Tag Archives: Word of God

How to Study the Bible . . . or NOT!

True faith – confidence – is based on our exposure to, and understanding of, God’s words and testimonies contained in the Bible. How we interpret it is vital to ensuring we “get it right.” Getting it wrong could have devastating consequences. Those who mislead others will be judged accordingly. Ignorance could lead to experiencing God’s wrath, disappointment, deception, a falling away from the Christian faith, etc.

Rule number one of Bible interpretation: do everything possible to determine the writer’s original intent. Rule number two of Bible interpretation: see rule number one. Figuring out what the text writer meant to say to the intended audience should be your primary focus.

The next goal of Scripture interpretation should be to find out how the message applies today (there’s only one meaning of the text, but possibly multiple applications). A good understanding of grammatical principles and attention to format and message context will help ensure your success.

Here are some tips for effective biblical study:

  • Be prepared to study through guidance by God’s Spirit (having a teachable spirit and a good attitude, etc.)
  • Take Scripture literally whenever possible and look for the simplest meaning first
  • Consider the author and audience
  • Consider historical/cultural background first
  • Compare translations for consensus
  • Consider apocalyptic symbols and look for explanation in Scripture (nearly all are explained somewhere in the Bible!)
  • Use study tools (like e-Sword) and aids whenever possible (i.e. concordance or dictionaries)

Work to understand what God, His son, the prophets, or the apostles intended to say to their audience – not what you’d like their words to mean to you. Remember: only one meaning, many potential applications.

God gets the Final Word!

We hear the phrase, “the Word of God!” quite often. And, we quote Paul who told Timothy that, “All Scripture is inspired by God . . .” But, what is that Word of God or Scripture? The fourth-century Vulgate? The 1560 Geneva Bible? The 1611 King James Bible? ‘Our Daily Bread’ devotional? None of them, actually.

The Scripture Paul referred to is the Torah, or Old Testament, available in Hebrew and in Greek in the first century. It was what the Bereans used to hold Paul accountable for his teachings of the prophetic fulfillment of the coming Christ by Jesus.

The word (lower-case ‘w’) represents the words spoken by God as when He spoke the world into existence or when He spoke of the coming Christ and our reconciliation with God through Him. In fact, the Word (upper-case ‘W’) is the manifestation of the reconciliation word(s) of God (i.e. Revelation 19:13).

So, what is the Bible and where does it come into play if not necessarily the Word of God? It’s a collection of ancient texts consolidated by groups of men after much arguing and debate; it contains the Torah and many first and second-century documents.

The Old Testament Torah is a collection of oral traditions, historical documentation, personal reflections of wisdom and love and lamentations, and prophecies – both current to the times and futuristic in nature. These were inspired by God and written by men.

The New Testament is a similar collection of historical and eyewitness accounts, letters full of wisdom from apostles, and prophetic and apocalyptic literature. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension were reiterations of what was spoken of or influenced by Jesus as was the Revelation given to John later. This collection was also recorded by men.

We’re creatures of free will and of differing intelligence levels and backgrounds. So, it’s truly amazing that God entrusted us to record anything related to Him or our Christ. But, despite that and the transliterations, translations, and interpretations that have introduced minor discrepancies in today’s Bible, the core words of God that promise hope of the future through the Word – our Christ – stands untarnished and remains intact.

What Word do you subscribe to?