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Unit 2

Lesson 1

The Manual -- The Bible

2 Timothy 3:16-17 2 Timothy 2:1-2, 15 1 Peter 1:22-23

The believer's manual is the Bible--the Word of God (Heb. 1 4:12), the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), the voice of the Spirit (Heb. 3:7). Through the Bible alone come the instruction, training, strategy, and tactics to carry on the spiritual warfare that is the life of faith.

 

In John 17 Jesus prays that the Father will sanctify all believers in the truth. Sanctification is the process by which we are conformed to the image of Christ. But where will we find truth? Jesus Himself tells us: "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17).

 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

 

The Greek word translated " inspired by God" is theopneustos, from theos, God, and pneuma, breath. "All Scripture is God-breathed.

 

Ancient rabbis taught that the Spirit of God rested on the Old Testament prophets and spoke through them, using them as human mouths to speak in God's place. We speak of inspiration" as that power by which God the Holy Spirit supervised and superintended the authors of Scripture so that they recorded accurately and exactly what God had to say through them. God's inspiration extended to the very words--and all the words--of the original manuscripts written by those through whom God chose to speak.

 

When God chose a person through whom to communicate His Word, He used that person's perspective, vocabulary, and experience as His channel. This Is how 66 books written by more than 40 different authors spanning 1,500 years can be so different from each other in style and yet be absolutely non-contradictory .,d absolutely consistent m message.

 

The Bible declares itself to be the absolute, final, accurate, authoritative Word of God. It was given by God for the profit of man. When Paul says that all Scripture is profitable, he uses a word that means advantageous, beneficial. Then he lists four purposes for which Scripture Is beneficial:

 

  1. For teaching. Didaskalia means "that which is taught, doctrine." The Bible gives us the body of truth--the doctrine-u n which we are to base our perspective and make our decisions in life.
  2. For reproof. Elegchos means "to convict of error and to rebuke." The Holy Spirit uses the Word to show us where we have wandered off course.
  3. For correction. Epanorthosis means "restoration to an upright or right state." Along with the conviction that we are going the wrong way, the Word always sheds light on the right way. If we are humble before God, from the reproof will come a change in our attitude, which will result in personal action that sets us on course again.
  4. For training. Paideia means "instruction and discipline given with the goal of raising a child to maturity." The Bible is a guidebook to lead us from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity and beyond.

 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:1-2)

 

Five Works of the Spirit in Regard to the Word

  1. Revelation (2 Tim. 3:16). Revelation is the means by which God the Holy Spirit revealed His message to prophets and apostles. God communicated to man what otherwise could not be known, things which man could never discover by either reason or observation. While the existence of the physical world discloses the fact that there must be a Creator, the natural world by itself cannot reveal such things as the Creator’s righteousness, love, and grace, or the salvation He holds out to man. For this, God Himself spoke to men.
  2. Inspiration (2 Pet. 1:21). Inspiration is the work by which the Spirit controlled and superintended the writers of Scripture so that what they wrote was exactly the message He wanted written. The authors of Scripture did not simply write what they felt like writing; they were "moved" or "carried along" by the Holy Spirit. Each person through whom the Spirit worked retained his unique viewpoint and style, but the Spirit guided each so that no error intruded into the original manuscripts and so that the very words were the exact words that God the Holy Spirit wanted written.
  3. Preservation (1 Pet. 1:25). Only the doctrines of inspiration and preservation can explain the existence of the Bible today. The Bible is one book with one message, but to make this one book, the Holy Spirit caused to be brought together 66 individual books written in three languages by more than 40 authors over a 1,500-year time span. Today 2,000 years after its completion, the Bible continues to be the most widely distributed book ever written, Only God could undertake to preserve Scripture, and He has promised to do just that. The Word of God will be preserved in eternity (Ps. 119:89) and will last forever (Ps. 119:152).
  4. Illumination (John 16:13). To illuminate means "to cast light on." Only the Holy Spirit can cast light on the Word and make it clear to man. By himself, man is blinded by Satan and is unable to understand divine truth (1 Cot 2:14; 2 Cot. 4:4). In the work of illumination, the Holy Spirit makes the written Word understandable and applicable to the individual believer’s needs. Whether the Spirit will open our eyes when we study depends on our attitude when we approach the Word (John 7:17). This is why it is essential to be filled with the Spirit when we study.
  5. Interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20). To interpret means "to explain or tell the meaning of." The apostle Peter makes it absolutely clear that there is only one correct interpretation of any passage in the Bible and that is the Bible’s own interpretation. Only by applying the laws of hermeneutics—rules of systematic study—can any student discover the correct interpretation of any passage. While there is only one interpretation, there may be many applications—ways in which a Scriptural truth may be used in a person’s life.

