A. Ralph Johnson
2 Timothy 2:15-16 15 Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth
God's word was the means of creating all things (2Pet. 3:5).
God's word is the power that upholds all things (Heb. 1:3).
God's word is the truth by which we are sanctified (John 17:17).
God's word makes us wise unto salvation (2Tim 3:15).
God's word produces faith through hearing (Rom. 10:17).
God's word produces good fruit in honest and good hearts (Luke 8:11, 15).
God's word is the “good news” of our salvation (Eph 1:13; Rom. 1:16).
God's engrafted word is able to save our souls (James 1:21).
God's word sanctifies and cleanses us through water (Eph 5:26).
God's word is the means by which we are born again (1Pet. 1:23; James 1:18).
God's word is the means by which we grow (1Pet. 2:2; Matt. 4:4).
God's word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Ps. 119:105).
God's word is the sword of the Spirit in the armor of God (Eph 6:17; Heb. 4:12).
God's word is living and powerful and sharper than any sword (Heb. 4:12).
God's word thoroughly furnishes us to every good work (2Tim 3:16-17).
God's word will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
God's word of the Lord abides forever. (James 1:18).
A. Good Bible study begins with a student who is good.
Matthew 22:37-39 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
James 5:16 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Matthew 7:5 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Luke 8:15 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Proverbs 9:9-10 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
C. Good Bible study requires a love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
John 17:17 Jesus prayed, 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 8:32 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
1 Peter 2:2 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Matthew 5:6 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Luke 10:21 21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and understanding, and have revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
2 Corinthians 4:2 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
1 John 2:15-17 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever.
Colossians 3:1-2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
D. Good Bible study requires eyes to see and ears that hear what the Spirit says.
Matthew 13:13-16 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. [Acts 28:27]
Matthew 13:9 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mat 13:15-16, 43; Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22)
Romans 10:17 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Hebrews 5:11 11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
John 8:43 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Ephesians 4:18 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Timothy 2:15 15 Be diligent [Study] to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.
2 Peter 3:16 Peter said concerning Paul, 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
1 Timothy 4:13 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Ephesians 5:15-16 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Hebrews 5:12 12 For when by reason of time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when you sit in thine house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shalt write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates:
James 1:5-8 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Matthew 7:7-8 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
Ephesians 1:17-18 ...17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Colossians 1:9 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Hebrews 5:12-14 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
2 Timothy 2:7 7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
John 17:17 Thy word is truth
2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is from private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
1 Corinthians 14:37 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 4:6 6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
Galatians 1:6-9 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Proverbs 11:14 14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Proverbs 13:20 20 He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Proverbs 23:7 7 For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he:
Matthew 6:22-23 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Garbage in—garbage out. Avoid cluttering the mind with things that block our relation with God and distorts values and understanding. Avoid stinking thinking!
2 Timothy 2:15-16 15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
1 Timothy 4:7 7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
1 Timothy 1:4 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Titus 1:14 14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.
Psalm 119:11 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Deuteronomy 11:18-20 18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
2 Peter 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour
Some things take direct effort to learn. Memorize things that provide a framework for other things—books of the Bible and other lists. Learn how to memorize lists.
O. Good Bible study must be done in humility before God.
Matthew 23:12 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Romans 1:22 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
1 Corinthians 8:2 2 And if any man think that he knows any thing, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
Remember, the desire for the knowledge of good and evil brought the fall of man
Genesis 3:4-6 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
P. Good Bible study is cautious of relying on the wisdom of the world.
Rationalism, philosophy and human standards of authority or presuppositions can be dangerous. God is not limited to what man has experienced or understands. What God teaches is not limited to what is “politically correct” or “scholarship” or what “the scientific community” accepts.
Romans 3:3-4 3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged.
