Always Being Prepared

The Bible is a revelation from our heavenly Father, about our heavenly Father, i.e., his will and purposes. (1 Thess. 2:13) If we take the things we learn and apply them in our lives, we will live a life far more beneficial than those who do not. As we grow in knowledge, we will draw ever closer to God, the Giver of “Every good gift and every perfect gift.” (Jam. 1:17) We will discover the beauty of prayer. We will find that God is strengthening us to cope in times of trouble. If we live and walk in harmony with his Word, the opportunity of eternal life awaits us. (Rom. 6:2) However, there is but one problem that lies in our path. We have to know how to study our Bible if we are going to benefit from it. This author in this book will give you the absolute best information in this regard. Moreover, he will make it an interesting read as well as easy to understand. What lies below will serve as a motivation as to why Bible study is vital to our spiritual growth, as we learn to walk with God like never before.

The Bible Gives Us Answers to Questions about Life

The Bible gives us answers to questions about this life and the one to come, which can be found nowhere else, and offers illumination to its readers. Those who take in this life-saving knowledge are freed from the misunderstandings of life that dominate billions of others. For instance, here is one that might come to us as a shock. We are all Mentally Bent toward Evil.

Psalm 51:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Look, I was brought forth in error,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.

King David had his adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband exposed, for which he accepted full responsibility. His words about the human condition give us one reason for the evil of man. He says, “I was brought forth in error.” What did King David’s inspired words mean? Error: (Heb., ʿāwōn; Gr. anomia, paranomia) The Hebrew word awon essentially relates to erring, acting illegally or wrongly. This aspect of sin refers to committing a perverseness, wrongness, lawlessness, law breaking, which can also include the rejection of the sovereignty of God. It also focuses on the liability or guilt of one’s wicked, wrongful act. This error may be deliberate or accidental; either willful deviation of what is right or unknowingly making a mistake. (Lev. 4:13-35; 5:1-6, 14-19; Num. 15:22-29; Ps 19:12, 13) Of course, if it is intentional; then, the consequence is far more serious. (Num. 15:30-31) Error is in opposition to the truth, and those willfully sinning corrupt the truth, a course that only brings forth flagrant sin. (Isa 5:18-23) We can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.–Ex 9:27, 34-35; Heb. 3:13-15.

David stated that his problem was a corrupt heart, saying; surely, I was sinful at birth. He entered this world a sinner in nature long before he became a sinner in thinking, words, and actions. In fact, this internal corruption predated his birth, actually beginning nine months earlier when he was conceived in the womb. It was at conception that the Adamic sin nature was transmitted to him. The problem with what he did, sin, arose from what he was, a sinner.[1]

What is sin? Sin: (Heb. chattath; Gr. hamartia) Any spoken word (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), wrong action (Lev. 20:20; 2 Cor. 12:21) or failing to act when one should have (Num. 9:13; Jam. 4:17), in mind and heart (Prov. 21:4; Rom. 3:9-18; 2 Pet 2:12-15) that is contrary to God’s personality, ways, will and purposes, standards, as set out in the Scriptures. It is also a major sin to lack faith in God, doubting in mind and heart, even subtly in our actions, that he has the ability to carry out his will and purposes. (Heb. 3:12-13, 18-19). It is commonly referred to as missing the mark of perfection.

What is a sinner? Sinner: (Gr. hamartōlos) In the Scriptures “sinners” is generally used in a more specific way, that is, referring to those willfully living in sin, practicing sin, or have a reputation of sinning.–Matt. 9:10; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:30; 7:37-39; John 9:16; Rom. 3:7; Gal. 2:15; 1 Tim. 1:15; Heb. 7:26; Jam. 4:8; 1 Pet 4:18; Jude 1:15.

David is not here casting the blame onto his mother, as God never intended mothers to conceive and give birth to children who would sin. Nevertheless, when Adam and Eve rebelled, they were expelled from the Garden of Eden, they lost their ability to pass on perfection. Therefore, every child was born missing the mark of perfection. The Hebrew term translated “sin” is chattath; in Greek, the word is hamartia. Both carry the meaning of missing the mark of perfection, namely, falling short of perfection.

The verbal forms occur in enough secular contexts to provide a basic picture of the word’s meaning. In Judges 20:16 the left-handed slingers of Benjamin are said to have the skill to throw stones at targets and “not miss.” In a different context, Proverbs 19:2 speaks of a man in a hurry who “misses his way” (RSV, neb, KJV has “sinneth”). A similar idea of not finding a goal appears in Proverbs 8:36; the concept of failure is implied.[2]

Genesis 6:5 The American Translation (AT)

5 When the LORD saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil, the LORD regretted that he had ever made man on the earth.

Genesis 8:21 The American Translation (AT)

21 I will never again curse the soil, though the bent of man’s mind may be evil from his very youth; nor ever again will I ever again destroy all life creature as I have just done.

All of us have inherited a sinful nature, meaning that we are currently unable to live up to the mark of perfection, in which we were created. In fact, Genesis 6:5 says we all suffer from, ‘our whole bent of thinking, which is nothing but evil.” Genesis 8:21 says that ‘our mind is evil from our very youth.’ Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are treacherous and desperately sick.” What does all of this mean? It means that prior to the fall, our natural inclination; our natural leaning was toward good. However, after the fall, our natural inclination, our natural leaning was toward bad, wicked, evil.

We should never lose sight of the fact that unrighteous desires of the flesh are not to be taken lightly. (Rom. 7:19, 20) Nevertheless, if it is our desire to have a righteous relationship with God, it will be the stronger desire. Psalm 119:165 says, “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.” We need to cultivate our love for doing right, which will strengthen our conscience, the sense of what is right and wrong that governs somebody’s thoughts and actions, urging us to do right rather than wrong. It is only through studying the Bible that we can train the conscience. Once it is trained, it will prick us like a needle in the heart, when we are thinking of doing something wrong. It will feel like a pain in our heart, sadness, nervousness, which is the voice saying, ‘do not do this.’ Moreover, if we ignore our voice, it will grow silent over time and will stop telling us what is wrong.–Romans 2:14-15.

James 1:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[3] 15 Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

We have a natural desire toward wrongdoing, and Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and he caters to the fallen flesh. James also tells us “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[4] Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) We resist the devil by immediately dismissing any thought that is contrary to God’s values found in his Word. When any wrong thought enters our mind, we do not entertain it for a moment, nor do we cultivate it, causing it to grow. We then offer rational prayers in our head, or better yet, out loud so we can defeat irrational fleshly thinking with rational biblical thinking. The Apostle Peter, referring to the Devil wrote, “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9) While the Bible helps us better to understand the gravity of our fallen condition, this should not cause us alarm as the Bible also shows us how to control our mental bent toward evil. We can renew our mind (Rom 12:2), acquire the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)), take off the old person and put on the new person (Eph. 4:20-24; Col 3:9-10), among other things.

The Bible Offers How to Get the Best out of Life Now

Another facet of benefiting from the Bible is that it shows us the way to get the best out of life now, even in imperfection.

1 Timothy 3:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

All of us can benefit now by being temperate, not just the overseers. What does being temperate mean? Knute Larson wrote, “He must also be temperate, or balanced, not given to extremes. Temperate comes from a word meaning “sober,” or “calm in judgment.” It carries the idea of objective thinking and clear perspective. A temperate person is free from the influences of passion, lust, emotion, or personal gain.[5]

What did Paul mean by “sober-minded” (rendered self-controlled, LEB, HCSB) and how can we all befit from this as well? Sober Minded: (Gr. nepho) This denotes being sound in mind, to be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking, ‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’[6] Larson wrote, “All Christians are called to be self-controlled; this is an evidence of the Spirit’s life within. Here Paul required that leaders model this quality. A pastor is to be in control of himself, not given to anger, personal ambition, or passions. He is to be sensible and in charge of his life. Peter told all Christians to be “self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Without the power of God’s Spirit, the human spirit is left alone to navigate the forces of evil and personal weaknesses. By the Spirit whom God has placed in all believers, we are given the ability to live beyond these evil influences; we are enabled to have a self that is controlled not by fallen nature but by God’s kingdom goodness.”[7] In just this one verse, simply looking deeper into just two words, we can see what personality changes we need to make that will make us a better Christian, a better person, and help us live a better life even in imperfection.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Richard L. Pratt Jr, wrote, “Paul insisted that the Corinthian believers purify themselves from everything that contaminates. The tabernacle instructions of Exodus 30:20–21 are evidently in view here. In the Old Testament, ritual washings symbolized the repentance and recommitment of worshipers. Paul applied this principle to the Christian life. Although the ritual washings themselves were not to be observed in the New Testament, the inward reality that they symbolized was to be observed. Note that Paul mentioned everything. No defilement is acceptable in the Christian life, however small it may be. In fact, Paul had in mind both body and spirit. Paul probably mentioned the body in light of his discussion of the temptation to religious prostitution. Corinth was full of opportunities for fleshly defilement that led to the defilement of the inner person. Behavior is not just external; it corrupts the spirit of a person as well. Neither the behavior of the body nor the condition of the spirit should be overlooked by believers.”[8]

1 Corinthians 6:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

Sexual Immorality: (Heb. zanah; Gr. porneia) A general term for immoral sexual acts of any kind: such as adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between people not married to each other, homosexuality, and bestiality.[9] Richard L. Pratt Jr. wrote, “Flee … immorality. It is likely that the apostle had in mind Joseph’s example of fleeing Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:12). Paul instructed the young pastor Timothy in a similar way (2 Tim. 2:22). Rather than moderate resistance to immorality, Paul insisted on radical separation. Paul’s radical advice rested on the uniqueness of sexual sin. In contrast with all other sins, immorality is against one’s own body. The meaning of these words is difficult to determine. Many sins, such as substance abuse, gluttony, and suicide, have detrimental effects on the body. Paul’s words do not refer to disease and/or other damage caused by sin. Instead, his words are linked to the preceding discussion of 6:12–17. There Paul established that Christians’ bodies are joined with Christ so that they become “members of Christ” (6:15) himself. Sexual union with a prostitute violates one’s body by bringing it into a wrongful “one flesh” union, and by flaunting the mystical union with Christ (6:15). It is in this sense that sexual immorality is a unique sin against the body. It violates the most significant fact about believers’ physical existence: their bodies belong to Christ.”[10]

In review, what have we discovered in these three texts? Is there any doubt that if we possess the quality of being sober-minded (self-control) that we will not have better health and better relationships. Through ‘cleansing ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit,’ we evade damaging our health. Finally, the marriage is on safe grounds by our ‘fleeing from sexual immorality.’

