Understanding the Bible.
What the Bible is?
Developing an effective
Why some do not understand the Bible (From notes)
A. We do not study the Bible
B. We study with a closed mind
C. We are hindered by tradition
D. Some try to prove a point
E. Some do not love the Truth
F. Some are blinded by worldly living
G. Some study the Bible in a disorganized manner
Why some do not understand the Bible.
Some do not study the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Some study with a closed mind. 2 Timothy 3:1-7. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,.. unthankful, unholy,… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away…. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Some are hindered by tradition. One of the reasons that people don’t understand the Bible is that the authority of the Bible is been undermined. Often this has been done by making something else as valid as the Bible, like Church tradition.
Jesus himself spoke of this..
Matt 15:6,9. Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.
They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men.
D. Some try to prove a point. Some people are fixated on some pet doctrine, and everything that they look at in Scripture is seen through that lens.
For example, if someone is a staunch Calvinist and believes that a Christian can never lose their salvation, they see all Scripture through that lens and when something in Scripture doesn’t line up with what they believe they twist Scripture to suite their preconceived viewpoint.
They disregard context and rules of interpretation, to prove what they have decided is fact, instead of seeing if what they believe, stands up under the scrutiny of Scripture.
E. Some do not love the Truth.
They study with a closed mind and interpret Scripture in the light of their own pet doctrines.
Some do this to gain popularity and prosperity, tickling people’s ears with a palatable gospel that doesn’t offend. Paul warned of those who would turn from the truth to get a following.
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise who will distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.
The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
F. Some are blinded by worldly living.
1 Timothy 6:3-5.
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing.
They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
G. Some study the Bible in a disorganized manner.
We will look at Bible study methods later and see how we can study more effectively.
The three most basic Christian truths.
1.God actually exists.
2.He has revealed Himself in a way that is understandable to people.
3.His revelation has been preserved for us in the Bible.
So the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man.
When a person begins to doubt the Word of God then he becomes his own authority.
He becomes We live in a society today in which Humanism is a rising religion because Satan has blinded men’s eyes to the Word of God.
Revelation (From notes)
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.
Revelation is God “uncovering” or revealing His will directly to man. God reveals His will through
dreams and visions (Gn. 20:3; Is. 29:10,11; Dn. 2:19),
by speaking mouth to mouth (Nm 12:8)
by putting the exact words in to the mouth of the prophet (Dt 18:18, Jr 1:9; Ez. 3:4),
through angels (Gn. 18:1-19; Acts 7:38), and
through His Son Jesus (Jn. 14:9; CI 2:9; Hb. 1:1,2).
Another form of revelation is by means of creation (nature)
The Church is God’s Revelation to man and Satan.
This grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
His intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
Satan now knows the gospel and God’s plan of redemption.
Satan; however, has made it his mission to keep man in the dark, because revelation is not enough, we need illumination.
We are Christ’s Ambassadors.
Revelation is not enough we need Illumination.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…. V6 For God who said “Let the light shine out of darkness,” has made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
All Scripture is God inspired.
2 Peter 1:19-21.
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.
For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
11 Tim 3v16, 17
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Jesus and the Scriptures.
Luke 24:25-27. He said to them, How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.He told them, This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.You are witnesses of these things.
Evidence of inspiration (From notes)
1. The unity of the Bible: From Genesis to Revelation, the theme of the Bible is God’s plan to save man from sin. All teachings to guide men to have a right relationship with God and his fellow man are harmonious throughout the Bible. There are no contradictions. There are no inconsistencies. Those who do not know the Bible claim that it contradicts itself, but when one studies the Bible, this accusation quickly disappears. Men could never have produced a piece of unified literature like the Bible alone.
The unity of The Bible.
The Bible is not a single book, but actually
66 individual books,
written on 3 continents,
in 3 different languages,
over a period of approximately 1500 years,
by 40 authors who came from many walks of life (shepherds, kings, scholars, fishermen, prophets, a doctor, a military general, and a Pharisee)
One unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This is evidence of The Bible being God’s Word.
The indestructibility of Scripture.
FOR 2600 YEARS ALL THE POWERS OF THIS WORLD HAVE COMBINED TO DESTROY THIS BOOK AND YET IT STILL REMAINS.
We know how the Communists and more recently Islam ruled countries have tried to get rid of the Bible and have heaped persecution on Christians, but let us look at a bit of history of those who tried to destroy The Bible.