1 Corinthians 1:18-29 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1 Corinthians 3:18-21 18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Romans 1:28 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
1 Timothy 6:20-21 20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.
Acts 4:19 We must obey God rather than men
Q. Good Bible study requires cautious thinking.
Check information carefully. Beware of just accepting what you read or hear. The world is full of assumptions, mistakes, propaganda and outright lies. The internet reeks with it. The media is saturated with it. The best books often advocate falsehoods. Even among Christians there are many false ideas. Many are harmless but others are not.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Acts 17:11-12 11 [The Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Matthew 7:13-23 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
R. Good Bible study requires obedience to God’s Word.
John 7:17 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Matthew 7:21 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:24 24 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
James 1:22-25 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Luke 16:10 10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
S. Good Bible study requires balanced thinking.
Extremes beget extremes.
The ditch on one side of the road is just as deep as the other.
Deuteronomy 5:32 32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ephesians 4:15 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
2 Timothy 4:2 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all patience and teaching.
Romans 11:22 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Matthew 23:23 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Rest and relaxation helps comprehension. Don’t cram your study. Spread it out. Retreat time helps good study. Jesus also retired to rest.
Mark 6:31 31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while...
II. TECHNIQUES OF GOOD BIBLE STUDY
HOW READEST THOU?
It is one thing to read the Bible Through.
Another thing to read, to learn, and do.
Some read it with design to learn to read,
But to the subject pay but little heed.
Some read it as their duty once a week,
But no instruction from the Bible seek:
While others read it with but little care,
With no regard to how they read nor where.
Some read it as a history, to know
How people lived three thousand years ago.
Some read to bring themselves into repute,
By showing others how they can dispute;
While others read, because their neighbors do,
To see how long ‘twill take to read it through.
Some read it for the wonders that are there—
How David killed a lion and a bear;
While others read it with uncommon care,
Hoping to find some contradictions there!
Some read as though it did not speak to them,
But to the people at Jerusalem.
One reads it as a book of mysteries,
And won’t believe the very things he sees.
One reads with Father’s specs upon his head,
And sees the thing just as his father said.
Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed—
Hence understand but little that they read:
For every passage in the book they bend,
To make it suit that all-important end!
Some people read, as I have often thought,
To teach the Book instead of being taught.
And some there are who read it out of spite—
I fear there are but few who read it right.
So many people in these latter days,
Have read the Bible in so many ways
That few can tell which system is the best,
For every party contradicts the rest!
But read it prayerfully, and you will see,
Although men contradict, God’s words agree.
For what the early Bible prophets wrote,
We find that Christ and His apostles quote:
So trust no creed that trembles to recall
What has been penned by one and verified by all.
A. BASIC STEPS TO COMPREHENSION AND MASTERY
Focus: Have an organized plan of study. Don’t just splatter like a fly on the windshield or jump around like a grasshopper. Choose a topic or a book and follow through to accomplish something specific.
Research: Compile all you can on your topic. Prime the pump. Search the scriptures for relevant information. Search other sources, read books, check dictionaries, read debates and discussions. Collect clippings, pictures, poems, illustrations.
Analyze: Who?, What?, Why?, Where?, When?, How? Names of places, meanings of words, check and compare information, define words, answer questions. Do not just rely on what someone says. Remember the noble Bereans. (Acts 17:10-12)
Visualize: Maps, pictures, outlines, Videos, even visits to exhibits and locations all help to expand and impress the memory and comprehension.
Verbalize: This requires thought, sharpens comprehension, fixes memory, and further smoothes flow. Discuss with others. Listening to professional recordings helps proper pronunciation of names and places or Greek and Hebrew words (The “Kinesthetic effect”)
Organize: Outline and put the information in logical order and under proper headings.
Reduce: Strain out unneeded material.
Polish: Quotations, illustrations, poems, jokes, references, etc.
Write: Writing helps both comprehension and memory and weeds out mistakes.
Memorize: Blocks of related facts (Books of the Bible, important characters, outlines, lists of important places, journeys of people, useful scriptures.)
Review: This may include questions and tests or discussions.
Soak: Time helps to work through answers and improvements..
File: Preserve studies for future reference. Make notebooks.
B. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE STUDY—HERMENEUTICS--THE SCIENCE OF INTERPRETATION
1. Look for what God is revealing rather than what you want it to say.
“Too many people ‘follow their conscience’ like a wheelbarrow—pushing it they way they want to go.” Searching Scripture to justify some favored practice, bias or theory is dangerous.