How to Study Your Bible

The Bible Offers How to Best Live In an Imperfect World

Another aspect of the Bible is that it will help us to find true happiness in this imperfect world that we live in, with the hope of even greater happiness to come. Bible knowledge helps us to discover the innermost harmony and satisfaction that this imperfect life offers, and gives us faith and hopefulness of an even greater one to come. It assists us to develop such pleasing characteristics as empathy, love, joy, peace, kindness, and faith. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 4:24, 32) Such characteristics will help us to be a better spouse, father or mother, son or daughter, friend, coworker, student, and so on.

The Bible helps us to See What the Future Holds

Another facet of the Bible is its prophecies, which will help us to understand where we are in the stream of time, and what is yet to unfold. Notice the conditions that are coming in the text below.

Revelation 21:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell[11] among them, and they shall be his people,[12] and God himself will be among them,[13] and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

21:3–4. For the third and final time John hears a loud voice from the throne (16:17; 19:5). The word for dwelling is traditionally translated “tabernacle” or “tent.” When the Israelites had lived in the wilderness after the exodus, God’s presence was evident through the tent (Exod. 40:34). Part of the reward for Israel’s obedience to God was, “I will put my dwelling place [tabernacle] among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Lev. 26:11–12). Israel’s disobedience, of course, led finally to the destruction of the temple.

The permanent remedy began when God became enfleshed in Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). A form of the same verb translated “made his dwelling” in John 1:14 is now used by the heavenly voice: he will live with them. Here, then, is the final eternal fulfillment of Leviticus 26.

They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God is a divine promise often made, particularly in context of the new covenant (Jer. 31:33; 32:38; Ezek. 37:27; 2 Cor. 6:16). In eternity, it will find full completion in its most glorious sense. One striking note here is that the word translated “people,” while often singular in Revelation (for example, 18:4), here is plural, literally “peoples.” This points to the great ethnic diversity of those in heaven.

The great multitude who came out of the Great Tribulation received the pledge of many blessings including the final removal of any cause for tears (7:15–17). Now this promise extends to every citizen-saint of the New Jerusalem. The picture of God himself gently taking a handkerchief and wiping away all tears is overwhelming. It pictures the removal of four more enemies:

•   death—destroyed and sent to the fiery lake (20:14; 1 Cor. 15:26)

•   mourning—caused by death and sin, but also ironically the eternal experience of those who loved the prostitute (18:8)

•   crying—one result of the prostitute’s cruelty to the saints (18:24)

•   pain—the first penalty inflicted on mankind at the Fall is finally lifted at last (Gen. 3:16)

All these belonged to the old order of things where sin and death were present. The last thought could also be translated, “The former things are gone.” No greater statement of the end of one kind of existence and the beginning of a new one can be found in Scripture.[14]

The Bible helps us Share the Good News

Romans 10:13-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””

14  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how will they hear without someone to preach? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!”[15]

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord,[16] who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the inhabited earth.”

10:14a. Calling requires faith. How … can they call on the one they have not believed in? In the Old Testament, calling on the name of the Lord was a metaphor for worship and prayer (Gen. 4:26; 12:8; Ps. 116:4). No one can call out to God who has not believed in him.

10:14b. Faith requires hearing. And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? More than anything else, this question is the crux of all missiological activity since the first century. God has ordained that people have to hear (or read, or otherwise understand the content of) the word of God in order to be saved. One who knows the gospel must communicate it to one who does not know it.

10:14c. Hearing requires preaching. And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Since no other media except the human voice was of practical value in spreading the gospel in the first century, preaching is Paul’s method of choice. And yet, in the media-rich day in which we minister, has anything replaced preaching as the most effective way to communicate the gospel? We thank God for the printed page, and even for cutting-edge presentations of the gospel circling the globe on the internet. But it is still the human voice that cracks with passion, the human eye that wells with tears of gratitude, and the human frame that shuffles to the podium, bent from a lifetime of Service to the gospel, that reaches the needy human heart most readily. Hearing may not require preaching in person today, but it always benefits from it.

10:15. Preaching requires sending. And how can they preach unless they are sent? Even when his servants were unwilling (e.g., Jonah), God has been sending the message of salvation to the ends of the earth from the beginning. Paul, a “sent one” (apostle, apostolos), was sent to the Gentiles, and he needed the church at Rome to help him. But he also wanted them to be available for God to send them. There were many, many Jews in Rome who were still stumbling over the stone in the path of salvation. How would they ever call on the name of the Lord unless someone is sent? Paul wants the church at Rome to get in step with those who have borne good news to Israel before, most specifically those who brought the good news of their deliverance from captivity in Assyria:

Original Context

“Good news” in its earliest contexts was that of victory in battle. In Isaiah it is deliverance from captivity in Assyria (cf. Isa. 52:4, 11–12), a type of the coming deliverance from sin.

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Romans 10:15

And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Paul’s Application

Just as the “good news” was delivered to Israel in the Old Testament, so it still must be delivered in Paul’s day. It is a different gospel—a better one—of permanent deliverance from captivity to sin

Six key terms, taken in reverse order, summarize God’s plan for taking the good news of the gospel to those in need: send, preach, hear, believe, call, saved.

With a final barrage of scriptures from the Old Testament, Paul proves his point that, in spite of sovereign election from God’s side of the equation, Israel is in a state of unbelief by her own choice. Personal responsibility is part of the ministry of the gospel, both in delivering it and in choosing whether or not to receive it. God’s responsibility was to get “the gospel” to Israel; it was Israel’s responsibility to act on it.

10:16–18. Unfortunately, not all the Israelites accepted the good news (the obvious implication being that some did—the remnant; cf. Rom. 9:27; 11:5, 25). Paul uses a situation in Isaiah’s day to illustrate:

Original Context

Isaiah was proclaiming good news of salvation to Israel (Is. 52:7, 10) but at the same time was questioning whether any would believe.

Isaiah 53:1

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

 

 

Romans 10:16

For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”

 

 

Paul’s Application

Paul’s application of this verse is the same as Isaiah’s, just a few centuries later. Israel once again was hearing the good news, but not believing.

The apostle John agreed with Paul’s assessment of Israel’s condition. Even though the Israelites saw Jesus’ miracles with their own eyes, “they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37). John then says this was in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:1, just as Paul did. Paul then reiterates what he said in verses 14–15, that faith can only come through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. The word of Christ here is perhaps best taken as “the spoken words about Christ,” referring to the preaching of the gospel. Word is rhema, the uttered or spoken word as opposed to logos, the revealed word as expression of thought. A. T. Robertson has christou as an objective genitive (Robertson, 4:390), yielding “the spoken message about Christ.”

Is it possible that Israel did not hear—either in Isaiah’s day, in Jesus’ day, or in Paul’s day? Paul answers as if the answer would be obvious to anyone who cared to look: Of course they [heard]—and he uses another Old Testament quote to prove it, with another fresh application:

Original Context

In its direct application, this psalm supports Paul’s contention in Romans 1:20 that creation proves the existence of God.

Psalm 19:4

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

Romans 10:18

Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

 

Paul’s Application

Paul uses the “voice” of creation as an analogy for how the gospel has spread to the end of the (Jews’) world.

If we parallel Paul’s argument in Romans 1:20 with his argument here (Ps. 19:4 being the common element between the two), then just as all people everywhere “are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20) concerning the existence of God, so Jews everywhere are without excuse concerning the existence of their Messiah and his work. Having answered a first objection to Israel’s lack of responsibility, Paul answers a second.[17]

The Bible Helps Us Achieve and Maintain Our Spirituality

Matthew 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”[18]

John Macarthur wrote, “4:4 It is written. All three of Jesus’ replies to the devil are taken from Deuteronomy. This one, from Deuteronomy 8:3, states that God allowed Israel to hunger so that He might feed them with manna and teach them to trust Him to provide for them. So the verse is directly applicable to Jesus’ circumstances and a fitting reply to Satan’s temptation.”[19]  Indeed, Christians are fed by reading and studying the Word of God. In addition, our faith is strengthened when we experience the benefits of applying God’s Word more fully and accurately in our lives as we walk with God, putting him first.

The Bible Helps Us Understand the Will and Purposes of the Creator

When we enter the pathway of walking with our God, we will certainly come across resistance from three different areas. Our greatest obstacle is ourselves because we have inherited imperfection from our first parents Adam and Eve. The Scriptures make it quite clear that we are mentally bent toward bad, not good. (Gen 6:5; 8:21, AT) In other words, our natural desire is toward wrong. Prior to sinning, Adam and Eve were perfect, and they had the natural desire of doing good, and to go against that was to go against the grain of their inner person. Scripture also tells us of our inner person, our heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The heart is more deceitful than all else,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

Romans 7:21-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 I find then the law in me that when I want to do right, that evil is present in me. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and taking me captive in the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

1 Corinthians 9:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Ephesians 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

Ephesians 5:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 buying out[20] the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

There are horrific dangers and deceptions that lie within the world that is under the influence of Satan. God recognizes that we are imperfect, knowing that we have human weaknesses that he originally did not intend, meaning that he is aware of how difficult it is to walk in godly wisdom. He is aware that we are all missing the mark of perfection, and that we are all mentally bent toward evil. He knows that our natural desire is to do wrong, and our heart (inner self) is treacherous, and we cannot even know it. It is for this reason that he makes allowances for our imperfection. Jesus Christ offered himself as a ransom, covering our Adamic sin and our human weaknesses when we stumble at times, but only if we demonstrate trust in him.

