Study, Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth
By David J. Stewart | September 2012
I have three John R. Rice reference Bibles that look just like the pages above. I don't think there's anything wrong with making notes in one's Bible to remember and highlight truths learned. I once was sick for a few days and used that time to go through the entire Bible looking for the word, “Lord.” This was before the internet came out. I went from Genesis through Revelation, using a Strong's Concordance to look up the Hebrew and Greek meaning of every mention of the word “Lord” in the Bible. I used coloured pencils to highlight the different meanings—the most common Greek being KURIOS (supreme in authority, God) referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are 6,781 mentions of the word Lord in the Bible!!!
I want to share with you some practical tips on how I study the Bible, to help you. The following principles are the same things that I would teach a new convert about studying the Bible. Many Christians have been saved for a long time but still haven't learned these truths. I thank God for those who have taught me, and so I now teach you how to study the Bible.
The Importance Of Words
The first thing that I would teach you is the importance of words. God didn't inspired a language; but rather, God inspired His Words. The Bible is composed of Words. Each Word is critically important. God didn't give His Words to men to pen in their own style. No, God literally put His Words into those men, Word-for-Word. God created those holy men of old to fit His Word, He didn't create His Word to fit those men. For more information read, HOW WE GOT GOD'S WORD.
Again we learn in the Old Testament that God magnifies HIS WORD (even above His name). Psalms 138:2, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Philippians 2:9-10 proclaims that there is no name higher than Jesus Christ, yet Psalms 138:2 says the Word of God is even higher than Jesus' precious name. Do you know why this is? It's because a man (or a God) is only as good as His Word. God's integrity equals His ability to keep His promises. The Bible assures us in Titus 1:2 that God cannot lie.
I want to share with you one more Scripture which emphasizes the Words of God, but there are hundreds more. Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” Here is Deuteronomy the Bible tells us that God deliberately sent the Jews into a burning hot desert wilderness of draught, scorpions and snakes to test them, to see whether or not they would keep God's Commandments or complain instead.
The great theological battles of our day are not being fought over religious denominations, nor over doctrines anymore; but rather, over the meaning of individual words. The most debated word meanings are over the words: repentance, sorrow, hell, faith, Lord, salvation, born again (two word phrase), et cetera. If the Devil can lead you to misunderstand these words, then he can deceive you completely and take you to Hell. Words are critically important, the building blocks of any language. That's why Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Words are important to God.
How To Use Strong's Concordance To Look Up Word Meanings
You can either buy an Exhaustive Hebrew And Greek Strong's Concordance, or there are some popular free Hebrew and Greek Concordances online, including Strong's. I recommend the book. Simply look up any word in the Bible and find out what number is above the word in the book, then find it in the back. There are instructions HOW to study with Strong's Concordance at the beginning. It is invaluable to have a concordance to look up the original meaning of Hebrew and Greek words (because they often don't mean the same thing in English).
Below is one example of an online concordance. I typed in Isaiah 57:1 at the top of this webpage and the Scripture below appears on that page. You can click on the number after each word to discover what it means...
The righteous 6662 perisheth 6 , and no man 376 layeth 7760 [it] to heart 3820: and merciful 2617 men 582 [are] taken away 622 , none considering 995 that the righteous 6662 is taken away 622 from 6440 the evil 7451 [to come].
On my computer I mostly use a Bible-study program called E-SWORD. The program is completely free. As an example, I looked up Isaiah 57:1 and wrote the section below using E-Sword...
Isaiah 57:1, “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.”
The preceding Scripture is important. In the Bible the unsaved are always referred to as the “wicked,” and the saved are always referred to as the “righteous.” The righteous are perishing in America and no one cares. It grieves God when Christians stray away. The Hebrew word for “perisheth is “abad” and means “to wander away, that is lose oneself.” Gradually, due to a lack of Biblical preaching from America's pulpits, the Church has lost the spiritual war in America. It grieves God that people are directionless these days spiritually, and no one cares.
