Free Bible Study Lessons From Prison Ministries – These sites offer free Bible study lessons for inmates by mail or online. They’re operated by groups like Prison Fellowship and Salvation Army, who want to help prisoners understand the Word of God and apply it to their lives as best as possible
A Biblical Guide for Prisoners is a collection of Bible studies for incarcerated people. This study helps inmates at all stages of life grow in their pursuit of Christ and find meaning in difficult circumstances. A great resource for prisoners, this printable Bible study includes lessons with questions and answers related to the Scripture being studied. With the Bible Study for Inmates download, you’ll have a safe and secure way to send your Bible study materials in one convenient place. It’s easy, it’s fast and effective too – with just 3 simple steps you can get started in no time at all! This pack is designed for you to use with your inmate ministry volunteers and leaders, who can then distribute them to their Bible study participants. These forms make it easy for inmates to track their reading, attendance and helps them keep track of questions they’ve raised with leaders.
Printable Bible Study For Inmates
When I walk into the county jail to do a Bible study with the inmates, I know I don’t have anything to offer them besides the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I tell them that. After a couple minutes of casual chitchat, the inmates and I pray before getting down to business.
As the first class began, a young inmate raised his hand and asked if we were going to study Romans. I was impressed he knew Romans was perhaps the most gospel-saturated book in the Bible. “No,” I said. “We’re going to open our Bibles to Genesis chapter one.”
Genesis 1 might seem like a funny place to start talking about the gospel, but different passages of Scripture show us different aspects of the gospel. John Piper has rightly compared the gospel to a multi-faceted jewel; we need different passages to highlight its various facets.
One facet of the gospel that prisoners usually understand is the reality of sin. I ask the men and women who sit before me each week in flip-flops and green striped jumpers if they think they’re sinners, and they all nod their heads “yes.” Most in prison instinctually know they aren’t good people, which perhaps gives them an advantage over a suburban soccer mom who thinks she’s basically good since she doesn’t commit any “major” sins.
Helping prisoners understand they’re sinners isn’t the hard part. What’s difficult is helping them understand they’re created in God’s image, and they have inherent dignity, value, and worth.
And that’s why I take them to Genesis.
On the first page of the Bible, all of God’s mighty acts of creation climax with these words:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)
The crowning jewel of all creation is man, made to reflect the image of God. When God created man, he gave him rule and dominion over the rest of creation (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were meant to be the king and queen of paradise, enjoying God and his good gifts of worship, work (Gen. 2:15), and wedlock (Gen. 2:23–25).
But then Genesis 3 happened. And now, so many years later, we lock people in prisons to protect society and punish the unruly. Rather than having dominion over the earth, human beings are enslaved to everything—from drugs to their fellow man.
This isn’t the way it was meant to be.
One of the prisoners in my Bible study, Mark, is serving 25 years for armed robbery. He was created to be a living reflection of the God of the universe; now he looks into a polished metal plate as he brushes his teeth in his cell. James was meant to have rule and dominion over all of creation; now he’s enslaved to drugs. Sandra was made to rule the earth as a queen; now she lives her life under the rule of other human beings.
One reason I start my classes in the first three chapters of Genesis is so I can help the inmates see exactly how bad sin is. It destroys the goodness of God’s creation and vandalizes his image in us. I want them to see how sin seeks to rob them of their identity as living representations of their Maker.
I want these inmates to know they’re at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7), but I also want them to know one of the reasons they’re at enmity with him is because they’ve believed a lie about their identity. So many men and women in jail simply accept the “fact” that they’re worthless. After all, that’s what they’ve always been told, in one way or another.
But the Bible says something different.
Hope and a Future
An inmate named Christy cried on my shoulder one day after our Sunday service in the county jail. “I’ve always known I was bad. I never doubted that,” she said. “My daddy called me ugly every day of my life, even the days he molested me. My boyfriends treated me even worse. The decent women in society looked at me like I was trash because of the fast life I lived on the outside.”
I looked at her understandingly, trying not to cry as she spoke.
“But I swear, I’ve never had anyone tell me I was supposed to be more than that.” Tears fell down my face as she wiped her eyes on the collar of her striped jumper. “Do you really think I could be a queen? Do you really think God could make me like Eve before she sinned?”
“I do, Christy. That’s the story of the gospel.”
bible verses for inmates
Send one of you that he may get your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. But if not, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.”
Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.
2 Kings 17:4
But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, who had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and had offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; so the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.
2 Kings 25:18
Then the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest, with the three officers of the temple.
2 Chronicles 28:5
Wherefore, the Lord his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Aram; and they defeated him and carried away from him a great number of captives and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who inflicted him with heavy casualties.
2 Chronicles 33:11
Therefore the Lord brought the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria against them, and they captured Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze chains and took him to Babylon.
