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November 18, 2014

Comments

I'll add..

STEP #3A - examine the important words in the passage in light of their original language.

While our various Bible translation committees generally do an outstanding job, at some point they will always fall short because of the intrinsic differences between modern English and ancient Greek.

The difference is significant enough that it is well worthwhile to do a simple dictionary lookup of an original Greek word; the results will greatly enhance your understanding of what was going through the minds of the author and principal characters.

And, this is something anyone can do: if you can look up words in a dictionary, you can go to BibleHub and look up significant Greek words in a dictionary.

However, be careful about thinking that this makes you a Greek scholar: I simply constrain myself to only the dictionary meanings of significant words. I will not build the meaning of a passage from things like the tense or part of speech of a Greek word/phrase, because I don't know enough to be able to do that accurately.

Good list. Here's a couple to add:

Step #0 - Pray for God to guide you.

[Step #5 can turn moralistic if we don't take care in how we apply the passage. Also, understanding the Bible includes an active desire to apply it well. So some suggestions follow...]

Step #5a - Look for what the passage teaches about who God is, particularly as it relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and worship him in prayer for those things.

Step #5b - Look for anything in the passage that you need to repent of and ask God's forgiveness trusting in Christ for his forgiveness already.

Step #5c - Look for anything to give thanks to God for and turn to him in prayer giving thanks for those things.

Step #5d - Look for how understanding the passage should alter your thoughts and actions and pray that God helps you. This includes a desire to be righteous in your thoughts as well as how you carry out life in the body of believers and in the world at large, whether teaching the gospel, defending the gospel, proclaiming the gospel, serving others in the name of Christ, or helping others serve in his name.

Step #5d - Look for how understanding the passage should alter your thoughts and actions and pray that God helps you. This includes a desire to be righteous in your thoughts as well as how you carry out life in the body of believers and in the world at large, whether teaching the gospel, defending the gospel, proclaiming the gospel, serving others in the name of Christ, or helping others serve in his name.

Excellent.

Also, I would highlight that we can view this post in light of Biblical guidance. We see the mandate for properly studying the Scriptures in 2 Tim. 2:15:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

First, we are confronted with the idea that there in fact IS a right way, and thereby a wrong way, to "rightly [divide] the word of truth". This alone perplexes many people...

Second, Paul indicates what's required in order to "rightly [divide]" the Scriptures: he does so by telling Timothy to "study".

The word for "study" that Paul uses means literally to "hasten". It has the idea of "showing full diligence" by "fully applying oneself". In other words, this text indicates that a superficial effort at what we normally call "studying" falls far short. It takes effort, diligence, and earnestness to fulfill this mandate.

Third, how does one "rightly [divide]" the Scriptures? The phrase Paul uses for "rightly dividing" means to "cut straight" or "handle correctly". The idea calls to mind an attitude of surgical precision when dealing with a text: we deal with the text, we deal with the meaning of the text, we deal with only the meaning of the text, and we don't go beyond the meaning of the text by inserting things that aren't there.

We constrain ourselves by the bounds of Scripture to not indulge our own selfish desires by making the text say what we want it to say, but we are precise and accurate in our "Berean-ship" in learning the meaning of what the text actually says, even if we don't like it!

What a great verse, and shows the Biblical backing for Brett's article!


One of the best lessons I've ever learned about reading scripture was right here at STR: "Never read a verse". We must read all verses among all other verses. Brett's analysis is incredibly useful both for us as we seek to educate the Skeptics (who love to cherry-pick verses and formulate fallacies thereby) and for the Christian's own study / edification in particular. Thank you Brett and thank you STR :)

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