All the of so-called “Christian” radio, sermons, music and books are lame, wishy-washy and lacking sound doctrine, hindering people from finding the Word of God. The love of money has killed our nation's pulpits. People have wandered astray in apostasy! The Bible says that no one is considering the consequences, just as no one knew what hit them when the flood came in Noah's day (Matthew 24:37-39). Hell is coming!
Basic Principles Of Bible Study
- USE ONLY THE KING JAMES BIBLE - To properly study the Bible, you absolutely need a King James Bible. The English doesn't supersede the original Greek, Hebrew and Chaldean (Daniel was written in the Chaldean language while Daniel was held captive for 70 years in Babylon). The rest of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. All of the New Testament was written in KOINE Greek.
There are a few free help glossary's online to help you understand difficult words in the King James Bible. Here's helpful webpage that you can start with. King James Glossary Of Difficult Words. There's a bunch of King James dictionaries online to help or buy. Here's a Free Bible Atlas Online. Also, visit my main KING JAMES BIBLE PAGE to find many helpful resources.
KOINE Greek was a special form of Greek developed by Alexander the Great for use in the military for combat. The last thing you needed on the battlefield was for soldiers to use words that had double-meanings. For example: A tourist in America may ask where there's a “subway” and you point to the Subway sandwich shop two blocks north, but they really meant a subway where they can get on a train to go somewhere. There is only one English word for “Hell,” but in the Greek there are three different words; namely, Tartarus, Hades and Gehenna. Greek is a more exact language.
- GET A GOOD BIBLE DICTIONARY - There's even some photo and illustrated dictionaries, which I recommend so you can see pictures of the Holy Land, maps and different things in the Bible.
- ITALICS - The 47 King James Bible translators (there were 53 total but 47 did the actual work of translation) were honest in their scholarship and wanted us to know what words were ADDED to preserve meaning, but were NOT a part of the original Scriptures. For example: In John 8:24 Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” If you have a printed King James Bible (most computer versions don't have the italics), then you'll see that the word “he” is italicized in John 8:24, meaning that it is not in the originals. So what Jesus actually said was, “ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I AM.” Jesus is the I AM of Exodus 3:14, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Jesus claimed to be the I AM in John 8:58. So anytime that you see a word in italics, you know that the translators thought it necessary to add the word for clarity. Not one modern version of the Bible can claim this level of scholarly honesty and integrity. Thank God for the King James Bible.
- THERE ARE NO CHAPTER DIVISIONS IN THE ORIGINAL BIBLE - There were no chapter titles nor divisions between words in the original Bible. It was all together as one. There were no punctuations (no commas, no periods, no parenthesis, no colons or semicolons, et cetera). It's helpful when reading the Bible to pretend that all the chapters are connected.
For example: In John 14:1-3 Jesus speaks about going to prepare “A PLACE FOR YOU” (singular). To understand this passage of Scripture, read the last part of chapter 13 where Jesus told Peter that he would deny the Lord and curse His name. Jesus was encouraging Peter that even though he would curse the name of Christ and deny knowing Jesus at all, the Lord still promised to go prepare A PLACE FOR YOU. This promise certainly applies to ALL Christians, but the Lord was encouraging Peter in this example, knowing that Peter would betray the Lord. Isn't this sweet? Even when we mess up, the Lord is thinking about preparing a place for us in Heaven. Peter denied even knowing Christ, but Jesus wanted Peter to know that he had a home prepared in Heaven. What a precious truth!
- ALWAYS TAKE THE BIBLE AS LITERAL UNLESS TOLD OTHERWISE - Jesus always explains what His parables meant. The book of Daniel explains what Daniel's visions meant. The book of Revelation tells us that the woman riding the Beast (THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS) is the great city of Jerusalem (Revelation 17:5,18; 11:8). When Jesus spoke of the rich man going to Hell in Luke 16:16-32, he was telling a literal account. Jesus never said it was figurative. The Lord used actual names: Lazarus and Abraham. It was a factual story or else the Lord would be a deceiver (and He's not). Jesus said in John 14:1-3 that if the Father's house didn't have mansions, then He would have said so.
