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Paul says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2 Timothy 2:15-16). The question most believers have is how? How do you “shun profane and vain babblings, such as would increase you more to ungodliness? He says study!
It’s not easy to study God’s word, but the information I provide here will enable you to discuss in detail the thoughts, ideas, experiences and issues of Bible text, and especially the most difficult one you find in the New Testament.
What is involved in text study?
There are a number of ways of exploring the book that you’re reading and one of the best ways is to keep a notebook. Keep a journal as you read a book. Don’t rely on commercially produced notes, but write down your own interpretations and revelations of that you’re reading. Jot down your initial impressions and the questions you also may have – your feelings and personal responses to the text. These personal understandings are important because that’s what is needed to grow your faith.
Identify the style of text, context and some background information on the author and purpose of writing.
Look at their values, their motivation, reasons for writing or their acting in particular ways. Explore any confrontations and pay close attention to changes in their relationships.
Find out meaning of the text, and ideas the writer wants you to consider;
Take note of particular speeches, and metaphorical language and symbolism
- Examine sequence of events; past, present and future.
- Narrative voice
- Eye witness accounts and flashbacks
Know your text thoroughly, reading it as many times as possible.
There are other strategies also, but the best way is to try all of them. I would advise you also to discuss your findings, revelations or ideas with others especially your friends, and to listen carefully to what they have to say.
Once you have read and studied the bible this way for yourself, begin reading other people’s interpretations or commentaries. Read that information critically – use it to enhance your own revelation, not to replace it.
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8
It’s not a sin to analyse scripture. Oftentimes Jesus would ask, “Have ye not read,” ( Matthew 12:3) “have ye never read,” (Matthew 21:16) “Did ye never read in the scriptures,” (Matthew 21:42). “whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15). “He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?” Luke 10:26
When analysing scripture think about the message God is trying to communicate to you. The type of language used is able to tell the seriousness of the matter.
Whenever you read the scriptures; consider!
Consider words or ideas that are repeated. Consider the style of writing; words revolving around a common theme or message invoked. Ask yourself, what is being encouraged or discouraged? Is there action I must take? Scripture was written to satisfy or accomplish a certain purpose or mission. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
When you critically analyse you are not adding or subtracting any of the written word; you’re instead safeguarding the truth against evil workers. Analysing it demonstrates your clear understanding of the word, that you’ve read and understood it, “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” Luke 1:4
The Lord of hosts said, “Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited” (Jeremiah 6:8). To you also be instructed, lest your candlestick be removed.