Three Ways to Study the Bible
Make it a life mission to know God’s Word.
Blessed is the man who(se)… delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
What does God say about the person who trains himself to know the Bible well? He or she is “careful”, “prosperous”, “successful” (Joshua 1:8-9), “blessed” (Psalm 1), “approved”, “unashamed”, (2 Timothy 2:15) and “equipped” (2 Timothy 3:17), just to name a few things. God definitely wants us to make it our life’s mission to take His Word seriously. Because the Bible was written by so many different types of people over such a long period of time we can even look into its own stories to see how God’s people went about doing this.
When we read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) carefully, we see a few places where Jesus shows just how seriously God means it when He says we should have His words “on your heart” and be able to “teach them diligently.” (Deuteronomy 6:6)
The Sadducees were a group of religious teachers in Jesus’ day who did not believe in the resurrection. (Matthew 22:23) Just God’s use of present tense in Exodus 3:6 is something Jesus used to teach the Sadducees that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had eternal life. “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living”, He said. (Mark 12:27) He expected them to know that. What does He expect of you and me?
There’s no substitute for prayer to ask the Author of Scripture for help in understanding. But adding a few things to your Bible study can help you make the most of it.
Most any study Bible can help you easily find similar references elsewhere in Scripture. An example of what is called a cross-reference is the Exodus 3:6 and Matthew 22:3 link above. Jesus is quoting another part of the Bible. A study Bible will usually show this by having a number next to a keyword directing you to the other passage’s address in the middle column or the footnote. If you don’t have access to a printed study Bible, there’s a free one online at http://netbible.org.
The Bible was mostly written in Hebrew and Greek. Today we are blessed to have a huge number of translations available to us. There are still things we could learn if we had a way of looking into the original languages. A “lexicon” gives us a simple way to do this. It is like a dictionary that provides the definition of the original word in English. There is a free lexicon at the “Blue Letter Bible” website. One example of how it can help to know a little about the Bible’s original languages would be Jesus’ use of the word “another” in John 14:16. English only has one word for “another”. It’s used for “an additional item of the same kind” or “item of a completely different kind.” When Jesus says that the Father would send “another” Helper, it’s “of the same kind” to show us that the Holy Spirit is co-equal with Christ Himself. The word used in Luke 9:56 tells us that Jesus went to “another village” that was different from the first one.
A “concordance” is another reference tool; it’s like an index of where you can find every word in the Bible. If you wanted to do a detailed study of “Melchizedek” (Genesis 14:18) it would be made a lot easier by a search tool and a cross-reference to find Melchizedek and related topics throughout the Bible. A lexicon would help you have better understanding of the meaning of his name, his title and his city’s name.
The mysterious character of Melchizedek paves the way for an even greater High Priest. Jesus’ words to the Sadducees give us reason to believe in the resurrection and alert us to the treasure hidden in even the implications of Scripture. I hope you will diligently use these tools will build you up in the faith and cause you to appreciate our Savior more and more as you make it your life’s mission to take your walk with Him seriously!
Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, You are my eternal High Priest. You are the Resurrection and the Life. Awaken my desire to know You and trust You more.
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