- ALWAYS STUDY GENERAL TO SPECIFIC - It's best to learn why each particular book of the Bible was written, and then you'll better understand the content. For example: The book of Isaiah was written 748-700 BC. Northern Israel (whose capital was Samaria) was conquered by Assyria in 722 BC by king Shalmaneser. Here's a chronological chart of the Old Testament to help. But the next book after Isaiah is Jeremiah which was written 627-561 BC. The southern kingdom of Israel (whose capital was Judea) went into captivity in 586 BC, conquered by king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Both Assyria and Babylon were brutal in battle and tortured the Jews (peeling off their skin, sawing them into pieces and burning out their eyes), killed the men, raped the women, killed the children and enslaved thousands.
Both kingdoms received DOUBLE punishment from God because their sins were so grievous.
- Isaiah 40:2, “Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.”
- Jeremiah 16:18, “And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcases of their detestable and abominable things.”
God is good to all of us. What I just shared with you is key information, which will help you understand much of the Old Testament. Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel were all contemporaries, living at the same time. They may have known each other. Jerusalem was conquered in three separate invasions, the last being in 585 BC. Dr. Jack Hyles explains the incredible burdens facing the prophet Jeremiah in the MP3 sermon titled DON'T RUN.
- LOOK FOR JESUS IN EVERY PASSAGE OF SCRIPTURE - Revelation 19:10 says that Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy, meaning that all Bible prophecy centers around Jesus Christ. Jesus told us in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” One-third of the Bible is prophecy. We should always look for Jesus in the Scriptures.
- CROSS-REFERENCE SCRIPTURE-WITH-SCRIPTURE - The only way to know if you have the correct interpretation of a particular Scripture is to compare the suggested meaning to all other Scriptures in the Bible. If the suggested interpretation agrees with all the other teachings in the Bible, then you know that you have the correct interpretation. For example: The Bible says in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” By itself it appears that water baptism is required for salvation; however, if we cross-reference this Scripture with 1st Corinthians 1:17 where Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”
- LISTEN TO THE BIBLE ON DVD BY ALEXANDER SCOURBY - This has helped me immensely. Listening is much easier than to spend the time reading through genealogies and long story-like Old Testament passages. Most people, if honest with themselves, will admit that they simply don't like reading through books like Leviticus or Numbers, but God wrote them for a purpose, and for us to read and learn. You can get the entire King James Bible on just two DVD's (one for the Old Testament and one for the New). It rakes about 75 hours to hear the entire Bible. I can't recommend the DVD Bible enough.
If you haven't been reading the Bible as you should, AND VERY FEW (I MEAN VERY FEW) PEOPLE DO, then this will change your life immediately. We all need to hear the Word of God, which Romans 10:17 teaches will increase our faith. Alexander Scourby was a famous stage actor and spent one year recording the audio King James Bible for blind people. What a blessing it still is decades after his death!
- PRAY AND ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GUIDE YOU AND OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE TRUTH - You don't need to pray long. In fact, Jesus asked us in Matthew 6:7 NOT to pray long as the heathen do. God is please when we pray long for others (Luke 18:1-8), but not for our self. Self has no place in the Christian life. Philippians 2:4-5 tells us to have the mind of Christ, which is to think continually about ways we can help others.
Knowing and following these basic Bible-study principles will help you immensely to learn the Word of God.
I love you all in the Lord, whoever you may be!
Tomorrow's Guarantee of God's Provision
Lessons From 2nd Timothy 3:11-17
1st Thessalonians 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us.”
Ye Must Be Born Again!
You Need HIS Righteousness!