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How to read the Bible: a Summary

By Matthew Roberts, 02 Dec 2015

Our Autumn Thinking Like a Christian series has been 'How to read the Bible': we've been thinking about how to make sure that we don't read our ideas into the Bible, but read God's ideas out of it. 

The key verses we used in are

… and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV)

We looked at eight parts of how to read the Bible which come out of that. Here’s a summary of them.

The first two are the basis for considering all the others, so I’ve arranged them in columns to help make that clear.

The Bible is...

1. The Words of God

God breathed it out; it is his words.

2. The Words of men

God did not bypass the minds of the authors; they wrote using all their human faculties to write what they intended

And therefore…

1. It has authority, it is clear, it is united, and it is enough

2. We get to God’s meaning through the author’s purpose

 

3. So we must consider the context of any part of the Bible we read, to understand what the author meant

4. It’s all about Jesus and his gospel.

Every part of the Bible is there to teach us about the Lord Jesus and how he saves men and women, bringing them from the world into his church

 

 

5. To understand what the author meant better, look for the flow and structure of the passage you’re reading

 

6. And to avoid misunderstanding, give due weight to the genre.

for example, if you read poetry as if it’s reporting the news, you will misunderstand what the author meant.

7. The Bible is one story, because it’s a single history planned and worked out by God. And each of the authors wrote at a certain point in that story.

So we must factor in when in that story the author was writing if we are going to understand properly what he meant, and so learn what God wants us to know.

8. Applying the Bible to today: Because the Bible is all God’s word, it all stands forever (as Jesus said, Matthew 5:17-18). Each part applies to us to the extent to which we stand in the same place as the people it was written to or about.

This can mean in the same place in God’s kingdom (so the parts about Jesus aren’t about us), or the same place in history (so the laws in the Old Testament which the New Testament tells us were fulfilled in Jesus still stand, but don’t apply to us now he has come)

 

If you missed any of these sessions and would like a copy of the handout, do ask.