There is a saying: “Homer must be handled with care.” The allusion, of course, is to the compositions of the blind poet of ancient Greece. The implication in the proverb is this: Homer’s works have been treasured and preserved cautiously for centuries. And yet, in spite of this meticulous care, only a few copies of Homer’s writings survive. There is no complete copy of the poet’s works prior to the thirteenth century A.D.—more than two thousand years after the Greek writer lived (Schrivener 1883, 4).
In contrast, the Bible, though viciously opposed and oppressed across several millennia, is reflected in thousands of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, and even today continues to be the best-selling publication in the world.
The indestructibility of the Bible
11 Kings 22:8-10
The Book of the Law was hidden during Manasseh's wicked reign, only to be re-discovered under God-fearing King Josiah
Jeremiah 36:1-3 & 22-23
Jehoiakim another King of Judah burnt the scroll Jeremiah had written on the instructions of God
The earlier OT books survived the captivity of Israel
2 Kings 15:29, 17:6
Beginning in 740 BC
2 Kings 24:14, 25:11
The later captivity of Judah
2 Kings 25:9-10
The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC
During the period between the Old Testament and New Testament, Antiochus Epiphanes, the wicked Syrian tyrant, took Jerusalem by treachery in 165BC, desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig on the alter, destroyed all the copies of the Scriptures (the whole of the Old Testament) he found and murdered all who had them.
Antiochus, known popularly as “the madman,” launched a bloody persecution against the Hebrew people. One aspect of his vendetta was an attempt to destroy copies of the Jewish Scriptures. An ancient document records this episode: And [the officials of Antiochus] rent in pieces the books of the law which they found, and set them on fire. And wheresoever was found with any a book of the covenant, and if any consented to the law, the king’s sentence delivered him to death (The Apocrypha, 1 Maccabees 1:56-57).
The historian Josephus comments upon this event:
And if there were any sacred book of the law found, it was destroyed, and those [Jews] with whom they were found miserably perished also (Antiquities of the Jews 12.5.4).
Jerusalem was captured by the Roman general Pompey in 63 BC. Shortly after, the temple was plundered by Crassus, again placing the Old Testament books in jeopardy.
In AD70 the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and massacred it’s inhabitants. It’s fall could have resulted in the destruction of the Old Testament books as well as the earlier New Testament books, but they survived.
Crassus and Titus
Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Roman emperor Diocletian, known for persecution of Christians. He had no tolerance for Christianity, he called it a “cult”. Diocletian initiated the most terrible of all the persecutions of the early Church. In 302 A.D. he told his government “to tear down the churches to the foundations.
In AD302 Diocletian realised the Bible was the source of the Christians’ courage, so he ordered the burning of the Scriptures. Only 10 years later Constantine the Great, a professing Christian, ordered the writing of many copies of the Bible and encouraged everyone in the Roman Empire to read it.
John Wycliffe (1328-1384)
Following the fall of the Roman Empire, very few had access to the Bible but the stirrings that preceded the Reformation sparked renewed interest in it. However, those who tried to increase its availability were persecuted.
John Wycliffe made the first translation of the Bible into English. After his death, his bones were exhumed, burned and the ashes scattered in a river.
John Huss (1380-1414)
John Huss was burned alive in Bohemia because he proclaimed that the Bible was the final authority, and his ashes were thrown into the Rhine
William Tyndale (1494-1536)
William Tyndale translated the New Testament into English in 1526. It was banned, he was convicted of heresy and burned at the stake in Antwerp, Holland.
Queen Mary Tudor (1516-1558)
The English Queen Mary Tudor ordered that anyone possessing a bible should be burned. Thousands were martyred during her reign.
Five years after she launched the persecution, she was succeeded by Queen Elizabeth who ordered 130 editions of the Bible to be published.
3. The social impact of the Bible.
The Bible has made an enormous social impact on society.
No work of literature in history has ever influenced societies more than the Bible. Literally billions of people in history have been touched by the Scriptures. Certainly, if it were the invention of men alone, it would have had no such impact on history.
People have been brought out of cannibalism and slavery, and practices like sati and infanticide have been outlawed. Sadly in our modern day era, as secular humanist have tried to eradicate the Judeo-Christian influence and have certain parts of the Bible declared as hate speech, we have seen a return to barbaric practices like abortion and the parading of perversion as an alternate lifestyle.
