Home How To Eat Your Bible: A Three
Theres a lot of books out there on how to read a book. You might want to start with the one called How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. Another great one is the book Lit! by Tony Reinke. These books exist because reading is a lost art. We know how to read words but to actually sit down and wrap your brain around ideas and concepts, you have to keep in mind whats on the entire page. You cant just let your eyes scan the words and then walk away and forget how one argument relates to the next.
The same is true when were reading our Bibles. We must put into practice some basic principles of interpretationprinciples of hermeneutics as Bible scholars call it. We must practice the art and the science that goes into mining out the main points of the text. That begins with asking three important questions: What does the Bible say? What does the Bible mean? and How do I apply the Bible? Lets flesh out how we go about answering these questions one by one.
Find The Consistent And Applicable Theology Within The Passage
This step is crucial to a correct interpretation of Scripture, but it can also tend to be the most challenging. What you are looking for here is a principle in the passage that overrides time, culture, and people. It should be a truth that is applicable to the original audience and to us.
God was saying something specific to the original audience in each passage, but universal truths that apply to all are also woven into the passages of Scripture. The more thoroughly you understand what the passage meant to the original readers, and the more you grasp the differences between us and them, the easier it will be to accomplish this third step. When your foundation is concrete, you will more easily be able to pick out the consistent and applicable theology within each passage.
For example, in the first step we referenced Exodus 17. In this passage the Lord commanded Moses to strike a rock in order to get water for the Israelites. We arent the Israelites or Moses, and we arent literally wandering in the desert suffering from thirst. But we can draw these applicable truths out of the passage:
God provides for the needs of His people.
God is able to provide the needs of His people when it seems there is no way for provision.
God is true to His character, even when His people are wallowing in unbelief.
These are consistent and applicable theologies we can take away from this passage. They will apply to any of Gods people in any time, culture, or situation.
Be Sure You Are Asking The Right Questions
Many come to Gods Word asking the wrong questions. Two common ones are, What does this passage mean to me? and, What am I supposed to do about it? These are not inherently wrong to ask, but they are not the best ones to ask first. The reality is, it doesnt really matter what this verse means to us. It matters what those words meant to the original audience.
We need to shift our inquiries to that which will help us understand the original intent. After understanding the context, we can ask questions like, What is true about God in this passage? and What is true about me, because of Jesus? Over time, youll begin seeing the answers to these questions before you even ask them. The truths begin to jump off the page. Thats essentially what good Bible study is, learning to ask the right questions to help us see whats on the page. Only after I know what the Bible was originally meant to mean, can I figure out what it means to me.
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Some Books Have Multiple Genres
Theres definitely some genre-hopping going on throughout the books of the Bible. Daniel is both historical narrative and apocalyptic literature, and Acts works as both history and Gospel. Proverbs is a wisdom book that includes poetic elements. But the point is that learning to see these books through the lens of genre can help make Scripture reading a lot easier.
Bible Study By Topics
Closely related to the method of study by words is the study according to great topics or subjects: Bible prayers, Bible promises, Bible sermons, Bible songs, Bible poems, and so on.
Or one might study Bible geography by reading rapidly through and looking for rivers, seas, and mountains highlighted in Scripture. For example, the mountaintop experiences in the life of Abraham are a thrilling study.Another challenging study is to read rapidly through the Gospels and Epistles looking for the Lords commands to us.
The list of Bible topics is unlimited.
First, for a topical study on prayer, look up the word prayer or pray in your concordance. Look up every form of these words and such related words as ask and intercession. After you have looked up these verses, study them and bring together all the teaching on prayer that you find. You will find conditions of prayer, words to be used in prayer, results to expect from prayer, when to pray, and where to pray.
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Bible Study By Chapters
In the Bible there are 1,189 chapters in the Old and New Testaments. In a little over three years, a person could make an intensive study of the whole Bible, taking a chapter a day. It is usually a good practice to start your Bible study in the New Testament.
Time needed: 20 minutes.
