How to Study the Bible

Note from William Cunningham:  This article was written by Mark McGee as indicated above.  I downloaded and formatted it originally for my own edification in Bible study.  However, I realized that it could be of great use to those on the Internet so I decided to post the reformatted version on my site.  The real purpose for doing this is that I don't remember the website where I downloaded it from.  Secondly, I feel that all would benefit from this study so I thought it was a good idea to post it.  Another reason that I included it in my site is that many times people change their site locations therefore rendering links to their sites broken.   Posting this article on my site will ensure that it is always available.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE PART 1

My first experience with Bible study after becoming a Christian was following along while the pastor taught and reading every conservative book on theology I could find. That can lead a young Christian down many paths because of differences among pastors and authors.

The best experience with Bible study after becoming a Christian was taking an 8-credit college course in methodical Bible study. The purpose of this four-part study course is to introduce you to the basics of that study. I highly recommend that you print out these studies and keep them close to your Bible.

 

 Methodical Bible Study

The steps to methodical study are simple, yet profound and life changing. I'll outline the course for your information. Please study it further. It will do you very well throughout your life. The college text is titled Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics by Dr. Robert Traina.

  • The Bible is worth studying.
  • Methodical study is inductive.

There are two main approaches to Bible study. One is deductive. The other is inductive. Deductive begins with generalizations and moves for support to the particulars. Deduction is subjective and prejudicial. It produces students who dictate to the Scriptures rather than students who listen to the Scriptures. On the other hand, inductive is objective and impartial. It demands that a student first examine the particulars of the Scriptures and then make conclusions based on those particulars.

  • The Bible is the basic textbook of Bible students.

This is called direct and independent Bible studies. "Such an emphasis on the primacy of firsthand observation enables the interpreter to become acquainted with the spirit of Scriptural authors, makes possible original thinking, and provides him with a basis for judging the validity of various and often conflicting secondary thoughts." There is nothing wrong with reading what someone else says about a scripture (Commentaries), but direct and independent study is the mark of an inductive student.

OBSERVATION

 

The first step of methodical study is Observation.

Observation is "the act or faculty of ... taking notice; the act or result of considering or marking attentively." It is "the art of seeing things as they really are." It entails "seeing impartially, intensely, and fearlessly." "Truly to observe is to be mentally aware of what one sees. Observation transcends pure physical sight; it involves perception." "Observation, then, is essentially awareness."

Observation begins with "the will to observe." "Willed observation, vision with executive force behind it, is full of discernment, and is continually making discoveries which keep the mind alert and interested."

Observation is "exactness in observation."

Observation is "persistence in observation."

The four main constituents of any Biblical passage are:

  1. Terms
  2. The relations and interrelations between terms--or structure
  3. The general literary form or forms
  4. The atmosphere.

Term is a given word as it is used in a given context. It has only one meaning in that context. It is the duty of the Bible student to determine that meaning in any given context.

Structure involves all of the relations and interrelations that bind terms into a literary unit. "In a more restricted sense "structure" may be used to denote the framework or skeleton of a passage, that is, its more essential relations."

The various structural units are: phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, segment, subsection, section, division, and book.

General literary form is the type of literature used by an author. It could be discursive and logical, prose narrative, poetry, drama and dramatic prose, parabolic or apocalyptic.

Atmosphere is the underlying tone or spirit of a passage. It is the mood of a passage.

Here are some suggestions to help you observe better during Bible study:

  • Use a pencil while observing. Write down your observation as you make it. Writing is a great aid to memory.
  • Start your observation with a detailed noting of particulars and proceed to the observing the whole.
  • Use underlining or encircling to indicate your major observations. "Find ways of organizing your observations so that they will be accessible with the least possible effort."
  • Avoid simply copying the words of the text. Indicate something about them.
  • Observe every passage as if you had never seen it before. "Let every approach be a fresh one."
  • See how many different observations you can make on a given passage. It's a discipline.
  • Look for what, where, when, how, why and who.
  • Note any significant omissions as well as the events and ideas which are included. Sometimes what's not said is as important as what is said.
  • Compare and contrast observations. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell said to Observe! Remember! Compare!
  • Compare and contrast different translations of the Scriptures.
  • Understand the geography of your study. Make rough maps to help your understanding.
  • Study the people of the Bible. See them in the light of "real life."
  • When studying epistles (letters), note the following: the identity and characteristics of the writers; the location, characteristics, and problems of the recipients; the answers given to their problems; the occasion and purpose of the letter; its literary features, leading ideas, and central truth.
  • Note marginal readings.
  • Look for the concepts of God, Christ, man, sin, and redemption. These are the primary themes with which Bible authors are concerned.
  • Be able to distinguish between an observation, an interpretation, and an application. "Avoid application altogether in the observing process and keep interpretation to a minimum."

