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  1. How I Study the Bible - One Approach I am not an expert, I am just a lay person like most of you, with not formal Bible training of education. Such education can be very helpful, or very hurtful, because we are all in the same boat. We are human, we make mistakes, we misunderstand. This is true of seminary professors, authors, pastors, and you and I. If you do not think you are in that category, then you are either Jesus, or you think of yourself more highly than you ought to. That being said, and hopefully understood and accpeted, I would like to share with you how I approach Bible study, in an effort to minimize my misunderstandings, and maximize what I learn from scripture. First off, I do three different types of Bible studies. Expository, topical, and word studies. As I define the terms, an expository study is one were I select a passage, a chapter, a whole book, or some other contiguous grouping of words from the Bible, and then go verse by verse, looking at the verse, it’s context, the intended audience, the historical setting and any parallel or related passages, to gain an understanding of the grouping of words which I am examining. I would say that a topical study, would be an examination of a specific subject, such as abortion, the rapture, tithing, marriage, etc. Finally, a word study is where I begin by looking at a word in a verse or verses in English, where either I am uncertain of it’s usage, or just want to more fully understand it’s significance and nuances. Then look at the original Greek or Hebrew word that was translated into the specific English word at the location in question. Once having identified the original language word, I then look at every occurrence of that word in the Greek or Hebrew to see the ways the word is used, and also consult works written for the purpose of original language study, such as Lexicons. My favorite type is the topical study, but the methods I use are based on principles that can be applied not only in these different studies, but can be applied to other historical literature as well as current literature. There are rules of interpretation than most conservative theologians agree upon. By and large, they look to me to be good common sense rules, so I try to stick to them. This minimizes the “that’s your interpretation” phenomenon, which is so silly. I prefer to have a good interpretation any day, than MY interpretation. Many of these rules come from traditional Jewish rules of interpretation. Now immediately, we must concede, that there are obviously limitations to these rules, or most Jews would have recognized their Messiah. The problem is, that we are human, we make mistakes, and we bring our own prejudices and preconceptions to the interpretive table. It is true for me, it is true for you also. So, sound rules are a foundation for understanding the Bible in a consistent manner, they are there to help you see past your own prejudices, but they will only work if you are willing to be consistent, and not change the rules to suit an interpretation you prefer. So what are some of these rules? In no particular order. Always examine a verse or passage in it’s context This means that you look at the verses leading up to that passage, and following, so that you can see what the subject actually is which is being discussed. Ignore the chapter heading and number, these are man-made, it is up to you to determine when a subject begins and ends. Examining a passage in context, also involves not just reading and understanding the nearby verses, but also identify who is being addressed in a passage. For whom is the message intended? Sometimes it is a specific individual, some times Israel, sometimes the church, sometimes it applies universally to mankind, determine this. The historical context is also important, Understanding things about a time and place, can affect how you understand the passage. Context, is one of the most important aspects of Biblical interpretation. Okay, suppose we have done all that. We have arrived at what we think the verse is saying and to whom. Remember that the scriptures are divinely inspired. Therefore, they will never contradict each other. We can use that to help us check our understanding of a verse or passage in question. The next rule is: Compare Scripture with Scripture Here, we search out other passages on the same topic. For example, let’s say we examined the ten commandments, and saw there: “Thou shalt not kill.” We have now the understanding that it is always wrong to kill. However, as we read in other places in the Bible, we find that God ordains wars, and prescribes putting people to death for certain crimes. Knowing that the God does not contradict himself, we understand that we must have a faulty understanding of “thou shalt not kill”. This brings us to another rule of interpretation. Examine the Verse in the Original Language Time was when you had to own quite a library to follow all of these rules effectively. In modern times, there are theological libraries in the form of software, which are substantially less expensive than they would be in printed form. Additionally, many of these helps are online. Go and experiment with sites such as blueletterbible.org, biblestudytools.com, biblehub.com, etc. You will find many things to aid your understanding on those sites. In the case of thou shalt not kill, we would find that a better translation of the Hebrew would have been “You shall do no murder”. Another tool which is indispensable is a concordance. A concordance let’s you look up Bible verses by words that exist in English in the verse. For example, if you looked up the word “locusts”, you would discover the word occurs in 17 verses. The concordance would show you part of the verse - a partial context. This is useful if you want to find verses that have a word in common with a verse you are examining. Seeing the context, lets you see if the verse is related to the topic you are studying, or to the verse you are