I was explaining scriptural truths to a brother, the other day and he said: “I stopped going to church because everyone has their way of seeing and worshipping God”. He was confused and angry at how different people say and interpret (or misinterpret) different things from the same Bible. Many don’t just know how to read the bible.
I have been there, and I understand how annoying it can be. Thank God for my pastor (Pastor Steven Tijesuni). He has taught me and answered a lot of my questions. I have come to realize a common error that most make in reading the Bible – Most of us hardly read by ourselves. Even when we do, we mostly read to prove a point and not read the whole Bible together.Most of us hardly read by ourselves. Even when we do, we mostly read to prove a point and not read the whole Bible together. Click To Tweet
We usually quote what we have heard others say. How many people can boast to have read popular John 3:16 for themselves? We only quote it because they have heard it so many times!
While some will say “The Bible says: heaven help those who help themselves” – which is NOWHERE in the Bible and in fact, it’s against the whole idea of God becoming a man to save man. If we could have helped ourselves (salvation), then God shouldn’t have to bother helping (saving) us. Therefore, we can’t know God by rumours/experience and/or opinions of men.We can't know God by rumours/experience and/or opinions of men. Click To Tweet
In essence, we pay less attention to reading. According to Mali Music, “everybody seem to be quoting scriptures, but it’s just another word they heard”. Hence, to know God as we ought to, we would have to beyond merely quoting the bible as something we heard from someone else. God inspired men to write the Bible. If we don’t pay attention to how and what they wrote, confusion is inevitable.God inspired men to write the Bible. If we don't pay attention to how and what they wrote, confusion is inevitable. Click To Tweet
Having established the importance of reading the Bible, there are rules to guide you on how to read your Bible You would also need this guideline to debunk every stronghold against the knowledge of God in your heart.
Here is how to Read The Bible Effectively;
1. The Bible is Christocentric
The message of scriptures is centered on Christ. When you read the Bible, always know that the main focus of the material is God’s salvation plan fulfilled in Christ. It’s a Christ Bible and not a science textbook nor motivational/financial material. Christ is the ONLY message of the bible.
Examining Jesus’ own words… Luke 24:27, 44 “…beginning at Moses, the prophets and psalms, he expounded unto them the things concerning himself…”
John 5:39: “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me. Same thing in John 1:45 “…Jesus of Nazareth of whom Moses is the law and the prophets wrote…”
See Paul in 2 Tim 3:15 : “…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation which is through faith In Christ Jesus”.
The singular focus of the scriptures is about God’s plan fulfilled in Christ Jesus. To teach something or try to see anything outside this is will lead to error.When you read the Bible, always know that the main focus of the material is God's plan salvation fulfilled in Christ. Click To Tweet
Peter puts it well in 2 Peter 2:20-21: “no prophecy of scriptures is of any private interpretation”. This contradicts the popular notion of ‘this is what this text means to me. There was a purpose to all scriptures, and they are to testify of Christ.
From Genesis to Malachi, we see the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets concerning Christ. From Matthew to John, we see the eye witness record of Christ’s incarnation: what God did amidst men. The book of Acts is a book that records how the church operated after Christ’s ascension. Finally, Romans – Revelation, are the letters of the Apostles to different churches as they instruct them in Christ. Hence, as you study scriptures and Christ is not found, it can be discarded.'no prophecy of scriptures is of any private interpretation.' - 2 Peter 2:20-21. This contradicts the popular notion of 'this is what this text means to me.' There was a purpose to all scriptures, and they are to testify of Christ. Click To Tweet
2. Style of the Writer
A single writer with the same knowledge will not contradict himself. Let’s take Apostle John as an example and the book of revelation as the case study. People are scared to read the book of Revelation, but this shouldn’t be. It’s a book to be explained in Christ. Examining Apostle John’s style of writing would make us see this –
In John 1:1-5: “In the beginning was the word…the word was God… In him was life and the life was the light of men... “. He was also the one who wrote Jesus’ words in John 3:16: “For God so love the world… “. John 10:28 also: “...I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand...”. 1 John 1:3: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ”.