4. Historical Reliability of The Bible.
Reliability of a historical document is judged by a few things:
Does it contain eyewitness testimony?
The New Testament consists of 27 books that were written by authors who were either eyewitnesses to Jesus or interviewed eyewitnesses of Him.
How early are the copies we have?
Any writing of history is judged by how close the writing is to the events it records.
The New Testament events all occurred in the first century (0 – 100 A.D.) and all of the writings were written in the first century.
The Bible is a very old book.
The books of the New Testament were written between 55 and 96AD. Between AD100 and 200, they were collected and read in the Churches.
This can be seen, for example in the writings of Irenaeus of Lyons (AD130-200) He mentions all the books of the New Testament except for 3 (Hebrews, 2 Peter & 3 John)
Historical Reliability of The Bible.
How many copies do we have? Historical documents are viewed as more reliable if they have more copies of them. The reason for this is that mass printing wasn’t invented until 1440 A.D., by Johannes Gutenberg. In fact the first book printed on the printing press was “The Bible”. Before that, scribes had to copy the writings by hand so that they could be distributed to other areas. The New Testament has been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work. There are over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. (Wikipedia)
The Historical Jesus.
There are10 non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life, by contrast, over the same 150 years, there are 9 non-Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus.
Jesus is actually mentioned by one more sourcethan the Roman emperor at the time.
If you include the Christian sources, authors mentioning Jesus outnumber those mentioning Tiberius 43 to 10!
5. The fulfilled Prophecies of The Bible.
There are 2,500 prophecies in Bible, 2,000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter, no errors.300 prophecies in total were fulfilled by Jesus.
The odds of 1 man fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies are (1 in 100 000 000 000 000 000) essentially impossible, which shows that God had to be involved…
Place of birth (Micah 5:2)
Date of birth (Daniel 9:25)
Manner of birth (Isaiah 7:14)
Manner of death (Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22:16 prophesied before the invention of crucifixion)
Burial (Isaiah 53:9)
Developing an effective Bible Study.
Schedule in time every week just for studying the Word.
A vital element of effective Bible study is prayer.
Ask the Holy Spirit to be your teacher before reading the Bible.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
How to get to know God’s Word.
So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost. Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
(Gather up fragments so that nothing is lost) Take notes.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Methods of reading to avoid.
(i) Box of chocolates ie. Promise Box.
(ii) Deep Sea fishing ie: Looking between the lines.
(iii) Lucky Dip Method ie: Flip though Bible.
(iv) First Aid Method ie: Use Bible only in
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
2 Timothy 2:15.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Some study methods.
Character study (EG: Simon Peter)
Topical/Thematic study (Faith)
Study a book of the Bible
You can combine a character study and a topical study (EG: The Faith of Simon Peter)
Memorise God’s Word.
Proverbs 7: 1-3.
My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
Meditate on God’s Word.
(This goes hand in hand with previous 4 methods)
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Ponder what you have read.
Is this a mistake to avoid?
A sin to put off?
A promise to believe?
Think about what you have read and don’t be in a hurry.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Pay attention to rules of interpretation.
Pay attention to context.
Consider the simple and the most obvious meaning as correct.
The Bible itself is it’s best interpretation. We need to study the old testament out of the view of the New Testament.
Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation of biblical texts. The distinction between exegesis and hermeneutics is a thin line. Hermeneutics is the field of study which is concerned with how we interpret the Bible, whereas exegesis is the actual interpretation of the Bible by drawing the meaning out of the Biblical text.
Interpretation is discovering the meaning of a passage, the author’s main thought or idea.
Five clues (“the five C’s”) can help you determine the author’s main point(s):
Context. You can answer 75 percent of your questions about a passage when you read the full context of the text.
Cross-reference. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. That is, let other passages in the Bible shed light on the passage you are looking at.
Culture. The Bible was written long ago, so when we interpret it, we need to understand it from the writers’ cultural context.
Conclusion. Having answered your questions for understanding by means of context, cross-reference, and culture, you can make a preliminary statement of the passage’s meaning.
Consultation. Reading commentaries, which are written by Bible scholars, can help you interpret Scripture.
Try to make a practice of following the first four points before looking at commentaries, as it gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to give you unbiased insight.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:
New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (http://www.Lockman.org)
Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV:
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.