General Guidance for Bible Study
- Use a fitting translation. The goal of translation: to faithfully render the Hebrew and Greek into fluent English. Suggested translations: The New International Version; The New American Standard. The regular use of one specific Bible is helpful for becoming familiar where certain passages are found.
- Set aside a definite time each day for study and prayer. Make it a part of your dailyschedule and stick to it.
- Begin with prayer for the Holy Spirit and enlightenment. Concentrate as you study and ask that He give blessing though your study.
- Consciously focus on each word and seek understanding. Ask questions like: "What does it say? What does it tell me about myself? What does it tell me about my Lord? What will it lead me to do? What am I to believe? What am I to become?" Also of great value is to read with imagination, picturing the events in your mind, putting yourself into the text.
- Meditate on God's Word throughout the day. Really think about it and how it relates to you and how it may be applied to daily life. Of value in this is keeping a special notebook or pad to record key verses or truths gained. (Using a pen or pencil with your study also reinforces your retention of the truths! Also, don't hesitate to mark key verses right in your Bible.)
- In general, study the Bible by books. Work through a book and see the general outline, purpose, progression, etc. Introductory data from Bible handbooks can be helpful. (Alternate types of study: General Overview, Topical, Great Chapters, or with a Devotional Book.)
- Suggested starting points: Luke, Acts, Romans, Genesis, Philippians, Psalms, Proverbs, I Peter, John ...
Principles of Bible Interpretation
- Consider the context and the circumstances of each passage. Most false teachings stem from taking passages out of context. Look carefully at the verses before and after each passageas well asthe purpose and aim of the book it is in. Note the speaker, the ones spoken to,the reason for the statement, etc.
- Take the Bible literally unless the Bible itself says otherwise. Take the words in their simple, literal sense and don't go off seeking fanciful, figurative or "hidden" meanings. If the words are used in figurative or symbolical ways, the context or parallel passages will indicate it. Common sense will also make us aware of ordinary idioms (Metaphors, similes, hyperboles, etc.) as well as figures of speech common to all languages.
- Consider parallel passages or cross references. Let Scripture do the interpreting of Scripture. Less clear sections will be made more clear by the other Bible sections dealing with the same subjects. This further helps to safeguard Bible truths for us.
- Consider all interpretations in the light of clear, chief truths. No correct interpretation will contradict the often-stated and clear doctrines of the Bible (like man's sinfulness, salvation by grace through faith, the deity of Jesus Christ, etc.). Further study will make the true meaning clear if it is not seen right away. Parallel passages will again be of great value.
All Bible passages are from the New International Version. See the copyright notice.