We need to walk not as unwise but as wise. What does Paul mean by ‘wise’ and ‘unwise’ in this text? God has made known to us his plan of salvation, which was a mystery up until the time of Paul’s writings. At that time, he had lavished upon them/us, “in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.” (Eph. 1:8-9) Yes, God has afforded his people wisdom, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” (Eph. 1:17-19) It would take a wise person to understand and appreciate the mystery of salvation, and the fact that they are required to bring their life into harmony with God’s magnificent plan of saving the world of mankind who are receptive to accepting Christ. To be wise also means that these ones fully grasp the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21), and are carrying out that will to the best of their ability. Therefore, the wise accept, value, and see the significance of wisely walking worthily with God. On the other hand, the unwise are those of the world of humankind who are alienated from God, living their life in the moment, walking in the desires of the flesh, because they see God’s Word as foolish.

Turning our attention to verse 16 of Ephesians 5, we see that the wise know how to buy out the opportune time from the world, even though they live in the world, but they do not use it to the fullest extent, unlike the unwise. Why, because they know that the world of wicked mankind is passing away. The wise one buys time back from this wicked world. Some of the areas that can be bought from are watching less television, less time playing on the computer, other forms of entertainment, not always working overtime, or maybe even not taking a promotion that would cause one to miss Christian meetings, so he or she can focus on the better things. Some of these better things are personal family time, family Bible study, personal Bible study, religious services, sharing the Good News with others, congregational responsibilities, and so on. Notice below that we were formerly unwise, but are now the wise.

Ephesians 2:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

 And you being dead in the trespasses and your sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. Among whom also we all formerly lived in the desires of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Help in Understanding the Bible

The irony is that hundreds of millions of Christians are humble enough to recognize that the Bible is difficult to understand, it is a deep and complex book. There are tens of millions, who believe they understand everything they read, and for them, the Bible is easy to understand. The sad part is that many of the latter do not understand it any better than the former; they are simply putting a modern-day twist on Scripture and having it say what they want it to say. Even Peter in the first century, one of the pillars of the early church, an apostle of Christ, viewed the Apostle Paul’s letters as difficult to understand.

2 Peter 3:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

If we are to appreciate and apply the Bible in our lives, we must first fully understand it. We must know what the author of a Bible book meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his original intended audience. Then, we will be able to attach the significance that it has in our lives. If we are unaware of the correct way of interpreting the Scriptures, grammatical-historical interpretation, then we are going to be one of those ones who Peter spoke of as, “the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction.” Hundreds of millions of Christians unknowingly share an incorrect understanding of Scripture, because they are not aware of the principles of interpretation, and how to apply them correctly. More on Peter’s words in a moment.

Our first step is observation, to get as close to the original text as possible. If we do not read Hebrew or Greek; then, two or three literal translations are preferred (ASV, RSV, NASB, UASV). The second step is interpretation, What did the author mean by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his original audience. A part of this second step would be what the differences between the biblical audience and us are? The Christian today is separated from the biblical audience by differences in culture, language, situation, time, and often covenant. The third step is the implications or principles in this text? This is perhaps the most challenging step. In it, we are looking for the implications or principles that are reflected in the meaning of the text we identified in the second step. Part of this third step is making sure that we stay within the pattern of the original meaning when we determine any implications for us. The fourth step is the application. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?

Certainly, no one would suggest that God intended such division and confusion. If each of us can give our own meaning to a text; then, it has no meaning at all, and has lost all authority over our lives. What does the Bible really teach? Look at the different views the Bible scholar have below.

(Inerrancy) Full inerrancy in this book means that the original writings are fully without error in all that they state, as are the words. The words were not dictated (automaton), but the intended meaning is inspired, as are the words that convey that meaning. The Author allowed the writer to use his style of writing, yet controlled the meaning to the extent of not allowing the writer to choose a wrong word, which would not convey the intended meaning. Other more liberal-minded persons hold with partial inerrancy, which claims that as far as faith is concerned, this portion of God’s Word is without error, but that there are historical, geographical, and scientific errors.

There are several different levels of inerrancy. Absolute Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is fully true and exact in every way; including not only relationships and doctrine, but also science and history. In other words, all information is completely exact. Full Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible was not written as a science or historical textbook, but is phenomenological, in that it is written from the human perspective. In other words, speaking of such things as the sun rising, the four corners of the earth or the rounding off of number approximations are all from a human perspective. Limited Inerrancy is the belief that the Bible is meant only as a reflection of God’s purposes and will, so the science and history are the understanding of the author’s day and is limited. Thus, the Bible is susceptible to errors in these areas. Inerrancy of Purpose is the belief that it is only inerrant in the purpose of bringing its readers to a saving faith. The Bible is not about facts, but about persons and relationships, thus, it is subject to error. Inspired: Not Inerrant is the belief that its authors are human and thus subject to human error. It should be noted that this author holds the position of full inerrancy.

(Creation Account) Were the universe and man created within the past 6,000 to 10,000 years, or are the days creative periods. Or rather, is there a large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or the literary framework view correct that asserts that God was not having Moses address how He created the world, nor the length of time in which to do such? This view holds that this account in Genesis 1 is merely a literary outline that summarizes a theology of creation.

(Providence) Is God sovereign over all things, or does God limit his control by granting freedom? (Divine Image) Is the image of God our soul, or is the image of God our God-given authority, or is it our relations? (Human Constitution) Are we made up of a body and soul, or body, soul, and spirit, or are we the person a soul? (Atonement) Did Christ die in our place, or is it that Christ destroyed Satan and his works, or that Christ displayed God’s wrath against sin? (Salvation) Did God from eternity in the past predestine some to salvation, and others to eternal damnation, or is it that God loves everyone, and we can choose to accept or reject that love, with God not coercing them, while they must maintain an approved standing? (Sanctification) Is sanctification a declaration by God, or a holiness in Christ and personal conduct, or resting-faith in the sufficiency of Christ, or is it entire sanctification in perfect love? (Eternal Security) Do we retain our security in the Power of God, or do we need to persist in faith? (Baptism) Are infants to be baptized, or are only believers to be baptized? (Gifts) Is speaking in tongues a true sign of faith, or did speaking in tongues die out after the first century C.E.?[21] (Millennium) Is there to be a rapture before the reign of Christ, or are we working toward and waiting for a coming reign of peace, or is the thousand-year conquest of Satan symbolic? These sorts of questions could go on for hundreds of pages.

How to Study Your Bible

Help in Teaching the Bible

If we are to fulfill the great commission, that Jesus gave to every Christian, to proclaim and to teach the Good News, we must accurately understand it ourselves first. It was in the spring of 31 C.E., and Jesus was about to speak to a very large, mixed crowd on a mountainside, who were anxiously awaiting what he would teach them. He did not let them down in the least, as he was nothing short of astounding in what and how he taught them. “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching.” Astonished: (Gr. thambeō; derivative of thambos) This is one who is experiencing astonishment, to be astounded, or amazed as a result of some sudden and unusual event, which can be in a positive or negative sense.[22] What was so special about his way of teaching, in comparison to what they had been hearing from the Jewish religious leaders? He taught with authority from the Scriptures. He quoted or referred to the Old Testament, to support what he was saying. The Jewish religious leaders referred to other Rabbis as their authority.

At the end of his ministry here on earth, Jesus told all of his disciples that they too were to be teachers. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20, ESV) The apostle Paul also exhorted Hebrew Christians of their responsibility to teach when they were trying to get away with doing the minimum possible. “For in view of the time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12) Paul also told Timothy, “For a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be kind to all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged,”–2 Timothy 2:24.

What about us? Sadly, survey after survey over the last 35 years has shown that 90+ percent of Christians today are in the same position as what Paul had said to the Hebrew Christians. “For in view of the time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Heb. 5:12) On this verse, Thomas D. Lea wrote, “First, he said, ‘You’ve been Christians long enough to be teachers, but you still need instruction in the ABCs.’ They should have been able to pass on their basic understanding of the Christian message to others. Instead, they needed a good review of the elementary matters themselves. Not only had they failed to move forward in their understanding; they had lost their grasp of the elementary truths of God’s word. ‘If the dark things do not become plain then the plain things will become dark’ (Thomas Hewitt). Second, these believers were in need of milk, not solid food! The term milk represents a beginning level of instruction for Christians. The term solid food describes advanced instruction. Both the milk phase and the solid food phase were important and essential. However, someone who never reached the solid food stage was seriously defective. … The writer of Hebrews was concerned that his readers should be showing signs of Christian maturity. They were still caught up in issues only ‘baby’ Christians found to be important.”[23] Do not be troubled by these words, as to biblical illiteracy among the Christians today, the church and its leaders bear most of the responsibly by far, with some going to the churchgoer as well.

Joshua 1:8-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good successHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid, and do not be dismayed, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”

We see that we need to meditate on God’s Word day and night (See also Ps. 1:1-3). The day and night is really hyperbole for reading it every day. The Hebrew word behind meditate (haghah) can be rendered “mutter.” In other words, as we read, we are to read in an undertone, slightly out load, like muttering to oneself. The process of hearing the words increases our retention of the material dramatically. As Bible students we read to understand and remember what we read, and we are obligated to share this good news with others. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (translated by S. Tregelles, 1901, p. 215) say of haghah: “Prop[erly] to speak with oneself, murmuring and in a low voice, as is often done by those who are musing.”[24]

The last phrase in verse 8, “you will have good success” can be rendered to “act with insight.” How was Joshua to acquire this ability “to act with insight”? He was to meditate on God’s Word day and night. What is the equation of Joshua 1:8? If Joshua were to read meditatively (in an undertone) from God’s Word daily, applying it in his life, he would be able to act with insight, resulting in his prospering. Of course, the prospering is not financial gain. It is a life of joy and happiness in an age of difficult times. It is avoiding the pitfalls that those in the world around us suffer daily. Moreover, it does not mean that we are to prosper or be successful in an absolute sense because bad things happen to good people. We must add the qualifier, “generally speaking,” if we follow God’s Word we will have success.