The Importance of the Word of God

 

1. The Bible is the mind of Christ, His thinking on every subject (1 Cor. 2:16).

2. God places the highest priority on His Word and has magnified it above His very name (Ps. 138:2 KJV).

3. The Word existed, in the form of wisdom, before human history (Prov. 8:22-30).

4. The Bible surpasses all human intellectual achievement (1 Cor. 1:17-31; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).

5. The Bible is our most important provision for daily life (Matt. 4:4, Luke 10:41-42).

6. Our response to the Bible determines whether we will receive God’s blessing or cursing in time (Eph. 3:16-20; Prov. 8:33-36; Isa. 53:10).

7. Our response to the Bible is the basis for our eternal reward (Heb. 11:9-13; James 1:25, 2:12-13; 2 John 8; Heb. 10:35-36).

8. Nations stand or fall based on their attitude to the Bible (Hos. 4:1-6).

 

Throughout this last letter of Paul to Timothy, the seasoned apostle again and again stresses to the young pastor the importance of staying focused on the Word of God.

 

The strength Paul tells his spiritual son to stand in comes from one place: the study of the Word. Paul urges Timothy to teach others what has been taught to him, so that they, in turn, can teach still more. The word "entrust" means "to Place on deposit something of great value.

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

 

If teaching is necessary, then accurate teaching is absolutely essential. So a few verses later Paul tells Timothy to spoudazo, "be diligent." From the noun spoude, which means "earnestness or "zeal," the verb spoudazo means "to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, to give diligence." BY using the active voice, Paul is saying that Timothy alone can supply the spiritual hunger and the inner motivation he will need to be unashamed before God. Diligence is the one thing we have to add to God's plan. No one else can give us spiritual hunger. We are responsible for choosing to be persistent, motivated, hungry for the study of the Word of God.

 

"Handling accurately" (rendered "rightly dividing" in the King James Version) is orthotomeo. The word is from orthos, meaning "straight" and femno, meaning "to cut or divide." It "to cut straight, to divide accurately, to properly fit means together."

 

Inherent in this directive is the assumption that Timothy understands and shares some common notion of what is the right way to handle Scripture. Peter declares in 2 Peter 1:20 that there is only one accurate interpretation of any passage of Scripture, and that is the Bible's own interpretation. Peter, too, assumes that his readers understand how to "rightly divide" Scripture. The reason both these apostles make this assumption is because there were at the time--and still are today--commonly known and accepted rules for the science of Biblical interpretation.

 

Since you have in obedience to the truth Purified your souls f"' a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Pet. 1:22-23)

 

When Peter says that we have been born again from an eternal, imperishable seed of the Word of God, he is telling us that our salvation is just as eternal as the Word. Both are unchangeable and absolutely secure.

 

The Word is the basis of our salvation, our security, and our growth. In 1 Peter 2:2, Peter admonishes his readers to, "be like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation."

 

"Grow" is auxana, a word that refers to the normal healthy growth of a plant that brings it to the point of bearing fruit. The normal Christian life is to be a life of growth. God's plan is that believers will move from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17), from infancy to maturity, from helplessness to the point at which they can say, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

 

There is only one way we will be able to fulfill God's plan for our lives: by growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ(2 Pet. 3:18). The first time He taught the multitudes, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 5:6). He promises blessing and satisfaction, but His promise has a condition. We have to supply spiritual hunger, inner motivation. We have to choose to look away from the distractions of the world and to the truth of the Word.