studying, In the Gospels for instance, the different authors some times have additional details that another Gospel writer left out. Perhaps you are wanting to find a particular verse you are thinking of, a concordance can be useful for that. This can also be done with online Bible search sites. The next ones are not rules, but recommendations. Read a passage in several translations. Translations are not all alike, nor equally good, and none is without error. Most are pretty good for casual reading of the scriptures, but by reading a passage in a different version, you can often uncover some nuance, that you may want to explore further. Additionally, it is a good idea to to read about a given passage in a commentary or two, or three. In that way, you reap the benefit of the work that someone has already put into understanding the passage you are looking at. Here again, none is without error. In fact, by reading commentaries, you may come across views you never considered. Consider them thoughtfully, but realize that only the Bible text itself, is inspired. This brings me to the next rule. Let Scripture Interpret Scripture What do we mean by that? Sometimes a verse you may be considering, is already discussed in another passage in the Bible. Since the Bible is inspired by God, you have to accept the Bible’s explanation of itself. How would you know that a passage is commented on in another section in the Bible? My primary answer is read the Bible until you are familiar with it. I realize than not everyone will follow this advice, so there are other ways. The commentaries I spoke of, will often point such passages out. A good reference Bible, such as Thompson’s Chain Referance Bible, will show related passages - a very helpful tool. When reading a passage, assume it is literal, unless there is a compelling reason not to. In John 10:9 (NASB) Jesus says: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” A literal translation of that would be to think of Jesus claiming to be a slab of wood on a hinge. There is no need to be so literal. The context of the passage will usually indicate what the author was saying. Parables and visions, similes and metaphors are frequently used in the Bible. There is an excellent book on parables and metaphors (by G. Campbell Morgan). Learn to spot this type or writing, sometimes it is not so obvious: John 11:11-15 after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead", (NASB) In the passage above, we see that even the disciples took things too literally. Understand the Historical Background This takes some digging, but it is most helpful to understand figures of speech, customs and historical circumstances surrounding a passage. Where is the author, why is he there? To whom is he writing and why? These type of things are very useful to stay aware of. For example, some passages are written directly to a person of a people, and may not apply universally. Strive to avoid interpreting through the eyes of your own experience and culture. A helpful tool for this is the book: "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" (Alfred Edersheim). Keep with precedents Some people love inventing new meanings for words. Understand what the words meant when they were written from the original languages, if you are working in your own language, understand the meaning of the word when they were translated. For example, you may run across the word “quick” in the King James Version. Quick meant ‘living’ or ‘alive’ in 1611, not ‘fast’ or 'sudden'. Many modern commentators have erred by insisting that certain words mean certain things that they did not mean when written, don’t make the same mistake and don’t make the mistake of assuming that what they say is true, do your own research. Use Common Logic This one seems like a no-brainer that I should not even have to mention. Ask yourself, if a given understanding of a passage makes sense. Be careful here though, not everyone thinks alike. When I say to ask if it makes sense, I don’t mean does it make sense to you! I mean is the conclusion a rational one given the words used, the circumstances etc. is it where the majority of scriptural evidence points you? Don’t make the mistake of using your logic to over-rule the plain revelation of scripture. For example, I don’t like hell. It makes no sense to me that such a place would exist, why punish someone eternally for things done during the short span of a lifetime. However, I must keep in mind, that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways, so, I go with what scripture plainly teaches - there is a Hell. Recognize and determine the validity (or lack thereof) of inference This is similar to the above. You may find it difficult, for example, to discover a verse that indicates God is a triune being. However, you might fine a verse that refers to a person known as the Holy Spirit, and that the person is called God. You might find a reference to the fact that there is a person called the Father, who is also called God. Then you may find a reference to a person who is called the Son, again, He is called God also. You will find verses that indicate the these person are distinct. You will also find versed that categorically state that there is only one God. Putting them all together, we realize that there are three separate persons who are each God, and there is only one God. Therefore, the three persons are the one God. That is inference. For some, this makes no sense, I have no problem with it. This is a case however, where you may have to suspend what you think is logical, and accept instead, that this is what is revealed in scripture, we have no right to over-ride revelation with our opinions. Recognize the unity of scripture The 66 books that make up the Bible each has it’s own story to tell. However, there is one author behind each of them, and He has His story to tell as well. When you read and study the Bible, be aware that there are themes that thread their way through the various books of the Bible, some books cannot be fully understood without the benefit of the other books. If you have an interpretation of a passage, that is a contradiction to another passage, then you have not reached a correct understanding, for God does not contradict Himself. There may be more that I am forgetting, I will add them in if they occur to me, but that is the way that I approach the study of the scriptures, I hope some of these principles, are ones that you will find helpful in your own studies. Be Blessed!