INTERPRETING THE BIBLE

Basics of Biblical Interpretation

Step 1: What is the historical setting and background for the author of the book and his audience? Who wrote the book? When and under what circumstances was the book written? Where was the book written? Who were the recipients of the book? Was there anything noteworthy about the place of the recipients? What is the theme of the book? What was the purpose for writing the book?

Step 2a: What would this text have meant to the original audience? (The meaning of a text is what the author meant by the words that he used, as should have been understood by his readers.)

Step 2b: If there are any words in our section that we do not understand, or that stand out as interesting words that may shed some insight on the meaning, look them up in a word dictionary.

Step 2c: After reading our section from the three Bible translations, doing a word study, write down what we think the author meant. Then, pick up a trustworthy commentary, like CPH Old or New Testament commentary volume, and see if you have it correct.

Step 3: Explain the original meaning down into one or two sentences, preferably one. Then, take the sentence or two; place it in a short phrase.

Step 4: Now, consider their circumstances, the reason for it being written, what it meant to them, and consider examples from our day that would be similar to theirs, which would fit the pattern of meaning. What implications can be drawn from the original meaning?

Step 5: Find the pattern of meaning, i.e., the “thing like these,” and consider how it could apply to our modern day life. How should individual Christians today live out the implications and principles?

We know that Scripture makes it clear that there is only one acceptable way of worshiping God, the way outlined in God’s Word. Everything that we believe and do needs to be based on that Word, and our understanding of that Word needs to be accurate. There are 41,000 different Christian denominations, and clearly, not all are on the path of doing the will of the Father as outlined in the Bible, for Jesus said, in that day he will say to some, “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23) We can either place our trust in man, who bickers and argues over what the Word of God means, or we can take the Bible’s point of view itself. After all, it is the inspired Word of God, which is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”–2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Trust in Jehovah with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

Milton H. Terry wrote, “It is an old and oft-repeated hermeneutical principle that words should be understood in their literal sense unless such literal interpretation involves a manifest contradiction or absurdity.”[25] Robert L. Towns writes, “The Bible is the best interpreter of itself. As we study the Bible, we should learn to compare the Scriptures we are studying with other relevant passages of Scripture to interpret the Bible.”[26] This book is the first step, HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE. As to the second step, the reader can take advantage of the INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by this author (ISBN: 978-1-945757-07-5), so that we are not entirely dependent on the interpretation of others. In other words, we will be able to do as the Bereans did with the Apostle Paul, and for which he commended them,

Acts 17:10-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Paul and Silas in Berea

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness,[27] examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Note that they (1) “received the word with all eagerness,” and then went about (2) “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” If the apostle Paul was to be examined to see if what he said was so, surely uninspired commentators must be examined as well.

Are We Willing to Spend Time Each Week to Understand the Bible?

Many want to understand, to be fearless, and capable of sharing Bible truth with others. However, if this is to be the case, we must be willing to buy out a small amount of time from the wicked world under the influence of Satan that surrounds us (2 Cor. 4:3-4; 11:13-15) and invest it into a small study program. Many people want to do many things, but they allow their time to be used on frivolous pursuits. The thought of, ‘oh, if only I had started six months ago, I would be so far along now!’ Do not let another six months slip by.

Colossians 4:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, buying out for yourselves the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

The recommendation once more is to set aside one hour each day for God. If we are able to spend more time, this is entirely up to us. What must be realized is just how much time we give to the world around us, a world that lies in the hands of Satan. Is it too much to ask that we give one hour a day to the Creator of life? We can simply get up one hour earlier than we normally do, and we will have our study in before the day even gets started. The beautiful thing about that plan is; it will start our day on a spiritual track, meaning a better day from the beginning.

Digging Deeper

Psalm 92:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

How great are your works, O Jehovah!
Your thoughts are very deep!

1 Corinthians 2:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

There is no doubt that God’s thoughts are deep, these deeper things of God are very complex at times, and as Peter tells us in the above, they are not easy to understand. Therefore, we must dig deeper by the use of the many wonderful tools on the market, along with prayerful reflection as we carry on in our studies. However, even before we begin that, we need to know (1) HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE, and (2) that our way of INTERPRETING THE BIBLE is correct.

Psalm 139:17-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 119:160 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

160 The sum of your word is truth,
and every one of your righteous judgments endures forever.

As was true of the Psalmist, we should view God’s sharing His thoughts as very precious. We should be very thankful and appreciative that we have access to ‘the sum of God’s Word’ as being truths that He has revealed to us, and therefore, we must dig deeper in the sum of God’s Word.

How Does God Communicate With Us Today?

Setting any possible emotionalism[28] aside, we must ask ourselves if God is truly real to us. Can we say that God is our friend? James tells us in his inspired letter, “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,’[29] and he was called a friend of God.” We all have heard the say, “actions speak louder than words.” Abraham’s actions evidenced that he had a deep, heartfelt faith, and truly loved God. He showed in his life that he was not just a friend of God in mere words but also in deed. The more we draw closer to God in both word and deed, the more he will draw closer to us.

What are some things that we can do to draw closer to God? The primary ways that we can draw closer to God are through communication with him. In prayer, we communicate with the Father. King David, in prayer, said, “Before him I pour out my complaint; before him I tell about my trouble.”[30] (Ps 142:2) How does God communicate with us? The only people in Bible times to receive direct communication from God (namely, spoken audible direction, visions, dreams, and angelic messengers delivered divine messages), were Patriarchs like Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua. There were also the Judges like Gideon, Ehud, and Samson. There were the Kings like David, Solomon, Jehu, and Hezekiah. Then there were the Prophets like Elijah and Elisha, or Isiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Then, there were the Minor Prophets like Jonah, Micah, and Joel. Then there were Priests like Aaron and Ezra. Then, after the Babylonian exile, there were Governors like Zerubbabel. After that, we enter the New Testament era with John the Baptist. Then, there were the Twelve Apostles like John, Peter, James, and Matthew. Then, there were the Traveling Apostles or Evangelists like Paul and Philip. There were also more than one hundred Traveling Companions of the apostle Paul such as Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, and Tychicus.

Persons such as these might receive a message from God through a dream or night vision, where pictures of God’s message or purpose are placed on the mind of the sleeping person. The Bible says, “Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.” (Dan. 2:19) We are also told, “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head [that is, in his mind] as he lay in his bed.” (Dan 7:1) There were also visions given when a person was awake, which was actually the more common way of communication. We are told, “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel,[31] after the one that appeared to me at the beginning.” (Dan. 8:1) Of Ezekiel, it is said, “In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” (Eze 1:1) The apostle John tells us, “And this is how I saw the horses in the vision and those seated on them …” (Rev. 9:17) Then, we have the apostle Peter who fell into a trance and he saw the heavens open, giving him a pictorial vision of his next assignment. (Ac 10:9-17) There are times when angels served as direct representatives of God and visited persons such as Abraham, Moses, Daniel, the father of John the Baptist, Zechariah, and even Mary. The prophet Zechariah was having a vision of some horsemen and being visited by and angel. Then he said to the angel, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel who was talking to me said, “I will show you what these are.” (Gen. 22:11-12, 15-18; Zech. 1:7, 9) The Bible authors “were inspired by God,” ‘speaking from God as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit.’–2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21.

The Bible is a perfect guidebook that was penned to get God’s people up unto the time of Armageddon. The only other future books to be written are to come during the millennial reign of Christ. Once the Scriptures were closed in the first century with the death of the last apostle, John, there was no need for any more books to be written or any more prophets. They then and we now have the complete revelation of God to get us to the second coming of Christ. The only person(s) we have needed since the closure of Scriptures in 100 C.E.[32] has been interpreters. There are two kinds of interpreters. One is a translator of the Scriptures, like Jerome and his Latin Vulgate, John Wycliffe with the first English Bible (written by hand), William Tyndale with the first English Bible in print, Martin Luther, and the German Bible, to mention just a few. From our modern day era, we have translators on translation committees, who have given us the American Standard Version (ASV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), as well as the forthcoming Updated American Standard Version (UASV).[33] These ones take the written language of our Old Testament Hebrew-Aramaic manuscripts and our Greek New Testament manuscripts and render them into our modern-day languages. We shall call these specialists Bible Translator Interpreters. Who are the other interpreters?

THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST

All Christians are the other interpreters, ones who convey the meaning of our modern-day translations, namely, what the Bible authors meant by the words that they used. We explain the Bible by giving others the meaning, significance, and understanding of the Word of God. We shall call ourselves, who also are a specialist, Christian Evangelist Interpreters. What is an evangelist exactly? Who all are expected to serve in this role? Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Why are Christians specialists like the Bible Translator Interpreters? It is because of the groundwork that needs to be laid. Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel, giving them background information, so that they are able to grasp what they are hearing. The Christian Evangelist Interpreter is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to the biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics.

Again, we quote what the apostle Peter said of the apostle Paul’s writings, “some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Pet. 3:16) The Christian Evangelist Interpreter needs to read, study, and understand the verses of scripture, in order to obey the command by Jesus to teach and make disciples. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) In order to teach another, we must clearly understand the Word of God ourselves first. Otherwise, how do we, 2,000-years removed from Peter, who felt the Scriptures were hard to understand, make it understandable to others? When we fully, completely, and accurately understand the Word of God; then, we can give reasons as to why it says what it say, and what the author meant by what he wrote. Moreover, we are also able to express it in our own words. There are two reasons why need to be absolutely certain that what we are conveying is accurate. First, it reflects poorly on us, our church and our denomination, and more importantly on God. Second, Peter said it himself, “the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Whether we distort the Word of God intentionally (false teachers), or unintentionally because we were too busy in Satan’s world to buy out the time to understand better, it all ends the same way, our destruction.

