Studying the Bible is the task of a workman (2 Tim 2.15). Yet, one doesn’t need a terminal degree in Biblical Exposition to be able to study the Bible personally. For those just starting out – or for those who need a reminder – here are three simple steps to jumpstart your journey into the Word:
Step 1: Observation
In this first step, ask the basic questions that a journalist asks. Who is writing? To whom is he writing? What is the occasion for this writing? Think of the what, who, why. What details are in the text that will provide clarity? In essence, you are working to understand the historical context.
Step 2: Interpretation
Within that historical context you observed, what message is the writer communicating? Is he giving a warning? Is the text part of a parable? Do you know where the paragraph markers are? What is the big idea in the text? Is anything repeated? What is being emphasized? In essence, you are now working to understand the grammatical context.
What’s happening in near context – the verses immediately before and after your text? What has been happening in the far context – the paragraphs / chapters before and and after your text? Are there any cross-references that will help explain the writer’s intention?
Step 3: Application
Once you have set the historical and grammatical context, it’s time to bridge the time gap. Understanding what Paul meant 2000 years ago is one thing; taking that principle for our own day is quite another. There are a few helpful principles to follow for applying God’s Word for today:
Bible study doesn’t need to scare us. What is the next step you need to take?
*This material adapted from Rightly Divided: A beginner’s guide to bible study (available at StrivingTogether.com or Amazon).