INTERPRETATION

The second step of Methodical Bible Study is Interpretation.

"The first aspect of interpretation is that of discovering the basic meaning of the particulars of a passage." It is the definitive phase. It's where we discover the basic meaning of the components of a passage.

After finishing with definitions, we move on to the rational phase. We want to find the general reasons why Biblical statements are made--"wherein they are true and necessary." We also want to know the immediate reasons or purposes for their expression--"their relevance to their literary context and specific historical situation."

The third phase is implicational. "A statement always implicates more than it says explicitly, for it is the outgrowth of certain presuppositions for other ideas. Facts are so intertwined that a person cannot accept one without accepting many others with it."

That's a basic overview of interpretation. Now let's look at the steps to doing it: interpretive questions, interpretive answers and interpretive integration and summarization.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE PART 2

This study quotes heavily from the college textbook titled "Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics" by Dr. Robert Traina.

Interpretive Questions

"Interpretive questions are those questions arising from and based on the observations of terms, structure, general literary forms, and atmosphere whose answers will result in the discovery of their full meaning. In fact, they frame in question form the various phases of interpretation, namely, definition, reasons, and implications."

The interpretive question is the intermediate step between observation and interpretation. It's how you get from what you see to what you understand it to mean. It can be part of our observation while at the same time moving us naturally towards interpretation. When we "observe" someone's writing, we often ask ourselves questions about why they wrote it. Those questions are part of the interpretive process. If we never question what we see, our understanding is limited, even shallow and incomplete.

Here's a method I've used to make observations and ask questions for interpretation. Feel free to come up with your own way to observe. The key is having some way to record what you see and what you ask. I chose Eph.1: 1 as an example of how to observe and ask questions for interpretation.

This is neither complete nor exhaustive; it's just an example. The first time I wrote the questions, it took too many pages. I cut the questions back because it's an example. Let your curiosity go when you observe and ask questions about a verse of Scripture. You want to find everything possible. Don't leave any thought unasked or unanswered. Those final questions could be the key to unearthing great truths!

 Observations

V. 1 -- The Apostle Paul is the writer of this letter. He starts the letter off with his name. He says he is an "apostle" of Jesus Christ by the will of God." He is writing the letter to "the saints in Ephesus." He calls them "the faithful in Christ Jesus."

Interpretive Questions

V. 1 -- Why does Paul begin the letter with his name? Was that a standard way of beginning letters during that time? What does the name "Paul" mean? Was that always Paul's name? What's his background? Where was he born? How did he become an important figure in the New Testament? When did Paul write the letter? Where was he when he wrote the letter? What's an "apostle?" Why did Paul start off this letter by telling people what he was? Is there some significance to that? Does he start all his letters by telling people he's an apostle? If not, why not? What does it mean to be an apostle "of" Jesus Christ? What did Christ's apostles do? What was their purpose in the early church? Why did Paul emphasize that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ "by the will of God?" What's the significance of that? Was he trying to prove something to someone? If so, why? Was this a standard thing for him to say to churches? If not, where did he use and where did he not use it in other letters? What's the significance of that? Where is Ephesus? Had Paul been there before? How did he know these people? What's the meaning of the word "saints?" Is that what Paul usually called Christians in different cities? Is a "saint" a particular kind of Christian or is it any Christian? Why did he call them faithful? How were they faithful? Are some Christians faithful and others not?

This process of observing and asking questions takes time, but it's the only way to be sure you've seen everything. If you are not careful in the early stages of Bible study, you could reach the wrong conclusions and develop a flawed theology. That's what our world is dealing with now: flawed ideas about God, His will and the way He works with people. God is often blamed for things that are really the fault of someone's poor Bible study.