Study the Bible by Chapters
Seek to find its main subject or subjects.
If you are reading the Gospel of John, for example, you might give each chapter titles like this: ch. 1 Jesus Christ, the Word of God ch. 2 The Wedding at Cana ch. 3 The New Birth ch. 4 The Woman at the Well ch. 5 The Healing of the Man at the Pool of Bethesda ch. 6 The Feeding of the 5,000
Including its main thoughts. For example, for John 1, you might make an outline like this:Jesus Christ, the Word of God:a. Jesus Christ was the eternal Word of God, 19b. Jesus Christ came into the world, 1018c. John witnesses that Christ is to come, 1928d. John says that Jesus is the Lamb of God, 2937e. Jesus Christ calls His first disciples, 3851
Approaching The Bible Rightly
While reading the Bible on a regular basis is a great start, it is also important to approach the Bible in a proper manner. It is easy to get into a habit of trying to focus only on application when reading the Bible. It is absolutely necessary for the Christian to apply the Bible to his or her life, but sometimes we can make applications that are forced or unintended.
In order to avoid misapplication of texts, it is good to read whole biblical books and try to understand the text in light of both its immediate context and in light of the entire biblical book. Always ask what the text says about the character and nature of God.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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Pray Before You Read Scripture
Pray that God allows you to see Christ in the passage. Pray that He allows you to understand the true meaning of the text. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind. Ask the Lord to give you the desire to read His Word and enjoy it. Pray that God would speak directly to you with whatever you are going through.
Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.
Remember that Hes the same God
God hasnt changed. We often look at passages in the Bible and think to ourselves, well that was then. However, Hes the same God that revealed Himself to Moses. Hes the same God that led Abraham. Hes the same God that protected David. Hes the same God that provided for Elijah. God is real and active in our lives today just as He was in the Bible. As you read, remember this incredible truth as you apply different passages to your life.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Look to see what God is saying to you in the passage that you are reading.
God is always speaking. The question is, are we always listening? God speaks through His Word, but if our Bible is closed we dont allow God to speak. Are you dying to hear Gods voice?
Do you want Him to talk to you like He used to? If so, get in the Word. Maybe God has been trying to tell you something for a long time, but you have been too busy to realize.
Write down what God is telling you.
Look in the commentary
Pray after you read Scripture
Tips For Reading And Understanding The Bible
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
The Bible is Gods Word to us. Its His message of love and forgiveness, and shows us how we can have eternal life. It can also answer questions you have as you strive to live a life that pleases Him. Thats why Christians should try to read the Bible daily.
Here are some suggestions:
- First, read one chapter from the Gospel of John each day. This will help you understand the basics of the Gospel.
- Second, read Acts, the exciting story of how Jesus Christs first disciples told others about how He died and rose again.
- Third, read the letters that Christs apostles wrote to His first followersall who were new in their faith. These letters are the book of Romans through the book of III John.
- Fourth, go back and read one of the other three gospels: Matthew, Mark or Luke.
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How To Read The Bible Effectively
Spending time in Gods word can be a hugely enriching experience for any Christian but knowing how to read the Bible can be a challenge.
What order should we read it in? How do we get the most out of it? And how do we motivate ourselves to pick it up in the first place?
Its a big book after all. In fact, its lots of books, all related but different and often written in different styles and genres.
Some of it is exciting and some of it is more difficult to read. So how do you start?
In this mini guide on how to read the Bible weve listed some ways that you can build a daily reading habit and let the Word of God minister to your life.
How To Read The Bible And Understand Scripture As The Word Of God
Learn about how to read the Bible as a Christian from Dr. J. Todd Billings, Western Theological Seminary Gordon H. Girod research professor of Reformed theology. Youll explore some common ways people approach the Bible, reflect on what it means to understand Scripture as the Word of God, and discover distinctive ways the Reformed tradition approaches interpreting the Bible. This is part one of a three-part series on how to study the Bible. Originally available in video form, the written material has been lightly adapted.
