How to Study the Bible Find the Right Bible for You • While the KJV is the most beloved translation, it is difficult to understand because it uses 17th century British English. (e.g. 1 Thes. 4.15; prevent) • I would suggest that you find a Bible that you can understand (Realize that all English Bibles are translations) • I would suggest that you invest in a study Bible. (Video, disc 1, “Types of Bibles”) Translation Methods/Philosophies Source: Gordon D. Fee and Mark L. Strauss. How to Choose a Translation for all Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible Versions. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007. Formal Equivalence (Literal) Mediating Functional Equivalence (Dynamic) Goal Comprehension: modify the Hebrew and Greek forms until the text is comprehensible. Clarity: modify the Hebrew and Greek forms until the text is clear. Naturalness: modify the Hebrew and Greek forms until the text is natural. Examples KJV, NKJV, NASU, NRSV, RSV, ESV NIV, TNIV, NAB, NJB, HCSB, NET NLT, NCV, GNT, GW, CEV Strengths Helps to capture metaphors, verbal allusions, and ambiguities. Achieves both accuracy and clarity. Greatest comprehension. Communicates the message clearly and naturally (transculturation). Weaknesses Minimal interpretation can result in awkward English, obscurity, and inaccuracy. Comprehension test often fails. More interpretation, so greater margin for interpretive error. Sometimes uses unnatural English. Even more interpretation, so greater margin for error. Sometimes loses nuances of meaning in pursuit of simplicity and clarity. Online Bibles • https://faithlife.com/ • https://www.logos.com/downloads Other Helpful Resources • Introductions to Bible study (How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, How to Read the Bible Book by Book) • Bible Dictionary (Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) • Bible Concordance (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Halley’s Bible Handbook, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Collins Bible Companion) Other Helpful Resources • Cross Reference Book (The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) • Commentary • None of these resources are absolutely necessary, but may be helpful, especially when trying to understand the background of a passage. Before Opening Your Bible • Find a quiet place and get away from anything that might distract you. • Pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you the truth of Scripture. Jesus promised: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26, ESV) Before Opening Your Bible • Remind yourself of God’s promises: – Proverbs 3:13 (ESV): Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding – Psalm 19:7 (ESV): The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV): All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. Pitfalls to Avoid • Bringing preconceptions to the text. We must let the text speak for itself without forcing our own preconceptions on it. • Missing the historical setting. The Bible was not written to twenty-first century Americans. Each book of the Bible was written by a specific person, to a specific group of people, in a specific culture, at a specific time, and for a specific purpose. Pitfalls to Avoid • Failing to understand the literature type. In the Bible we will find historical narrative, poetry, prophecy, parables, letters, etc. • Ignoring the biblical context. A single verse taken by itself can appear to mean something totally contrary to the author’s intent. Je 29:11 • Studying for the wrong reasons. We should not study simple to gain information. Paul described the purpose of Scripture: “that the man (or woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). I want you to understand that studying the Bible is a journey. It is a wonderful journey where you meet with God, and God speaks to you. Basics of the Journey Various Ways of Studying the Bible • • • • • • Introduction – Video Framework – Video Book study Passage study Word study Topic study Book Study • Read the book – Read it in its entirety in one setting – Read it repeatedly – Read it in different translations • Research the background • Reread the book to recognize the blueprint (clear outline?, purpose of the book, anything unusual, words and phrases that repeat, how does this book fit in the overall framework of the Bible Reading the Text Howard Hendricks recommends observing the text in 10 different ways: • Thoughtfully. Be a detective. • Repeatedly. Read entire books at a time. • Patiently. Spend quality time in each book you study. • Selectively. Decipher the who, what, where, when and how in the text. • Prayerfully. Don’t copy others; ask God to reveal things to you. • Imaginatively. Think about how you might write the verse. • Meditatively. Reflect on the words. • Purposefully. Understand that the author used structure to send a message. • Acquisitively. Attempt to retain the text. • Telescopically. Understand the significance of the text in light of the entire Bible. Passage Study • Visualize the Big Picture of the passage – Read and Reread the text – Ask Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? • Analyze