Luke 22:42 42 ... Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
2. Interpret what is said, first in light of the immediate context, second in light of the whole book, third in light of what the author says elsewhere, and finally, in light of other related scriptures and information.
Example of the importance of context is the use of “Israel”
Genesis 32:28 Jacob is named “Israel” –“Prince of God”
Joshua 7:25 the descendents of Jacob were called “Israel.”
1Kings 12:20 as a result of the division of the kingdom between Jeroboam and Rehoboam, the northern ten tribes were called “Israel.”
Romans 9:3-8 Paul tells us that not all are “Israel” who were born of Israel—making a distinction between the Israel of the flesh (1Cor. 10:18) and the “Israel” of promise.
Rom 9:6-8 6Not as though the word of God has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
Context determines the meanings. Indeed there were other uses and in the New Testament the term was used variously.
3. Words do not always, everywhere, have identical meaning.
For example, Hebrews 4:8 in the King James translation says: If Jesus had given them rest, then would he have not afterward have spoken of another day.
However, the context indicates this is Joshua, which in the Greek is the same word as Jesus. Joshua is only mentioned twice by name in the New Testament (cf. Acts 7:45).
4. The common or general meaning of words should prevail unless the context establishes otherwise. God wants us to understand what he says.
2 Corinthians 11:3 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that perish: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5. Words should be understood as the readers to whom spoken would be expected to understand them.
6. Prefer the literal sense unless it doesn’t make sense.
The most obvious meaning is the most likely. God wants us to know His will. No one can say what God means better than God. That seems self-evident but unfortunately, sometimes people choose the less likely or more complicated.
Example: If the context is figurative the figurative interpretation is preferred unless the literal meaning is clearly indicated.
Revelation 17:18 18 And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
Figures should not be used to explain figures.
7. Let clear scripture interpret difficult scriptures
The scriptures interlock and strengthen each other in leading us to the truth. Scores of times Jesus and the New Testament writers appealed directly to the Scriptures.
Rom. 4:3; Gal. 4:30 “What saith the Scripture?”
8. Harmonize Scripture with Scripture.
Don’t pit scripture against scripture. One scripture may contain less than the whole truth on a subject, but the whole truth can never be less than all that is in the scriptures. Truth in one scripture does not contradict truth in another. Learn how they compliment each other.
John 10:35 ... the scripture cannot be broken;
9. Prove an interpretation in the mouth of two or three witnesses. (cf. Mat. 18:16)
Be cautious of founding a doctrine on the interpretation of a single statement of scripture. (Example: baptism for the dead –1Cor. 15:29)
10. Keep in view the law of prior mention, especially in context and in the book being studied.
Who is speaking may be determined by following personal pronouns back to their antecedent. Previous definitions can throw light on the meaning. (Example: “stars” in Rev. 12:4 were earlier identified in Rev. 1:20 as the angels of the churches.)
11. The original autograph scriptures are inspired. Later scribal errors are not.
12. Prefer the meaning of the original language over translations.
The Bible was not originally written in English. Translation may convey the general idea but sometimes biases and misunderstandings creep in. However, the Bible is written in such a way that important truths come through to honest hearts from any translation. Words change meaning or sometimes the correct meaning is lost. For example, in the King James, “Easter” should be “Passover” (Acts 12:4) “Let,” which then meant “prevent,” has entirely reversed in meaning (2Thes. 2:7; Rom. 1:13). “Prevent” (1Thes 4:15) then meant to “precede.”
13. Where the Scriptures are silent we have liberty.
Rom. 4:15. “Where there is no law, neither is there transgression”.
Rom. 5:13. “Sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
1Jn. 3:4. “Sin is the transgression of law”
14. Distinguish commands from examples
Examples may be wise to follow but commands are to be obeyed.
15. Distinguish relative importance
Matthew 23:23-24 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
John 19:11 11 Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me unto you has the greater sin.
Luke 12:47-48 47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
16. Beware of adding to or taking away from the word of God. We must teach the whole counsel of God.
Deuteronomy 12:32 32 Whatever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add to, nor diminish from it.
