I appreciate the kind words and positive feedback from my recent posts. Of course, all I desire is to point my brothers and sisters in Christ to an obedience of faith for the glory of God. This post ties in some practical advice for studying the Bible. All of this is my brief summary of teachings from Compass and Secret Church. The point is not to just receive but to give it away! I provide a few words about historical context, authorship, and audience. So give this a try and see how it goes. Start small. Don’t try to tackle a chapter. Write down your thoughts and answers to the questions. Pray for understanding before you start and obedience when you finish.
1. What do I see?
- Ask who, what, where, when, why…
- Look for emphasis by length, purpose, ordering, exaggeration…
- Look for connections like conjunctions, prepositions, cause and effect, pronouns, shifts…
- Look for comparisons through similies, metaphors, allegories…
- Look for communication in emotion, tone, mood…
2. What does it mean?
- NOT “what does this mean to me”
- The text can never mean what it never meant.
- Minimize your “baggage” and subjectivity.
- CONTEXT is crucial: historical, cultural, grammatical…
- Interpret plainly–literally–unless there’s a good reason not to.
3. How does it relate?
- Identify the truth that is timeless.
4. What do I do?
- Who should I be?
- How should I think?
- Is there a sin to avoid, a promise to claim, a prayer to pray, a command to obey, a condition to meet, or a challenge to face?
- All Scripture is intended to be understood in the context of mission.
- Learn it in order to give it away. That’s what disciple-making is!
39 books of law, history, prophecy, and poetry.
- Narratives, laws, oracles, genealogies, songs, wisdom, laments, visions, etc…
- Written in Hebrew from around 1500 BC to 400 BC
The essential character is Israel, told through narrative in three divisions:
A. The story of God’s people – Genesis through Esther (fairly chronological)
- Perfect creation: Genesis 1-2
- The fall of man: Genesis 3-11
- God’s promised blessing and judgment to the patriarchs: Genesis 12-50
- God’s promised blessing and judgment to a nation: Exodus – 1 Samuel 8
- Israel’s monarchy: 1 Samuel 9 – 1 Kings 11, 1 Chronicles – 2 Chronicles 9
- Israel’s division and exile: 1 Kings 12 – 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles 10 – Esther
B. The writings of God’s people – Job through Song of Solomon
- Fits into the story.
C. The prophets from among God’s people – Isaiah through Malachi
- Fits into Kings and Chronicles
27 books written by (possibly) 9 human authors, divinely inspired. (The Church did not create the New Testament; the New Testament created the Church.)
- Historical narrative, letters, prophecy…
- Written mostly in Greek over a span of less than 100 years (beginning ~63 BC).
- All of history was sovereignly orchestrated by God to arrive to the essential character, Jesus Christ.
The story – Matthew through Acts
- Matthew: written to Jewish people considering Christ.
- Mark: written to Gentiles who were suffering persecution in Rome.
- Luke: written by a doctor/historian for Gentile Christians.
- John: written to show Jesus is the Son of God.
- Acts: part 2 of Luke, written to show the life and ministry of the church.
The letters – Romans through Jude
- Paul’s first missionary journey (48-49 AD): Galatians
- Paul’s second missionary journey (49-52 AD): 1-2 Thessalonians
- Paul’s third missionary journey (53-57 AD): Romans, 1-2 Corinthians
- Paul’s imprisonment (61-63 AD): Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon
- Prior to Paul’s death: 1-2 Timothy, Titus
- Other letters named for the writer: James, Peter, John, Jude, and the unknown author of Hebrews.
The conclusion – Revelation
- Written by John, while imprisoned, to Christians facing persecution.