 

Hermeneutics

In his account of the risen Lord’s walk to Emmaus, Luke relates that Jesus reproved the disheartened disciples for not believing what the prophets had spoken. "And beginning with Moses, and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27).

 

"Explained" is the Greek diermeneuo, meaning "to unfold the meaning of what is said; to explain, expound; to translate into one’s native language," The root of this word is Hermes, the Greek deity known to the Romans as Mercury. Hermes was the god of science, invention, eloquence, speech, writing, and art. It was Hermes who brought the messages of the gods to the mortals. From these words comes the English "hermeneutics," the science of interpretation.

 

Second Peter 1:20 says that there is only one interpretation of any passage of Scripture, and that is the Bible’s own interpretation. Christians are confused today about Biblical interpretation in part because they do not know what the word "interpretation" means.

 

In English, Interpret" can be defined at least two ways. in its oldest sense, Interpret" means "to explain or tell the meaning of." In a secondary sense it means "to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance; to construe."

 

In Bible study—as in most of life—the first sense of this word applies. The plain literal interpretation of anything spoken or written is what the speaker or writer means by what he says; it is not what the listener or reader thinks or feels about the message he receives. So, for example, when an air traffic controller gives landing instructions to the pilot of an approaching aircraft, there is only one "interpretation" of his directions that matters. The pilot has a vested interest in making sure that he understands exactly what the controller meant by what he said.

 

The statement, "There are many ways to interpret this," is as meaningless—and potentially dangerous—to the student of the Word as it is to the pilot of the airplane. The only interpretation the pilot is after is the controller’s; the only interpretation the Bible student is after is God’s. The first goal of Bible study is to determine what God meant by what He spoke through Scripture. This is Biblical interpretation.

 

"It is the first business of an interpreter," said John Calvin, "to let his author say what he does, instead of attributing to him what we think he ought to say," That is not so difficult a task as most people think.

 

Biblical interpretation, like mathematics, is an exact science. We know that 1 + 1 = 2 in every country in the world. No matter what language the formula is translated into, 1 + 1 = 2. Thirty-five hundred years ago, one plus one equaled two. The Bible says that Moses lived 40 years in the palace of Pharaoh, 40 years in the desert, and 40 years leading the people through the wilderness1 a total of 120 years. Is it amazing that clear back in the time of Moses, they were somehow able to add 40 plus 40 plus 40 and come up with 120? Of course it is not amazing; it is mathematics. No one would say of the conclusion that 40 + 40 + 40 = 120, "That’s just your interpretation," because an absolute science cannot be tampered with.

 

When we work with the science of hermeneutics, we are working with the only science dealing with something more absolute than mathematics: the Word of God. Before mathematics was, the Word of God existed. Long after mathematics is forgotten, the Word will still stand. When the rules of systematic Bible study are followed, the interpretation of any passage is the same, whether the person studying is living in 21st-century America or fourth-century Ethiopia.

 

Approaches

The science of hermeneutics demands that we approach any study of the Word of God from three perspectives: the historical (isagogics), the doctrinal (categories), and the grammatical (exegetics).

 

1. lsagogics

Isagogics is a word that has all but disappeared from English-language dictionaries. It is from the Greek eis, "into," and ago, "to lead." In English, an "isagoge" is an introduction. "Isogogic," Is defined in the 1955 Oxford English Dictionary as "introductory studies, especially that part of theology which is introductory to exegesis."

 

lsagogics is the study of the historical and cultural background of Biblical passages. The Bible must be interpreted in light of the time in which it was written. All Scripture was written for every believer (2 Tim. 3:16) but not all Scripture was written to every believer. If our goal is to understand what the writer wanted his readers to understand, then we have to know something about history.

 

For example though the four gospels are similar each was written to a different audience for a different purpose. Matthew wrote primarily for Jews, to present Christ as king; Mark wrote for Romans, to present Christ as servant; Luke wrote for Greeks, to prove the humanity of Christ; and John wrote for the world, to prove the deity of Christ. Certain words and phrases are used in each which uphold these themes, and different historical conditions are relevant to the study of each book.

