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23Apr/160

Bible Study and Interpretation: Part 1–Overview and Observation

18 Open my eyes , that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law . (Ps 119:18, NAS+)

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .”Charles H. Spurgeon

"The Bible is the greatest of all books ever penned by men; to study it diligently is the most worthy of all possible pursuits; to clearly understand what the Lord is saying to us through its pages is truly the most noble and the highest of my goals. The application to my heart, mind, and spirit of the truths of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit's gift of understanding and my subsequent obedience to that revelation is my supreme purpose and duty."

(Found in an old Bible in England)

“You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”Mahatma Gandhi

The Bible is to easy to understand in its overall message that no one should miss the message of salvation, yet it is so deep and engaging that you can spend your whole life observing and applying the layers of it, and never exhaust all of its meaning.

Recommended Reading:
Living By the Book – Howard Hendricks
Get Into the Bible – Stephen Miller

Constable’s Notes on the Bible (download them in pdf format here)
Exegetical Fallacies
40 Questions about Interpretation

Tools You Can Use for Bible Study, for Free:
Lumina Study Website – includes Constable’s Notes on the Bible, and articles from scholars
Bible Web App – Dictionary of Greek Terms
IVP New Testament Commentary: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/toc/
Commentaries at http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/
Matthew Henry’s Commentary (not recommended, overly spiritualized interpretation)

Tools You Can Purchase:
Logos Bible Software $250-10,000
Bibleworks (for working in Greek and Hebrew)
Accordance (for working in Greek and Hebrew)

Commentaries:
Recommend the NIV Application Commentary (many volumes are $5)

 

Steps to all good Bible Study:

  1. Observation: Seeing ALL the meaning in the text
  2. Interpretation: Finding the right meaning in the text
  3. Application: (the neglected step) Applying the text to our lives
  4. Delivery: Presentation overrides content EVERY time. We must present the truth compellingly.

 

Reasons to Study the Bible:

Study it for your benefit: If they read it…rather than just listening to sermons about it, most people only read the Bible in a hurry…they aren’t willing to study it in the many ways that would expand its meaning. But time spent studying God’s word is rarely wasted…it will grow you and those you are called to lead, if you will just dedicate the time to it. Best of all, when you see meaning in the text, it’s a special moment that you and God alone share. Rather than learning from someone else’s special time with God, you get to draw the inspiration and truth from your time with Him and His book.

Also, remember that the Bible is written to speak to people in every circumstance and life stage. You need to stay in the Word of God because many of its lessons you cannot learn until you are in the right stage or circumstance to learn them. Now that I am a parent, TONS of lessons on parenting are jumping out of passages I have read 50 times before, but never seen the application I am seeing now. The Bible is a book that speaks to us differently as we grow.

Study it before you teach it: Anyone who takes on a leadership role in which they are called to teach Scripture should spend time studying the passages they are working with. It is important that a teacher is confident of the meaning of the text they are passing on, and that they have applied it to their own lives before they seek to help others apply it.

Study it to protect its use: Leaders should also be able to contend with misleading teachers—to identify and respond to someone who is misrepresenting the meaning of a text. Far too many pieces of Scripture are picked up and turned into one-liners, used to support extreme positions or personal interests.

define the word

Consider the following verses and their misuse:

  • · God will do whatever I ask: 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. (John 14:14, HCSB)
  • · Revenge is ok: “An eye for an eye” - Exodus 21:23-25
  • · God really wants what is best for EVERYONE: OR If I have enough faith, I will only get more rich and comfortable. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you” - Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • · Money is evil: I Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.
  • · God smokes weed (Bob Marley) Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. Psalm 18:8 NIV
  • · “Train up a child in the way he should go” Proverbs 22:6 — A biblical guarantee that your kid won’t go bad.
  • · “Wives, submit unto your husbands as unto the Lord” Ephesians 5:22 — The final word on all marital disagreements.

The-Dedicated-Doctor

You must work to be good at Bible Study: Like any other discipline, you need training and practice to be good at studying the Bible. You need to collect and test tools to find out what will work for you. Most of us cannot examine someone in a hospital room and treat them effectively because we have not been trained to do so. We cannot effectively observe the signs of sickness. We don’t know the tools used to treat sickness well. Forced to practice as a doctor, we would probably do more harm than good. Bible study is not that difficult, but it does take time. And if you want to be an expert, you may be called to learn tools that take years of study, like the original languages and manuscripts.

 

Bible Study Methods by Howard Hendricks:

Overview Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmgsKr_nHJg&index=3&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Overview Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubsLcWLqxrg&index=4&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Observation part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTUl6UQ8U4Y&index=5&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Observation part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aeWs5WG_HM&index=6&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Observation Part 3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PbWQoBH6X0&index=7&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Observation Part 4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3J0aq42xRs&index=8&list=PLHVLAsJuPfmUeA6eOavI0NheF8Ra0sLu2

Observation – one minute apologist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxMhGxtwdmY

Homework:

Keys to Good observation:

  • · Be prayerful
  • · Look at the big picture the message of the whole book
  • · Select and define key words
  • · Consider the style of literature: poetry reads differently than personal letters. A command in poetry doesn’t mean the same thing as a command in a letter.
  • · Consider commands and warnings. Strong language signifies something important.
  • · Look for promises.
  • · Consider context: location, audience, circumstances. Why was this message given, and to whom?
  • · Note any repetitions. Repetition highlights important meanings.

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