Have you found reading God’s word, understanding the Bible, so intimidating you’d rather not open it? As Christians, the word of God is the bread that feeds us daily, the water that quenches our thirst, and the feast that satisfies our deepest longings.
But if we are honest enough, it is not always easy to understand the Bible. Others also say only Bible scholars have the right to study it. But I believe the word of God is His love letter to all. To you. To me. And if it is a message of His heart, I would want to discover it for myself – and not wait for others to tell me what it is, right?
God promises that we can understand the Bible
The good news is that the Bible confirms His word isn’t for smart people, it is for people with His Spirit. Because it is by His Spirit that we understand the Bible!
1st Corinthians 2:10-12 NLT
10Bute it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets. 11No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. 12And we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
The Bible promises that we can get hold of God’s secrets because we have his Spirit who searches all things! But how do we understand the bible so we can appreciate God’s secrets? Here are tips and tricks how…
Look for a friendly text.
What’s a friendly text? It’s a text in your reading that glimmers among others. When you read the Word of God, there are verses that just shine before your eyes a while. There are lines, theme, passages that just speak to your heart of hearts, that even when you continue reading to the next chapter, you feel these lines beckoning you back.
When you find that friendly text, stick to that! For awhile, much on those words, fix your eyes on the message, and study that friendly text. There must be something that the LORD wants spoken to you in that particular passage.
Discover the historical context.
One way to avoid misinterpretations is to understand the history of that passage we are reading. The Bible was written by God-inspired people who have backgrounds, culture, behaviors, traditions, and history that are different from our upbringing. We will better understand the bible if we also try to read it in the lens of its inspired writer.
For example, we may slam the concept of “slavery” today but when we read the new testament, the apostle Paul calls employees as slaves. Because back then, that’s usual and non-offensive.
Questions to ask to better understand historical context:
- Who wrote it? (Consider the character, position, circumstance, background, etc)
- To whom was it written? (Consider the culture, relationship to the author, circumstance, etc)
- When was it written? (Consider the events, circumstance, date)
- Where was it written? (Consider the geographical setting, culture, place)
Discover the literary context.
It is very dangerous to take a verse out of the passage and understand it as a separate entity; we need to read the Bible holistically. I’ve heard a lot of teachers who interpret the Bible but disregard its literary context, and I feel sad because we are missing the beautiful point of the passage.
Here are what you should take note to understand the bible better:
- Study the words, paragraphs, chapters, surrounding it.
- Study the meaning of words used. You can search online what the original word really meant.
- Why was it written? Understanding the
- Understanding the genre:
- Law – Exodus
- History – Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Acts
- Poetry – Psalms, Song of Solomon, Lamentations
- Wisdom – Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes
- Narrative – Ruth, Esther, Daniel, and Jonah
- Gospel – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
- Epistles – All letters from Romans to Jude
- Apocalyptic – Revelations
- Law – Exodus
Read in various texts.
Reading in various translations can help you enjoy your Bible study time. Honestly, there are times that I feel bored
I mainly read from the English Standard Version, I switched to using it recently when I learned that most Bible scholars recommend this. I also flip through New American Standard Bible because our Hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation) teacher highly suggests this version, too. I also run to Amplified and New International Version when the words get too hard for me to decipher. 🙂
Bonus: Get a journal to write your study.
Writing down your thoughts can help you understand the Bible better. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at how revelations can pour into your writing once you get a pen and a journal while reading! My Deeply Rooted Devo Notebook is now up for grabs. If your from the Philippines, we ship nationwide.
If you need a little help, I’ve created a template you can download to help you study and understand the bible better. Just put in your email and I’ll send it away.
Did this article help you enjoy your bible study time? Let me know in the comments section or message me on Facebook!