  2. Robert Skynner Flat XXX XXXXX House XXXXX Street Plymouth Devon XXX XXXX (United Kingdom) 13th May 2017 Dear Eddie, Thank you for the gift of the silver NWT Bible, it would be great if you would kindly explain one problem which I, a Trinitarian, have with it, namely John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, most truly, I say unto you, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” (John 8:58, NWT, 2013 (silver) revised edition). The New World Translation (NWT) of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, is the only Bible which mistranslates the Greek: "ego eimi," (this is the first person singular present tense of the verb "to be"), of John 8:58, as: "I have been?" All other versions of the Bible translate it correctly as "I am," and even the New World Translation itself, translates "ego eimi," consistently and accurately as "I am," elsewhere throughout the New Testament, i.e. at John 8:24, 9:5 and 9:9; which predate and postdate this verse! Why "ego eimi," means "I am" at every occurrence bar one is a puzzle to me, especially when the Watchtower Society has no Greek or Hebrew scholars that they can name. The NWT is not translated by educated and reliable scholars, but by amateurs with no knowledge of Greek and Hebrew. However, this problem is greatly compounded for the Watchtower Society, when one considers the differing marginal notes and explanations of Greek tenses, which have been used to explain the mistranslation of "ego eimi," as "I am." The 1950 NWT edition of the Greek Scriptures, on page 312, and the NWT 1960 Bible on page 3108, explains "ego eimi," here as a perfect indefinite tense, a tense which does not exist in Greek, or even in any other language. In the 1969 (Purple) edition of the Kingdom Interlinear, on page 467, this tense was now changed to the perfect tense, some nineteen years later and after millions of Bible printings which contain the earlier nonexistent tense! Then in 1985, the revised (Blue) edition of the Kingdom Interlinear, on page 451, changes this to the perfect indicative. This is a third tense! Eddie, I enclose scans of these books. If you are unable to get hold of these books then please do visit me, and I can show you these originals. Please pass my details onto any Witness who is willing to study a part of the Really Teach book. Yours Sincerely Robert Skynner
  3. I am shocked at people denying Christ's work as King: On another thread, I posted at length on a thread attempting to prove that Christ is currently King over his Kingdom, this Kingdom rule is spiritual, for since his ascension into heaven, Christ has been ruling as King over his deceased saints (in heaven), this is not some geographic reign based upon this earth, but a spiritual reign which will last until his second coming. Robert Redmond in his "New Systematic Theology of the Christian faith" on page 990, footnote 18 confirms this interpretation, that the "Kingdom of Heaven / Kingdom of God," both terms being fully interchangeable: "refers primarily to the reign, dominion or rule of God, and only secondarily to the realm over which his reign is exercised." It has therefore shocked me that I have been personally and repeatedly attacked, as both a (non-Christian) deist, as well as somebody who has been "seduced by the enemy" (meaning Satan), for advocating orthodox Christian theology, which would be accepted world-world in any number of non-American Fundamentalist Christian Churches for two thousand years. I am not some heretic for advocating orthodoxy, American evangelicals might regard their own particular brand of Fundamentalism as "the only Christian truth," but the reality is that other Christians regard theology differently, and as I have discovered, the ungraciousness, and the deliberate misrepresentations of their opponents position discredits their own testimony. Possibly the only way to discuss this online, is in a one on one moderated debate, as it seems that tempers quickly rise, but most annoying of all, it seems that no attempt whatsoever is made to even listen to the other side, by some, who delight in then dictating to the other side a series of deliberate "straw man" misrepresentations which are simply designed discredit me and my statements. When this happens no discussion is even possible, as one side is simply refusing to be fair. May I therefore throw open the offer of a one on one debate. I will outline below a few corrections of the most obvious errors which people have accused me of promoting, I may not respond to posts here in this thread, for the simple reason that I expect to be ignored and constantly misrepresented, however, a one on one debate does interest me. · Am I a Preterist? No I am not, I reject this claim that all prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, as far as I am concerned, much of the Book of Revelation has still to be fulfilled, such as the appearance of beast, false prophet and mark 666 of chapter 13. · Am I a deist? No, I am not. God is not some wound up clock, moved by nature. God is Triune, an eternal omnipotent being who possesses self-will and sovereignty. In the 1980s I was briefly a Oneness Pentecostal, so the Trinity is now vital to me. · Being a Post-Millennialist don't I believe that things will get better and better? No I do not expect an ever improving world. I have pointed out repeatedly that not all Pre-Millennialists or Post-Millennialists believe and teach exactly the very same thing, the great 19th century Baptist Preacher C.H. Spurgeon was a Pre-Millennialist, yet his type of