We need to understand the cultural differences in the Scriptures, the Bible backgrounds, as we are 2,000-years removed from the New Testament era and 2,500-3,500-years removed from the Old Testament era. We need to appreciate original language words that are in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. This does not mean that we need necessarily to learn biblical Hebrew and Greek. Some tools can aid us in this. We need to take what the author meant out of the text, not read our twenty-first-century mindset into the text. We need to understand the context. Context is the words, phrases, or passages that come before and after a particular word or passage in a speech or piece of writing and help to explain its full meaning. Context is also the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place. We need to be observant as we study, taking not of persons, place, things and circumstances. Discover who wrote it, what the purpose was, what is being conveyed when it was written, and why it was written. Are we reading historical texts like Kings and Chronicles, or poetical like the Psalms, apocalyptic such as Daniel or Revelations, prophetic like Isaiah or Jeremiah, the laws like Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, or letters like Ephesians, Galatians, Hebrews, or the Gospels? What do we know about the people involved? Can we say that we know anything about Alexander, Demas, Hermogenes, Asyncritus, Hermas, Julia, Philologus, and Phygelus? What are some of the keywords that we can investigate further? What is the main theme of the Bible book we are studying? Interpret literally, unless the author did not mean for it to be taken literally. We need to understand how to apply what the author meant to our lives.

What if we have not been properly trained in how to properly study God’s Word? You are now holding the best book on that subject. It can be very disheartening to struggle through Bible reading and study when we do not know how to properly study, to interpret the Scriptures correctly. In addition, it is difficult to form a long for personal Bible study if we have had no training. We have taken a long way around to answer, how does God talk to us today? Should we expect dreams, visions, a voice from heaven, or a visit from an angel? What about a prophet, should we expect that God would raise up another prophet? No, those days ended over 2,000-years ago. God speaks to us when we regularly read his word, the Bible, and meditate on it.

CONVERSATION EVANGELISM

Christian Evangelist Interpreters

Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology which endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. It can also be earnestly contending for the faith and saving one from losing their faith, as they have begun to doubt. Moreover, it can involve rebuking those who contradict the truth. It is being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks the Christian evangelist for a reason for the hope that is in him or her.–Jude 1.3, 21-23; 1 Pet 3.15; Acts 17:2-3; Titus 1:9.

What do we mean by obligated and what we mean by evangelism are at the heart of the matter and are indeed related to each other?

EVANGELISM: An evangelist is a proclaimer of the gospel or good news, as well as all biblical truths. There are levels of evangelism, which is pictured in first-century Christianity. All Christians evangelized in the first century, but a select few fit the role of a full-time evangelist (Ephesians 4:8, 11-12), as was true of Philip and Timothy.

Both Philip and Timothy are specifically mentioned as evangelizers. (Ac 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5) Philip was a full-time evangelist after Pentecost, who was sent to the city of Samaria, having great success. An angel even directed Philip to an Ethiopian Eunuch, to share the good news about Christ with him. Because of the Eunuch’s already having knowledge of God by way of the Old Testament, Philip was able to help him understand that the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. In the end, Philip baptized the Eunuch. Thereafter, the Spirit again sent Philip on a mission, this time to Azotus and all the cities on the way to Caesarea. (Ac 8:5, 12, 14, 26-40) Paul evangelized in many lands, setting up one congregation after another. (2 Cor. 10:13-16) Timothy was an evangelizer or missionary, and Paul placed distinct importance on evangelizing when he gave his parting encouragement to Timothy. – 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Timothy 1:3.

The office of apostle and evangelist seem to overlap in some areas, but could be distinguished in that apostles traveled and set up congregations, which took evangelizing skills, but also developed the congregations after they were established. The evangelists were more of a missionary, being stationed in certain areas to grow and develop congregations. In addition, if we look at all of the apostles and the evangelists, plus Paul’s more than one hundred traveling companions, it seems very unlikely that they could have had Christianity at over one million by the 125 A.D. This was accomplished because all Christians were obligated to carry out some level of evangelism.

OBLIGATED: In the broadest sense of the term for evangelizer, all Christians are obligated to play some role as an evangelist.

  • Basic Evangelism is planting seeds of truth and watering any seeds that have been planted. [In the basic sense of this word (euaggelistes), this would involve all Christians.] In some cases, it may be that one Christian planted the seed, which was initially rejected, so he was left in a good way because the planter did not try to force the truth down his throat. However, later he faces something in life that moves him to reconsider those seeds and another Christian waters what had already been planted by the first Christian. This evangelism can be carried out in all of the methods that are available: informal, house-to-house, street, phone, the internet, and the like. The Christian needs to decide for themselves just how much time they will spend on evangelism.
  • Making Disciples is having any role in the process of getting an unbeliever from his unbelief state to the point of accepting Christ as his Savior and being baptized. Once the unbeliever has become a believer, he is still developed until he has become strong. Any Christian could potentially carry this one person through all of the developmental stages. On the other hand, it may be that several have some part. It is like a person that specializes in a certain aspect of a job, but all are aware of the other aspects, in case they are called on to carry out that phase. Again, each Christian must decide for themselves what role they are to have, and how much of a role, but should be prepared to fill any role if needed.
  • Part-Time or Full-Time Evangelist is one who sees this as their calling and chooses to be very involved as an evangelist in their local church and community. They may work part-time to supplement their work as an evangelist. They may be married with children, but they realize their gift is in the field of evangelism. If it were the wife, the husband would work toward supporting her work as an evangelist and vice-versa. If it were a single person, he or she would supplement their work by being employed part-time, but also the church would help as well. This person is well trained in every aspect of bringing one to Christ.
  • Congregation Evangelists should be very involved in evangelizing their communities and helping the church members play their role at the basic levels of evangelism. There is nothing to say that one church could not have many within, who take on part-time or full-time evangelism within the congregation, which would and should be cultivated.

THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

Roadblocks to Regular and Consistent Bible Reading and Study

Psalm 119:97 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

Literally billions of men and women have a Bible. However, while they may own a Bible and even carry the Bible to their church meetings, can they honestly say that they love God’s Word? Is a person’s claim that they love the Word of God true if they are irregular and inconsistent in reading and studying it? Certainly not, the claim would be false based on their actions. On the other hand, there are former atheists, who had absolutely no respect for the Bible, who now read and study it daily now that they have converted to Christianity. They have grown to love God’s Word, and now are very much like the Psalmist, meditating on the Word of God “all the day.” Let us now look at tom roadblock that has gotten in the way for some, so that they have not read and studied their Bible consistently.

  1. IT REQUIRES DISCIPLINE

Today, many associate discipline with punishment that is designed to teach somebody obedience. For Christians they see discipline as church rules: the system of rules used in a Christian denomination in order to keep the church organized, clean, and pure. This is not how the word is being used here. The primary meaning of discipline is training to ensure proper behavior: the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior. Someone, who regularly and consistently cleans their house, mows their lawn, makes their doctor’s visits, cooks family meals, holds down a job, is a disciplined person. The same hold true of reading and studying the Bible, as well as preparing for and attending church meetings. If they are failing to do so; then, the Word of God is not their priority. Moreover, by extension, growing close to God is not their priority either because only by growing in knowledge of God can one draw closer to him.

Without seeming too insulting, it really comes down to being lazy. If we fail to carry out regular Bible study, prepare for Sunday’s Christian meeting, and even fail to attend that Sunday, yet we go out shopping later that day, or turn on the football games, where are our priorities? Thus, a lack of discipline has become a problem that we must overcome. If we have the time to do things that we desire to do; then, these things are close to our heart. What do we do during our seven-day week? Do we read newspapers and magazines? Do we surf the internet and regularly post on social media? Do we go shopping? Do we watch sports? Do we have a garden that we care for, a pet that we are taking care of, go out to eat, take in a movie, and so on. Then, we need to ‘buy out’[34] the time from other activities in order to read and study the Bible regularly. (Eph. 5:16) If we fail to buy out this time; then, our claim that we love God and his Word is simply untrue. We may try to rationalize why we are too busy but that will be irrational thinking. We need to have a genuine love for God and for people that need saving, being willing to make personal sacrifices, if we are going to grow in knowledge, so are to share biblical truths with others, to make disciples. (Matt. 22:37-39; 28:19-20; Phil. 4:13) We must cultivate qualities that make us a better Christian, a better disciple, to draw closer to God, namely discipline.

  1. INEXPERIENCED AND UNSKILLED BIBLE STUDENT

Experience is a knowledge or skill gained through being involved in or exposed to something over a period. I am not mechanically inclined. My father died when I was four, I had no older brother to train me, no uncles, and so I grew up without learning how to repair go-carts, mini bikes, cars, or motorcycles. I also never learned how to fix things around the house. All of my friends through life had these skills, which was a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I had a friend that would repair things for me. I was always clumsy around tools and had no real self-confidence in this area.

The same is true with Bible study. If we have always been told that the Bible is easy to understand, just interpret it as you read it because it is straightforward, we were extremely misinformed. Here again, is what the apostle Peter said about the apostle Paul’s writings, “also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Pet. 3:16) This is not the apostle Peter that Jesus found on a fishing boat, whom Jesus said ‘be my disciple,’ or the apostle Peter that denied Jesus three times. Rather this is the apostle Peter 35-years later, who was one of the main leaders of the entire church, who had decades of study and teaching under his belt, not to mention being an inspired author himself. This experienced and highly knowledgeable, wise apostle Peter, felt that some things in Paul’s letters were “hard to understand.” We are 2,000 years removed, of a different language, culture, and historical setting, and we are going to be so bold as to say, the Bible is easy to understand. Peter also said the ‘untaught were distorting the Scriptures.’ There is the important correlation if you are untaught; you have no choice but to distort the Scriptures. Sadly, Peters last words should be a wake-up call of all of us, ‘distorting the Scriptures, to our own destruction.’ One thing that this book will bring its readers is this; we will acquire the skills on HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE. We will also learn how to use the Bible study tools as well.

  1. LACKING REASONS, ENTHUSIASM & MOTIVATION

If we were never disciplined to regularly and consistently take care of the important things in life and we lack the experience and skills to do so, how are we going to have enthusiasm and the motivation? Reasons are defined as a motive or cause for acting or thinking in a particular way. Enthusiasm is defined as a passionate interest in or eagerness to do something. Motivation is defined as the act of giving somebody a reason or incentive to do something. It is the intention of this author to give the reader many motives, to help form a passionate interest and eagerness, as well as incentives to regularly and consistently read and study their Bible.

