Bible Study Principles

Bible Study Principles

(to keep us out of trouble)

© 2020 C. O. Bishop

Most questions regarding particular passages in Scripture are answerable by asking a series of questions:

  1. Who is talking? (Especially important in long dialogues and narratives, like the book of Job.)
  2. To whom are the words directed, and, if possible, why? (Especially important in teaching that is specific to Judaism, as opposed to that which is to the Church.)
  3. When is the teaching taking place, and Where? (This may tell me whether a specific teaching is given before or after some particular turning point in scripture, for example, before, during or after the period of the Mosaic Law.)
    • Is it a “one-time” occurrence, or is it something that is a principle to be repeated? (For example, “That thou doest, do quickly” is not an admonition for us to always be in a hurry….) 🙂
    • If there is a prophecy involved, are there clues as to when the fulfillment is to take place? (Words like “when, then, after, before, now, until,” etc. all point to a time-frame.)
  4. What is being said? Is there a command involved? Is there a teaching? Is there anything in the context suggesting that this is a metaphor, or a parable? If not, is there any reason why I should not take it literally? And if it IS a parable, are there clues given, stating to what the parable refers? (For instance, “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto…” [Matthew 25] would indicate to me that this refers to the millennial kingdom, not the church.)
  5. How does it compare with the rest of Scripture? Are there other passages where I KNOW what is taught, that might shed light on this verse? (Or does this verse modify my understanding of what I thought I knew?) Use scripture to interpret scripture, but make sure the contexts match, within reason. “ALL scripture is inspired by God…” It all has to fit. So I feel free to say, “I don’t know”, when questions come up that would seem to contradict a major body of established truth. I am willing to wait. God will continue to teach me, and I will NEVER know it all.
  6. Finally, AFTER answering the above questions, ask God, “How can I apply this to my life? What does it require me to change? What assurance, help, or confidence does it give me? Is there a promise given to me? (Be careful to ascertain that it actually IS a promise to you: not all promises in Scripture are to everyone.) Is there something in particular upon which this passage sheds light?”  “All Scripture is profitable…” You may not see the use right now, but give God time—you may see something later, as you grow in understanding. 2nd Timothy 3:16 applies to the whole Bible…not just the parts with which we are comfortable.
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