Pre-Millennialism rejected both the rapture, and the sharp dividing up the Jews from the Church, which almost all American Pre-Millennialists, who are dispensationalist futurists believe and teach. So likewise, my own Post-Millennialism sees the Kingdom (since the ascension and until the second coming), as a spiritual Kingdom which is currently situated in heaven, and I would not regard it as a geographic physical Kingdom upon this earth, which is created by things getting better and better as the Millennial Reign, as most Post-Millennialists will claim. · Do I believe in the rapture? That depends on how you define the rapture? For some people in this forum, whom I note are both American and Fundamentalist, the rapture is defined as "thinking exactly as I do," so by that definition I must reject the rapture. However, if by the rapture you mean that on the last day and at the last hour, the people of God are caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air, then I would say that I would certainly agree with that particular definition of the rapture. · Do I regard the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven as two different Kingdoms? No, God only has one people (Galatians 3:28), and one Kingdom, Robert Redmond in his "New Systematic Theology of the Christian faith" on page 538, points out that the terms "Kingdom of God" and "Kingdom of Heaven" are interchangeable (contrast Matthew 13:11 with Mark 4:11 and Luke 8:10); so "both terms refer to the sovereign rule of God." Remember that Redmond, on page 990, footnote 18 points our that the terms "the Kingdom;" "refers primarily to the reign, dominion or rule of God, and only secondarily to the realm over which his reign is exercised." So when I talk about the Kingdom, I am referring to something which I'd regard as currently spiritual, whilst almost all Post-Millennialists and (American) Pre-Millennialists, when they refer to the Kingdom, they do so not in the primarily sense as the spiritual rule of God, but referring to some geographic location. So we are at cross purposes, in that our definitions of the word "Kingdom" are not the same. · Do I reject the Millennium? No, the words "a thousand years" are used six times in Revelation 20, I would regard four of these as referring from Adam to Christ, and two occurrences, which mention of the reign of Christ (Revelation 20:4 and 6), as referring to Christ's present rule in heaven (a spiritual rule over his deceased saints). So unless I am mistaken, I'd regard the Millennial reign of Christ as spiritual, in heaven, and for two periods of "a thousand years" which makes a Millennial reign of Christ a period of two thousand years from his ascension until his second coming. · Do I reject the idea that Christ will reign upon the earth? No, Revelation 5:10 states of God's saints that: "we shall reign on the earth," so I would expect Christ our King to be here to, whether that is permanently or not I choose not to speculate. However, this reign of Christ on the earth, will be after the Millennial (Spiritual) reign of Christ (in heaven) has finished, at his second coming he returns to this world and only then, in the eternal state, will Christ then establish his physical and geographic (eternal) rule upon this earth from the city of Jerusalem. · Aren't the Jews on the earth and the Church in heaven eternally? No, that's taught in the Schofield Reference Bible notes, but not in the Bible itself. If you look on YouTube for the sermon: "Dispensationalism" by Stuart Olyott, in it he explains rather well the error of dividing up the people one God into two different groups with two different hopes. It's all based upon the faulty hermeneutic of using the Old Testament to interpret the New Testament, rather than the other way a round. · Aren't we arguing over semantics? Well I am not the one insulting others, and condemning people as satanic! As for dispensational theology, so beloved by American Fundamentalists, it has been undergoing a series of radical changes since the publication of the Revised Schofield Reference Bible in 1967. For American Fundamentalists in these forums to ignore challenges coming from their own scholars such as many from Dallas Theological Seminary, is to put your head in the sand! Classical Dispensationalism, as found is your typical Southern Baptist and Pentecostal church at pew level, is seriously being challenged by many of your top and most renouned dispensational scholars, who have developed more moderate forms of dispensational theology.
  4. Originally published September 28th, 2008 In as much as several of you lately, and many over the years have asked how I go about Bible Study and why I think my approach is a good one, I have decided to blog on that topic.First off, I do three different types of Bible studies. Expository, topical, and word studies.As I define the terms, an expository study is one were I select a passage, a chapter, a whole book, or some other contiguous grouping of words from the Bible, and then go verse by verse, looking at the verse, it’s context, the intended audience, the historical setting and any parallel or related passages, to gain an understanding of the grouping of words which I am examining.I would say that a topical study, would be an examination of a specific subject, such as abortion, the rapture, tithing, marriage, etc.Finally, a word study is where I begin by looking at a word in a verse or verses in English, where either I am uncertain of it’s usage, or just want to more fully understand it’s significance and nuances, Then look ate the original Greek or Hebrew word that was translated into the specific English word at the location in question. Once having identified the original language word, I then look at every occurrence of that word in the Greek or Hebrew to see the ways the word is used, and also consult works written for the purpose of original language study, such as Lexicons.My favorite type is the topical study, but the methods I use are based on principles that can be applied