Hey Blog Family,
This is the beginning of a three-part blog series designed to develop a proactive way of approaching Scripture. The Bible isn’t always easy to understand with historical references and parables, but understanding God’s Word can help clarify your purpose and His calling on your life as well as provide strength and wisdom when the going gets tough.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3: 16-17 ESV).
Is there a concrete way to approach a Bible passage?
When studying the Bible, a reader should lay some groundwork to help illuminate the message contained within the verses. Each week, we’ll look at tips and things to think about BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER reading a section or verse of the Bible. As in all things, preparation is key for success.
BEFORE YOU READ
There are things to consider prior to reading a biblical passage. The first is who was the author. This is an important question as it helps determine the context in which the text was written. Did the author know Jesus? What relationship did he have with God? What was the writer’s background?
Another important factor is the location where the chapter/ book was written. Just as an article on persecution in Baltimore would look different from a journalistic piece on persecution from Palestine, so a chapter addressing the Romans could carry a separate meaning than a section addressing Greeks in Corinth . The location and what was transpiring in that particular church are relevant to understanding the teachings of a passage.
The time period when a verse was written can shed light on meaning as well. At what point in his life did the author write the lines? When in relation to Jesus’ ministry does the Bible passage occur?
#4 What’s happening?
Finally, historic world events can shape the meaning of the Bible. A commentary written on patriotism during the Civil War would mean something vastly different than an editorial scripted after September 11th. Similarly, Nero persecuted Christians staring in 64 A.D. (which led to the beheading of Paul and Peter’s crucifixion), and this information influenced letters written during this period. Public issues can shed light on the meaning and setting of a Scripture reading.
Prior to examining a Bible text, take five minutes to research the following four questions:
- Who is the author?
- Where is the passage taking place?
- What is the time period?
- What would have been current world events?
This information will set the stage and help make approaching Scripture more fruitful. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand everything you read, but keep trusting in God to show you what is most beneficial to you at this time.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).