Who made the world like a wilderness
And overthrew its cities,
Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’
so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
“All of them come for violence.
Their horde of faces moves forward.
They collect captives like sand.
Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed upon him strictly, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of goods or for imprisonment.”
At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.
Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection.
(He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder.)
Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.
But this is a people plundered and despoiled;
All of them are trapped in caves,
Or are hidden away in prisons;
They have become a prey with none to deliver them,
And a spoil, with none to say, “Give them back!”
Who among you will give ear to this?
Who will give heed and listen hereafter?
Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers?
Was it not the Lord, against whom we have sinned,
And in whose ways they were not willing to walk,
And whose law they did not obey?
1 Kings 22:27
and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely.”’”
2 Chronicles 18:26
and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this man in prison and feed him sparingly with bread and water until I return safely.”’”
2 Chronicles 16:10
Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time.
Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah,
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still confined in the court of the guard, saying,
Then the officials were angry at Jeremiah and beat him, and they put him in jail in the house of Jonathan the scribe, which they had made into the prison.
Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the king’s son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.
Now the word of the Lord had come to Jeremiah while he was confined in the court of the guardhouse, saying,
Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples
For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.
For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.
He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison,
Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.
They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.
So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.
All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”
I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons,
And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.
When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people.
The commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” And he said, “Yes.”
and I found him to be accused over questions about their Law, but under no accusation deserving death or imprisonment.
After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
2 Corinthians 6:5
in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,
2 Corinthians 11:23
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);
and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
“Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me.”
They will be gathered together
Like prisoners in the dungeon,
And will be confined in prison;
And after many days they will be punished.
“I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the dungeon
And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
‘They put him in a cage with hooks
And brought him to the king of Babylon;
They brought him in hunting nets
So that his voice would be heard no more
On the mountains of Israel.
As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you,
I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope;
This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.
But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
Let the groaning of the prisoner come before You;
According to the greatness of Your power preserve those who are doomed to die.
But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
God makes a home for the lonely;
He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,
Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
For the Lord hears the needy
And does not despise His who are prisoners.
To hear the groaning of the prisoner,
To set free those who were doomed to death,
There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Prisoners in misery and chains,
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
Thus says the Lord,
“In a favorable time I have answered You,
And in a day of salvation I have helped You;
And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people,
To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;
Saying to those who are bound, ‘Go forth,’
To those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’
Along the roads they will feed,
And their pasture will be on all bare heights.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
For the Lord will not reject forever,
For if He causes grief,
Then He will have compassion
According to His abundant lovingkindness.
For He does not afflict willingly
Or grieve the sons of men.
Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
LEADING A PRISON BIBLE STUDY
Prepare for the exciting challenge of exploring God’s Word with prisoners.
Do you love to study and share God’s Word with others? If so, leading a prison Bible study may be a great way to be involved in prison ministry!
This ministry requires a considerable time commitment for class preparation. Most in-prison Bible study groups meet weekly. Some studies may last 6-8 weeks, while others may be year-round with breaks taken only for holidays.
Prison Fellowship® recommends team facilitation, so that no one is over-burdened with the responsibility of weekly lessons. Some other benefits of working in teams are:
- More creativity and variety in lesson content because of the additional skills, talents, and life experiences of team members
- Having others to help counsel and pray with prisoners who need one-on-one attention
- More flexibility to break into small groups for discussions since team members can help facilitate small groups
- Shared administrative tasks such as making handouts or keeping attendance
- Having a back-up replacement in case of an emergency
GOALS FOR LEADING A PRISON BIBLE STUDY
The goal of in-prison Bible study is to help prisoners come to know Jesus Christ personally and learn how to apply His Word to their lives. An effective ministry team plans lessons 6-12 months at a time, so participants may receive instruction on a wide variety of topics such as:
- Receiving Christ and Becoming Like Christ
- How to Pray for Myself and Others
- Forgiving Others; Forgiving Myself
- Dealing with Emotions
- Obedience to Christ and Respect for Authority
- Having a Christian Worldview
Prison Fellowship has a list of approved curriculum materials for in-prison classes. Volunteers should work with their local Prison Fellowship field staff to identify the best offerings for a local prison facility.
Another effective study plan is to pick books of the Bible such as the Gospel of John. But remember–this isn’t a Sunday School class. Your challenge will be to make the 60-90 minutes you have with those prisoners the most practical, interesting, and relevant experience of their week.
From the moment people enter the room, participants need to feel the love of God surrounding them. Greet each one warmly. Encourage a worshipful atmosphere with inspirational music, singing, praise reports, and a time of prayer for specific needs.
Always build thoughtful discussion questions into your lessons and make sure people are participating in class–not just sitting and listening to you talk. Each person should come away from your class having spent time studying God’s Word, praying together, and enjoying fellowship with other believers.