not only in these different studies, but can be applied to other historical literature as well as current literature.There are rules of interpretation than most conservative theologians agree upon. By and large, they look to me to be good common sense rules, so I try to stick to them. This minimizes the “that’s your interpretation” phenomenon, which is so silly. I prefer to have a good interpretation any day, than MY interpretation. Many of these rules come from traditional Jewish rules of interpretation. Now immediately, we must concede, that there are obviously limitations to these rules, or most Jews would have recognized their Messiah. The problem is, that we are human, we make mistakes, and we bring our own prejudices and preconceptions to the interpretive table. It is true for me, it is true for you also. So, sound rules are a foundation for understanding the Bible in a consistent manner, they are there to help you see past your own prejudices, but they will only work if you are willing to be consistent, and not change the rules to suit an interpretation you prefer.So what are some of these rules? In no particular order. Always examine a verse or passage in it’s contextThis means that you look at the verses leading up to that passage, and following, so that you can see what the cubject actually is, being discussed. Ignore the chapter heading and number, these are man-made, it is up to you to determine when a subject begins and ends. Examining a passage in context, also involves not just reading and understanding the nearby verses, but also identify who is being addressed in a passage, for whom is the message intended. Sometimes it is a specific individual, some times Israel, sometimes the church, sometimes it applies universally to mankind, determine this. The historical context is also important, Understanding things about a time and place, can affect how you understand the passage. Context, is one of the most important aspects of Biblical interpretation.Okay, suppose we have done all that. We have arrived at what we think the verse is saying and to whom. Remember that the scriptures are divinely inspired. Therefore, they will never contradict each other. We can use that to help us check our understanding of a verse or passage in question. The next rule is: Compare Scripture with ScriptureHere, we search out other passages on the same topic. For example, let’s say we examined the ten commandments, and saw there: “Thou shalt not kill.” We have now the understanding that it is always wrong to kill. However, as we read in other places in the Bible, we find that God ordains wars, and prescribes putting people to death for certain crimes. Knowing that the God does not contradict himself, we understand that we must have a faulty understanding of “thou shalt not kill”. This brings us to another rule of interpretation. Examine the Verse in the Original LanguageTime was when you had to own quite a library to follow all of these rules effectively. In modern times, there are theological libraries in the form of software, which are substantially less expensive than they would be in printed form. Additionally, many of these helps are online. Go and experiment with sites such as blueletterbible.org, biblestudytools.com, and/or biblehub.com. You will find many things to aid your understanding on those sites. In the case of thou shalt not kill, we would find that a better translation of the Hebrew would have been “You shall do no murder”.Another tool which is indispensable is a concordance. A concordance let’s you look up Bible verses by words that exist in English in the verse. For example, if you looked up the word “locusts”, you would discover the word occurs in 17 verses. The concordance would show you part of the verse - a partial context. This is useful if you want to find verses that have a word in common with a verse you are examining. Seeing the context, lets you see if the verse is related to the topic you are studying, or to the verse you are studying, In the Gospels for instance, the different authors some times have additional details that another Gospel writer left out. Perhaps you are wanting to find a particular verse you are thinking of, a concordance can be useful for that. This can also be done with online Bible search sites.The next ones are not rules, but recommendations. Read a passage in several translations. Translations are not all alike, nor equally good, and none is without error. Most are pretty good for casual reading of the scriptures, but by reading a passage in a different version, you can often uncover some nuance, that you may want to explore further.Additionally, it is a good idea to to read about a given passage in a commentary or two, or three. In that way, you reap the benefit of the work that someone has already put into understanding the passage you are looking at. Here again, none is without error. In fact, by reading commentaries, you may come across views you never considered. Consider them, but stick with the Bible text itself, which brings me to the next rule. Let Scripture Interpret ScriptureWhat do we mean by that? Sometimes a verse you may be considering, is already discussed in another passage in the Bible. Since the Bible is inspired by God, you have to accept the Bible’s explanation of itself. How would you know that a passage is commented on in another section in the Bible? My primary answer is read the Bible until you are familiar with it. I realize than not everyone will follow this advice, so there are other ways. The commentaries I spoke of, will often point such passages out. A good reference Bible, such as Thompson’s Chain Referance Bible, will show related passages - a very helpful tool. When reading a passage, assume it is literal, unless there is a compelling reason not to. In John 10:9 (NASB) Jesus says:“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”A literal translation of that would be to think of Jesus claiming to be a slab of wood on a hinge. There is no need to be so literal. The context of the