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How to Study the Bible

by | Jan 22, 2013 | News

A Guest Post by Rob “Bubba” Hines

Have you ever considered that it would be nice to be able to handle every situation in a way that honors God? To be totally prepared to handle every situation in such a way as to bring glory to God’s name? This is not only possible; it is God’s will for each Christian.

Our memory verse this week (2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ) is the basis of this proposition. Once you know what God says and how to put it into practice – you will be equipped for every circumstance in life!

J.I. Packer – If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the bible.

The whole premise is found on knowing what God says – and how will we know what God says if we do not study His word, Scripture? We are not referring here to merely reading the bible, because we can read and not comprehend! See Acts 8:30 & 31 –30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

We also are not speaking of devotional reading, which should very much be a part of your daily walk with Christ. Instead, we speak of Study – which includes discovery, comprehension, interpretation, and application and prior to starting to study the Bible, we must first agree on HOW we will study the Bible.

A Method

There are any number of ways to go about doing “bible study”, some of which are known to be ineffective and others which are known to be effective. Effective bible study is vital to any Christian and without attempting to insult your intelligence as a student, we intend to learn a most effective (if not the most effective) method – commonly referred to as the Inductive Method.

The Inductive Method – Overview

Book

  1. Begin with Prayer
  2. Read & Re-Read the Book
  3. Identify the Type of Literature
  4. Deal with the Book Objectively
  5. Read with a Purpose (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How)
  6. Discover the Context of the Book.
  7. Read & Re-Read the Text – Discover Repeated Phrases & Words.
  8. Identify a Main Theme that Summarizes the Book
  9. Discover the Summary Statement for each chapter, it should support the theme

Chapter

  1. Begin with Prayer
  2. Look for the Obvious
  3. Be Objective
  4. Read w/a Purpose
  5. Mark Key Words/Phrases
  6. Make lists of the Keys
  7. Search for: Contrasts, Comparisons, Terms of Conclusion, expressions of time.
  8. Determine the Chapter Theme.
  9. Determine the Paragraph Themes.

Word Studies

  1. The Purpose for doing word studies is to understand the meaning of a word or words in the context you are studying
  2. Essential Tools: Exhaustive Concordance & Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
  3. Further Word Study – meanings of the original Greek or Hebrew words – can be helpful to correct interpretation and application

Cross-References

  1. A cross-reference is a reference to another Scripture that supports, illumines, or amplifies the Scripture you are studying.
  2. The best interpretation of Scripture is other Scripture.
  3. Helpful Tools: Concordance, Topical Bible, Reference System in your Bible.

Observation – What Does the Bible Say?

A text without context is a pretext for a proof-text!

Begin with prayer – this is a very effective method, but w/out the Spirit it is just that, another method!

See John 16:12-15 – 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Begin with prayer, stay in prayer, end in prayer – saturate your study of God’s Word with prayer!

Identify the context – Look at the words, phrases, and sentences surrounding a particular word, phrase, or sentence. Word can mean different things, and context may be the only way to discover the meaning. Take the word trunk for example, it can mean:

  • Car Luggage
  • Elephant Snout
  • Travel Luggage
  • Tree Stem
  • Swim Shorts

You need to see how the word relates to the other words around it.

Look for the Obvious – Facts, People, Place, Events.

Be Objective – John 17:17 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. Strive for a passion to be saturated in truth and adjust your beliefs and life accordingly. These teachings are absolutes on which to stake your life, character, and lifestyle on! There is a place for subjectivity – in your devotional reading; study is the place for objectivity.

Read w/Purpose – Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How!?

Avoid Application and Interpretation at this point!

Interpretation – What Does it Mean?

  • Remember that Context Rules!
  • Always Seek the Full Counsel of God
  • Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture
  • Do not base your Doctrine on an obscure passage!
  • Interpret Scripture Literally!
  • Look for the authors intended meaning of the passage.
  • Check your Conclusions by using reliable commentaries

Application – How Does this Change My Actions?

  • How does the meaning of this passage apply to me?
  • What truths am I to embrace, believe, or order my life by?
  • What changes should I make in my belief, in my life?

What does this passage teach?

  • Is it general or specific?
  • Does it apply only to specific people? To a cultural problem of the day? To a certain time in history?
  • Has it been superseded by a broader teaching?

Does this section of Scripture expose any error in your beliefs or in your behavior?

  • Are there any commandments that you have not obeyed?
  • Are there any wrong attitudes or motives in your life that the Scriptures bring to light?

What is God’s instruction to you as His child?

  • Are there any new truths to be believed?
  • Are there any new commandments to be acted upon?
  • Are there any new insights you are to pursue?
  • Are there any new promises you are to embrace?

Beware of the Following

  • Applying cultural standards rather than biblical standards
  • Attempting to strengthen a legitimate truth by using a Scripture incorrectly.
  • Applying Scripture out of a prejudice from past training or teaching.

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