The Promise of Understanding the Word

The Promise of Understanding the Word

In our last article we encouraged you to study the Word (Bible) in detail so that you can understand it.  That effort comes with a wonderful promise: “the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3–4 ESV).  Have you ever envied the writers of the Bible that they must have understood things very well?  Paul says that, while he received it by revelation, he shared it by writing it down and when you read it, you can understand just as he did.  Now that’s a goal worth striving for!

Many get overwhelmed when they think about studying the Bible.  It is something that can take as much time as you are willing to spend and comes with rewards of spiritual growth. The Bible also pronounces a blessing upon the one who reads it: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3 ESV).  I urge you to make a commitment to study the Bible more.

How do you study?  There are several considerations to keep in mind.  We have already emphasized studying intentionally and systematically.

One cannot be too careful.  Consider the meaning of words and how important that can be.  Did you know that Jesus made a scriptural argument based on verb tense?  In Mark 12:26-27 the Bible says, “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”  

Or did you know that the apostle Paul argued based on the difference between singular and plural?  In Galatians 3:16 (ESV) he said, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring.  It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”  If verb tense and singular/plural is that important, we can’t be too careful as we read!

As you study the Bible, read carefully and take some good notes to help you remember.  It is a good idea to develop a set of questions to ask yourself about each passage you read:

  1.  Who is writing, to whom and why?
  2.  Which words are often repeated? (Repetition in the Bible is a way of it saying “This is important.”)
  3.  What are the important words in this passage?
  4.  What words do I not understand that I should look up in a dictionary?
  5.  How do I reconcile/relate this passage with other scriptures I know?
  6.  How can I summarize in my own words what this passage is teaching me?

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