This is the second installment of a three-part blog series designed to develop a proactive way of approaching Scripture. The Bible can seem convoluted with references to long lost places and names with difficult pronunciations, but understanding God’s Word can help clarify your purpose as well as provide strength and wisdom when the going gets tough.
Is there a concrete way to approach a Bible passage?
When studying the Bible, laying groundwork will 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.
WHILE YOU READ
It’s easy when approaching a biblical text to let our eyes skim over the words without thinking about how the statements impact us. Sometimes names of people and places are foreign, and we move passed these verses seeking familiar words. Here’s five questions to help you glean as much as possible:
#1 What’s Going On
When reading a scriptural text, notice the first thing that jumps off the page. Maybe you realized something significant Jesus said or were appalled at the number of deaths in a section of the Old Testament. Take note of what is most apparent to you at first glance.
Examine the meaning the passage had to the original readers and note any timeless truths. Bible verses are littered with pearls of wisdom. What nuggets are present in the writing?
#2 What Bothered You
The Bible challenges our preconceived notions and the status quo. Was there anything that bothered you about the passage? Write it down in a journal and see if future reading can clarify the meaning. Feeling convicted or defensive about a teaching may indicate an area for self-assessment.
#3 Good News
Discerning encouragement from the Bible can help during difficult times. God wants us to live the best life possible, so evaluate where the biblical writer is trying to promote growth.
#4 Who We Are
What does the passage say about who we are or how we should relate to others? The Bible is a guide to being our best selves. Take a close look at what the paragraph, chapter, or verse says about how we should act.
#5 Who God Is
Many passages will also describe God’s character and our relationship to him. A tendency of humanity is to think of God in human terms. To understand some of the commands and text, knowing God’s nature is imperative and lends the teaching credibility.
Keep this list of five questions in mind to promote thoughtful reading when approaching Scripture:
- What is going on in the passage?
- What bothered me about the passage?
- What is the good news of this passage?
- What does this passage say about who we are? Relating to others?
- What does this passage say about who God is? Relating to God?
There’s no magic formula, but focusing on these five questions can help make the most of your time in God’s Word.