This past week we spent some time breaking down how to study the Bible. I cannot express how important it is that we are continually in God’s Word. How important???…
14 “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Our #1 purpose is to exalt Jesus in our lives & to the world. It is clear here that we are sent to preach so that others may hear and believe. Isn’t that what happened to you? You believed the message of the Gospel because someone presented it to you. It goes without saying that I will never be sent if I first am not exposed to the Gospel. Paul goes on to say…
17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
Everything hinges on our exposure to and continual study of God’s truth. If we don’t know truth we will never be sent to preach and they will not hear and ultimately not believe. That being said… we must be immersed in His truth always.
Following is a quick overview about how you can get the most out of your time in the Word. Let this be a launching point to go deeper than ever before. Feel free to ask question and comment. This content was compiled from multiple resources. Let me know if you would like more in depth resources for your journey.
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
The Greek phrase translated “correctly handle” (orthotomeo) also means to “guide on a straight path.” As we study the Bible, it’s important we do our best to stay on the straight path when it comes to interpreting and understanding it.
ONE – OBSERVATION
Observation is the first and most important step in how to study the Bible. As you read the Bible text, you need to look carefully at what is said, and how it is said. Look for:
- Terms, not words. Words can have many meanings, but terms are words used in a specific way in a specific context. (For instance, the word trunk could apply to a tree, a car, or a storage box. However, when you read, “That tree has a very large trunk,” you know exactly what the word means, which makes it a term.)
- Structure. If you look at your Bible, you will see that the text has units called paragraphs (indented or marked ¶). A paragraph is a complete unit of thought. You can discover the content of the author’s message by noting and understanding each paragraph unit.
- Emphasis. The amount of space or the number of chapters or verses devoted to a specific topic will reveal the importance of that topic (for example, note the emphasis of Romans 9 and Psalms 119).
- Repetition. This is another way an author demonstrates that something is important. One reading of 1 Corinthians 13, where the author uses the word “love” nine times in only 13 verses, communicates to us that love is the focal point of these 13 verses.
- Relationships between ideas. Pay close attention, for example, to certain relationships that appear in the text:
- Cause-and-effect: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).
- Ifs and thens: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Questions and answers: “Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty” (Psalms 24:8).
- Comparisons and contrasts. For example, “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21).
- Atmosphere. The author had a particular reason or burden for writing each passage, chapter, and book. Be sure you notice the mood or tone or urgency of the writing.
After you have considered these things, you then are ready to ask the “Wh” questions
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Who are the people in this passage? What is happening in this passage? Where is this story taking place? When in time (of day, of the year, in history) is it? Where is this happening? How is this taking place?
Asking those additional questions for understanding will help to build a bridge between observation (the first step) and interpretation (the second step) of the Bible study process.
TWO – INTERPRETATION
Interpretation is discovering the meaning of a passage, the author’s main thought or idea. Answering the questions that arise during observation will help you in the process of interpretation. Five clues (called “the five C’s”) can help you determine the author’s main point(s):
- Context. You can answer 75 percent of your questions about a passage when you read the text. Reading the text involves looking at the near context (the verse immediately before and after) as well as the far context (the paragraph or the chapter that precedes and/or follows the passage you’re studying).
- Cross-references. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. That is, let other passages in the Bible shed light on the passage you are looking at. At the same time, be careful not to assume that the same word or phrase in two different passages means the same thing.
- Culture. The Bible was written long ago, so when we interpret it, we need to understand it from the writers’ cultural context.
- Conclusion. Having answered your questions for understanding by means of context, cross-reference, and culture, you can make a preliminary statement of the passage’s meaning. Remember that if your passage consists of more than one paragraph, the author may be presenting more than one thought or idea.
- Consultation. Reading commentaries, which are written by Bible scholars, can help you interpret Scripture.
THREE – APPLICATION
Application is why we study the Bible. We want our lives to change; we want to be obedient to God and to grow more like Jesus Christ. After we have observed a passage and interpreted or understood it to the best of our ability, we must then apply its truth to our own life.
You’ll want to ask the following questions of every passage of Scripture you study:
- How does the truth revealed here affect my relationship with God?
- How does this truth affect my relationship with others?
- How does this truth affect me?
- How does this truth affect my response to the enemy, Satan?
The application step is not completed by simply answering these questions; the key is putting into practice what God has taught you in your study.
Read slowly… Sometimes we are in such a hurry to check that daily Bible reading box on our yearly plan that we miss the richness of the text
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” –Acts 17:11 (NIV)
LET IT BE SAID OF US…