Calvary Church of the Nazarene Huntsville, Alabama

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Guidelines for Bible Study

There is no more important book or written literature than the Bible. There are many ways of studying the Bible. The following represents some guidelines for studying the Bible from seven different standpoints.


I Devotionally

It may be studied from a devotional standpoint. And it should be. Here, one aims at approaching the scriptures for spiritual guidance, or for worship, reverence, a sense of awe, even adoration and affection. Emotions may be highly involved in this approach. Various translations may assist here.

II Literarily

The Bible may also be studied from a literary standpoint. And it should be. Both the OT and the NT comprise a library of sixty-six books with numerous types of literature - history, law, poetry, prophecy, gospels, epistles/letters, and apocalypses. Each of these sixty-six books must be understood in light of their literary character, genre (kind, style, sort), and make-up. Serious mistakes in interpretation may occur by failing to consider the type literature which God chose to use in communicating His Word to the world. It must be studied literarily.

III Historically

The Bible may also be studied from an historical standpoint. And it should be. After all, both the OT and the NT are inspired records of select people and events which occurred in history. While God could have given us a manuscript from heaven without historical figures and happenings, He rather chose to use the arena of history in which to both reveal Himself and to record the record of that revelation. Therefore, all that we can do to broaden our awareness of that historical arena will surely add to and enrich our understanding and appreciation of God and His Word.

IV Topically

The Bible may also be studied from a topical standpoint. And it should be. In this regard, something like Orville Nave=s book, Nave=s Topical Bible, is an excellent resource. More than twenty thousand topics and subtopics are arranged in alphabetical order with over one hundred thousand references to the scriptures.

V Word Study

The Bible may also be studied from a word study standpoint. And it should be. Exhaustive Bible Concordances, like Strong=s or Young=s, are essential for this. Every word in the Bible and all its occurrences in the Bible are located in these type concordances.

VI Thematically

The Bible may also be studied from a thematic standpoint. And it should be. John Bright=s book, The Kingdom of God, is an excellent example of this approach. Also, cp. my The Biblical Recipe for Church Functioning and Growth.

VII Textually

The Bible may also be studied from a textual standpoint. And it should be. Here, of course, attention is focused on the actual text itself, including contextual issues, the significance of verbs (tense, mood, voice, person, number) and nouns (case and function), authorship, date, occasion, etc.

A. Old Testament

In the OT, for example, there are 3 basic divisions: LAW (covenant stipulations for Israel), PROPHETS (enforcing of covenant stipulations within Israel), and WRITINGS (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs - with select prayers and perspectives on life).

B. New Testament

Even though the Christ of Christianity entered the world through a virgin, neither Christ nor Christianity entered a virgin world. It was, in fact, a very pregnant world, i.e., a world >filled= or loaded with philosophical, religious, political, and socio-cultural happenings and developments.

The NT is the culmination of the revelation of God which began in the OT and was brought to full fruition in Christ. The NT tells us something about that Christ and the beginnings of Christianity.

But when we come to the NT, there are many names, places, and religious groups/institutions for which the OT does not prepare us. At least, no mention is made of them in the OT. There are references, for example, to Achief priests, synagogues, doctors of the law, the Sanhedrin, Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.@ How and where did these terms originate?

What do they mean? Is it possible that some rather significant things transpired between the testaments in preparation for Christ, Christianity, and the NT?

In the NT, for example, there are textual issues which must be acknowledged and confronted: gospels (4 similar/different dimensions of one story), parables (one major point), epistles/letters (contextual and grammatical), Acts (historical extension of Luke), and apocalyptic (in both OT and NT - understanding its nature and intent is imperative for accurate and adequate interpretation).

Cp. my Outlined Reading Guides to the New Testament and SALVATION - Our Living Hope: Through Suffering To Glory With Christ!

A Study of I Peter.

Dr. Morris Murray, Jr., Pastor

Calvary Church of the Nazarene

Huntsville, AL


Content copyright July 2010 jmhall. All rights reserved.