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Essentials of Bible Study

June 7, 2017

The Bible is essential for Christian growth. “Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (2 Peter 2:3) Because the Word is essential to the Christian life it is paramount for the believer read and study Scriptures. Studying well is a crucial ability for good spiritual health. The careful application of several basic principles will improve anyones study of the Word.

Understand the Bible according to the regular rules of language. Though the Bible deals with difficult and important spiritual truths it is not a mystical document that requires a new set of principles of understanding writing. The Bible was written to be understood by normal people. Understand the language of Scripture like you would the language of a newspaper, a novel or a poem. Follow the usual rules of literature to understand Scripture.

The normal rules of literature require an understanding of the kind of literature being read. The Bible contains many different literary styles. History, dialogue, proverb, parable, epistle, instruction, law, prophecy and poetry are just a few of the different types of literature encountered in Bible study. Thus, read each passage of Scripture in accordance with its literary type. History cannot be read like poetry. Proverbs must not be read like law. Parables cannot be read like epistles. Each kind of literature has its own particular rules for a proper understanding. Follows those rules to better understand the truths being conveyed.

Context is king. Every verse, every line and every word have to be understood in their context. Bible verses must never be interpreted apart from their place in the book and the surrounding passage. Every passage has a place in the larger context of the book. Even the words must be understood in their context. Words are never defined by their dictionary definition alone. Store has a very different meaning when it is used as a place to go than when it is something you do with rarely used items. Context always determines meaning. Let the meaning of the entire text determine the meaning of a section, a verse, a line or a word. Heed the warning of the old aphorism, “A text out of context is a pretext.”

Let the Bible explain the Bible. Every passage must be understood in light of the broader teachings of the Bible. If Bible study results in a conclusion that contradicts a plain, well established Biblical doctrine then the conclusion needs to be re-evaluated. When attempting to reach an understanding of difficult portions of the Bible, let the easier to understand passages guide to the correct understanding. Don’t let passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 lead to a denial of the eternality of salvation. Let passages like John 10:28-29 guide into a correct understanding of the warnings in Hebrews. Let the plain explain the unclear. Read the Bible with an eye to the entire body of truth to guide into the correct understanding.

Bible study is serious work. Bible study is delightful work. It refreshes the soul, strengthens the heart and transforms the life. Work to understand the Word of God. It will be worth every minute.

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