Firstly, we must read the Bible through for ourselves. This is not a quick exercise. A Bible reading plan is a good idea.
The Bible contains narrative, prophecy, history, and instruction. It contains much that is to be understood literally but also things that are presented in symbolical language. It is important to discern which is which.
Generally, a little common sense must be applied.
The Bible is consistent throughout, perceived contradictions usually arise from the reader's misunderstanding.
We are faced with the problem that there is only one Bible, but there are many Christian denominations with different Gospels and Doctrines.
I believe (after 56 years of Bible reading and study) that Christadelphians have a correct understanding of Scripture.
I can therefore recommend the following:
Studying scripture for yourself.
Firstly we need to read the Bible every day in an organised manner. Below is a suggested Bible reading planner which goes through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice in a year.
Here's a website where the daily reading guide may be viewed and printed:
Daily Reading Guide: (please click on the title)
Here's a companion site where you can read and listen to the day’s readings and find useful comments:
Daily Readings with Comments: (please click on the title)
Take the free Bible study course available on this website. To register, click on this link:
Free BibStudy Courses: (please click on the title)
I can suggest a list of things to be borne in mind when setting out to study the Bible, not necessarily in order of importance.
1. Know thyself.
Everyone approaches the Bible with preconceptions, either taught us in childhood or picked up from other sources along the way. Be aware of this, because there are many churches and only one Bible – they cannot all be correct, some things that we initially believe may be wrong.
2. The Bible is a translation.
This means we have the added problem of the translators’ preconceptions. They translate the same Hebrew and Greek words with different English words in different places. This means that the word connections divinely placed in the original languages are often lost in translation. Modern translations use different manuscripts chosen on a ‘pick and mix’ basis by men influenced by ‘Higher Criticism and ‘Textual Criticism’. ‘Criticism’ treats the Bible as an ‘evolved’ text created by human influenced by the times they lived in and with various human motives. This is a far cry from the treatment of the Bible as the inspired word of God where every word is important; even, as Christ said - every ‘jot’ and ‘tittle’(Matthew 5:18). For this reason, Modern translations are not necessarily better translations. Not, I hasten to add, that there are any major doctrinal differences.
3. We need a Concordance and Hebrew and Greek lexicons.
Bible Students who have no knowledge of Hebrew or Greek can access the original words using a Concordance and Lexicon. The best are Young’s Analytical and Strong’s Exhaustive. Both are designed for use with the King James (Authorised) Bible.
In my opinion, Strong’s is the most useful. Avoid the latest ‘Strongest Strong’s’ which is a modified version and has no business using the name.
In the age of the computer and internet, a searchable Bible with integrated Strong’s Concordance and lexicons can be downloaded for free from: http://www.onlinebible.net/
There are other Bible versions, Commentaries and dictionaries available, some free, some requiring a small copyright payment. All fit into a neat, user-friendly program which makes a fast and comprehensive Bible Study tool.
4. Understanding the Bible.
There is only one truth, we should not base our understanding of Bible teaching on ambiguous verses which are capable of being understood in more than one way. The Bible contains both literal and figurative passages and has to be rightly divided. As far as possible let the Bible interpret itself. If a passage is difficult to understand, see how the key Hebrew or Greek words are used elsewhere. Study what Christ and the New Testament writers actually say, and how they use the Old Testament to prove their arguments. Keep in mind that the Scriptures are designed for ‘babes’ and can be elusive to the ‘wise and prudent’. That the way to life is ‘narrow’ and ‘few there be that find it’ (Matthew 7:14) (thus be suspicious of the majority view).
5. Christ in the Old and New Testaments.
Jesus Christ is the focal point of Scripture, look for prophecies and types. Every book of the Bible has some relevance to Christ. Try to see him in the Law of Moses (our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24)). Read Hebrews to see how the Law of Moses was a ‘shadow’ of things to come and has been taken out of the way. See the importance of the promises to Abraham and David and how they relate to us. We are to believe the gospel preached by Christ and be baptised if we want salvation.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (condemned).
6. Remember to pray.
No one can come to Christ but by the Father. Therefore, we should pray for understanding as we study. Don’t expect the answers to be voices in our heads. God has given us the power of reasoning so that we might ‘rightly divide’ the word of truth. Prayer and meditation on the scriptures with the application of common sense is the route to take.
7. The end of the commandment.
Bible study has a practical end.
1Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity (Love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned
2Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect (mature/complete), throughly furnished unto all good works.
2Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Knowledge is a means to an end. Knowing the plan and purpose of God manifested in Christ is designed to encourage us to love both neighbour and enemy alike and give practical help where we can. Those baptised into Christ will be judged not on ‘knowledge’ but the way we apply ‘knowledge’ by showing the love of Christ to others.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Bible study is not easy as our natural minds find the word of God wearisome.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
1Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Most people must battle with their inner selves to make a regular habit of reading the Bible. A daily habit must be formed. Familiarity with the word of God increases our love for God and His Truth.
It was a commandment to the kings of Israel.
Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
None were like David (a man after God’s own heart)
Psalm 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments... 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart... 58 I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. 69... I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart... 97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
The blessing awaits those that can make the effort.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Bible study should be aimed firstly at understanding the Gospel and secondly the edification of both ourselves and others that we might live Christ-like lives in the sight of God.
The Bible can only communicate with us if we believe all of it. We cannot pick and choose our beliefs. It stands or falls as the word of God by its internal integrity.
A lot of help is available in the thisisyourbible.com library which is searchable.
I hope you find this helpful.