How to Read the Bible
Here are some important things to remember as you read
“All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible is the most read book in history. God has preserved it for thousands of years. Though it was written by many authors over hundreds of years, it tells one continuous story. Many people struggle to read and understand the Bible. Here are some key things to remember when reading the Bible.
It is a Collection of Books, all of which are God-breathed and: “…profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training…”
Moses. David. John. Paul -- all of them were writing to people of their own day about issues of their own time. It helps to know if a part of the Bible is reporting a story the way it took place, or if it is written for godly instruction. Ask yourself if the part you’re reading is a letter to a group of believers, a poem of praise to God or a prediction of future events. Asking these questions will help you understand why the author wrote it and what it meant to the people of their day.
Context is Important: “…All scripture…”
2 Timothy 3:16 promises that all Scripture is profitable. That means we can get something out of it, too, even if it was written to others. (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11) But sometimes people get the wrong idea by taking one or two sentences out of context. Learning how individual parts fit in with the whole Bible helps you understand the meaning of things that can be taken more than one way. Big ideas are repeated throughout scripture. It’s best to consider other ways an idea is shared if there’s any question. You don’t have to master the whole Bible to understand most passages. But if you hear an explanation that does not sound right, read a little more to see if it gets clearer.
Jesus and Paul use lots of Old Testament scriptures. This help us see how the Bible all fits together in God’s plan. John’s Gospel tells why it was written, a purpose that works for the whole Bible: “…so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31).
It is Spiritual: “…inspired by God…”
God reveals Himself to us through scripture, and the Holy Spirit helps us understand. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14) God knows everything! There are no mistakes in the Bible. (There are a few things we won’t understand clearly without knowing the meaning of the rest of the chapter.) God wants us to know him, and He cannot lie. That’s why we can trust his word. Reading the Bible is a spiritual experience: ask God to guide you.
It Should Change Your Life: “…so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work…”
“Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) When I read the Bible, I ask myself these questions: What does it say about God? What does it say about me (people/believers)? What is it telling me to do? Every time you read scripture you can grow in your faith and ask God to make those truths REAL in your life.
Pray this week:
Lord, Thank you for speaking truth through your Word. Holy Spirit teach me from the Bible what you want me to know and transform me to be more like Jesus.
If you have questions about the Bible’s truthfulness, does it affect your faith? Your obedience?