passage will usually indicate what the author was saying. Parables and visions, similes and metaphors are frequently used in the bible. There is an excellent book on parable and metaphors, learn to spot them. Some times it may not be so obvious:John 11:11-15after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead",(NASB) In the passage above, we see that even the disciples took things too literally. Understand the Historical Background This takes some digging, but it is most helpful to understand figures of speech, customs and historical circumstances surrounding a passage. Where is the author, why is he there? To whom is he writing and why? These type of things are very useful to stay aware of. For example, some passages are written directly to a person of a people, and may not apply universally. Strive to avoid interpreting through the eyes of your own experience and culture. A helpful tool for this is the book: "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" Keep with precedentsSome people love inventing new meanings for words. Understand what the words meant when they were written from the original languages, if you are working in your own language, understand the meaning of the word when they were translated. For example, you may run across the word “quick” in the King James Version. Quick meant ‘living’ or ‘alive’ in 1611, not ‘fast’. Many modern commentators have erred by insisting that certain words mean certain things that they did not mean when written, don’t make the same mistake and don’t make the mistake of assuming that what they say is true, do your own research. Use Common Logic This one seems like a no-brainer that I should not even have to mention. Ask yourself, if a given understanding of a passage makes sense. Be careful here though, not everyone thinks alike. When I say to ask if it makes sense, I don’t mean does it make sense to you! I mean is the conclusion a rational one given the words used, the circumstances etc. is it where the majority of scriptural evidence points you? Don’t make the mistake of using you logic to over-rule the plain revelation of scripture. For example, I don’t like hell. It makes no sense to me that such a place would exist, why punish someone eternally for things done during the short span of a lifetime. However, I must keep in mind, that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways, so, I go with what scripture plainly teaches - there is a Hell. Recognize and determine the validity of inference This is similar to the above. You may find it difficult, for example, to discover a verse that indicates God is a triune being. However, you might fine a verse that refers to a person known as the Holy Spirit, and that the person is called God. You might find a reference to the fact that there is a person called the Father, who is also called God. Then you may find a reference to a person who is called the Son, again, He is called God also. You will find verses that indicate the these person are distinct. You will also find versed that categorically state that there is only one God. Putting them all together, we realize that there are three separate persons who are each God, and there is only one God. Therefore, the three persons are the one God. That is inference. For some, this makes no sense, I have no problem with it. This is a case however, where you may have to suspend what you think is logic, and accept that this is what is revealed in scripture, we have no right to over-ride revelation with our opinions. Recognize the unity of scripture The 66 books that make up the Bible each has it’s own story to tell. However, there is one author behind each of them, and He has His story to tell as well. When you read and study the Bible, be aware that there are themes that thread their way through the various books of the Bible, some books cannot be fully understood without the benefit of the other books. If you have an interpretation of a passage, that is a contradiction to another passage, then you have not reached a correct understanding, for God does not contradict Himself.There may be more that I am forgetting, I will add them in if they occur to me, but that is the way that I approach the study of the scriptures, I hope some of these principles, are ones that you will find helpful in your own studies. Be Blessed! Ω Omegaman 2.0 This page has been visited 11,913 times since September 28th, 2008 5 Responses to “How I Study the Bible - one approach” Sharon Graham Says: December 12th, 2008 at 9:58 am Thank you for explaining how to study the bible it is a big help. FresnoJoe Says: February 28th, 2009 at 9:39 am “there is one author behind each of them, and He has His story to tell as well” Oh So Amen Dear Brother, So Amen! “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,” Psalms 40:7 “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7 AyinJade Says: March 2nd, 2009 at 7:27 pm Lol Mega, with a date of Sept 28th, you are always assured of having this post as the first one seen in the admin blogs. I had a hard time finding my latest blog entry until I realized that the date of this blog was incorrect. Omegaman Says: March 4th, 2009 at 3:09 am That is when it was posted, Sept. 28th, 2008 jayblayze Says: April 23rd, 2009 at 6:11 am Thanx for your thoughts and all the support at http://www.worthychat.com tonight april 23 You keep on speaking the truth will ya. Thanx again, Jamie
  5. A long history of debate that continues on today. I would like to ask what are proper hermunetics? What is proper exegesis? In my current study of the topic I am asking what does the bible teach about such matters? Shiloh has commented that there are no proof texts per say to which I agree he says well. But I cannot fathom the thought that there is no biblical precident that covers such a topic. Please help me in my quest to better understand what the bible itself reveals about proper interpretation and critical explanation or analysis of the text. Thank You!