the little pieces in the passage – Seeking answers to all the questions we asked in phase 1 – Discover the biblical author’s original intent. What did he originally mean with his sentences and words. – How would the original audience understood his words. Passage Study Passage Study • Lastly, synthesize the little pieces into the big picture. Word Study • • • • • Look up the general meaning of a word. Locate other occurrences of the word. Examine various meanings of the word. Limit the contextual meaning Frame the word in light of the rest of the passage, book, and the whole Bible. If it does not fit within the framework, we need to rethink our definition. Topic Study • • • • Select a topic Search the Bible Scour the Scripture Interpret within the framework of the context and the whole Bible. • Survey other resources (Dictionaries, Cross Reference, etc.) • Sort the information Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 1. Apply the Bible according to its real meaning Ephesians 4:26 Does this verse say that we need to practice being angry so that you are angry all the time? Does is mean that you are to express your anger before sundown, or does it mean that you will get angry, but don’t let it get out of control and lead you into sin. Paul recognized the reality of righteous anger. People become indignant over their own treatment or the treatment of others. It might be wrong in some cases not to be indignant. It would also be wrong to allow the indignation to escalate until it is out of control. Indignation over wrong might lead to action based on wounded pride or personal resentment. This would be sinful. Paul is saying you need to keep your anger under control. Only you and God know the way you need to apply this passage in your life. Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 2. Use the Bible as a book of principles The Bible contains many principles that show you how to live for and serve God. The Bible warns you against many acts and attitudes that hinder your life and service for God. The directions and guidelines the Bible gives are often not detailed and specific. If the Bible were a group of specific rules for every occasion, you might obey the letter of the rules and miss the genuine spirit of godly living. God intends that you struggle to discern the way He wants you to apply His principles to your life. That way you stay focused on developing a deeper relationship with Him through his direction of your thoughts and actions. Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 3. Use the promises properly Have you ever heard someone say, “every promise of the Bible is mine?” That statement is not true. At least four different kinds of promises can be found in the Bible. When you encounter any promise in the Bible, you must be careful to understand what kind of promise it is, and you must exercise caution in how you apply that promise to your life or to the lives of others. Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 3.Use the promises properly • Four kinds of promises – Universal (John 3:16) – Limited to God’s people (1 Peter 5:7) – Personal (Joshua 1:9, this promise was made to Joshua) – Conditional (person must meet certain conditions: James 4:8; 1 Pe 5:6) Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 4. Use a cross-cultural understanding Some of the Bible’s commands and directions seem confusing today because they are based on the culture of the Bible. Yet the biblical command reveals an important principle or truth we can practice today if we modify the form in which we practice it. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:12 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” This could create a war if we followed. Paul wants us to show deep brotherly love and concern. Five Principles to Apply the Truths of Scripture 5. Use the Bible wisely Sometimes the Bible writers use hyperbole, or overstatement to make a point. In apply the Bible to our lives, we need to recognize this overstatement. Look at Matthew 5:29-30. Jesus urged his followers to tear out their eyes and cut off their hands rather than let these parts of the body lead them into sin. Did Jesus mean this literally? Absolutely not! He used hyperbole, or exaggeration for effect. In verses 27-28 Jesus had warned against committing adultery by using the eyes. When He talked about removing the eyes as a source of temptation, he was warning his disciples and us to fight temptation with great zeal. Jesus wants us to use mighty efforts to resist sin and evil. Applying the Text Application is about what the text means to you. The end result of Bible study is not knowledge. It is transformation. The purpose of Scripture is: “that the man (or woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Howard Hendricks mentioned nine application questions to consider: • Is there an example for me to follow? • Is there a sin to avoid? • Is there a promise to claim? • Is there a prayer to repeat? • Is there a command to obey? • Is there a condition to meet? • Is there a verse to memorize? • Is there an error to mark? • Is there a challenge to face?