How To Study The Bible (#1)
Read To Know
The Bible continues to outsell every book published.
Though "best sellers" will always come along
every now and then and sell a few million copies, they
do not continue to sell so briskly every year. The
Bible, however, sells at consistent levels year after
But how much does the average person know about the
Bible? As evidenced by the confusion that exists in
the religious world (e.g., so many different man-made
religions) and the number of people who are anti-religious
or simply irreligious, I doubt that enough people know
as much as they need to about the Bible.
Why don't people know more about the bible? While I
don't pretend to know every possible reason why so
much ignorance of God's word exists, I do know of one
major cause that contributes to the problem: Most people
simply do not read the Bible.
We Must Read The Bible
Jesus, in the course of his teaching, often questioned
his listeners by saying "have you not read,"
and would then proceed to ask about the subject under
consideration at the moment (cf. Matthew 12:3; 19:4;
21:16, 42; 22:31; Mark 2:254; 12:10, 26; Luke 6:3;
10:26). By questioning in this manner Jesus focused
attention on his audience's responsibility to have
some degree of familiarity with what the scriptures
In order to know what the scriptures say, we must read
the scriptures. God knows this. It is for this reason
that we see so many prescriptions in the old testament
to read the word of God (cf. Exodus 24:7; Deuteronomy
17:19; 31:11; Joshua 8:34, 35; 2 Kings 22:8, 10, 16;
23:2; 2 Chronicles 34:18, 24, 30; Nehemiah 8:3, 8,
18; 9:3; Isaiah 34:16). Of these verses, consider especially
Nehemiah 8:3, 8 and 18. As Ezra and Nehemiah were restoring
the ancient order of worship among the Jews returning
from captivity, note the emphasis on reading the law
Jesus, knowing God's mandate to read the old testament
scriptures, held his audiences responsible for having
We Must Read To Know
Reading is important. But reading is not an end unto
itself. It is a means to an end. The goal is knowledge.
We do not read anything written simply to read. We
read to learn. We read to gain knowledge. So it is
with the scriptures.
Reading the scriptures is important. John says that
there is a blessing inherent in reading God's truth
(cf. Revelation 1:3). But this verse also teaches that
those who keep God's words would be blessed. It is
not possible to obey them if we can not understand
The old testament Jews read the scriptures. As part
of the synagogue system of worship the scriptures were
read every Sabbath day (cf. Acts 13:15, 27; 15:21).
Jesus himself read the scriptures on the Sabbath in
the synagogue (Luke 4:16ff).
But some of the Jews did not know what they should have
known (cf. Acts 13:27). In addition to asking "have
you not read," Jesus sometimes told the Jews that
they were in error because they did not know the scriptures
(Matthew 22:29; cf 21:42; Mark 12:10, 24; John 7:42).
His question about their reading, therefore, implied
that they should not only have read, but learned. There
must be a reading of God's word with the intent to
know God's word.
The Ethiopian eunuch read Isaiah (Acts 8:28, 30, 32),
but he did not know the meaning of what he was reading.
Philip helped him to understand what he read (vs 30-31).
Reading, unless it leads to knowledge (i.e., understanding),
is only part of the job of studying God's word.
As we strive to follow God, let us determine to read
God's word more diligently every day. As followers
of God, let us determine to read God's word with the
view in mind of knowing God's will, and then let us
do it (cf. Ezra 7:10).
God has revealed his will to us so that we should know
his will: "it is written ... God has revealed
them to us ... that we might know the things that have
been freely given to us by God." (1 Corinthians
When we read God's will, we can know God's will: "by
revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I wrote
before in a few words, by which, when you read, you
may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
which in other ages was not made known to the sons
of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to
His holy apostles and prophets:" (Ephesians 3:1-5)
Read. Know and understand. Do.
Jody L. Apple - admin@TheBible.net
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