The Bible is a unique book in that it is inspired by God and tells first-hand accounts of the life of Jesus. Christian theology is built around this book and the Gospel story. It holds the truth of God and humankind — it is the most important book ever written.
The Bible is also very old. That doesn’t mean that it’s irrelevant, but it does mean that at times it can be difficult to understand for someone of this century. It was written in a time where everything was different: speech, dress, diet, you name it. To study the Bible accurately, we need to take all of these things into consideration so that we don’t start interpreting things the wrong way. We need to read the Bible through the lenses of the original author, and stop reading it through our experiences.
We need to read the Bible through the lenses of the original author, and stop reading it through our experiences.
Sounds great, but how do I do that? I’m glad you asked. Here are some tips you can use to study the Bible:
1. Find The Context
When you read anything, you need to know the context for it to make sense. If you were to read this sentence: “You don’t need brains” it wouldn’t make much sense on it’s own. Once you find out that this is actually part of a dialogue between the scarecrow and the Wizard from the book The Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow is asking the Wizard to give him a brain, it starts to make more sense. The Wizard is specifically telling Scarecrow that he doesn’t need a brain to experience knowledge. Obviously, he is a made-up character and that quote holds no truth in the real world. We all need brains, but you see my point. You need the context to understand what the original author is trying to communicate. In the Bible, there are many verses that are commonly taken out of context and are in turn misinterpreted. This is dangerous and can lead to us believing something false. The Bible is for you, but it was not written to you. It can never mean something it didn’t mean to the original audience. Keep the timeline and culture in mind as you read, and don’t just take verses out of the story and build your understanding from that. You wouldn’t do that with any other book.
2. Do Word Studies
Because the Bible was not originally written in English, we have to rely on the translation of the original Greek or Hebrew. There are certain Greek and Hebrew words that might not have a good English equivalent. Conducting a word study on certain words will help in your understanding. You can use a Bible dictionary for this or go on any free website that can look up words in the Bible using a reference called, “Strong’s Numbers” (The Blue Letter Bible is one of our favorites).
3. Ask Questions
I am avidly against people spoon-feeding theology from the Bible. If you come across something in the Bible that doesn’t make sense, ask questions. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. Asking questions is the best way to learn something and to dig deeper. Why did God wait 400 years before He freed the Israelites from Egypt? Why is the Tabernacle so important? Why did Jesus have to be crucified? All of these are good questions to ask yourself as you read the Bible. You might not find the answer for every question, but asking will fuel your curiosity and lead you deeper into the story. This is how we learn and grow in our understanding.
4. Study God’s Character
The Bible is one huge cohesive story, and similar to any story, the Bible has a main character. God’s character is portrayed throughout the whole story, but many times His character is taken out of context — remember when I said that this can be very dangerous? If you look at God through just one section in the Bible, it can be very easy to distort His character. If you look at the Bible as one story you will have a different perspective.
This is so important. The Bible is a timeless book meaning it is always relevant. It is filled with truth, and truth never decays. As such, there is so much in this book that we can apply to our lives today. Pray and ask God to reveal those truths to you. Pray for the word of God to transform you.
Hopefully these five tips will help you grow in your understanding of the Bible. This book is far from boring. There is so much history and adventure found in the Bible. Dive in and don’t hold back. Be led by your curiosity and find freedom in the truth.