Proverbs 30:5-6 5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. 6 Add not unto his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18-19 18 For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
17. Only what is taught in the Scriptures is divine authority—“Sola Scriptora.”
Be cautious about relying on personal opinions, speculations, creeds, counsels or traditions as authority. The opinions of “scholars,” the “fathers” or men of importance are not scriptural authority. Allegorical or mystical interpretations of scripture, where God has not given such an explanation, are dangerous.
2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is from private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 8:20 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Mark 7:7-9 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
1 Corinthians 3:4-5 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 3:21 21 Therefore let no man glory in men.
18. Avoid mystical and allegorical interpretations of scripture unless clearly established by the context.
Allegorical or mystical interpretations of scripture, where God has not given such an explanation, are dangerous. Only God’s revelation should be regarded as reliable. For example, the “mystery of Christ” [Eph. 3:3-4] is revealed as that “the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs.” [Eph. 3:6]”
And who are the “Gentiles”?
Ephesians 2:11 11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
19. The teachings of the apostles and prophets are just as inspired as the words of Jesus.
Jesus wrote nothing. His words come to us through inspired men. What they taught are the teachings of Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 16:19 19 And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
1 Corinthians 14:37 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
John 14:26 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 16:13 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
20. Consider questions: who?, what?, why?, where?, when?, how?
Who is speaking? To whom spoken? Why was it spoken? Where and under what circumstances? When was it spoken? How are we to respond?
For example, people sometimes cite things said in Job without realizing that Job’s three “friends” were not inspired and were speaking things that were false.
We must “rightly divide” the word of truth (2Tim 2:15). Christians are under a New Testament/Covenant (Heb. 9:15-17). The Law was a tutor to bring them to Christ (Gal. 3:24). The Old Testament writings are profitable for our learning (Rom 15:4; 1Cor 10:6, 11) but we are no longer under the “tutor” (Gal 3:25). Christ has fulfilled the law (Mat 5:17-18). It has been done away (Col. 2:14-16; Rom. 7:1-4; 2Cor. 3:6-15; Gal. 4:21-30; Heb. 8:13).
Thus we are not to be judged by the Old Testament food laws, feasts and Sabbath day requirements (Col 2:14-16; cf. Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2; 1Tim. 4:3-5; Mark 7:15-19). http://glenacres.org/Documents/030Sabbath.htm
2 Corinthians 3:14-15 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
21. Remember that similarity is not always identity.
Sometimes words, names or ideas may sound similar when they actually have little or nothing to do with each other. For Example, Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 and 13 speak of a “dragon,” a “lion.” an “eagle,” and a “bear,” Today these symbols are sometimes used to represent China, England, the United States, and Russia. But, in the Bible they represented quite different things –the devil, Babylon’s furious and swift conquest, and the Medeo-Persian Empire
A similar difficulty lies in some attempts to identify names in Ezekiel. Because of word similarities some have tried to identify “Javan” with Japan, “Meshech” with Moscow and “Rosh” with Russia and make it fit our day. In Hebrew, “Rosh” means “Prince” but in Russian it means “Rower” --from the Vikings, around 800 AD, who rowed up the Volga River to trade. This was way beyond Bible times and the claim a considerable stretch.
Likewise, there is little credibility to the claim that from the phrase, “Isaac’s sons” we get the term “Saxons” or that there is any divine significance in the fact that the letters, “USA” are found in the word, “JerUSAlem.” The same is the case with making the name, “Esau,” which means “red,” or the “red dragon,” in Revelation 12, to identify Communism because they have been called “Reds.”
22. Bring together all pertinent information in drawing a conclusion.
Omitting any factor in the process may result in a wrong conclusion.
23. Beware of closed minded dogmatic conclusions. Leave the door open a little for the possibility of a truth to enter if something has been overlooked. This not a weakness. It is a strength. It allows one to better understand and deal with error and those presenting it.
24. Beware of relying on “feelings,” dreams or personal desires. What God says takes precedence over all else.
Proverbs 3:5-7 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
Jeremiah 17:9 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Proverbs 28:26 26 He that trusts in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walks wisely, he shall be delivered.