  6. Sept. 18th, 2008 - - - Post Script - There is also a version of this post at the blog on my website which has links to online copies of the books mentioned In as much as several of you lately, and many over the years have asked how I go about Bible Study and why I think my approach is a good one, I have decided to blog on that topic. First off, I do three different types of Bible studies. Expository, topical, and word studies. As I define the terms, an expository study is one were I select a passage, a chapter, a whole book, or some other contiguous grouping of words from the Bible, and then go verse by verse, looking at the verse, it’s context, the intended audience, the historical setting and any parallel or related passages, to gain an understanding of the grouping of words which I am examining. I would say that a topical study, would be an examination of a specific subject, such as abortion, the rapture, tithing, marriage, etc. Finally, a word study is where I begin by looking at a word in a verse or verses in English, where either i am uncertain of it’s usage, or just want to more fully understand it’s significance and nuances, Then look ate the original Greek or Hebrew word that was translated into the specific English word at the location in question. Once having identified the original language word, I then look at every occurrence of that word in the Greek or Hebrew to see the ways the word is used, and also consult works written for the purpose of original language study, such as Lexicons. My favorite type is the topical study, but the methods I use are based on principles that can be applied not only in these different studies, but can be applied to other historical literature as well as current literature. There are rules of interpretation than most conservative theologians agree upon. By and large, they look to me to be good common sense rules, so I try to stick to them. This minimizes the “that’s your interpretation” phenomenon, which is so silly. I prefer to have a good interpretation any day, than MY interpretation. Many of these rules come from traditional Jewish rules of interpretation. Now immediately, we must concede, that there are obviously limitations to these rules, or most Jews would have recognized their Messiah. The problem is, that we are human, we make mistakes, and we bring our own prejudices and preconceptions to the interpretive table. It is true for me, it is true for you also. So, sound rules are a foundation for understanding the Bible in a consistent manner, they are there to help you see past your own prejudices, but they will only work if you are willing to be consistent, and not change the rules to suit an interpretation you prefer. So what are some of these rules? In no particular order: Always examine a verse or passage in it’s context. This means that you look at the verses leading up to that passage, and following, so that you can see what the cubject actually is, being discussed. Ignore the chapter heading and number, these are man-made, it is up to you to determine when a subject begins and ends. Examining a passage in context, also involves not just reading and understanding the nearby verses, but also identify who is being addressed in a passage, for whom is the message intended. Sometimes it is a specific individual, some times Israel, sometimes the church, sometimes it applies universally to mankind, determine this. The historical context is also important, Understanding things about a time and place, can affect how you understand the passage. Context, is one of the most important aspects of Biblical interpretation. Okay, suppose we have done all that. We have arrived at what we think the verse is saying and to whom. Remember that the scriptures are divinely inspired. Therefore, they will never contradict each other. We can use that to help us check our understanding of a verse or passage in question. The next rule is: Compare Scripture with Scripture Here, we search out other passages on the same topic. For example, let’s say we examined the ten commandments, and saw there: “Thou shalt not kill.” We have now the understanding that it is always wrong to kill. However, as we read in other places in the Bible, we find that God ordains wars, and prescribes putting people to death for certain crimes. Knowing that the God does not contradict himself, we understand that we must have a faulty understanding of “thou shalt not kill”. This brings us to another rule of interpretation. Examine the Verse in the Original Language Time was when you had to own quite a library to follow all of these rules effectively. In modern times, there are theological libraries in the form of software, which are substantially less expensive than they would be in printed form. Additionally, many of these helps are online. Go and experiment with sites such as blueletterbible.org, biblestudytools.com, and/or biblehub.com. You will find many things to aid your understanding on those sites. In the case of thou shalt not kill, we would find that a better translation of the Hebrew would have been “You shall do no murder”. Another tool which is indispensable is a concordance. A concordance let’s you look up Bible verses by words that exist in English in the verse. For example, if you looked up the word “locusts”, you would discover the word occurs in 17 verses. The concordance would show you part of the verse - a partial context. This is useful if you want to find verses that have a word in common with a verse you are examining. Seeing the context, lets you see if the verse is related to the topic you are studying, or to the verse you are studying, In the Gospels for instance, the different authors some times have additional details that another Gospel writer left out. Perhaps you are wanting to find a particular verse you are thinking of, a concordance can be useful for that. This can also be done with online Bible search sites. The next ones are not rules, but recommendations. Read a passage in several translations. Translations are not all alike, nor equally good, and none is without error. Most