Classifications

Interpretive questions may be classified as term-al, structural, form-al, or atmospheric. Here are examples of each:

Termal In John 17:1 Jesus asks the Father to glorify His Son. What is meant by the term glorify in this context? What is involved in Jesus' being glorified? "Every non-routine term should be similarly subjected to explanatory questions; for unless this is done, terms will become ends in themselves instead of means to an end, symbols through which to grasp realities."

Structural Verses 8-9 of Isaiah 55 employ the structural relations of ideological contrast and comparison. "What is meant by contrasting God's ways and thoughts to man's? Wherein are God's ways and thoughts actually different from man's? Wherein do the heavens and earth differ, and how is this difference similar to that between God's thoughts and ways and man's?" The answers will depend on noting the structural relation between verses 8-9, and those that proceed, verses 6-7, and asking the proper structural questions based on your observation.

Formal This is an investigation of the definitive question as it relates to the observation of general literary forms. Our questions are about the precise definition of literary forms. If something is written in the poetic form, our questions include: "What is meant by the poetic form? What are its characteristics? What distinguishes it from other forms? Wherein does this portion consist of poetry?"

Atmospheric The purpose is to "find the meaning of the terms used to describe the underlying tone of passages and to discover wherein the passages reveal the mood described to them."

We have three primary phases: the definitive or explanatory question (what does this mean?), the rational questions (why is this said and why is it said here?), and implicational questions (what does this imply?).

Along with that are four subordinate questions: the identifying question (who or what is involved?), the modal question (how is this accomplished?), the temporal question (when is this accomplished?), and the local question (where is this accomplished?).

You should have several questions for interpretation for every verse of Scripture you study. It's a lengthy, time-consuming process, but it's the only way to be sure your interpretations are correct. If you hurry through the basic stages of Bible Study, you could come to wrong conclusions and improper applications.

Interpretive Answers

Now, let's move on to Interpretive Answers. I will list the main subjective and objective elements necessary to understand this process.

1. Subjective Determinants

Spiritual Sense "There is a moral and spiritual factor residing in the individual which inevitably enters into the process of interpretation. And, although it is intangible, it is just as real and probably more important than those elements which are objective and tangible ... In view of this, Biblical exposition should never be conceived as purely mechanical or intellectual.

"Spiritual sense is made possible by the presence of certain characteristics. Among them are teachableness, sincerity, and an intimate knowledge of God. The more one possesses these, the more profound will be one's insight into Biblical truth. For they make possible receptivity to God's Spirit, who, having motivated and guided the experience of Scriptural authors, is also their best interpreter."

Common Sense "Its significance lies in the fact that due to their attitude toward the Scriptures, many are overcome by a peculiar outlook which causes them to leave their common sense outside the door when they enter the sanctuary of Biblical interpretation. As a result they look for trick or magical explanations. They are not content to accept the obvious meaning of the text; they must find something sensational in it. Imagery is taken literally, and literal statements are construed figuratively." What we need throughout the study of Scripture is common sense.

Experience "...the peculiarities of one's own experience are invariably reflected in the interpretive process. Each person, then, comes to the Scriptures with a unique experience, and that experience cannot but influence his exposition of Biblical statements ... It may be assumed that if Biblical statements are true, they will correspond with the facts of human existence and experience. If, then, certain interpretations contradict the observable data of life, then one ought at least to question them, if not discard them. One finds that such a comparison of Biblical interpretations with experience often serves as a helpful corrective to erroneous exegesis."

2. Objective Determinants

1. Etymology, Usage, Synonyms, Comparative Philology, and Kind of Terms--Etymology of terms includes two factors: their root meaning and their derivative significance. Because of the importance of this item, I use many language aids in my study of the Bible. They will help you also in the areas of usage, synonyms, comparative philology, and kind of terms. Here are some of the language aids I find helpful and recommend to you:

  • Old Testament Word Studies, William Wilson
  • Commentary on the Old Testament, C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch
  • The NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Edward Goodrick & John Kohlenberger III
  • The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, Samuel Bagster
  • A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament , Joseph Thayer
  • Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Kenneth Wuest
  • Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin Vincent
  • Word Pictures in the New Testament, A.T. Robertson
  • An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, C.F.D. Moule
  • Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, Barclay Newman
  • Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers
  • New Testament Greek, J. Greham Machen
  • A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, H.E. Dana & Julius Mantey
  • The Greek New Testament, Guy Woods
  • The Text of the New Testament, Bruce Metzger
  • Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine
  • The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr

Signification of Inflections --- This is the study of inflections as used in the original language. You will understand this better when you study Greek and Hebrew.

