Introduction To Bible Study
Why Do We Need To Study The Bible?
Why do we need to study the Bible? Do Christians really need to spend a lot of time in Bible Study? Is it important to know what is in the Bible?
The fact is, it is very important. If we want to know how God wants us to be living, we need to spend much time studying the Bible. It is God’s Love Letter to us. It reveals to us that which God wants us to know. It covers all aspects of our living on this earth. It tells us how to gain entrance to heaven.
The question from most people is: “How do I study the Bible?” “I really don’t understand what it is saying.” “There are so many versions, which one should I use?”
What Bible Version Should I Use?
These are all legitimate questions. Let’s start with “Which version should I use?” Unless you read Greek or Hebrew, it is best to use more than one translation. When a passage is translated from one language to another, it is often very difficult to translate the whole meaning of the verse. This is why the Amplified Bible is probably the best translation for Bible Study. However, it is not easy to read aloud because it does try to translate the whole meaning of the original verse.
You really need to add another translation to your study. There are two other types that can be used. One is a literal translation which tries to literally translate the original meaning into modern English. The other is a paraphrased translation. This version tries to make the translation more flowing and easy to read. However, both of these methods will reflect the theological bias of the translator(s).
The Bible Is The Word Of God
Thus, make sure that you use a translation that was written by someone (or a group) who believes that the Bible is the Word of God. That is, they believe that the Bible was dictated (in one way or another) by God to the original writers of the Bible. Also, make sure that they believe that Jesus is The Son of God sent to bring us salvation through His death and resurrection. (Believe it or not, there are some translators that do not believe this.)
There are several very good translations and your pastor may recommend one to you. I have found that the most accurate translation is the NKJV (New King James Version). However, I usually recommend the NIV (New International Version) for a literal translation because it is very clear in its use of modern English. Then I recommend The Living Bible (LB), or The New Living Translation (NLT) for a paraphrased translation. Of course, I would add the Amplified Bible to this list for Bible Study.
So how do I go about trying to understand what I am reading? Start by just reading either The Living Bible or The New Living Translation. Read the same passages in another translation and compare them. You will understand more than you realize simply by reading.
Using a commentary is a very good help in understanding the Bible. The disadvantage is that Commentaries are usually a series of books and can be quite expensive. However, there are single volume commentaries that can be purchased. My criteria as to whether to use a particular commentary is to look up what the author says about who Jesus Christ is. I have found some commentaries that will only accept Jesus as a good teacher or a good example to follow and not as the one and only Son of God. Make sure that the author accepts Jesus as the One who died for our sins and who literally rose again from the grave.
Using a Concordance
Another good help is a concordance. This is a book that gives the Greek and Hebrew meanings of the words in the Bible. You do not have to know Greek or Hebrew to use these books. There are abbreviated concordances which list the major words in the Bible. These tell where they are used and give their Hebrew or Greek meanings.
However, if you want more than what an abbreviated concordance will give you, there are two excellent exhaustive concordances. One is Strong’s Concordance. It lists all the words of the Bible alphabetically It also gives them in the context as they are found in the King James Version of the Bible. This is because when Strong wrote his exhaustive concordance, the King James Version was the only version available.
Strong’s concordance will also help you find verses that you remember, but don’t remember where to find them in the Bible. If you are really serious about Bible Study, this is indispensable.
Another recommendation is Young’s Concordance. This is an analytical concordance. It does not list words strictly alphabetically, but rather groups them by their original Hebrew or Greek word. This type helps you if you are doing word studies and want to know where else that particular Hebrew or Greek word is used with that particular meaning. This type of concordance is usually used by more advanced Bible Study students.
Study with Other Christians
Do not overlook studying with other Christians. Getting together for a weekly Bible study, while using the above materials, can be very beneficial. What you don’t see or understand may be easily explained by someone else in the group. You may also easily understand what someone else cannot comprehend at all. Finally, through group discussions, you may discover new meanings that hadn’t occurred to any of you as you studied by yourselves.
Look along the left side of this page. You will find other topics. Some are to help you understand Biblical concepts. Others will be to help you to do your own study of the Bible. This area is just starting to be developed.
Bible Study is very important. In fact, it is critical for a Christian. It makes no difference whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for 70 years. God always has more to reveal to you, if you will give Him the opportunity.