ATP: How to Study Your Bible
As Christians, we are called to get to know God and His ways. The best way to do this is to spend time in God’s Word, the Bible. Many people have a Bible collecting dust on the shelf, which is a sign of weak faith and little knowledge of God. Those who do read their Bible, often read it out of obligation, feeling like it is their duty, and only read it without processing it. If you truly want to get to know God and His ways, we must allow God’s Word to change us by studying it instead of just reading it. Here is how:
This is the step where we read through the passage and ask ourselves the question “What is the passage saying?” The purpose of this step is to gain a clear understanding of the context and what the Bible is conveying. The best way to do this is to read it like you would a newspaper. Do not try to read between the lines or put symbolism where it doesn’t belong. If something is clearly a laid out fact, even if it seems unreal or supernatural, take it as it is. If something is clearly a metaphor, take it as such and not as a literal fact. At this point, do not look for what the passage means or application yet.
In this step, we read through the passage again, asking ourselves “What does the passage mean to the intended audience?” There is only one interpretation of scripture! We start by looking around the passage for context clues, even to the point of reading the entire book or letter. Next, we can look for other passages in the Bible that cover that topic and compare, looking for further explanation. Finally, we turn to experts in the field of Biblical culture and seek to understand the audience to which the passage was written.
This final step is where we read through the passage a final time, keeping in mind what we have observed and interpreted, to ask ourselves the question “What am I supposed to do about this information?” There is only one interpretation, but there can be many applications. This step is easiest in the New Testament letters where interpretation and application can become muddled because they are so similar, but the Old Testament is just as important. God gave us the whole of scripture to learn from. Paul told Timothy that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
When you spend time with your friends, getting to know them, the most profitable is when it is quality time. Let us spend quality time in God’s word every day, looking for how God wants us to change and minister to others.