  1. A COMPLETE HEART

We cannot be halfhearted or in want of heart, or even double hearted. (Ps 12:2; Pro. 10:13) As a reader of hearts, God can see any insincere or feigned behavior on our part. He is well aware of our actions and thinking, even when we are alone. He knows our heart condition, what we are trying to do with our lives. If our heart is good, and we love God’s Word, he will know. (Josh. 1:8-9; Ps. 1:1-3; 119:97, 101, 105, and 165) A person who is halfhearted is lukewarmly worshiping God. (Ps 119:113; Re. 3:16) a person who is double hearted (literally, with a heart and a heart), is trying to serve two masters, or deceivingly saying one thing while thinking something else completely. (1 Ch. 12:33; Ps 12:2) Jesus clearly condemned such double hearted hypocrisy (Matt 15:7-8) A person being in want of heart is one who lacks good sense.

If we are not buying out the appropriate amount of time for reading and Studying God’s word, this is because we lack a complete heart. It is because we are not aware of our spiritual needs. Worse still, we might be aware of our spiritual needs but have chosen to ignore them, which will result in a callused, unfeeling heart. Jesus pointed out that humans have an inborn, essential spiritual need. We long to be fed by God’s Word, which gives meaning in our life. In dealing with the heart, let us look at one of Jesus illustrations. The parable of the sower talks about three different types of soil, which can be viewed as three different types of heart conditions.

Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The Parable of the Sower

Then he told them many things by parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow; and as he was sowing, some seeds fell alongside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell upon the good soil and they began to yield fruit, this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, the other thirty. The one who has ears, let him hear.”

The Parable of the Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

13:3–8. The many things Jesus spoke in parables certainly included what was written in 13:3–52. It is possible that there were other parables that Matthew did not record.

The parable of the sower requires little comment, because Jesus himself explained the parable in 13:18–23. Note that the farmer sowed seed or several different kinds of soil. The soil along the path (13:4) would likely have been hard-packed from much traffic. There would be little or no vegetation or loose soil to hide or bury the seeds, so the birds could easily find them. The birds represent the devil, “the evil one” (13:19). Note also the variable quality of even the good soil (13:8); even among that which is conducive to fruit bearing, some soils do better than others.

As is common in storytelling today, Jesus used patterns of threes—three bad soils and three variations on the good soil. Usually the first two examples set a pattern, and the third example departs from that pattern, revealing the central message of the story. In this parable, the first three soils set the pattern of poor response to the seeds, and the fourth soil was the contrasting positive example.

13:9. Jesus repeated the challenge that Matthew first recorded in 11:15, after identifying John the Baptizer with “Elijah, who was to come.” He will repeat the same wording in 13:43, and the challenge is explained thoroughly in the following context (13:10–17).

In fact, the distinction between those who have ears to hear and those who do not is central to understanding all of Matthew 11–13. In chapters 11–12, the conflicts revealed the contrast between those who willfully chose to disbelieve in the face of overwhelming evidence, and those who humbly accepted the evidence and responded in faith and obedience to the Messiah. Those who had ears to hear would not only find understanding about the parable, but would realize that the parable was talking about their willingness to hear. Those who did not have “ears to hear” would go on in denial about the parable’s implications about their own unwillingness to hear.

13:18–19. These verses connect Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower and the soils (13:18–23) with the disciples’ privilege as hearers of the truth. Jesus was saying to them. “Because you have responded to what you have already seen with eyes, ears, and hearts of faith and humble obedience, I will show you even more. You have proven faithful with little, so I will trust you with much.”

Jesus identified the seed as the message about the kingdom—its arrival in Jesus and the way to participate in this kingdom. The “message about the kingdom” is probably identical to the “good news of the kingdom” in 4:23; 9:35. 24:14.

The soils were the issue. Throughout the parable’s explanation, Jesus compared the four kinds of soil with various kinds of people who had been exposed to his teaching. The first soil, that “along the path” (13:4), was packed and hardened by traffic. It represented the person who does not understand the word he had heard. The person represented by the hardened soil is one who chooses not to understand rather than a person who wants to understand but cannot. Such a person may actually understand Jesus’ teaching in a literal sense but refuse to accept its truth. The biblical concept of “understanding” goes beyond the idea of mental comprehension. It sometimes includes volitional acceptance. In 21:45, the chief priests and Pharisees knew the meaning of Jesus’ parable concerning them, but they refused to accept its truth.

The person who refuses to accept the word of God will fall victim to the evil one (Satan, represented by the birds in 13:4), who comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. If given even the slightest opportunity, Satan and his evil forces—archenemies of the kingdom of God—are able to remove or distort the truth, thus making that person even less likely to accept the truth in the future. This is one manifestation of the principle Jesus taught in 12:30: “He who is not with me is against me.” To refuse to accept his word is to move away from him. There can be no objective neutrality.

Many people who were exposed to the words and works of the Messiah (especially the religious leaders) fell into this category. They rejected him without any second thoughts.

13:20–21. The rocky soil (13:5–6) receives extra attention in both the parable and its explanation because this person’s response to the truth follows a two-stage pattern. His initial response is unreserved and emotional—joyful acceptance—but only because the circumstances are favorable. The cost of commitment is not yet obvious. This person’s commitment is not deeply rooted. We might say that the truly committed “pay their dues up front,” but the marginally committed cancel their membership when payment comes due. The cost of commitment to the Messiah comes in the form of trouble (thlipsis, “tribulation”) or persecution (diogmos) that come because of the word. As quickly as this individual had committed, just as quickly he defected, distancing himself from the word or message.

There is debate as to whether such a person is truly saved. This question cannot be answered from Jesus’ words, because it is not related to his purpose in the parable, and he does not make the answer clear. It is doubtful than the person was expressing true faith from the start.

13:22. The soil with thorns (13:7) is also assumed to produce some initial growth, as did the rocky places (13:20). But the influence which draws this person away from a sustained interest is not persecution but competing “gods”—the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth. Rather than being driven from the truth by hardship, this person is lured away from the truth by promises of something better. Of course, these promises will never be fulfilled, because these competing gods or masters are deceitful.

Is this kind of person saved? The language may lean somewhat toward believing that this person had responded initially with sincere faith, for the seedling is not said to die (as we can presume with the rocky soil, 13:21), but rather to become choked and unfruitful. Still, without perseverance, there is no final evidence of salvation.

We have already seen in Matthew an example of a person who started following Jesus, but then began giving excuses for why he needed to postpone his commitment (8:21–22). But even more prominent in this category would be Judas Iscariot, who sold out Jesus for thirty coins (26:14–16, 20–25, 48–50; 27:1–10).

13:23. All three of the preceding “soils” had heard the word. So also the fourth good soil hears the word, but this one also understands. This person chooses to understand and accept the truth, also accepting the One who is truth (John 14:6). None of the other soils bore any fruit, but this soil yielded much fruit. Jesus did not clarify what caused the variability between the fruitfulness of various faithful followers. One factor may be the degrees of faith. Perhaps another factor has to do with the variety of tasks given to different believers by God. Some may have greater potential for bearing fruit than others (cf. the different number of talents and different levels of return in 25:14–30). Crop represents the tangible results of a life of faith, including godly character (Gal. 5:22–23) and other souls brought into the kingdom (Matt. 9:37–38; cf. John 15:1–17).

In Matthew, where the focus is primarily on Jesus, we are given little opportunity to see examples of the disciples’ responses of faith. The rest of the New Testament, however, is filled with stories about the fruit of faithful hearts. Prominent examples include Peter, John, Philip, Stephen, Paul, and Timothy.[35]

Reasons for Consistent and Regular Reading and Bible Study

  1. CULTIVATE OBEDIENCE AS IT PROTECTS YOU

Many times this author has heard that God loves us unconditionally. This is not true. There are many conditions in the Bible that his servants are expected to believe, accept as absolute truth, and apply in their lives. Yes, obedience is a condition. If we lived a life of constant disobedience, would we expect that God would just overlook that because God is love? We must be mindful that God’s great love does not negate his other qualities, such as justice. R. C. Sproul says, “There are many facets to the question and countless reasons why we ought to study the Bible. I could plead with you to study the Bible for personal edification; I could try the art of persuasion to stimulate your quest for happiness. I could say that the study of the Bible would probably be the most fulfilling and rewarding educational experience of your life. I could cite numerous reasons why you would benefit from a serious study of Scripture. But ultimately the main reason why we should study the Bible is because it is our duty. If the Bible were the most boring book in the world, dull, uninteresting and seemingly irrelevant, it would still be our duty to study it. If its literary style were awkward and confusing, the duty would remain. We live as human beings under an obligation by divine mandate to study diligently God’s Word. He is our Sovereign, it is his Word, and he commands that we study it. A duty is not an option. If you have not yet begun to respond to that duty, then you need to ask God to forgive you and to resolve to do your duty from this day forth.” (Sproul 2016, 21)

Is it not sad that knowing the Bible’s direction can bring us great happiness is not enough of a reason to have a consistent and regular reading and Bible study? Knowing that a sound foundational knowledge of the Word of God will bring us the most fulfilling and rewarding educational experience of our life is not enough. We, as imperfect humans need to be forced to do what is good for us. How many have suffered a heart attack before they started exercising and eating correctly? Sadly, we must be commanded, forced, demanded to do the right and most beneficial things in life. Deuteronomy 5:33 tells us, “You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.” Joshua 1:8 tells us, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Jeremiah 7:23 tells us “ But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’”

If the command to embed ourselves in the Word of God is not enough, here is one that we can deduct from the Scriptures, which does not end well if we do not have a deep and correct understanding of God’s Word. At Matthew 7:21, Jesus tells us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” What is the first and foremost question we should ask? What is the will of the Father? Jesus brings up those who wrongly believed that they were doing the will of the Father in verse 22. “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” However, Jesus has some very bad news for these ones in verse 23. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” The apostle John tells us at 1 John 2:17, “The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” Who will live forever? Oh, yeah, “whoever does the will of God.” There it is again, the will of the Father. We already noted that the will of the Father is the key. Thus, the second most important question is, what is the only way of knowing the will of the Father? Yes, the only way to know is by deep study of God’s Word.

