Bible Handling | How to study the Word

Bible Handling | How to study the Word

A while ago I did some training for the church I help lead, in ‘Bible Handling’, which are tools and principles to help everyone study the Bible better. I did these as videos on the church YouTube channel but thought I would write them up here too.

  • The Importance of Meaning | Authorial Intent
    The Importance of Meaning The first principle we need to grasp when we approach the Bible is that it actually means something! Countless group Bible studies have happened when a passage is read aloud and then we go round the group asking “what did it mean to you?”. Meaning is within the text, not within…
  • Identify the Main Theme
    Scripture is not a collection of random thoughts and ideas but has principal themes and structures, which ultimately come from the author’s intent. Effective Bible study interprets the whole in light of the details, and the details in light of the whole. By splitting a passage up into smaller chunks and analysing their detail it…
  • Look at the Immediate Context
    The Bible explains the Bible. If scripture has coherent themes and structures (which it does!) then the meaning of a particular phrase or sentence can be interpreted in the light of the immediate context. One of our most common mistakes is to take passages out of their given context and so ‘misuse/misapply’ the scripture. We…
  • Clarity/Perspicuity of Scripture
    God has intended his scripture to be clearly understood. There are no secret codes or hidden meanings for us to find and we don’t need to be a Jewish historian either! Often when explaining bits of the Bible, people often refer to non-biblical texts and writings of history to interpret and explain it. Whilst other…
  • Spot the Conjunctions
    As you study the scriptures, noting the conjunctions (linking words like “and, for, therefore, so”) within the text can be useful in seeing the flow and themes of the passages. Spotting the conjunctions help us tie passages together, prevent us looking at passages in isolation and understand them in their given context. A good question…
  • Repetition of Words/Phrases
    Look for repetition of words, phrases and ideas and ask yourself “what does the author/God seem to emphasize?” Just as we emphasize and use repetition in our speech and writing so the Biblical authors do too. Paul uses the word “rejoice” numerous times in his letters to the Philippians, which is very apt considering how…
  • Identify the Key Words
    One of the difficulties in studying passages in the epistles is that the sentences can be so long and contain complicated ideas with big words. This makes it very difficult to wrap your head around what is being said, and so it helps to simply pull out the key words to simplify it. The key…
  • The Bible is One Story
    Remember that the Bible is ‘one big book’ with ‘one big story’ and that story is the gospel. The gospel is the key to unlocking and understanding the scriptures, so holding all passages in light of the big gospel story helps understand them. Each section of scripture is part of this ‘gospel circle’ and so…
  • Biblical Context | How to read the Old Testament
    One of our biggest mistakes when reading the Old Testament is that we try to directly apply the words of God in the Old Testament into our lives today. Even though God has not changed, context has. We no longer live under the Old Testament covenant of law, we now live under the New Testament…