How To Study The Bible (#3)
"Get The Whole Truth"
Learning how to study the Bible does not need to be
difficult. We have learned two basic principles that
are fairly simple: (1) read to learn (know), and (2)
develop an intense desire to discover the truth.
We will now focus on a third principle that is just
as basic. Reading is necessary to understand the meaning
of scripture and, as we have noted, it must be reading
with the goal of gaining knowledge. But, there exists
an additional dimension to this principle of reading:
We must read all that the scriptures have to say about
a subject in order to have a complete understanding
of that subject. We must, in essence, get the whole
Not Just Headline News
As you might suspect, this principle is one that we
understand and respect in areas of study outside the
Bible. No one assumes that a newspaper headline conveys
all of the truth contained in the article that follows
it. The headline, while grabbing your attention and
certainly functioning as a memorable part of the story
is just that -- only a part of the story. Likewise,
when you read a passage in the Bible, it is important
to keep in mind that it is only part of the story.
Consider the first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1,
which states: "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth." What is taught concerning
the creation of the physical world in this passage
is true, but it is certainly not all that the Bible
has to say about the subject. There is so much more
to be understood. To illustrate this note: (1) Psalm
33:6-9 informs us that God created and sustains the
world by His word; (2) Hebrews 11:3 teaches us that
God made the creation out of nothing; and (3) John
1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17 and Hebrews 1:2 instruct
us that Christ played a role in the creation. These
three corollary thoughts to creation are not exhaustive
either; to be complete we would have to survey all
of the Bible and glean every passage that relates to
the topic. Only then would we be able to say that we
have fairly represented what the Bible teaches about
creation. But these additional passages plainly show
that the complete truth concerning creation is not
contained within Genesis 1:1 alone.
The Whole Truth: An Example
To further impress upon you just how important this
principle is, consider this lengthier Bible account.
On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus went to the
garden of Gethsemane. All four of the "gospels"
refer to the events of this night, and it is by examining
the totality of their teaching that we demonstrate
the importance of getting the whole truth.
When we examine the events of this night, as Mark 14:47
states, we note: "And one of those who stood by
drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest,
and cut off his ear." If you were teaching somebody
about the events that took place on this occasion,
and you referred to this passage, you would be examining
a passage that taught the truth, but you would not
be examining all that the Bible teaches about the subject.
In addition to studying Mark's account, we must note
what else the Bible says about this subject. Matthew
says: "And suddenly, one of those who were with
Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck
the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear."
(Matthew 26:51) Mark's account told us: (1) someone
near Jesus drew a sword and (2) that person hit a servant
of the high priest with the sword, thus cutting off
his ear. Matthew adds the following information: (1)
The person standing nearby was "with Jesus"
and (2) he used "his sword" (as opposed to
someone else's) to cut off the ear of the high priest's
servant (KJV in Mark simply says "drew a sword,"
but other trans. say "drew his sword.")
Upon closer examination, we learn that this is still
not all of the truth. Luke states: "When those
around Him saw what was going to happen, they said
to Him, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?' And
one of them struck the servant of the high priest and
cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said,
'Permit even this.' And He touched this ear and healed
him." (Luke 22:49-51) From Luke we learn: (1)
Those with Jesus first asked about using swords. (2)
It was the right ear of the high priest's servant that
was cut off. (3) Jesus said "Permit even this."
And (4), Jesus touched the ear of the servant and healed
him. Had we consulted only Mark or Matthew, or even
both, we would have missed this additional information.
Only Luke presents it. To have ignored what Luke said
would be tantamount to studying only part of the truth.
There exists one more account of this event. John informs
us: "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it
and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his
right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. ... One
of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him
whose ear Peter cut off, said, 'Did I not see you in
the garden with Him?' " (John 18:10, 26)
From this passage we learn: (1) It was Simon Peter who
drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's
servant. (2) The servant was Malchus. And (3), one
of Malchus' relatives was present at the time of the
Though each of the four accounts presented the truth,
no single account presented all of the truth. We learned
all of the truth when we studied all of the evidence.
Everything that we learned up to that point was true,
but it was only part of the truth.
The lesson is clear. We must study all of the Bible's
teaching on a subject before we claim to know the truth.
This principle applies to everything the Bible teaches.
If we only study some of what the Bible says about
a topic, then it is possible that we will have overlooked
some passage that would shed more light on our study.
Such is the case with the example given about the events
that took place in the garden of Gethsemane on the
night that Jesus was betrayed, and such is the case
with all Bible subjects.
Before we can know all about the Bible - we must be
willing to study all of the Bible.
Read to learn. Study with great desire. Read all you
Jody L. Apple - admin@TheBible.net
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