are pretty good for casual reading of the scriptures, but by reading a passage in a different version, you can often uncover some nuance, that you may want to explore further. Additionally, it is a good idea to to read about a given passage in a commentary or two, or three. In that way, you reap the benefit of the work that someone has already put into understanding the passage you are looking at. Here again, none is without error. In fact, by reading commentaries, you may come across views you never considered. Consider them, but stick with the Bible text itself, which brings me to the next rule. Let Scripture Interpret Scripture What do we mean by that? Sometimes a verse you may be considering, is already discussed in another passage in the Bible. Since the Bible is inspired by God, you have to accept the Bible’s explanation of itself. How would you know that a passage is commented on in another section in the Bible? My primary answer is read the Bible until you are familiar with it. I realize than not everyone will follow this advice, so there are other ways. The commentaries I spoke of, will often point such passages out. A good reference Bible, such as Thompson’s Chain Referance Bible, will show related passages - a very helpful tool. When reading a passage, assume it is literal, unless there is a compelling reason not to. In John 10:9 (NASB) Jesus says: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” A literal translation of that would be to think of Jesus claiming to be a slab of wood on a hinge. There is no need to be so literal. The context of the passage will usually indicate what the author was saying. Parables and visions, similes and metaphors are frequently used in the bible. There is an excellent book on parable and metaphors (The Parables and Metaphores of Our Lore), Learn to recognise these things. Some times it may not be so obvious: John 11:11-15 after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, (NASB) In the passage above, we see that even the disciples took things too literally. Understand the Historical Background This takes some digging, but it is most helpful to understand figures of speech, customs and historical circumstances surrounding a passage. Where is the author, why is he there? To whom is he writing and why? These type of things are very useful to stay aware of. For example, some passages are written directly to a person of a people, and may not apply universally. Strive to avoid interpreting through the eyes of your own experience and culture. A helpful tool for this is the book: "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" Keep with precedents Some people love inventing new meanings for words. Understand what the words meant when they were written from the original languages, if you are working in your own language, understand the meaning of the word when they were translated. For example, you may run across the word “quick” in the King James Version. Quick meant ‘living’ or ‘alive’ in 1611, not ‘fast’. Many modern commentators have erred by insisting that certain words mean certain things that they did not mean when written, don’t make the same mistake and don’t make the mistake of assuming that what they say is true, do your own research. Use Common Logic This one seems like a no-brainer that I should not even have to mention. Ask yourself, if a given understanding of a passage makes sense. Be careful here though, not everyone thinks alike. When I say to ask if it makes sense, I don’t mean does it make sense to you! I mean is the conclusion a rational one given the words used, the circumstances etc. is it where the majority of scriptural evidence points you? Don’t make the mistake of using you logic to over-rule the plain revelation of scripture. For example, I don’t like hell. It makes no sense to me that such a place would exist, why punish someone eternally for things done during the short span of a lifetime. However, I must keep in mind, that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways, so, I go with what scripture plainly teaches - there is a Hell. Recognize and determine the validity of inference This is similar to the above. You may find it difficult, for example, to discover a verse that indicates God is a triune being. However, you might fine a verse that refers to a person known as the Holy Spirit, and that the person is called God. You might find a reference to the fact that there is a person called the Father, who is also called God. Then you may find a reference to a person who is called the Son, again, He is called God also. You will find verses that indicate the these person are distinct. You will also find versed that categorically state that there is only one God. Putting them all together, we realize that there are three separate persons who are each God, and there is only one God. Therefore, the three persons are the one God. That is inference. For some, this makes no sense, I have no problem with it. This is a case however, where you may have to suspend what you think is logic, and accept that this is what is revealed in scripture, we have no right to over-ride revelation with our opinions. Recognize the unity of scripture The 66 books that make up the Bible each has it’s own story to tell. However, there is one author behind each of them, and He has His story to tell as well. When you read and study the Bible, be aware that there are themes that thread their way through the various books of the Bible, some books cannot be fully understood without the benefit of the other books. If you have an interpretation of a passage, that is a contradiction to another passage, then you have not reached a correct understanding, for God does not contradict Himself. There may be more that I am forgetting, I will add them in if they occur to me, but that is the way that I approach the study of the scriptures, I hope some of these principles, are ones that you will find helpful in your own studies. Be Blessed! Ω Omegaman 2.0
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