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What Is The Best Bible For Beginners
Most people are familiar with the King James Version of the Bible, which also is the first authorized English translation of the bible.
However, I wouldnt recommend it for beginners.
When choosing a bible you should consider these two things:
- Readability & Understanding
Which Version of the Bible Should You Choose?
There are roughly 450 English translations of the bible.
The most popular translations are:
- King James Version
Why Are There So Many Bible Translations and Which One is Best?
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek .
Since the original Bible was written in several languages, it had to be translated into English. The English bible versions that we read are all translations from these original texts.
However, there are several ways that bibles can be translated.
The most accurate way is a word-for-word translation .
The King James Bible and the English Standard Version are examples of formal equivalence. While these versions are accurate, they are harder to read and understand.
Then you have retelling or paraphrasing the scripture which attempts to paraphrase the original text in a way that is easier for modern readers to read and understand.
The New Internation Readers Version and the Good News Translation are examples of dynamic equivalence.
There is a happy medium between the two called functional equivalencethat balances word for word and paraphrasing. The New International Version and the Christian Standard Bible are translated this way.
What Are You Reading For
The first thing to know is that people read the Bible for different reasons.
When you start to read Scripture, it’s best to pick one primary reason. This will help you focus your reading, and will keep you from getting bogged down.
Some common reasons are:
- Getting to know Christ better
- Learning our Catholic Christian faith
- Understanding how to live as a Christian
- Learning about history
- Understanding the ancient Jews, who are the roots of Christianity
All of these and more! are important.
But for the beginning Catholic, I’d recommend sticking to the first several reasons listed. Especially prayer, and getting to know Christ. Those two are of fundamental importance!
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Anyone Can Study The Bible
Sometimes I think we make studying the Bible more complicated than it has to be.
There’s a place for in-depth study and using all these remarkable resources that are available to us. But, at the end of the day, the goal is to encounter the living God.
And so as we learn to ask some basic questions of any passage, you don’t need to be a biblical scholar, you don’t need to have had advanced coursework, you don’t even need to have been a Christian for very long. All you need is to be able to ask questions: What do we learn about God? What do we learn about people? How should I relate to God? How should I relate to others?
General Revelation: God Revealed In Nature
The book of creation is a beautiful book, which testifies to Gods eternal power and divinity. We are to read it as creatures of God. The revelations we experience about God through the book of creation are known as general revelation.
But the Belgic Confession says that the book of creation alone does not lead us to a saving knowledge of God. Instead, all these things are enough to convict us and to leave us without excuse.
The apostle Paul explains the reason for this in Romans 1:20. On the one hand, Paul gives an exalted view of the creation, how important both caring for and knowing the creation is. But precisely because we know about God and Gods power through the creation, people are made without excuse in our sinfulness before God.
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What Tools Can You Offer To Help Others Study For Themselves
Sometimes a leaders most important task is not telling people what the Bible means, but connecting them with a resource that works for them. For some, that might be a methodlike inductive Bible study. For others it might be a Bible dictionary, study Bible, or commentary. Increasingly, people are wondering how to get Bible resources onlineor even in an app format.
Consider having How to Study the Bible classes on a consistent basis. Make sure the teachers bring all the excitement that Scripture deserves. Dont assume that people know it all already, but dont be afraid to challenge them either.
In my case, as I served in a church youth ministry after college, the youth pastor announced that he was going to walk us through a hermeneutics class.
Thats right: hermeneutics.
I didnt think I would enjoy it in the least. I was no seminary graduate, and this sounded like pretty high-level stuff. But as it turned out, I loved it. I wanted more. It was basic enough to engage my interest. It was as if my eyes were slowly beginning to open for the first time.
That class set me on a life-long course of discovering the Bible. Now I truly appreciate when the teacher or preacher breaks down Scripture, provides some historical context, discusses who the author is, and more. I want to see the big picture, but I also want the tools and guidance to dive into the details for myself.