Eleven Keys to Understanding the Bible
1. Pray for Understanding
Before you even begin to study, ask God to guide and show you His will. Remember that it is the Creator who gives true understanding through His Word. You cannot gain it on your own (Psalm 119:33-40; Proverbs 3:5-8; Jeremiah 9:23-24)
2. Keep an Open Mind
Be willing to admit when you are wrong and change, even if it means letting go of a long-held belief or tradition. If you can successfully apply this one principle, you will be far ahead in the search for spiritual truth (Acts 17:11; Isaiah 8:20)
3. Humbly seek instruction and correction
Approach the Bible with a teachable, humble attitude. The Word of God judges our innermost thoughts. It can show us who we really are. It can reveal every flaw in our character. So be ready to heed its correction (Jeremiah 10:23-24; Isaiah 66:1-2, 5; Romans 8:6-9; Matthew 5:48)
4. Accept the inspiration of all the Bible
The entire Bible, both Old and New testaments, is the inspired Word of God. When studying, keep in mind that He inspired the words you are reading; God is directly speaking to you through them (2 Peter 1:21; Philippians 2:5; John 6:63)
5. Plan time for regular study
It’s easy to let everyday concerns interfere, so schedule study time and try to maintain it. Over time you will look forward to this daily experience (Ephesians 5:15-17)
6. Let the Bible Interpret itself
If something seems confusing or even contradictory, let clear biblical passages shed light on those you find difficult to understand. Scriptures do not contradict each another; they complement each other. Also, to properly understand a verse in the Bible, don’t force your personal point of view into it. Instead use the context and other relevant scriptures to find the correct meaning (2 Peter 1:20; John 10:35; 17:17; Isaiah 28:9-10)
7. Study topics
Concentrate, at various times, on one subject, doctrine or book. Use a concordance or other study aid to put together all the scriptures relevant to a subject. This will allow you to see all that God has to say about a particular topic (2 Timothy 2:15)
8. Read the whole Bible
Go through the Bible from cover to cover. By reading every section of the Bible, you give yourself a broad familiarity and perspective that will help you shed preconceived ideas about doctrinal subjects. Go to a Bible reading programme at www.ucg.org/brp.
9. Compare different translations
The Bible was written in ancient languages, and scholars sometimes differ on how certain verses should be translated today. A literal rendering is often preferred, but a thought-for-thought translation or paraphrase is sometimes better at capturing the intent of ancient figures of speech. We must also be aware that doctrinal bias can influence translation. Comparing Bible versions will inform us on disagreements in translation and help us to sort through such issues.
10. Use study aids properly
Many Bible study aids are quite helpful. They can provide valuable historical background or point you to other scriptures that add clarity to what you are reading. Aids include concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, maps and commentaries. However, always keep in mind that such resources are not Scripture and can be wrong.
11. Seek guidance from God’s Church
It is always best to seek help from qualified people in any field of study. God has commissioned His servants to guide people into a fuller understanding of His Word. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.(Proverbs 11:14; Nehemiah 8:8; Acts 8:30-31; 18:26; Romans 10:14-15)