What are some good ideas to follow when studying the Bible? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
One of the great mistakes we can make in apologetics is to study that so much that we sometimes forget we’re to really know about the Bible. Studying the Bible can be difficult. Maybe you’re not into apologetics but just want to know the Bible better. When it’s just you and the Bible, what can you do?
First off, don’t be a maverick Christian and think that only you have been taught anything by the Holy Spirit. Too many Christians think it should just be them and their Bible. By that standard, you ought to forsake the assembling with other Christians. After all, what can they add to you? It’s you and Jesus after all. Why listen to your pastor on Sunday? You don’t need to hear anything he has to say. You’ve got the Holy Spirit.
When you’re doing that, don’t restrict yourself to one time either. There are many great insights in this age, but there are many from the church fathers as well and other great thinkers of the past. When answering questions, sometimes we reinvent the wheel. Chances are, someone else in history has asked the question you’re asking and you can find out a better answer to it by studying how it was addressed in the past.
Second, don’t be afraid to use those resources. If you have to get out a commentary, get out a commentary. If you need to look up the word in another passage, feel free to. With resources available on the internet, there’s no reason to not do this. If you have the time to read this blog, then you also have the time to be able to do Bible Study. You can use several sites like BlueLetterBible or BibleGateway.
Read books also about the history and culture of the Bible. The Bible was not written in a vacuum and you will make many mistakes if you think it was. Seek to understand the world of the Bible and the world around the Bible. Seek to know what was going on at the time. Look at what was going on beforehand as well. What happened in between Malachi and the gospels for instance? Your understanding can be greatly enhanced by learning this.
Learn some good theology as well. You can find this by studying philosophy in the early church and by looking at the way Second Temple Judaism interpreted the Old Testament. What difference does the Trinity make? Do you want to approach the text with a right understanding or not? Note that this will help you in other areas. Could you understand eschatology or soteriology better by understanding the thought of Jews at the time?
When you study the text itself, I recommend you come asking questions about it. If you believe the Bible is Inerrant and Infallible, I find then a helpful position to take is to ask why God put a text where He did. For instance, we read every night before we go to bed a passage of the day on my phone. Recently, we read about Joseph being faithful in the case of Potiphar’s wife. I started asking “Why is that in there?” God could just as easily have said Joseph displeased his master and was accused of wrongdoing and thrown in prison. God wanted us to know what the accusation was. God wanted us to know how Joseph responded. Why does this matter? Why did God include it? Why did Moses? Could it be they also needed to know about faithfulness in the presence of sexual temptation?
Recently also, my wife lost a good friend of hers to death. We looked at the 1 Thess. 4 passage then. Here’s something to think about. How did Paul know what he knew? Now we could say it was revealed by God as a prophecy of sorts, and that could be, but could it not be by studying the Old Testament that Paul somehow pieced some matters together? He spent three years in Arabia after all. We can do reverse engineering and look at the conclusion and see “If this is correct, how did Paul reach it?”
You know, you might never find out the answer, but part of your growth would be in asking questions still and learning how to do that. A good disciple would be one who is asking questions and not just one who is waiting to have the answers fed to Him.
Bible Study is important and it’s more than just what you get in Sunday School. I hope tips like this are helpful.