The laws and commands within God’s Word are not an option. The path to eternal life is not clear unless we have the mind of Christ, a biblical worldview, which comes from study, so as to see more clearly. The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105) Right before telling us that it is only by the will of the Father, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” This is the path to eternal life and few are finding it, although many are on what they believe to be the right path.–Matthew 7:13-14.

  1. BEING GUIDED THROUGH LIFE AS YOU STUDY THROUGH GOD’S WORD

The cynic would view God’s commandments to us are weighing us down and stripping us of our freedoms. The Bible student with his heart and mind being receptive to the Word of God will realize that these commandments are actually a blessing, which gives us access to a better life now and the eternal one to come.

The term commandment(s) translates the Hebrew word (miṣ·wā(h)), which means “command, order, commandment, i.e., an authoritative directive, either written or verbal, given as instruction or prescription to a subordinate (1Sa 13:13; 1Ki 2:43).”[36] All Christians are sons and daughters of the commandment. Psalm 119:76 says, “May your loyal love please comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” An outstanding way in which God comforts his people is by giving them exhortation and guidance. (Ps. 119:105) God’s commandments will guide us in the short term (daily) and the long-term (throughout our lives).

The term law translates the Hebrew word (tô·rā(h)), which means “law, regulation, i.e., a legal prescription of something that should or must be done (Ex 12:49; Lev 6:2); 2. LN 33.224–33.250 teaching, instruction, i.e., information that is imparted to a student (Ps 78:1; Pr 1:8); 3. LN 33.35–33.68 Torah, the Law, i.e., a written code (Ne 8:2).”[37] The author of Psalm 119 faced trials more extreme than most of us will ever know. Enemies of God ridiculed him and smeared him with falsehood. The princes were seeking his demise and persecuted him. At every turn, he life was in danger and he was surrounded by wickedness. Even still, the Psalmist sang, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” Ps 119:97) The Psalmist found great joy in life regardless of his hardships from those in opposition to him because he knew the law guided his every move. Apply God’s law in his life, he became wiser than his enemies, keeping him safe in the darkest of times. Being obedient to the law also gave him a clean conscience, which brought him peace.—Psalm 119:1, 9, 65, 93, 98, 165.

The term orders (“precepts” in the ASV, ESV, LEB, CSB, NASB et al) translates the Hebrew word (piq·qû·ḏîm, which means instructions procedures, rule of personal conduct. “precepts, directions, regulation, i.e., a principle instructing to do a certain action, which is to be obeyed by all in same society of the covenant (Ps 19:9[EB 8]; 103:18; 111:7; 119:4, 15, 27, 40, 45, 56, 63, 69, 78, 87, 93, 64. 100, 104, 110, 128, 134, 141, 159, 168, 173+).”[38] With heartfelt gratefulness the psalmist speaks of these “orders” or “precepts.” He writes, “Consider how I love your orders! O Jehovah, according to your loyal love preserve my life.” “From your orders I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” “I understand more than the aged, for I keep your orders.”–Psalm 119:159, 104, 100.

The term regulation (“statutes” in the ASV, ESV, LEB, CSB, NASB et al) translates the Hebrew word (ḥōq), which means “regulation, decree, statute, ordinance, i.e., a clear communicated prescription of what one should do (Ge 47:26; Ex 15:25).”[39] Over and over again the Psalmist asks God, “Teach me your regulations” (vss. 12, 26, 64, 68, 124, 135), and he also praises God for doing so. “Let my lips utter praise, for you teach me your regulations.” (Ps 119:171) The Psalmist not only wanted to learn the regulations set out by God but also desired to observe them. “I will keep your regulations; do not utterly forsake me!”–Ps. 119:8.

The term testimonies translates the Hebrew word (ʿē·ḏû), which means “statute, stipulation, regulation, i.e., a principle or contingent-particular point of law, having authority to give consequences for not keeping, with a possible focus that these commands serve as a warning, urging, or witness to the covenant agreement (1Ki 2:3; Ps 19:8[EB 7]).”[40] The focus is on the fact that these commands are serving as a warning that is gone over again and again, repeatedly, i.e., a reminder. The Psalmist greatly appreciated these reminders and frequently tells of having kept them. (Ps. 119:22, 88, 129, 167, 168) The Psalmist sang, “Incline my heart to your testimonies [reminders], and not to dishonest gain.” (Ps. 119:36) The Psalmist had no shame when it came to talking about God’s testimonies. “I will also speak of your testimonies [reminders] before kings and shall not be put to shame.”–Ps. 119:46.

The above five terms “commandment(s),” “law,” “orders,” “regulations,” and “testimonies,” is used by the Psalmist as he refers to matters that has much in common with the Word of God. Another term that is a bit different is the Hebrew (miš·pāṭ) “judgment.” As God’s people, we are to have a reverential (wholesome) fear of his judgments. The Psalmist writes, “My flesh trembles[41] for fear[42] of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.” (Ps. 119:120) This is not dreading the Father, it is dreading displeasing the Father. The Psalmist tells us I will praise you with an upright heart when I learn your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:7) He goes on to say, “With my lips I declare all the judgments of your mouth.” (Ps. 119:13) He then says, “My soul is crushed with longing for your judgments at all times.” (Ps. 119:20) He also says, “I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:106) The Psalmist follows with, “Hear my voice according to your loyal love; O Jehovah, according to your justice give me life. Great is your mercy, O Jehovah; give me life according to your judgments.–Ps. 119:149, 156.

how-to-interpret-the-bible

Another word that the author of Psalm 119 seems to be fond of is (Heb. ʾim·rā(h)) “promise.” It is rendered “word,” “saying” (Gen 4:23), “instruction,” “teach” (Deut. 32:2), a “prayer” (Ps. 17:6), a “promise” (Ps. 119:41), and “a word” (or promise). (Ps. 119:133). The Psalmist uses it most often in references to God’s “promises” throughout Psalm 119. He writes, “Let your loyal love come to me, O Jehovah, your salvation according to your promise.” (Ps. 119:41) He then says, “I entreat your face[43] with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.” (Ps. 119:58) He goes on, “Sustain me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope.” (Ps. 119:116) The Psalmist then says, “Make my steps steady according to your promise, and do not let any error have dominion over me.” (Ps. 119:133) In his last use, he writes, “Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your promise.” The Psalmist uses the same word in reference to God’s “word,” i.e.,  a promise, assurance, or guarantee, namely, God gives us his “word.” The Word of God, i.e., the Scriptures are God’s “word” to us. The Psalmist says, “In my heart I treasure up your word, so that I may not sin against you.” Many verses later he says, “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.” Yes, having God’s word and promises is like finding a great treasure.

  1. GOD’S WORD IN YOUR LIFE

How Will You Know Unless You Study

  • The Bible Gives Us Answers to Questions about Life
  • The Bible Offers How to Get the Best out of Life Now
  • The Bible Offers How to Best Live In an Imperfect World
  • The Bible helps us to See What the Future Holds
  • The Bible helps us Share the Good News
  • The Bible Helps Us Achieve and Maintain Our Spirituality
  • The Bible Helps Us Understand the Will and Purposes of the Creator
  • Knowing and Applying God’s Word Can Protect Us from False Teachers
  • Knowing and Applying God’s Word Can Help Us Deal with Our Human Imperfection

Deep study is no guarantee that mature faith will result, but shallow study guarantees that immaturity continues. Dr. Lee M. Fields

Merely reading the Bible is no use at all without we study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth.  Dwight L. Moody

Remember, Christ’s scholars must study upon their knees. Charles Spurgeon

Beginning with the Right Mindset

Ezra 7:10  Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to study the Law of Jehovah, and to do it and to teach its regulations and judgments in Israel.

Psalm 119:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 I will meditate on your precepts
and keep my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

How Powerful Are the Scriptures?

Hebrews 4:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Joshua 1:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Ephesians 6:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Studying the Bible Helps with Life and Temptation

Proverbs 4:10-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
11 In the way of wisdom I have taught you;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.

Bible Study Can Protect Us from False Teachers

Matthew 24:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

Matthew 24:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 And then many will fall away,[44] will betray[45] one another, and will hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and will lead many astray.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not a great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

1 Thessalonians 3:5  Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.

1 Timothy 4:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demonsby means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and command to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the teaching according to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a sick interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who consider godliness to be a means of gain.

2 Timothy 2:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling[46] the word of truth. 16 But avoid empty speeches that violate what is holy, for they will lead to more and more ungodliness, 17 and their word will spread like gangrene; Hymenaeus and Philetus are among them.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled,[47] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Be sober-minded;[48] be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devourResist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your brothers in the world.

2 Peter 2:1-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their acts of shameless conduct,[49] and because of them the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Jude 1:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Certain men have crept in among you who were long ago appointed for this judgment, ungodly men[50] who turn the grace of our God into an excuse for licentiousness[51] and who prove false to our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Acts 17:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness,[52] examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

1 John 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Beloved ones, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Studying the Bible Helps Us Serve God Better

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Studying the Bible Makes Us Better Disciple Makers

Matthew 24:14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the inhabited earth[53] as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:19-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and look, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 1:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in both Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the extremity of the earth.”

Hebrews 5:11-6:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 Concerning whom we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.[54] 12 For in view of the time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you from the beginning the elementary things of the sayings[55] of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food belongs to the mature, to those who through practice have their discernment trained to distinguish between good and evil.

Therefore, leaving behind the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God,

Studying the Bible Helps Us In Our Definding God’s Word

2 Timothy 2:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

and the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

1 Peter 3:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being prepared to make a defense[56] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect;

We Cannot Live On Food Alone

Matthew 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”[57]

God’s Word Does Not Fail

Isaiah 55:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Luke 1:37 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

God Guides and Directs Us Through His Word

Isaiah 30:20-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 And though Jehovah[58] give you the bread of distress and the water of oppression, yet your Teacher[59] will no longer hide himself, but your eyes shall behold your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Isaiah 48:17-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 Thus says Jehovah,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am Jehovah your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
18 Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;

Isaiah 54:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 All your sons shall be taught by Jehovah,
and great shall be the peace of your sons.

