Questions every Christian should be able to answer Part IV
How to study the bible
Synopsis of Bible Study 07/22/09
Delivered by Bishop Walker
Bishop Walker explained that at a church function, a kid asked him if he had a job. It may sound funny, but the truth is many of us do not don’t understand what Pastors do as a Pastor. Just the preparation process of getting prepared for a sermon is a lot of work. It might interest you to know that it takes about 40 hrs to get prepared for one sermon. Keep in mind this is only if you are really going to deliver a prepared sermon and not one of those Saturday Night specials where you simply get up and say, “ He died, he rose, and amen!”
I. This Bible is divided in 8 parts
Historical-This involves Genesis thru Esther. The historical section includes the first 5 books of the bible and is called Pentateuch. These were the books of Moses. The Pentateuch was written by Moses. Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are primarily books of Jewish law, so they do not fit quite as well in the historical category as the other books do. Note: All the customs of that day were included in the books of Jewish Law.
Poetical or wisdom-literature- This includes Job thru the Song of Solomon. All the Psalms were written mostly by Israel’s King David. There are a few of the Psalms that were anonymously written and a few written by others, but most were written by David. Psalms contains some of the most well-known verses of praise known to mankind. The Psalms is also the longest book in the bible. It contains divisions not chapters.
Major Prophets – This involves Isaiah through Daniel. These prophets are called Major because of the length of the books.
Minor Prophets – This section involves Hosea through Malachi. Most of these books were written about the dark days of Jewish captivity. These books are rich with information about reaching to God and teaching about personal righteousness and responsibility.
The gospels –This section involves Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. Gospel means good news. The first three gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Books. Synoptic comes from the Greek, meaning they have the same eyes. The word used for synoptic is where we get the word synthesis meaning to bring together. In other words all the gospels point of view was brought together. Matt, Mark, & Luke all actually see the birth of Jesus Christ. John, however, begins the birth of Jesus by saying in the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and word was God. John is not part of synoptic gospels. It is important to know that Books of the bible are not in chronological order. Mark was actually the first book of the gospels. Mark was the first gospel written and the other gospels drew from it.
New Testament historical: Acts of the Apostles is the only book of the New Testament to be considered historical. It was written by Luke, who also wrote the gospel Luke. Acts is not to be interrupted theologically. It is a historical reference of things that happened. It is a model of why we do things that we do today. Ex- Acts 1:8:8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.-Jesus sent word for the disciples to go to upper the room and wait for the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:1:1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.-They were in one place on one accord and the Spirit of the Lord filled the house and they received the Holy Ghost. If you interpret these two scriptures theologically, you tell people that they must wait for the Holy Ghost or tarry for him once they accept Christ. Why would wait for somebody that is already here? This was a historical scripture that told what happened when they were all on one accord.
The epistles: Romans thru Jude. These books are epistles which mean letters. They were articles of correspondence primarily between the apostle Paul and a young congregation of the Roman world. They are primarily doctrinal in nature, teaching new converts Christianity or what it means to be a Christian. Within these epistles are books referred to as Pastoral Epistles. They are 1 & 2 Timothy and Tutus.
Prophetic works: The Revelation of John is a book mostly in highly figurative and symbolic language, which dealt with things which must shortly come to pass. Revelation 1:1: 1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: -Revelation is undoubtedly the most misunderstood and misused of all the books of the bible. It is an apocalyptic book, meaning the end of days. Revelation is the most misinterpreted book of the bible. Revelations was one of those books that barely made it into our modern day publication of the bible.
1. There is a word called method comes from the Greek word methodos which literally means a way or path of transit. Methodology in bible study is therefore concerned with the proper path to be taken in order to arrive at scriptural truth. Ex-Take a look at a surgeon for instance. They follow a methodology or protocol when they decide to perform a surgery. They follow a set of procedures that have proven to be successful. Can you imagine a person who is going to operate on you and use a self led methodology instead of a structured method? This would be so frightening to you that you probably wouldn’t agree to have the surgery. You need them to know that they know what they are doing before they try to perform this tedious task. After all, this could be life threatening. We should go about studying our bible the same way. We need to follow a structured method that has been proven to be successful. Failure to do so could be life threatening.
2. The early church was subject to methodology. 2 Peter 3:16:16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction -Wrest in this scripture means to distort. In other words people were reading the word without methodology and it led to their own destruction.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2: 1Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.-Paul was saying when people saw them preach, they knew that they had studied. The people knew that Paul was bringing the word with substance to the people. The pew ought to challenge the pulpit to go deeper.
II. How do we begin studying the bible?
1. Identify the type of literature the scripture comes from. Identify which of the previously mentioned categories the scripture falls in. If you know what section it comes from, then you know what the scripture should be talking about. Example historical, epistles, and etc…
2. Find a foundational truth: God created language for a purpose. When you read Genesis, it indicates that when God created Adam it was done in his own image. We know that God gave Adam a lot. How many times do you hear people say one of the greatest gifts God gave Adam is language or the ability to talk? The answer is you probably have never heard that. Well how do you think Adam started talking? Why would God give Adam the ability to talk? God knew that this was the only way that Adam could talk to him and that was the only way that Adam could communicate with other humans so God gave him language. We have these linguistic symbols in scripture called words, so God used language or words. When we understand the power of words we have to view language as a prerequisite to understand that God only spoke a word, but his word was written as well. Deuteronomy 29:29: 29The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law –When God created the world, he spoke words. In the beginning was the word, and the word was in with God, and the word was God. For God to give us words means we are more like God by the words that we use. So if the scripture is filled with words, the way to know God is to know his word. When you hear a good sermon you say that it was a good word. The whole 25min sermon is summed up as a being a word.
