Since the purpose of this site is to present studies in the scriptures, I thought I should start with an introduction to the Bible.
The Bible is the word of God. It is not man’s writings about God. God led men in writing His word. God told them what to write and He guided the writing process.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
The Bible is God’s written word to man. The scriptures themselves claim to be the Word of God. There are many evidences we can look at to determine that the Bible is truly the word of God (Bernard, p. 10):
- Its unique claims.
- Self vindicating authority
- Testimony of prophets and apostles
- Endorsement of Old Testament and commission of New Testament writers by Jesus
- Nature and quality of its content
- Moral superiority
- Unity of more than forty writers and 1600 year span
- Lack of alternative
- Accuracy of history, archaeology, and science
- Influence on society
- Witness of the Spirit
- Life-changing power
- Fulfilled promises and miracles
- Fulfilled prophecies
- Lack of alternative explanation for its origin
The Bible is the inspired word of God. God told writers what He wanted them to write. He led their writing process. He guided their writing (2 Pet. 1:21).
2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
God allowed the writers to choose the language that reflected their culture, personality, and style, but God guided the process, making the Bible the infallible, inerrant word of God. The Bible is the sole authority for doctrine.
The Bible consists of 66 books- 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek. These old languages are similar to their modern counterparts, but they are considered ‘dead’ languages, meaning that they do not change over time the way ‘living’ languages do. This helps to safeguard against words changing meanings. Many words in the English language have changed meanings during my lifetime.
Many claim that there are errors in the Bible. One argument they use is that scribes made errors during the copying process. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has shown the accuracy of the Old Testament. The accuracy of the New Testament has been shown through the fact that there are over 5000 manuscripts in existence that safeguard against copyist errors.
There are many modern translations of the Bible in use today. Some of the more popular are the King James Version, the New King James Version, and the New International Version, among others. The King James is more of a literal, or word-for-word, translation- making it a good choice for Bible study. The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation- meaning that the translation is based on the thought, or main idea, of the passage, which can be left up to interpretation. The NIV is a very good translation. Although I am not ‘King James only’, I do prefer the King James to other modern translations.
We should use the literal method of interpreting when studying the Bible. This means looking for the natural, or apparent, meaning of a verse rather than try to find a hidden meaning. It is possible for a verse to have several applications, but it will have only one meaning. The context will determine when a passage is meant to be symbolic or allegorical. This is seen when Jesus is speaking in parables.
During Bible study we must logically analyze the words, grammar, context, background, literary style, history, culture, symbolism, figures of speech, and typology that are being used.
There are several points to keep in mind:
- We must ask God to illuminate the scriptures to us
- The Bible is meant to be understood
- Scripture will interpret scripture
- Truth is revealed from the Old Testament to the New Testament- not the other way around
- The Bible present a unified theology
- No doctrine stands on one verse alone
- The Bible is understandable
- Each passage has one primary meaning, but can have many applications
God has revealed, preserved, and transmitted to us His word as the Bible. The Bible must be rightly divided in order to correctly be understood.
Here is a basic Bible outline:
1. Old Testament
a. The Law
i. Genesis – Deuteronomy
i. Joshua – Esther
i. Job – Song of Solomon
d. Major Prophets
i. Isaiah – Daniel
e. Minor Prophets
i. Hosea – Malachi
2. New Testament
a. The Gospels
i. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
b. History of the Church
c. Letters to the Churches
i. Pauline Epistles
1. Romans – Hebrews
ii. General epistles
2. James – Jude
One major mistake is taking verses out of context. If we go to the Old Testament we cannot find how to be saved today. The Old Testament talks about the salvation that will be provided, but it does not explain how to be saved in the New Covenant. Also, most books of the New Testament were written to people who were already saved. The epistles are letters written to the churches. These books tell us about our salvation. They do not tell us how to be saved. The only book in the Bible that tells us how people were saved in the New Testament is the book of Acts. The gospels tell us of the ministry of Jesus and his death, burial, and resurrection. The epistles, from Romans to Revelation, are written to the churches- people who are already saved. The book of Acts shows the birth of the Church and shows how the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles got into the Church.
We must learn to rightly divide the Word of God. We must place each scripture in its proper context. We must not take the pieces of the verses we want in order to build our doctrines. Doctrine is built line upon line, precept upon precept, each verse in its proper context, taking the complete passage into account.
Scripture interprets scripture.
2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
We must compare scripture to scripture, context to context, passage to passage. Only then will we see God’s Word rightly divided and its teachings opened up to us.
Bernard, David K. (1992). God’s infallible word.
Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press