Studying the Bible Is an Evident Demonstration that We Love, Respect and Honor God and His Word

Colossians 3:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Psalm 119:96-98 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

96 I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad.

97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.

Psalm 119:47-48 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 And I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.

Studying the Bible Is a Path to What Leads to Salvation

John 5:39-40 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

39 You search the Scriptures[60] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness about me. 40And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life.

Store God’s Word in Your Heart

Psalm 119:11-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

11 In my heart I treasure up your word,
so that I may not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Jehovah;
teach me your regulations!

Psalm 37:31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

Scripture is God-Breathed and Fully Inerrant

2 Peter 1:20-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 But know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Proverbs 30:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
lest he reprove you and you be found a liar.

Studying the Bible Transforms Your Life

Romans 12:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your rational service.[61] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable[62] and perfect.

Ephesians 4:23-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new man,[63] the one created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and loyalty of the truth.

Colossians 3:8-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man[64] with its practices 10 and have put on the new man[65] who is being renewed through accurate knowledge[66] according to the image of the one who created him,

Keep This In Mind

Matthew 5:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Romans 15:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

4. Paul explains why he can appeal to Scripture in this way. Everything that was written in the past means “all that was written in Scripture”; it is not an endorsement of every piece of literature that comes down from earlier ages. But we should bear in mind that everything is comprehensive:[67] Paul is not saying that there are some good things in the Bible, but that all of it was written for[68] our[69] instruction (cf. 4:23–24). “Our” evidently has some emphasis: although it was written in earlier ages it was intended for our instruction (cf. 1 Cor. 9:9–10).[70] The reason23 for their being written was that we might have hope. The present tense of the verb points to continuous possession, and the article before hope seems to show that it is not the general hope of mankind of which Paul is writing, but the specifically Christian hope, the hope that is given by what Christ has done in winning our salvation, the hope that leaves no doubts and sustains Christ’s people in the darkest days (see the note on 4:18).[71]

Paul speaks of two things important in bringing this about: endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures. It is not clear whether we should take both endurance and encouragement as deriving from the Scriptures (as GNB, “through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us”) or whether we should see Paul as specifically linking only encouragement with the Scriptures (as Moffatt, “by remaining stedfast and drawing encouragement from the scriptures”).[72] Of course the Christian’s endurance and encouragement both come from God, and it may well be said that Scripture has a part in producing both. The question here is whether Paul is linking them both with the Bible or only one; his construction seems to show that only encouragement is here said to derive from the Bible. The apostle often speaks of endurance[73] and of encouragement.[74] Both are important. We need steadfastness in our Christian life and we need the encouragement the Bible can give; our life is a very poor thing without either.[75]

[1] Anders, Max; Lawson, Steven (2004-01-01). Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms: 11 (p. 266). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

[2] G. Herbert Livingston, “638 חָטָא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 277.

[3] Or “own lust

[4] Or “own lust

[5] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 183.

[6] ’1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8.

[7] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 183.

[8] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 377.

[9] Numbers 25:1; Deuteronomy 22:21; Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 5:1.

[10] Richard L. Pratt Jr, I & II Corinthians, vol. 7, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 101.

[11] Lit he will tabernacle

[12] Some mss peoples

[13] One early ms and be their God

[14] Kendell H. Easley, Revelation, vol. 12, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 394–395.

[15] Quotation from Isa 52:7; Nah 1:15

[16] Quotation from Isaiah 53:1, which reads, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed?”

[17] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 314–316.

[18] Deut. 8:3

[19] MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 38817-38819). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

[20] (an idiom, literally ‘to redeem the time’) to do something with intensity and urgency (used absolutely)–‘to work urgently, to redeem the time.’–GELNTBSD

[21] B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

[22] Mark 1:27; 10:32; Lu 4:36; 5:9; Acts 3:10.

[23] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 95–96.

[24] See also Psalm 35:28; 37:30; 71:24; Isaiah 8:19; 33:18.

[25] Robert L. Thomas. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (p. 280). Kindle Edition.

[26] Towns, AMG Concise Bible Doctrines (AMG Concise Series) (Kindle Locations 1011-1012). AMG Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[27] Or with all readiness of mind. The Greek word prothumias means that one is eager, ready, mentally prepared to engage in some activity.

[28] Some have a tendency to be easily swayed by their emotions. They have an exaggerated or undue display of strong feelings, which makes their relationship with the Father and the Son based entirely on emotions. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” We have to have knowledge of the Father and the Son to know that they are real, which does not negate that we need to have emotions as well. However, a relationship that is based entirely on emotions cannot withstand difficult times.

[29] Quoted from Gen. 15:6

[30] THE POWERFUL WEAPON OF PRAYER: A Healthy Prayer Life by Edward D. Andrews (ISBN: 978-1-945757-41-9)

[31] Lit I, Daniel

[32] B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

[33] http://www.uasvbible.org/

[34] (an idiom, literally ‘to redeem the time’) to do something with intensity and urgency (used absolutely)–‘to work urgently, to redeem the time.’–GELNTBSD

[35] Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 192–197.

[36] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[37] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[38] IBID

[39] IBID

[40] IBID

[41] This (Heb. sā·mǎr) is literally to “bristle up” from some fearful expectation.

[42] This (Heb. pǎ·ḥǎḏ) is literally “to shake” because of fear, terror or dread over an expectation or anticipation of an impending judgment.

[43] I.E. your favor

[44] Lit be caused to stumble

[45] Or hand over

[46] Or accurately handling the word of truth; correctly teaching the word of truth

[47] Or to tell them what they want to hear

[48] Sober Minded: (Gr. nepho) This denotes being sound in mind, to be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking, ‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’–1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8

[49] Or their sensuality; their licentious ways; their brazen conduct

[50] Lit irreverential (ones)

[51] Or loose conduct; shameless conduct (Gr aselgeia) behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness—‘licentious behavior, extreme immorality.’

[52] Or with all readiness of mind. The Greek word prothumias means that one is eager, ready, mentally prepared to engage in some activity.

[53] Or in the whole world

[54] Hearing, Dull of: (Gr. Nōthros tais akoais) This is an idiom, which literally means that one has ‘lazy ears.’ In other words, they are slow to learn, to understand, to react, lacking intellectual perception, with the implication that this is so because they are lazy. Have we become lethargic in the truth, to the point of having lazy ears? Are we slow to learn, to understand, to react, lacking intellectual perception?–Heb. 5:11.

[55] Sayings: (Gr. logia, on [only in the plural]) A saying or message, usually short, especially divine, gathered into a collection.–Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11.

[56] Or argument; or explanation

[57] A quotation from  Deut. 8:3

[58] One of 134 scribal changes from YHWH to Adhonai.

[59] Lit your teachers. The Hebrew verb is plural to denote grandeur or excellence.

[60] The Scriptures do give us the path, the direction, the guidance to what leads to eternal life. Jesus was not condemning the study of Scripture for that purpose. He was condemning their motive, studying the Scripture, not out of love for God’s Word, but for dishonest gain. The Jewish religious leaders also misinterpreted the Scriptures.

[61] Lit the reasonable (or rational, logical) service of you

[62] Or well-pleasing

[63] An interpretive translation would have, “put on the new person,” because it does mean male or female.

[64] Or old person

[65] Or new person

[66] Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.

[67] ὅσα, “whatever things”; NIV is not an exact translation but gives the sense of it. Notice that προεγράφη is followed up by ἐγράφη, “a classical idiom by which the preposition in a compound is omitted, without weakening the sense, when the verb is repeated” (M, I, p. 115). προεγράφω is used in a different sense in Gal. 3:1.

[68] εἰς conveys the thought of purpose, “with a view to”.

[69] This is Paul’s one use of ἡμέτερος in Romans (it is found once each in 2 Timothy and Titus, and eight times in all in the New Testament). His “our” refers to the Christians, which leads to the conclusion, “This statement is a bold generalization expropriating all Scriptures for the infant church” (Denis Farkasfalvy in William R. Farmer and Denis M. Farkasfalvy, The Formation of the New Testament Canon [New York, 1983], p. 105).

[70] διδασκαλία may be used in the active sense, “instruction”, or in the passive, “that which is taught”; here it is the active (BAGD). The word occurs 15 times in the Pastorals, and 19 times in the Pauline corpus out of 21 times in the New Testament.

[71] Cf. William Watty, “May I therefore suggest that this is our unique contribution to the world of to-day? It is to offer the Biblical message of hope from the God of hope to a world of shattered hopes” (ET, LXXXVII [1975–76], p. 50).

[72] Paul has διά before τῆς ὑπομονῆς and another διά before τῆς παρακλήσεως. It is this repetition of the preposition that seems to show that the two are separated. If he were saying that both qualities are derived from Scripture we would expect only one διά. Käsemann says that the first διά “denotes an accompanying circumstance, the second is causal.… Scripture gives comfort and leads to patience” (p. 383). NEB has “that through the encouragement they give us we may maintain our hope with fortitude”, but there seems no reason for linking “hope” with “fortitude”.

[73] ὑπομονή is found in Paul in exactly half its New Testament occurrences (16 out of 32; six in Romans); see the note on 2:7. It is often taken to mean “patience”, but this is too negative a virtue for this word. It is rather “fortitude” or endurance. Griffith Thomas quotes A. Beet on the importance of this word in the present context: “Our Christian character is seldom so severely tried as when we are put to inconvenience by the spiritual childishness of members of the Church.”

[74] παράκλησις is found in Paul 20 times out of 29 in the New Testament, three being in Romans. See the note on the corresponding verb in 12:1. It is often understood of comfort (as KJV), and it can refer to exhortation, but encouragement seems right in this place.

[75] Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), 499–500.