3. Implications of Contextual Relations and Interrelations --- This is the study of how terms, phrases, clauses, sentences and paragraphs relate to each other in the sense of context. The student must always be on guard unless "he forget to utilize some important structural connections in the process of exposition. For such an oversight will eventuate either in erroneous interpretation or at least incomplete interpretation. "

4. Connotations of General Literary Forms --- Literary forms have a serious bearing on exegesis (interpretation).

5. Import of Atmosphere --- "At times the faithful application of the factor of atmosphere is significant in determining the correct answers to interpretive questions ... It should be noted that atmosphere is often closely related to an author's purpose and viewpoint."

6. Author's Purpose and Viewpoint --- "The proper approach to any work of art in order to guarantee impartial and therefore accurate interpretation is to stand in the shoes of the author himself, to adopt his mentality and peculiar point of view."

7. Historical Background --- "Because the books of the Bible were written in a specific historical setting, and because they were addressed to those who lived in a concrete historical situation, it is imperative that one utilize their historical background if one is to recreate the message of their authors." Historical background includes "the date, place, and occasion of writing; the identity of the author and the recipients; the characteristics and problems of the readers; contemporary literature, customs, and beliefs; the social, political, geographical, and spiritual environment of author, recipients, and characters, together with their background." You will find hundreds of good reference books on these subjects at Christian and some secular bookstores with an in-depth religious book section.

8. Psychological Factor --- Look for emotions, desires, hopes, motives, thoughts, and attitudes in your study. ..."See beyond the symbols to the reality, namely, the experience of which Scriptural literature is but the product and the means of conveyance."

9. Ideological Implications --- "Scriptural literature contains many implications which are never explicitly stated. And what is even more significant, some of its implications are more basic and important than those ideas and facts which are overtly expressed. For example, the Scriptures assume at the very outset the self-conscious existence of God. Nowhere in Genesis 1 is there a statement to the effect that God is, and yet this fact is logically necessary for all else. Without it creation would be impossible. Thus when one examines the rational foundation of the term 'create' (bara'), one discovers that it presupposes much more than it outwardly asserts or than is explicitly stated elsewhere in the chapter. And if one were to overlook its implications in its interpretation, one would fail to see that which is even more fundamental than what it distinctly expresses."

10. Progress of Revelation --- "In the exegesis of the Scriptures, it must be realized that the Divine self-disclosure which they embody partakes of the element of progression. Not only is this true in regard to the movement from the Old Testament to the New Testament, but also in regard to the revelation found within the two Testaments. The process of revelation found in the Scriptures is never static; rather it is dynamic...it is moving, and moving steadily from the lower to the higher, from the lesser to the greater, from the partial to the total, from the temporary to the final."

11. Organic Unity --- "The essential harmony of the books of the Bible was one of the determinative principles in the formation of the canon. And the more one studies them, the more one becomes convinced of the reality of their fundamental oneness.

12. Inductive View of Inspiration --- "Sound Biblical exegesis is not possible apart from proper allowance for the dual nature of the Scriptures. For they themselves attest the fact that they consist of Divine revelation realized through human instrumentation. It should be remembered therefore, that the Divine inspiration that accounts for the experience that produced the scriptures did not occur in a vacuum. God operated through human agents who had certain mental abilities and certain other talents, whose religious experience was of a certain quality, who lived in a certain environment which involved certain geographical, social, political, economic, and religious factors, and who had a certain heritage. And these specific historical factors inevitably had their influence on the writing of Biblical literature."

13. Textual Criticism --- "Because we do not posses any of the original Scriptural documents, it sometimes becomes necessary to employ textual or lower criticism in order to ascertain the true reading of the text. Three basic steps are followed in this process. First, the manuscript evidence is collected, investigated, and evaluated. In its evaluation there is a tendency to assign the greatest weight to older manuscripts. Second, when the evidence from the manuscripts is not decisive, the reading that best fits into the context is chosen. And third, if neither manuscript evidence nor the contextual factor is decisive, then the unusual reading is favored. This is done because there would be little occasion to alter the text so as to make possible an unusual reading, whereas it is understandable how a copyist might change it for the purpose of clarification or to make it harmonize with the seeming demands of reason."

