He counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry.
Notes on Bible Study (Part 2)
Notes on Bible Study (Part 2)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Even though I emphasized last time that one should give God's Word, the Bible, the first and absolutely authoritative place in the study of the Bible; I want to encourage all to use other sources to assist in Bible study. Other works and experienced Christians, teachers, and ministers, can be a tremendous help in the study of the Bible.
Methods of Bible Study
Reading and Re-reading
It cannot be stressed enough that if you want to understand the Bible you must read the Bible. I have often heard people say that the Bible is hard to understand. Most often, the very same people have to admit that they have not even read any lengthy portions of the Bible, such as the whole book of Genesis or the first five books of the Bible, much less the whole Bible.
Reading through the Bible -- The Bible should be read cover to cover. I am not saying that one should always read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation in the order in which it is arranged, but this is a good place to begin and a good practice to continue from year to year. One may also try reading through the Bible in chronological order. The Reese Chronological Bible is useful in this regard.
One should read the Bible with great attention. In other words, pay attention to what God has said and may very well be saying to your own heart at the time of reading. Do not treat the Bible as just another book, but read it as the Word of God; for it is indeed the Word of God.
Re-reading the Bible -- This is similar to repetitive study of other books. If a person reads something over and over again, there is a much better chance of retaining what is read and of a better understanding of the content. With the Bible there seems to be a further dimension to this -- related to the fact that it is a Book of Divine Revelation. Many times while re-reading the Bible, one will find that truths surface that were never noticed before. This happens even though the reader may have read the same passage over one hundred times.
One good, basic technique to use is to choose a single book of the Bible and read it several to many times in succession. I once tried to write a commentary for college on the book of Ephesians. I must have read and listened to Ephesians over 50 or 60 times in about 1 1/2 to 2 months time. Such an intense reading was very enlightening! My soul was thoroughly fed and my mind was filled with the deep and wonderful truths of that little book (only six chapters).
This is related to re-reading, which method lends itself to memorization. However, memorizing certain key passages and verses can greatly enhance Bible study. Not to mention the fact that it gives the Christian an arsenal of powerful weaponry ("the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God", Ephesians 6:17) to use against our adversary the Devil.
Again, related to reading, re-reading, and to comparative and topical studies, memorization gives the reader a powerful tool of ready Bible commentary. That's right, I said Bible commentary! The Bible is its own best interpreter and expositor (explainer). While reading passages that deal with doctrines, events, people and etc. that are related to memorized verses and passages, those memorized Scriptures provide a kind of instant biblical commentary.
One might say, "But, I just cannot memorize. I have tried, but I just can't seem to do it." I answer that perfect word-for-word memorization is wonderful, but very few of us can perfectly memorize all things all the time. I for one certainly am lacking in that ability. It is of similar value to become as familiar with the Scriptures as one can.
Often, I find that I may not recall word-for-word, but I can remember part of a verse or passage, or I can remember where it is in the Bible. This allows me to find it fairly quickly. With a Strong's Concordance or a Bible computer program with search capability, all one needs to remember is one or two meaningful words and the verse or passage can be found. Of course, the more we remember the easier it becomes.
One does not need to know or take a course in Greek or Hebrew to benefit from studying the meanings of words in the original languages. By using a good exhaustive Bible concordance (such as Strong's), that has a Greek and Hebrew dictionary, one may learn many good, enriching truths in Bible study. Other helps, such as Vine's word study references are also good. By checking the meanings in the original laguages, one may gain shades of meaning and a deeper understanding than is often obtained from the translated words.
Also, by finding the same original language word in other portions of Scriptures, and/or by locating other instances of the same translated word with differing original words, one can make interesting and enlightening comparisons of usage and particular shades of meaning. Note: Remember that context helps tremendously in determining the particular meaning or shade of meaning in each instance.
For example: We find that Paul and Barnabas had a "sharp contention"; but, Paul later writes to the Corinthians, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." (I Corinthians 1:11) On the surface, one might say, "It seems Paul is a hypocrite. How dare he reprove the Corinthians for the same thing of which he is guilty!" But, upon examining the words used in the original Greek we find that they are two different words with different meanings.