25. We don’t have to know and understand or immediately have an answer for every question.
Sometimes people raise questions or make claims and insist that if you don’t know the answer that they must be right. That is false.
Deuteronomy 29:29 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Even Jesus did not know some things.
Mark 13:32 32 But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
26. Remember that God loves us and his grace makes allowances for sincere limitations in our knowledge and understanding.
John 9:41 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remains.
John 15:22 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
Acts 17:30 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
C. BASIC TOOLS FOR BIBLE STUDY
1. A good leather-bound study Bible with maps, concordance, center column references, dictionary wide margins.
2. Halley's Bible Handbook
3. Exhaustive concordance. (Strong's?)
4. Bible dictionary
5. Notebook or hand computer with Bible programs
D. PRACTICAL SETTING AND TECHNIQUES FOR STUDY
1. Choose a place with few distractions.
2. Cool to avoid sleepiness.
3. Good lighting.
4. Not too comfortable chair.
5. Choose a time when not tired but a little exercise—best, in the morning when fresh or after taking a nap or a cool shower.
6. Have a regular time for study. A short daily study is better than one long study before class.
If you leave study for a “convenient season” it will mostly be inconvenient and the season will be sporadic and elusive.
7. Begin studying as soon as possible after each class so discussion and assignments are fresh in mind. Don't wait until late in the week.
8. Walking and talking while studying can be helpful to concentrate.
9. Discussions or study with others can be helpful for comprehension and clear focus. Quiz each other.
10. Make lists of key information. Grouping and organizing facts helps to better grasp and retain them.
11. View information from an over-all perspective first and then move to details. View tables of contents first and then skim over chapters before reading.
12. Flash cards with key information can be carried in a shirt pocket to glance at throughout the day.
13. Mark important information in books and take notes. Use Sticky Notes to mark important places and key information.
14. Copy key information. Writing helps memory and comprehension.
15. Ask questions and be sure you understand what you are learning.
16. Ask yourself, what questions you would ask if you were giving the test.
17. Review for tests but don't cram just before a test.
18. Before taking a test: Be sure you are rested. Eat a light meal. Take a cool shower. Exercise a little to get blood pumping.
19. Be early to class and relax. Have a drink of something. Pray!
C. TIPS TO ENHANCE STUDY
1. Look for valuable lessons.
The Bible is filled with wonderful insights and solutions to problems. Discover and mine its gems. It reveals the “Treasure hidden in a field” (Mat 13:45) and the “Pearl of great price” (Mat. 13:45-46) which a man sold all to gain. Don’t make it a “duty” but an adventure—seeking, discovering, enjoying. Make it your own private “Antiques Road Show.”
Matthew 13:52 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.
2. Look for repeated words or Phrases
Psalms 136 “His mercy endures for ever”
Proverbs “My son”
Ecclesiastes "vanity" and “Under the sun”
Ezekiel “And they shall know that I am Jehovah”
Romans “The wrath of God”
Philippians “joy” and “rejoice”
John and 1John "know" and “Love” in their various forms
1John “Hereby we know”
3. Look for different styles of literature
The Bible has the richest literature ever written—law, history, poetry, music, proverbs, prophecy, biography, and personal letters. Discover the many acrostic pieces (Psalms 150, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 145; Proverbs 31:10-31, Lamentations). It tells about many topics, places and cultures over centuries, by people in all walks of life. It covers a time-frame from before the beginning of the heavens and the earth to the return of Christ, the judgment and the separation of the righteous and the wicked into their eternal abodes. It answers the questions of where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. It reveals a master plan for life involving sound morality, ethics, sociology and law and provides answers to the basic problems with which mankind struggles. Most important, it reveals the only true God and His divine plan of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ.
4. Study the Bible in different ways
-Study the Bible by characters
-Study the Bible by periods and events
-Study the Bible as a library (by divisions and books)
-Study the Bible topically (doctrines and subjects)
5. Use maps to visualize biblical geography.
Know the Bible world, especially around the Mediterranean area and the Holy land.