All these shows John’s understanding of Christ’s redemptive work which he has wrought in the believer. Therefore, John wouldn’t say something different in Revelation! The book of Revelation is also borne out of visions (which must be explained).
We can take a clue from the opening chapter – Revelation 1:5: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood”.
From the above text, we would see that the book is simply of Christ in his redemptive work.When we read the bible we must remember that a single writer with the same knowledge will not contradict himself. Click To Tweet
3. Who spoke, to who and why?
In scriptures, we must know who is speaking at a particular time and determine to whom and why the writer spoke. Many -for instance- have used Paul’s advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” to justify their appetite for wine. What height of insincerity and callousness!
Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy (a pastor at the church of Ephesus) here because of his frequent stomach illness. He wasn’t writing to any random believer, or to the general church! And do you have a stomach infirmity? I guessing that you don’t so, why the insincerity?In scriptures, we must know who is speaking at a particular time and determine to whom and why the writer spoke. Click To Tweet Paul wrote to Timothy to drink wine because of his frequent stomach illness. He wasn't writing to any random believer, or to the general church! And do you have a stomach infirmity? I guess that you don't so, why the insincerity? Click To Tweet
4. Pay attention to tenses: use of words, clauses, and punctuation.
The Bible is inspired by God but it was written by men in a language. This makes it literature which has rules guiding it. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the use of words, punctuation, figures of speech… as any other literature text. Knowing that any word in italics was added by the translators and wasn’t in the original transcript is key!
It’s also worthy to note that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) language, so the true meaning of some words may never be revealed if we don’t check its original meaning which was the intention of the writer.
“In bible study, the moment your view of grammar used is inaccurate, no decree of long thesis will suffice. In all literature -scriptures inclusive- grammar and content will be the guide to the intent of the maker” – Pst. Olusegun Onayinka.The Bible is inspired by God but it was written by men. This makes it literature which has rules guiding it. Therefore, you have to pay attention to the use of words, punctuation, figures of speech... Click To Tweet 'In bible study, the moment your view of grammar used is inaccurate, no decree of long thesis will suffice. In all literature -scriptures inclusive- grammar and content will be the guide to the intent of the maker' - Pst. Olusegun… Click To Tweet
Context is king in understanding scriptures. In essence, we would be in grave error if we pick a verse of Scriptures in isolation and then build on it with experiences/visions/opinions/rumours. It’s unfair! We must read the pretext (the opening discussion), the post text (what the writer said afterwards) before we then put the verse in context.To read the bible effectively, we must read the pretext (the opening discussion), the post text (what the writer said afterwards) before we then put the verse in context. Click To Tweet
A very good example is Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” many have scared the believer in Christ with this verse leading the innocent soul into condemnation every time. But if we just read the verse before and the one which follows this, the believer would be loose from the stronghold that makes him “rededicate” his life every Sunday! (in fact, seeing a semicolon at the end of this verse -based on our English language knowledge-, we should know that he is about to explain it further. So it’s lazy to stop there).
See the Pretext: Rom 3:22: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”.
The Post text: Rom 3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”
So, you see, Paul was simply explaining how that the believer in Christ has been justified and he called it the righteousness of God. The context is therefore not to condemn.We would be in grave error if we pick a verse of Scriptures in isolation and then build on it with experiences/visions/opinions/rumours. Click To Tweet
5. Compare Translations
The KJV translators translated directly from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek manuscript of the Bible. Many have found this a bit heard to understand style of the English language in which it was written. As much as this is a very accurate and earliest translations. But I advise you compare different translations, old and new. It will give a clearer sense of what is written.
When next you read your bible read with the consciousness of all you just learned.
Now that you’ve learned how to read the bible, we will be sharing soon how to correctly interpret the bible. But int he mean time, we have other amazing articles on the subject you’ll learn a lot from.
Check out 4 Things That Can Help With Bible Study