Last month I suggested that a balanced approach to Bible study includes seeking out and considering the interpretations of others.
This month I have a number of suggestions which I believe can aid our personal Bible study.
1) Spend time each day reading and studying the Scriptures. There is no substitute for time personally spent in the Word.
2) Be an active member of a good Bible-teaching church.
3) Buy and use a good* concordance. It is often very helpful to discover how a given word or phrase is used elsewhere in the same book, in other books by the author, and in the rest of the Bible.
4) Buy and use a good* Bible dictionary and encyclopedia.
5) Buy and use a minimum of 2-3 good* commentaries on each book of the Bible. Use commentaries to point out interpretive options and evidence for or against various views. On a sheet of paper list the various views you have discovered (plus any you may have thought of while meditating on the passage) and the strengths and weaknesses of each view.
6) Listen to good Bible teaching tapes.
7) Be a regular part of an in depth Bible study group.
8) Take a course on Bible Study Methods. In addition, if possible, learn Koine Greek, the language the New Testament was written in. I have met a number of laypeople who have learned Greek–some on their own and some from classes. Some churches teach Greek as a night class. Knowing the original language is not indispensable for serious Bible study; however, it is a great help.
9) Do not assume that a person (commentator, teacher, radio or TV speaker, author, someone on tape, etc.) must be right if he quotes a number of theologians and says that the vast majority of theologians hold the view he espouses. Don’t automatically reject it either. But remember, that is just one option, regardless of how many learned people hold the position.
10) Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. The reason we study to find the meaning of the Word is that we might apply it to our lives. We do not study to impress others or merely to gain intellectual knowledge.
Paul told Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to he ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). That is a great life’s verse. As part of our diligent study of God’s Word, let’s not over or underestimate the views of others.
*In order to find out which concordances, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and commentaries are the best, consult your pastor