7 tips to understanding the Bible
Reading the Bible correctly is essential because you can misunderstand its meaning if you don’t know the right way to approach it. It’s also crucial that your own bias or worldview doesn’t get in the way of understanding the Bible correctly. So whether you are preparing to teach a Bible study or want to be sure that your reading of Scripture is on target, here are seven tips to help you understand the Bible correctly.
1) recognize the intent of Scripture
The Bible was written for various reasons, including preserving the Hebrew culture and developing the foundation for the Church following the new covenant formed through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It was also written to help people understand the character of God (His nature and how He relates to humanity) and their relationship with God, build their faith, grow in wisdom, find joy, and experience hope and encouragement through spiritual growth. By understanding the intent of Scripture and the original historical context in which it was written, you will be better equipped to understand the meaning of what it says.
2) interpret Scripture with a correct posture
It’s impossible to be completely objective when interpreting Scripture, so humility is critical. It’s always worth taking the time to read commentaries on a passage from different perspectives. Of course, remember that no Bible commentary is the final word on what a passage means. Also, keep in mind there are gaps in our knowledge about Jesus’ life and teachings that we may never fill.
We must approach the Bible, acknowledging God’s righteousness and sovereignty. Coming to the Bible within the context of our own self-righteousness doesn’t prove or disprove anything. God’s holiness is perfect, complete, and not dependent on our judgments or conclusions.
3) acknowledge your level of Biblical literacy
Biblical literacy is a phrase used to describe someone who has a deep understanding of the Bible, doesn’t take it out of context, and knows how biblical texts can be applied in different contexts.
It is okay to acknowledge your level of Biblical literacy. No person walking this planet completely understands Scripture, but some have studied and understand it better than others. You fall somewhere on a continuum of Biblical literacy, and acknowledging where that it is can be an important part of approaching your understanding of the Bible.
It’s okay to ask for clarification from trusted sources about confusing parts rather than incorrectly assuming the meaning.
4) interpret Scripture in context
Identifying the context of a passage can sometimes be challenging but is vital to understanding the passage’s intent. When seeking context, remember:
–The Bible is an ancient text (though still entirely relevant today) written in a different time and culture, so always read it with that in mind.
–To the best of your ability, keep the historical timeline of events in mind when trying to understand how certain events fit together or what might be happening based on biblical timelines.
–Consider the author’s intentions as well. The book of Genesis, for example, was written by Moses to give his people a sense of where they came from and who they were–but he’s not writing history books. God divinely inspired the Bible through various authors over many centuries. Some parts are meant to teach us about His character, while others may provide practical instruction for living out our faith in Jesus.
5) don’t interpret Scripture with a single verse or passage
You can better understand the intended meaning of Scripture by looking at the whole picture and not just one verse. When we are stuck on one passage, we might miss other truths.
Look for passages that have similar themes or phrases as the one that confuses you; these may give insight into your original question. Read books of the Bible in their entirety and read passages in context with each other rather than taking them out of context.
Learning how to use the Bible correctly by studying it in its entirety before drawing conclusions and making assumptions based on isolated passages is essential.
6) realize God doesn’t change
Recognizing that God doesn’t change when understanding the Bible is essential. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We read many passages in the Bible that have been misquoted or taken out of context because people don’t understand that God has always been and always will be faithful to His character.
God’s righteousness and sovereignty do not depend on our version of self-righteousness.
7) seek God
God is always found in His Word—if you are looking for Him.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”—Jeremiah 29:13 b
If you haven’t taken the time to seek God by reading His Word, here are a few things you should know.
-Let God’s Spirit guide you in your understanding of Scripture.
“The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:26)
-Seek guidance from people who love God and have an understanding of the Bible, but don’t depend on them exclusively!
-Nothing replaces actually reading the Bible. You have to read it to understand, and you’ll find God when you do.
Seek God and let Him reveal Himself to you through Scripture, the power of His Spirit at work in you, and other believers fervently seeking to understand the intent of Scripture and align their lives with its truth.