I will state it briefly. The word used of Paul and Barnabas means something like a serious disagreement or dispute. Whereas the word used of the Corinthians means a quarrel or wrangling. We may have a serious disagreement without becoming sour in spirit and without animosity for our opponent; but, to actually quarrel, or fight, with the other party is carnal (sinful).
Furthermore, Paul uses the same word (above translated as contentions) of the Corinthians later -- translated as strife. "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1Corinthians 3:3)
One of the best ways to study the Bible is to compare passages of Scripture (Bible) with one another. Especially those that tell the same story from a different viewpoint or those that deal with the same topic.
The reader may be familiar with a Harmony of the Gospels. There are some scholarly efforts that have produced these helpful study guides that offer a comparison of parallel passages through the Gospels and the life of Christ. However, this method of study need not stop at the Gospels. There are other parallel passages and similar passages in the Bible.
When you come accross different portions of Scripture that talk about the same events and/or same people, it can be rather enlightening to compare them with each other. Sometimes Old Testament events are retold and commented on in the New Testament. Other times various Old Testament Scriptures are explained and used for further Spirit-inspired reasoning. Many times, these occasions will give the Bible student a much better balanced and accurate understanding of divine truths.
Topical Studies and Cross References
This type of study method I use to obtain a more complete picture of all the Bible has to say about various things.
Topical Studies -- Pick a biblical topic of interest, or even one you need to know more about. Then follow that topic through the Bible to learn how it is addressed and portrayed throughout God's Word. There are various sources one may use to assist in this type of study.
Obviously, an exhaustive Bible concordance (like Strong's) can be used to locate many Scriptural references by looking up words related to the topic of study. Nave's Topical Bible and others like it can be used with this method. Thompson's Chain Reference Bible (and other reference Bibles) offers quite an extensive topical index and outline with Scripture references.
If one has the time and motivation, he could work out his own growing topical reference notes. With organizational software programs available, this need not be as tedious as in the past. For instance, one might use a database program to keep track of various topics and the Scripture references that touch on them.
Some Bible study software actually let you enter your own notes/commentary and bookmarks. Perhaps this would be useful in organizing some of your topical studies. I have a program that allows me to have several ongoing "desktops". They can be used to keep track of exactly where one leaves off with all the internal electronic resources laid out. I use a program called Bible Explorer, probably others offer the same functionality.
Cross References -- This is so much like topical studies that it fits here. My first "study Bible" after my conversion at fourteen years old was a Nelson Bible that had cross references down the middle of each page.
As I would read along, I noticed very many superscripted letters throughout the Bible text. Each letter referred to Scripture references in the middle column. So, being naturally curious and hungering after the knowledge of the Lord, I began following many of the references.
Then I would follow the references found in those verses touching on words and topics of interest. Ultimately, I would nearly exhaust the references in search of what more the Bible had to say about various things.
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible and others can be used in similar fashion. But, for some reason, I am much more sentimental about that first Nelson Bible that I wore out learning the wonderful things of God.
Comparison and Contrast
Sometimes, Bible personalities can be profitably compared and contrasted with one another. What I mean is that they either lived during the same circumstances (in same time period) or lived in similar circumstances (in different time periods) and that we may profitably compare there likenesses and contrast there differences.
For an example of this method one may want to refer to the Bible Note entitled Noah & Lot, A Comparison and Contrast (currently clicking will take you to another website). This example compares and contrasts two people of different times, but in similar circumstances.
For a suggestion (may show up in a Bible Note) of two people in the same circumstances, I recommend a comparison and contrast of Judas and Peter during the time immediately prior to and during the crucifixion. A good Scripture text to apply to the study would be, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10).
(More Bible study methods were to be mentioned in part 3, but it seems part three has not yet been written.)
Yours in Christ,
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Last edited by BibleNote Writer, 21/Aug/2015, 12:20 pm
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Bible Note Writer
written to glorify God
and to help souls
on the way to Heaven.
15/Jan/2008, 12:24 am
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