Empires—Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek (Macedonian), Roman.
Nations and areas— Spain, Hittites. Egypt, Lebanon (Phoenicia), Syria, Asia (Turkey), Galatia, Achaia, Pamphylia, Arabia, Edom, Gaza, Moab, Ammon, Philistines. Palestine ( Israel), Galilee, Judea. Samaria,
Important cities—Rome, Constantinople, Athens, Alexandria, Babylon, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Ephesus, Troas, Damascus, Nineveh, Ur, Haran, Antioch, Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethel, Bethlehem, Sodom.
Water bodies—Mediterranean (“Great Sea”), Black Sea, Persian Gulf, Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Caspian Sea, Dead Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aqaba.
Rivers—Nile, Tigress, Euphrates, Tiber, Danube, Jordan.
Islands—Crete, Sicily, Cyprus.
Mountains— Ararat, Sinai, Carmel, Harmon, Nebo, Gerizim, Zion, Olivet.
Paul’s travels on his three missionary journeys.
6. Learn to pronounce the names of Bible places, people, and related words.
7. Become acquainted with the customs and cultures of the people of the Bible.
8. Learn about Biblical Archaeology--what evidence remains of what took place.
9. Learn about the nations around Israel and their history.
10. Become acquainted with the apologetics of the Bible. Know the critical attacks—the so-called Bible contradictions and be ready to answer them.
11. Broaden your knowledge outside the Bible.
12. When reading resource books, survey the Introduction, Contents, Index of notations to be used, maps, pictures, timelines and whatever else may be offered. These are often very helpful in succinctly getting and understanding the information you want.
Tip: The worn nature of a book often suggests its interest value and usefulness.
13. Read and discuss other views—Read or listen to the best arguments of those who disagree. The strength of a conclusion may not be known until tested by the best arguments of others. When in college some of my best learning was in private discussions. If something was complex or un-interesting I would find someone with whom I could discuss it. Reading debates or papers on the subject is an excellent way to gain comprehension of the pro’s and con’s and get to the heart of issues. Look on the internet for discussions of questions.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Memorization is a powerful tool. Memorizing Key facts and scriptures will expedite learning, save much time, and make use of the scriptures much more effective. Doing this sets things in mind so they can be accessed quickly and they become frameworks for comprehension and faster learning.
-The books of the Bible
-Abbreviations of names of books of the Bible
-Divisions of the Old & New Testaments
-What each book is about (theme, key words, writer, to whom written, approximate date)
-Writers of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, Jude.
-Outline of each book of the Bible. http://glenacres.org/BookStudies.htm
-A key word for each chapter in each book http://glenacres.org/BookStudies.htm
-Periods of the Bible
-Important characters and what they did
-Important places (such as the travels of Paul)
-Key texts of scripture (John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:17; Lord’s Prayer, 23 Psalm etc.
-Twelve tribes of Israel
-Scriptures for key doctrines of the Bible
-Outline of world history with Empires and locations of key events
-Outline of church history with key events and locations
-Greek and Hebrew alphabets. This helps in looking up words and reading reference materials.
Memorization speeds learning. It takes special effort to memorize but the more you know the faster you learn and the more you learn the more interest and comprehension you develop.
HOW TO MEMORIZE
-Organize things to be memorized into logical groups of about five to twelve facts (as with the Bible Library. http://glenacres.org/Documents/480BibleIntroduction.htm
-Learn groups of facts separately, then connect them like connecting cars into a train. (as with the Bible Library).
-Some things may be remembered best when in the form of poems or songs.(like songs of the twelve apostles or books of the Bible)
-Note Key words. Pick a key word in each phrase of a scripture to be learned..
-Associate with other things, logical or even ridiculous.
-Flash cards. These are best learned a few at a time, placing those learned at the back of the pack and keeping forward those being learned.
-Lists of questions and answers.
-leave a space to fill in a word or use initials for words to give hints to force memory (such as “A.D.P” = “Ante-Deluvian Period”).
15. Take advantage of available knowledge of church leaders and others
This can be a considerable reservoir of information easily tapped.