How to study the Bible (Part 1)

Practical thoughts about the Bible.


Posted by Jeremiah Thomas on December 14, 2016

The Bible is full of life giving treasure. Like any treasure- some can be found on or near the surface, but most of it you have to dig and search for. The Bible is no different, and with some teaching and practice- you too can begin to discover spiritual treasure in the Word of God. That’s what this series of lessons is all about; helping you look at the Bible from a new light and grow spiritually by feeding on God’s word.

Information and Tips about the Bible.

The Bible was written by about 42 authors over a period of time of about 1600 years. There is no other book like this that doesn’t contradict itself, and that has the same underlying message throughout the whole book. This is because though this book was written by human hands, it is not an ordinary book, it is the written word of God that was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

However, because of the fact that it was written over such a long period of time, it is important to understand the context of what was taking place. By understanding the context (historical, cultural, social, etc.) you can gain a better understand of the true purpose for God’s instruction to us. You will also be able to better apply the Word to your own personal life- and that’s what this is all about.

TIP: Interpret the Bible by the Bible. The Bible instructs multiple times: in the mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses let every word be established. Doctrine is the same! Don’t create major doctrine over one verse- any major doctrine in God’s Word must be backed up by multiple scriptures.

Understanding Language and Translation is Important

Example: The Hebrew language doesn’t use capitalization or punctuation. This is a huge deal! Why? Example within the example: Sometimes the word “spirit” in the Bible has a capital “S” and sometimes a lowercase “s”, which have two totally different implications. Spirit (capital S) implies “Holy Spirit” whereas spirit (little s) can imply many things (human spirit, angelic spirit, demonic spirit, etc.)

So, just the capitalization of one letter could drastically change the meaning of a scripture (Hopefully the translators got it right!).

Another example: The first English translation is the Wycliffe bible written by John Wycliffe in the 1300’s but it was translated from the Latin Vulgate (published in 382 AD). No big deal right? Wrong- the original texts were written in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. This is important because the Wycliffe bible would be a translation of a translation- and the more translations you have the more chance for error…

Like the “telephone game” where somebody starts a message and by word of mouth passes it from one person to the next until the last person shares the message and it is generally very different from the original message.

Solution: Learn to speak ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Just kidding.

What if a particular person or group that translated the bible had biases about that they believe when they translated the Bible? If a translator didn’t believe that it was God’s will for everybody to be healed- could that change the way the Bible was translated? Did you know that certain translations leave out scriptures from the Bible?

Take the NIV for example (sorry if this is your favorite translation). They leave out 16 verses that are in the KJV. They are listed at the bottom if you are curious.

You might be wondering “So how does this help me?”… You just need to be aware that just because one version of the Bible says something a certain way- doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the only way of interpreting it. Becoming a student of God’s Word will help you know what the original purpose and message that was written.

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t read the NIV. The NLT is one of the versions that I like to read and it is also missing quite a few scriptures! I didn’t throw away my NLT- I just keep another version with me (like a KJV) when I’m reading- to compare it to.

Conclusion

The important thing to know is that though the original text was inspired by the Holy Spirit, man has done his best job to translate the Word of God into other languages while preserving the integrity of it. Because of this human element- we must use wisdom when reading the Bible (unless you get the original texts and can understand those languages).

Become a student of God’s Word. Read from a few different translations and compare them to each other. Do some research about who wrote the version of the Bible you enjoy reading from. Above all: ask God for wisdom- because He promises to give it to you when you ask Him with faith! Remember- if you have the Holy Spirit on the inside of you- then He will lead you and guide you into all truth.

Missing verses from the NIV

  1. Matthew 17:21: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

  2. Matthew 18:11: “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”

  3. Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

  4. Mark 7:16: “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

  5. Mark 9:44: “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

  6. Mark 9:46: “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

  7. Mark 11:26: “But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

  8. Mark 15:28: “And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.”

  9. Luke 17:36: “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”

  10. John 5:4: “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

  11. Acts 8:37: “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

  12. Acts 15:34: “Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.”

  13. Acts 24:7: “But the chief captain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands,”

  14. Acts 28:29: “And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.”

  15. Romans 16:24: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

  16. 1 John 5:7: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”


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