14. Interpretations of Others --- "An investigation of the views of others serves two purposes: first, it confronts one with certain interpretive factors which may have been overlooked or misapplied; and second, it reveals the exegetical conclusions which others, many of whom are experts, have made when they have utilized the available data. Both of these functions are important, but it is the latter which is of primary interest at this point."

 

 Interpretive Integration and Summarization

 

"After the important interpretive questions raised in connection with a particular unit are answered, there remains the problem of integrating the various answers so as to arrive at the main message of the passage. Sometimes this is at least partially accomplished in the replies to the questions of exposition, since some of them may be integrative in nature."

Here are some of the techniques you can use to integrate and summarize the exegesis of a passage:

  • "It is sometimes helpful to list the main truths which have been found in a unit of Scripture. In so doing it may be well to attempt to distinguish between the outstanding truth or truths and those which are subordinate."
  • "One may state the major theme of a passage by the use of a descriptive title or proposition."
  • "If one is dealing with a segment, especially in narrative literature, it may be beneficial to utilize analytical or interpretive paragraph titles. "
  • "The employment of an outline is frequently of assistance in integrating and summarizing a passage of Scripture. The outline used may be either topical or logical, depending on the nature of the passage."
  • "The paraphrase may profitably be used in this capacity."
  • "The chart is also a helpful means of integration and summarization."
  • "One may use the essay form in this connection. One or several paragraphs may be written on a unit. There are certain basic integrative questions that may be used as guides. The following are two of them: "How does the structure of the passage reveal its main purpose and message? What are the major contributions of a passage to the larger structural unit of which it is a part?"

We want to give credit for much of this information to Dr. Robert Traina, former Dean at Asbury Theological Seminary. He authored the primary text we used during seminary training 20 years ago. For more information about Interpretation, read pages 167 - 200 of Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics by Dr. Robert Traina.

 

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE PART 3

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This study quotes heavily from the college textbook titled "Methodical Bible Study: A New Approach to Hermeneutics" by Dr. Robert Traina.

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The next step in Bible study is Evaluation

Meaning and Place of Evaluation

Evaluation follows interpretation. Interpretation is the meaning of a Biblical passage. Evaluation is the relevance and usefulness of a Biblical passage.

"In view of the meaning of evaluation, two facts should be stressed regarding its proper place in methodical study." The first is "that evaluation must follow interpretation and not precede it or be simultaneous with it." The second is "that evaluation must precede application proper."

Some of the worst mistakes made in Bible study are getting these processes out of order. Many students want to rush to application before observing. Many want to evaluate before or even without interpreting. This can lead to great misery in the lives of people this kind of study impacts.

 

Process of Evaluation

Process of General Evaluation --- "In the evaluation of Biblical statements one is concerned with two major questions. The first of these involves the general validity and worth of the Scriptures as a whole or of large parts of them. It may be stated thus: 'Is the Bible (or a major part of the Bible) of any value for the modern man, or is it invalid and worthless?' This question is basic to all Scriptural evaluation and application. For if the answer to it is to the effect that the Bible as a whole or a large portion of it is of no value for contemporary life, then the process of evaluation has been completed in relation to the material in question, and further, the possibility of application has been removed, since the presupposition is that Biblical statements have value and therefore should be employed for the improvement of life.

Process of Specific Evaluation --- Assuming that one's answer to the first problem is to the effect that the Scriptures are generally valuable for contemporary life, one is confronted by the second major question of evaluation. It is more specific in nature and may be phrased thus: 'Since the Bible is of value for contemporary life, what is the exact worth of the statements of particular passages? When and where and for whom are they worthwhile?' The primary task of this phase of evaluation is to analyze the statements of a passage in order to determine which of its truths are timeless and therefore of contemporary worth."

The Scriptures themselves indicate that the ultimate standard for determining which truths are universal is Jesus Christ, Who, as the Incarnate Son of God, embodies that which is of timeless and supreme value. He must therefore measure all things. Thus, since the New Testament contains His life and its implications, it becomes the grounds for appraising the statements of the Old Testament."

