Reading the Bible could seem like an easy and straightforward thing to do – Well, yes, it seems so. But like a brother whom I was explaining scriptural truth to the other day said;
“Everyone has their way of seeing and worshipping God, because of this – I stopped going to church”. He was confused and angry at how different people say different things from the same Bible.
I have been there, and I understand how annoying it could be. Thank God for my pastor (Pastor Steven Tijesuni). Being taught by him has really answered a lot of questions. As I have learnt and still learning from him, I have come to realize a common error that most people make in approaching the Bible.
We usually quote what we’ve heard from someone. Some have never opened to the most popular verse of the Bible (John3:16). They only quote it as they have heard it!
Some will say: “The Bible says: “heaven help those who help themselves” – this is NOWHERE in the Bible and in fact, it’s against the whole idea of God becoming a man to save man. If we can help ourselves (salvation), then God shouldn’t have to bother helping (saving) us.
We can’t know God by rumors/experience and/or opinions of men.Tweet
In essence, I have noticed that many pay less attention to reading.
Mali music puts it well: ”everybody seems to be quoting scriptures, but it’s just another word they heard”, he said.
But to know God as we ought to, we have to read – as God inspired men to write the Bible. So, if we don’t pay attention to how and what they wrote – confusion is inevitable.
Having established the importance of reading, there are things/rules to put in mind as you read and this would go a long way to aid the way you interpret the Bible as you debunk every stronghold against the knowledge of God in your heart.
The Bible is Christocentric
The message of scriptures is centered on Christ. When you read the Bible, always know that the main focus of the material is God’s plan fulfilled in Christ (salvation). It’s a Christ Bible and not a science textbook nor motivational/financial material.
Robert Kiyosaki’s materials are motivational but that’s not the essence of the Bible. The message of the Bible is ONLY Christ.
Examining Jesus’ own words:
“…beginning at Moses, the prophets and psalms, he expounded unto them the things concerning himself…”Luke24:27, 44
“Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me”.John5:39:
“…jesus of Nazareth of whom Moses is the law and the prophets wrote…”John1:45
“…the Holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation which is through faith In Christ Jesus”.2tim.3:15
So, the singular focus of the scriptures is about God’s plan fulfilled in Christ Jesus. To teach something or try to see anything outside this is insincerity.
Peter puts it well here:
“no prophecy of scriptures is of any private interpretation”.2pet.2:20-21
From Genesis to Malachi, we see the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets concerning Christ. From Matthew to John, we see the eye witness record of Christ’s incarnation: what God did amidst men. The book of Acts is a book that records how the church operated after Christ’s ascension. Finally, Romans – Revelation, are the letters of the Apostles to different churches as they instruct them in Christ. Hence, if you study scriptures and Christ is not found, it can be discarded.
The Style of the Writer
This is very important. A writer of a book of the Bible with the same knowledge would not contradict himself.
Let’s take Apostle John as an example and the book of revelation as the case study. Many have said they are scared to read the book of revelation but this shouldn’t be. It’s a book to be explained in Christ.
Examining Apostle John’s style of writing would make us see this.
“In the beginning was the word…the word was God… In him was life and the life was the light of men… “.John 1:1-5
He was also the one who wrote Jesus’ words in John3:16: “For God so loved the world… “.
“…I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand…”.John10:28
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ“.1john1:3
All these show John’s understanding of Christ’s redemptive work which he has wrought in the believer. Therefore, John wouldn’t say something different in Revelation!
Also, the book of Revelation is born out of visions (which must be explained).
But we can take a clue from the opening chapter
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”.Revelation1:5:
From the above text, we would see that the book is simply of Christ in his redemptive work. It only needs to be explained well.
Who Spoke and Why?
In scriptures, we must know who is speaking at a particular time and determine to whom and why he spoke.
Many -for instance- have used Paul’s advice to Timothy to take little wine to justify their appetite for wine. What height of insincerity and callousness!
“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities”.1Ti 5:23
Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy (a pastor at the church of Ephesus) here because of his frequent stomach illness. He wasn’t writing to any random believer! And do you have a stomach infirmity? I’m guessing that you don’t – so, why the insincerity!
Pay Attention to Tenses
The Bible is inspired by God but it was written by men in a language. This makes it literature with rules guiding it.
Therefore, paying attention to the use of words: treating a comma/full stop/semi-colon as it ought to be treated, knowing that any word in italics was added by the translators and wasn’t in the original transcript is key!
It’s also worthy to note that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) language, so the true meaning of some words may never be revealed if we don’t check its original meaning which was the intention of the writer.
“In bible study, the moment your view of grammar used is inaccurate, no decree of long thesis will suffice. In all literature -scriptures inclusive- grammar and content will be the guide to the intent of the maker” – Pst. Olusegun Onayinka.
Context is king in understanding scriptures.
We would be in grave error if we pick a verse of Scriptures in isolation and then build on it with experiences/visions/opinions/rumours. It’s unfair! We must read the pretext (the opening discussion), the post ext (what the writer said afterwards) before we then put the verse in context.Tweet
A very good example is:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”Romans3:23
Many have scared the believer in Christ with this verse leading the innocent soul into condemnation every time.
But if we just read the verse before and the one which follows this, the believer would be loose from the stronghold that makes him “rededicate” his life every Sunday! (in fact, seeing a semicolon at the end of this verse -based on our English language knowledge-, we should know that he is about to explain it further. So, it’s lazy to stop there).
See the Pretext:
“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”.Rom 3:22
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”Rom 3:24
So, as you can see – Paul was simply explaining that the believer in Christ has been justified and he called it the righteousness of God. The context is therefore not to condemn.
Buy a KJV Bible
I advise you to be familiar with the KJV translation of the Bible as it’s the closest of all the translations to the original transcript of the Bible.
The KJV translators translated directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscript of the Bible.
Most of the other Bible translations translated from KJV; some have even omitted some crucial verses. So, I believe you should know the KJV very well and then check others with it – not the other way round.
Although, these are but a few rules to guide you, putting all of this to heart while studying scriptures would greatly guide you aright: making sure you look at what you are supposed to look at.
Yes, Bible study is ‘hard work’ and it is worth it. If you don’t pay attention to these things, then you are a candidate ready to be deceived: tossed to and fro and left into confusion.
Dear believer, did you find this helpful? If yes, we urge you to like this, drop your comment and share with a friend.