It’s no secret I’m a huge proponent of Bible studies! But what about those times when you’re trying to read the Bible on your own? What steps do you take to help uncover the meaning of the text? Here are 5 simple steps to get you going!
Find the Why: Become an investigative reporter.
Every portion of the Bible was written for a purpose. Either a prophet is calling people to repent. Paul is addressing a particular church and the issues they are facing. Jesus is trying to teach us something about God we are misunderstanding. There is a reason for which the text was written. We must first figure out for whom the text was originally written and the historical context behind it, and then start figuring out how that text applies to us today.
During my time at Baker Book House, they shot this author interview that explains what I mean.
2. Look for the Who, What, When & Where.
The Bible was written on ancient scrolls- expensive ones! So that means, coupled with the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, each and every word in the Biblical text is exceedingly important. They had to ensure their entire message fit within the limited space they had, so they didn’t just throw in extraneous details that we might find to be interesting. They gave us details when they thought them to be of utmost importance.
3. Get a hold of some great commentaries.
Last week, on Chris Brooks’ radio program Equipped we talked about some of his tried and true methods and resources. I mentioned Kenneth Bailey in my video above, but here are some additional favorites:
Anything by N.T. Wright
4. Use Caution in Interpretation
One old adage I like to say is: If true, not new. In other words, if you come up with an interpretation to the text that you cannot find anywhere else across the thousands of years that the Bible has been studied, you’re wrong. God didn’t wait until 2019 to suddenly reveal the truth of His Word.
Scripture interprets Scripture, and while your interpretation may seem sound in light of one particular passage, it may not hold water once its submersed in the entirety of the Bible. The more Scripture you know, the more connections you will begin to make throughout the history of the entire text.
5. Don’t push off application
When Jesus taught, He always had two primary aims: Open our eyes to the truth of Who God Is and open our eyes to the truth about ourselves. Since He is the eternal Word, it stands to reason that when we read Scripture, we ought to ask ourselves these same two questions.
What is this passage teaching me about God?
What is this passage teaching me about myself?
The Bible is not meant to be a book that we learn, it is meant to be a truth that we live. Therefore every time we study the Bible, it ought to propel us to action: a change in perspective, a shift in attitude, a step of faith, a restraint on our behavior, a call to action.
A grand adventure awaits on the pages of your Bible friend!
What are some of your favorite Bible study resources/methods? I’d love to hear in the comments below?
For years, Erica Wiggenhorn struggled to read the Bible. It didn’t make sense and she couldn’t apply it to her life. This compelled her to join Bible studies and learn from others who could begin to lay a solid foundation of Scripture. Though Bible study, the Word of God came alive and she fell in love with Jesus in ways she never thought possible! Today, she long to help other believers unlock Scripture through writing studies that take them through Biblical text utilizing the five steps outlined above. Her Bible studies, An Unexplainable Life, The Unexplainable Church, and Unexplainable Jesus cover the books of Acts and Luke and are released by Moody Publishers.