(You can learn more about evaluation by reading pages 206 - 213 of "Methodical Bible Study")

The next step in Bible study is Application

1. Process of Application

Analysis of Contemporary Situation in View of Passage --- "Having determined the universal elements of a passage through the process of evaluation, the next step is to discover the exact contemporary situation to which the passage is applicable. For though the truths one may have found are actually timeless, it does not follow that they can be applied indiscriminately to any circumstances. Thus if one wants to apply the truth of a passage, one must either analyze a specific modern situation to ascertain whether it falls within the bounds of the universal truths, or one must find a contemporary situation which does."

Application of Passage --- "Theoretically, the application of a passage represents the sum total of the preceding two steps. For once one has discovered the universal truth of a passage as well as the contemporary situation which falls within its province, then one may bring the passage to bear on the situation, and the result is application."

2.    Kinds of Application

"It should be realized that there are two distinct types of application: theoretical application and practical application. The first is a necessary foundation for the second; the second should be the logical outgrowth of the first."

3.    Areas of Application

"Biblical truths should be applied both personally and to others; they should be employed in connection with the political and economic aspects of life as well as the spiritual; they should be utilized locally, nationally, and universally; they should be applied to believers and to non-believers."

Summary of Evaluation and Application

"The applicatory step is that for which all else exists. It represents the final purpose of Bible study. However, if application is to be valid, it must be preceded by a process of evaluation ... The major task of the specific phase of evaluation is to distinguish between those truths that are local and limited and those which are timeless and general. The basis for making such a distinction is the supreme and universal revelation which is embodied by Jesus Christ and which is recorded in the New Testament. After the universal truth has been determined, one must then analyze a specific modern situation which may have occurred to one in order to ascertain whether it comes within the scope of the universal truth, or one must search for a contemporary problem to which the truth is relevant. When one has discovered a modern situation to which the timeless truth of the passage is pertinent, then it is one's duty to apply that truth, not only in concept but also in deed. And one should apply it in whatever realm of life it is appropriate and regardless of the consequences. For in the last analysis one of the primary secrets of Scriptural application is the kind of abandon which causes one who has discovered a truth to follow it to its logical outcome, even if the road be hard and the intangible rewards few."

 

The final step in Bible study is Correlation

"Although some correlation inevitably occurs during interpretation and application, this phase forms the concluding step of the inductive study of the Scriptures. For it represents the generalizations which are the outgrowths of the examination of particular passages.

 

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE PART 4

Handling the Word of God (Rightly Dividing)

I want to see Christians use this manual as a guide to "HOW" to study the Bible and then do it for themselves. Don't get in the habit of learning truth from someone else. Equip yourself to learn and teach from your own investigative skills. Know that what you believe is true and then teach that truth with full conviction. My desire and prayer is that members of God's Family will learn all that God has to teach us in His Word. We can do much for our fellow human beings by understanding God's Truth and sharing it with others clearly and powerfully. We can do that with our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and strangers. Everyone needs what God has for him or her in His Word. The Gospel is for everyone!

The Lord has something special for us to do with our lives. That something is to study the Bible and share the truths we learn with others. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. I have observed through the years that only a small number of Christians handles God's Word correctly. The Greek word is orthotomounta . It means "to cut straight." The word came to mean "the correct dealing with a thing." Other language experts' definitions include "to set forth truthfully, without perversion or distortion;" "to handle skillfully;" "to teach the truth correctly and directly;" "to proceed by straight paths;" "to hold a straight course, to do right;" "to cut along a straight line, to cut a straight road;" "use or interpret correctly."

The picture God gives His people is clear. We must take possession of His Precious Word and study, interpret and teach every thought, idea and truth in a careful and skillful way. God's Word is too precious to waste in misinterpretations and partial truths. Lives and souls are at stake! It's up to us to make sure what we teach is correct. We must go forward with the truth and present it to everyone who will listen.

One other thought from this verse. God asks us to do our "best." The word is spoudason . The word comes from spoude : "earnest, diligent, eager." Spoudason , means "to make every effort to do one's best, to be eager; to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly." This should be our attitude about studying God's Word. We should give it all we have. We should give it our best.

For more information about "rightly dividing" God's Word, link to The Gospel of the Grace of God.

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"Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers."

 


HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE:
The Methodical Method
Copyright, Mark McGee, 1993, 1995
mcgee@mail.hiwaay.net

By: 
William R. Cunningham