How to Study the Bible
Upon doing some research on the Internet, I came across this list of 9 hints for studying the bible (on www.antelope-ebooks.com). I had seen most of these before and felt that the list was generic enough that we could use it and add in our own understanding and methods for using each hint in our study of the bible.
Beyond the first hint, there is no order of importance. Each of these are things of which we must remind ourselves before we sit down to read and study scripture. However, there are times that some of these may be ignored due to the subject matter being studied. For example, it might be necessary to drop #8 (Don't put vague scriptures first) when the focus of the study is to resolve what that odd verse really means.
Pray for Guidance
It is not really necessary to go into more detail on this subject as we covered it thoroughly in our previous study on Prayer.
Is it only necessary to pray before you study? What reasons might there be for praying after a study?
Attitude of Self-Correction
An important facet of studying is to know that the scriptures are there to teach you. Part of this teaching is when we read something that directly applies to a behavior we have that the scriptures tells us to stop or correct. We must be willing to accept that we will need to change our ways based on scripture (not just prove our way is scriptural).
An excellent example of this was pointed out at the Feast of Tabernacles when someone questioned why we didn't do something that was commanded in scripture (the bringing in of tree branches on the first day of the Feast). We are now correcting ourselves and will do just that on the first day of the Feast this next season.
Based on this hint, would it be right to always jump at the scriptures and only focus on what shows your way to be correct?
Often we will read something that is commanded that we are already doing, but we never actually knew it was a commandment to keep. Are there any that you have read or heard before that you did not realize was commanded?
Remember that the Bible Never Contradicts Itself
The easiest trap to fall into is to start losing faith in the scriptures and the bible as a whole because some seem to contradict other scriptures. The problem is that there is most likely a lack of understanding and study of the scriptures to know why one sounds like it is a contradiction of another. Many of the next hints help overcome this hurdle that we sometimes have to jump.
Here I'll throw in an example of what appears to be a contradiction of the scriptures:
29 And Elohim said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, ...
This appears to be a solid contradiction of scripture. When there is contradiction, know that sometimes Yahweh will change his mind. In this case, the scripture we are missing is where it states that he had changed his mind.
1 And Elohim blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
So in this example, we find that Yahweh added to his original commandment of what was permitted for food.
Why would Yahweh change his mind about some commandments?
Are there any indicators that some commandments will not change? (Exodus 12:14, Zechariah 14:16-19)
Let the Bible Interpret the Bible
Sometimes a scripture in one place will actually help explain a scripture in another place. It is necessary to look at all the references a bible may list that point to other scriptures.
An example of this rule in effect is also related to what we may eat:
1 And Yahweh said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
How do we know what is clean or unclean? We can turn to the following reference and find it explained.
So what happens if the bible you are reading contains no references to other scriptures? Are there other books you can use?
Are all references listed for a verse actually related to explaining the entire verse?
Check the Context
It is also a simple way to get a point across by taking one scripture and using it as your proof when that is not what that scripture intended at all.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Many modern churches will take this one scripture from Paul and prove that we no longer have to keep the law because we are now under grace (undeserved pardon). However, they have pulled this scripture out of context.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Yahweh forbid.
Paul here points out again that just because we are under grace, we are not granted permission to commit sin whenever we want.
Do you know of any other examples of what might have been pulled out of context and used as doctrine?
So how do you keep yourself from pulling something out of context?
Get All the Scriptures on a Subject
Sometimes, as in our example of scripture contradicting scripture, we had only pulled two scriptures instead of reviewing every scripture that relates to what we can or cannot eat. However, if we had done a full research of all possible scriptures, we would have found that first one to be quite in the minority.
When you find many scriptures on a subject and one or two seem to be in contradiction, those are the scriptures to review and find out if they are being taken out of context or were later changed. You cannot know which scriptures may be “old” or “changed” until you find out which is in the minority.
What kind of studies may be difficult to do because there are too many scriptures?
What other reasons might there be for getting all the scriptures on a subject (other than finding those that may be in contradiction)?
Prove All Things
1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
It is quite lazy sometimes to take what someone says at face value and not follow up to see if what was said was true and scriptural. In one organization, the top minister would say “don't believe me, believe your bible”. However, in later years, the opposite became the standard.
It is part of our walk that we must be able to prove (not just to others, but to ourselves) everything we believe. Unfortunately, too many just come to church to listen to nice sayings and warm a chair seat, but couldn't explain the beliefs that we hold.
Have you ever proved to yourself that the law is still in effect? That we must still observe the holy days listed in Leviticus 23?
Do you feel there are subjects that don't need proof or cannot be proven but you accept them on faith?
Don't Put Vague Scriptures First
2 Timothy 2:14-15
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before Yahweh that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto Yahweh, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Scriptures that don't make sense or are too wordy to understand can lead us to stop studying or even believing. Some feel that because Yahshua said,
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
They could not possibly follow Yahshua because they believe in their own hearts they cannot be perfect. However, Yahshua never told us to do what was not possible. Instead, they should just focus on all the other commands Yahshua gave that were much easier until they could understand what he may have meant.
Why would people throw away what they believe because of one verse they don't understand?
Is it required that you understand every word of the bible and what it means for you today?
Use Several Translations
Lastly, not every translation of the scriptures is accurate. Sometimes, what is written in the King James is hard to understand because they used a phrase that was understood at the time, but does not carry the same meaning today.
However, despite what some in the world will say this hint intends, it is truly recommended that you turn to an Interlinear when you don't understand a scripture in your own translation. The Interlinear is a modern word-for-word translation from the Hebrew (for the old testament) and the Greek (for the new testament). It usually does not try to include someone else's idea of what the phrase may mean, only what was actually said.
Why would some translations be wrong?
Are you required to use a specific translation when you study the bible?
Lesson Two – 9 Hints for Studying the Bible Copyright ©2004-2017 – Congregation of YHWH (www.theCongregationOfYHWH.org)