I am a big fan of the idea Scripture is meant to be understood. God wants us to know Him. We can gain insight into His nature, character, love, activities and plans for our lives, through prayer, a careful study of God’s Word and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Before I begin any study or teaching preparation, I pray, ask for the Spirit to lead me and then I delve into the text.
Before I start with the passages or chapter, I read through the entire Biblical book, numerous times looking for context. The context is something I call an expositional theme. This reveals the overall context of the entire book.
Once I understand the overall context, my attention turns to the specific passage I am studying. I begin with a word study. I look at the verses first in the original language. Then I look at the construction of the sentences, the individual word meanings, the parsing of the verbs, etc. My goal is to understand the original intent.
If the passage requires historical context for clarity, I study the history to understand the context of the passage when it was written. For example, in the story of the Good Samaritan, the identity and history of the Samaritans adds a richness to the parable and clarifies the context and understanding.
For example, if I am teaching on the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation, I will look at a considerable amount of church history to discern the meaning of the prophetic content.
As part of my process I always keep this principle in mind: Scripture interprets Scripture. In my studies in the Book of Revelation I have noticed there are over 800 Old Testament scriptural allusions to the 404 verses contained in Revelation. These Scriptural cross-refences further clarify the meaning and context of this prophetic book.
The intent of my process is to understand the full context of any verse, chapter or book I am studying.
What about commentaries? Commentaries may be a good resource, but I seldom use them in my studies as a first resource. I prefer to have the text, history and cross-references provide the context and meaning. I may refer to a commentary later, but I try to avoid approaching Scripture with a pretext or position defined by someone else’s opinion. If we enter into our study with a prejudice, we may fail to grasp what the Lord has for us in His Word.
I Study Scripture in the manner outlined above to know God our Father and Jesus Christ His Son. The richness you will uncover as you practice this brief summary of study practices will amaze you.
No longer will you be a slave to “This is what we believe!” You will be set free from the dogma of others and will be able to say, “This is what I believe!”