 

Another example is 1 Corinthians 8-10, which cannot be understood apart from some knowledge of idol worship in Corinth. The city of Corinth was dominated by the temple of Aphrodite, where gluttony, drunkenness, and sexual immorality were a regular part of worship. Most of the Christians in Corinth had been raised in this system, and some were having a hard time getting out of it. In these chapters Paul is not just talking about meat; he is talking about meat offered to idols.

 

2. Categories

A category is a specific area of Bible doctrine. The Bible is one book, inspired by one Spirit, with one unified message progressively revealed. To fully understand the Biblical teaching on any subject, we must take into consideration all that the Bible has to say on that subject.

 

For example, what does the Bible teach about divorce? Anyone who attempts to teach on the subject cannot hope to give an accurate picture of the Biblical teaching on divorce by only considering Matthew 5:31 -32. Balance requires that equal weight be given to other passages such as Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Matthew 19:3-12, and I Corinthians 7:26-28. (On this subject, it is also important to understand the historical settings and, for Matthew 19, to have some knowledge of the rabbinical teachings of the day.)

 

We will never have a proper interpretation until we take all the passages on a subject and put them together. That is contextual, categorical study; it is time-consuming work, but it is absolutely necessary for accuracy in teaching.

 

The approach to the Word must also be dispensational. God has divided history into ages or dispensations. So, for example, in the Old and New Testaments the application of faith is different. It is the same faith, the same focus on the Messiah, but the New Covenant we do not sacrifice lambs. Why? A dispensational approach to Scripture tells us that animal sacrifice is not necessary today. Many of the promises in the Bible are dispensational in character. Unless we understand that and know how to determine which ones apply to us, we will never be able to tap into the power of God.

 

3. Exegesis

"Exegete" is from the Greek ek, meaning "out," and hegeomai, "to lead out or go before." To exegete is to lead or bring out of a passage what is there. Exegesis refers to the grammatical study of the Word of God. This means the study of individual words and of how words are put together in sentences and paragraphs.

 

Because the Bible is inspired by God the Holy Spirit, every word in the Bible is important. In the book of Galatians Paul builds an entire doctrine of grace on the fact that one word in a passage in Genesis—seed-----is singular rather than plural in the original text. Exodus 20:13 is another place where the exact word used in the passage matters. Ratsach is one of 10 Hebrew words that means "to kill." It is used only for premeditated murder. The commandment is, "Thou shalt not commit homicide." Knowing that makes it easier to understand that God did not contradict Himself when He commanded Israel’s leaders to kill their enemies in military situations.

 

It is important to be able to go back to the original Hebrew and Greek words in Bible study, and books are available that make that easy to do. But in most cases apparently obscure words can be clarified by studying the immediate context.

 

Probably the most important rule to remember in Bible study is to study in context. To understand words, study the sentences and the verses that surround them. To understand verses, study them in light of the chapters where they are found. Think about where they fit in the scheme of the entire book. Consider whether they are in the Old or the New Testament.

 

An example of the danger here is found in Matthew 16:28 where the promise is severed from the continuing context of Matthew 17, where it is fulfilled in the transfiguration of Christ. In the same way, many people separate 1 Corinthians 2:9 from 2:10, thus removing to an uncertain future time a promise that God gave us for today.

 

Assumptions

The Reformers taught what they called the "analogy of faith"— principles for Bible study based on what the Bible says about itself. Three of the most important of those principles are:

 

1. The Bible can be understood.

How would a loving God communicate? In a way that we could understand. God loves us and wants our obedience. We have to believe that He speaks clearly and that if there is confusion, it is in us and not in the passage. So, we use common sense and persistence when we study. That means we study from the center out, explaining difficult or obscure passages by the light of clear passages. That means we look for the simple, logical explanation or interpretation of a passage—chances are that is the most accurate interpretation. That means when we hit a passage that we do not know whether to interpret literally or figuratively, we go for the literal interpretation if it fits, That means we look for repetition—of words, of ideas—because we know that if God says something more than once, it is something He probably wants us to take notice of.