3. Revelation can only be understood if one interprets words by its original sense or the intent of the word. The bible you read is English, but it is not the original state. When you read the word, know there is meaning behind the word. When we don’t go behind the word or chase the word, we miss the meaning. The same word in English might not be same as the author’s intent in the original writings that it was translated from. Seek the author’s intent. Ex-Remember when Jesus said who do men say I am? Then he asked Peter who he said he was? Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus said upon this rock, he would build his church. Peters name means petro’s or hard place or rock. All Jesus was saying was he was going to build his church on Peter’s solid foundation, but depending on how you interpreted the scripture or the word rock, you can get several different meanings. Ex-What about the scripture that talks about a woman must cover their head. The bible was simply meaning that the woman should be spiritually covered by a husband or Pastor. If you subject yourself to literally interpretation, you can mess up the whole meaning of a scripture up. Names mean something. They are important and have a meaning.
4. You must recognize that what a passage means is set by the author. It is discovered by the reader. Exegesis means to draw the meaning out of the text. Eisogesis means to super impose meaning on the text or adding something to the text. Cults use the Eisogesis method. We have to go after all the languages to get the real meaning of what we are reading.
III. The Importance of context
1. There was a woman who ran for Governor recently. She convinced herself that the bible told her she would win. Matthew 19:30 was the scripture she was using to justify her claim. Matthew 19:30: 30But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. Needless to say, she lost the race.-The truth is we try to apply scripture to situations to make us feel right about those situations. We must remember that every word is part of sentence, and every sentence is part of paragraph, and every paragraph is part of a book, and the book makes up the scripture. You can’t interpret a whole composition off of one word.
2. There is immediate context and broad context. An example of a broad context is “What does the bible say about this situation?” An example of immediate context is to say, “The bible says we are supposed to go back and reconcile with our brother before we give an offering”.
3. People take scripture out of context in many ways. We pull scriptures where we want to apply them. We develop a relative righteousness by saying you can’t kill a dog but you can kill a dear. We are guilty of taking a scripture to soften the blow of our particular vice. Ex-Bishop explains that 98% of letters that he received about the Steve McNair’s funeral were congratulating him on a job well done. The other 2% were letters saying that he was going to hell for defending him. Ex-How many people have heard the scripture, my God shall supply all my needs? How many of us have used that scripture and applied it to our situation? Well let’s examine what comes before it. Philippians 4:13-19: 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 14Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 15Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. – When you examine it, Paul was thanking the church of Philippi for communicating with him and sending him gifts though he did not ask for them. He explains in verse 18 that he now has more than enough due to their giving and he was sure God was pleased with them. Paul said as a result of their generous giving, God would supply all of their needs according to his riches and glory. In other words, you don’t have the right to use Phil 4:19 if you are not a sower of the Ministry of God (like the church of Philippi). You have got to look at context of the scripture before you apply.
4. Understanding the context will give you a sense of the cultural realities that were taking place contextually in the scripture that you are reading. Context also moves you to the point of understanding the power of historical data.
5. Historical data suggests that historical considerations must be applied when we study the scripture. In other words when we talk about the historical Jesus (and we say that because Jesus lived. History proves that he lived and walked the earth.) and we read the scripture, we recognize there were other historical events taking place alongside of what we are reading. The broader context can help us interpret what was going on. Mark 5:25:25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. – Ex- Bishop explains being in Venus, Italy and having the opportunity to stand at tomb of Mark who wrote this scripture. Mark is the one that wrote about the woman with the issue of blood. There is context and historical data that must be applied to every scripture in order to fully understand a scripture. We know on the surface that the woman pressed her way to Jesus and touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. Studying on deeper level, you begin to say things like, Mark is a gospel literature. We must then go find a book in the bible that educates me on how they treated women with an issue of blood. Probably this would be found in the Jewish law books. There we will find ideas like in Leviticus that tells us that a woman with an issue of blood couldn’t be touched for 66 days. Leviticus 12:5: 5 If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she will be ceremonially unclean for two weeks, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. After waiting sixty-six days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. –We will also discover that anyone that touches her is unclean. Also we will find out that we can’t touch woman on her menstruation. Knowing this, we realize that the woman with the issue of blood had to overcome a crowd that didn’t want her to touch them and disciples that didn’t want her to touch Jesus. She had to transcend a whole cultural reality just to get to her miracle. Ex-Bishop explains on the latter part of his honeymoon, he had opportunity to Rome and walk through Caesar’s palace. Bishop explained that he took his bible on purpose. Bishop was trying to parallel historical events with scripture. The history in the bible was written from a patriarchal context. By this we mean woman were viewed negatively. We know what the bible says about Rome. Rome was that very advance civilization. Jesus was crucified by Roman crucifixion. Caesar sat on his throne. He was the man that governed all of Rome. Paul was sent to spread the good news to Caesar on this throne. On the way, he was taken captive. In Acts 27, he was put on a ship and there was a shipwreck. Many of them survived because of the favor God had on Paul. Paul now has to go to Caesar a man who has this incredible authority. Bishop was looking at the arena of Caesar’s palace. This was the same arena that gladiators fought and entertained. Historically, during the intermission of games, they would use those moments to execute prisoners, Christians to be exact. They would allow lions to come out and mall the Christians to death right in public view. Paul had instructions to come before this person that was over all of this madness knowing he could be killed. Knowing all of this, when you read where Paul wrote to die is gain… or that he would not let anyone separate him from the love of God, you get a whole new outlook and respect for the scripture. Note: Paul was eventually killed in Rome.