 

2. The Bible is a book of progressive revelation.

A message is being developed in Scripture and it is more fully and clearly developed toward the end than at the beginning. More about Jesus Christ and salvation is revealed in the New Testament than the Old; more about the function of the Church is revealed in the epistles than in the gospels; more about the future of the world in Revelation than anywhere else. So, we try to understand Old Testament prophecy in the light of the New Testament account of its fulfillment and Old Testament characters in light of New Testament comment on them.

 

3. The Bible does not contradict itself.

As God, by nature, cannot contradict Himself, neither can His Word to man, To accept this principle means that when we find apparent contradictions we continue to search for answers in the certainty that there is in Scripture a perfect agreement, which careful study will bring out.

 

Stance

The Bible clearly lays out three spiritual requirements that must be met before we can expect to understand the Word.

 

1. We must be born again (John 3:16).

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6), and it is impossible for unbelievers to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14).

2. We must rely on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12).

If we approach the Word without the Spirit, we may find information, but wisdom and power will be beyond our grasp. This is true not just for unbelievers, but also for believers who are walking in the flesh rather than in the Spirit. This is why it is so important to confess and be cleansed every time we open our Bible.

3. We must approach in faith (John 7:17).

God shares His deepest secrets only with those who approach His Word in humility and trust. True understanding and power are reserved only for those who are willing to obey God. When we find Scripture at odds with our ideas or our desires, we must let the Bible be the authority. Where the Word of God contradicts what we think, our thinking is wrong; where it contradicts what we want, our desires are wrong.

Some Methods

Lewis Sperry Chafer

1. Consider the purpose of the Bible as a whole.

2. Note the distinctive character/message of each book.

3. Ask to whom a given Scripture is addressed.

4. Consider the immediate context.

5. Compare all Scripture on a given theme or doctrine.

6. Determine the exact meaning of the determinative words.

7. Avoid personal prejudice and preconceptions.

Dr. Harry Ironside

10 Questions on a Chapter

Information:

1. What is the principal subject (doctrine, theme)?

2. What is the leading lesson (application)?

3. What is the key verse?

4. Who are the principal persons involved?

5. What is the main teaching about Jesus Christ?

Application:

6. What is the primary example to follow?

7. What error is there to avoid?

8. Is there a command to obey?

9. Is there a promise to claim?

10. Is there a prayer to pray?

 

In Bible study—more than in anything else in life — we get exactly what we have coming. Sloppy study will never fill our thirst. But the more minute and tireless our study, the more we will be rewarded. The people who have great insights into the character and Word of God are the people who have put in time and effort and who do not quit when study turns to sweat. If we will carefully follow consistent rules of study, we will gradually develop the skill of interpreting the Bible; we will eventually learn how to get to the heart of God’s message.

 

The goal of Bible study should never be intellectual achievement. We should always approach the Word with the desire to be transformed a little more into the image of Christ. We should never end our study without asking ourselves how this portion of Scripture applies to our circumstances and what we are going to do with the things we have learned.

 

This is especially important for teachers to remember. We study to learn, not just to teach. If we study only to teach others, the truth never penetrates our own soul or convicts us of our own need for correction. Neither do we continue to grow, for we ourselves are not subject to what we study. If we remain students, if we are disciples, then we will have no difficulty having sufficient information to teach to others, and they will be moved by those things which God has made real and exciting to us in our own growth.

 

MEMORY VERSE: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

REVIEW

Unit 2, Lesson 1

1.  What does "inspired" mean in regard to the Bible?

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2.  Name three purposes for which the Bible is intended. 

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3.  Where does motivation to study the Word come from?

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4.  What is the relationship between Bible study and spiritual growth?

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5.  What are the five works of the Holy Spirit in regard to the Word?

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6.  List at least five reasons why the Bible is important.

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7.  What is "hermeneutics"?

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8.  Define and explain the importance of isagogics, categories, and exegesis.

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9.  Name three principles of "the analogy of faith."

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10.  What three spiritual requirements must be met before we can understand what we study in the Word?

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11.  How would you explain to a friend the importance and purpose of the Bible? What Scriptures would you use to back your claims?

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