How To Videos
How to Start Divin Into the Word
There’s no wrong place to start divin into the Word of God, but our suggestion is to start in the Gospel of John.
John is one of the 4 Gospel Books of the Bible, found in the New Testament, and is a written recording of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It’s packed full of wisdom we can apply to our lives by the grace of Jesus, and writes about how Jesus is the light of the world and the very Word of God!
As you check it out, pray that the Lord reveals Himself to you through it and let your life be transformed as you start divin into the Word of God!
How to Use Joining Words to Understand Biblical Context
As we’re diving into God’s Word, one tip to help us understand the fullness of a passage and why the author said what they said, is by looking at joining words such as: so, yet, but and therefore, and asking what came before the joining word.
Check out Ephesians 4:1-3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
To get the fullness of what the author is saying, read the chapter/s before it asking “what is that ‘therefore’ there for?” Doing so will help give clarity to who this author is, why he’s saying what he’s saying and how it can be attained. This way we see that it is through God’s strength we can live out this calling, understand God’s desire for His church, and know the reason for living in a manner worthy of the calling we’ve received!
As you soak in God’s Word, pray and ask God to reveal why certain joining words are used. This will help God’s Word comes to life more fully and clearly!
How to Understand Word Repetition in the Bible
One way we see certain points emphasized in Scripture is through word repetition. Word repetition can be seen when one word is repeated two times in a row; such as in John 6:47 when Jesus says “truly, truly I say to you…” We know by the word repetition “truly, truly” that whatever Jesus said right after that was very important.
Another way Word repetition is found is when a word is used many times in one passage; such as the word “abide” in John 15. When the same word is used many times in one passage, it’s helpful to take note of that word and seek to understand the meaning and significance of it.
Looking up the definition of the words repeated in their original language can help us understand their meaning in the way the author intended. (The Old Treatment was written in Hebrew, the New Testament was written in Greek and Aramaic.) You can look up words in Bible Concordances, and use resources such as blueletterbible.org to help you in your word studies.
Enjoy growing deeper in the Bible as you take note of the different word repetitions you find!
How to Understand Cultural Differences For Fuller Biblical Comprehension
As you read the Word, you’ll find references to parts of culture that were extremely common during those times but are not as common today.
As the Bible was written thousands of years ago, in a culture quite different from ours today, we’ll often come across terms, metaphors, scenarios that may seem foreign in our culture today, but were actually very common in the Biblical culture and carried rich meaning to the readers of the day. Even things that may seem known to us as we read; because of cultural differences, we may not comprehend the fullness of the context if we simply apply our cultural understanding to it.
Therefore, we’ll be able to grow in the richness of understanding if we take time to look up what terms meant in their original context, and if we seek to understand the cultural norms of the times.
One example is Jesus referred to as the “Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11) While we all know what a shepherd is; the role of a shepherd does not carry the same significance and association to us as it did in Biblical times. But if we take the time to look up the importance of shepherds in Biblical times, and different traits they carried, then knowing Jesus as our Good Shepherd will carry a higher significance.
So next time you’re reading, use resources such as a Study Bible and Bible commentaries to help you grow in understanding cultural differences and enjoy the fuller comprehension it brings to your interpretation of the Word!!!
How to Trace Themes Throughout the Bible
The Bible is filled with themes, which reveal how the books of the Bible make up a unified story and how God cohesively worked through His creation within it.
Examples of themes are the temple, the exile, sacrifice, atonement, the Messiah, and salvation. Themes are a way the different books of the Bible, written by different authors over hundreds of years, all come together to create a harmonious story that points to Jesus. We see aspects of themes starting at the beginning of the Bible, and then building on one another and developing into a fuller picture with time.
For example, the theme of Salvation began back in Genesis 3:21, where after Adam and Eve first sinned, the Lord made them garments of skin to clothe them. This act was the first of the salvation theme we see in the Bible. Man sinned, and as a result, the Lord provided a covering for their sin, which required the death of an animal to cover up their nakedness.
Later on, we see the salvation theme in the covenantal system, which we can read about in Exodus 20-40. This system provided forgiveness through a priest who would make sacrifices and offerings for the sins of God’s people (Leviticus 1-7). Still, this covenantal system revealed that no man can perfectly keep the Law or meet the standard of God’s holiness.
But in the New Testament, the theme of Salvation comes to fulfillment in Jesus Christ who revealed that He was the High Priest who was “the guarantor of a better covenant.” (Hebrews 7:22) Read Hebrews 7:11-28!
Jesus became our High Priest, becoming the ultimate and perfect sacrificial covering for our sin, and as a result, there is forgiveness of sins once and for all, and “Sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Hebrews 10:18)
So awesome to see how the salvation theme unfolds throughout the Bible and all points to and is fulfilled in Jesus!
CHECK OUT Hebrews 10 for further encouragement as to how the theme of Salvation was fulfilled through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of History in the Bible
The genre of history is found in nearly every book of the Bible, yet some books are more historical than others. As we read lists of genealogies, rulers and kings, and historical accounts of God’s people and the secular culture of the day, it allows us to more thoroughly understand God and His hand over creation.
For example, Matthew laid out in his Gospel the historical genealogy of Jesus Christ. In reading genealogical lists such as this one, we see lists of people such as Boaz and Ruth and their son Obed who became the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David the father of Solomon.
Going back to books where historical documentation of these people is written, such as in the book of Ruth, 1+2 Samuel, and 1+2 Kings, it helps give awesome insight into God’s sovereign and intentional hand over His people throughout all the generations leading up to Jesus’ birth and the fulfillment of His promise!
God promised David that one day He would raise up one of his offspring and establish his kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:12-17, Psalm 89:2-4). This offspring was Solomon who would later sit on the throne and build a house for the Lord; the temple. The promise of a kingdom that could rule forever could not be established under Solomon due to his imperfections. Yet later on in this genealogy, God fulfilled His promise through Jesus.
We can learn from and apply these historical accounts in the Bible by asking ourselves, what does this reveal about God’s character, how does God relate to these people, and how does this fit into the larger story of redemption through Jesus Christ?
An awesome way to grow in your understanding of God is by studying the Historical accounts documented in the Word, so have fun diving in!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of Wisdom in the Bible
Wisdom literature in the Bible can mostly be found in the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, as well as Psalms, Song of Solomon and some New Testament books.
Wisdom literature typically is filled with short statements intending to demonstrate a general truth. These statements are not necessarily giving a promised outcome, but rather sharing a probability that if you _____ then _____ will happen.
A common theme in wisdom literature is our need for God, the limitations of human wisdom, and how the righteous and wicked relate to God.
There’s a poetic and metaphorical language in wisdom literature that’s important to keep in mind. The book of Ecclesiastes for instance centralizes it’s theme on “everything is meaningless.” What the author is trying to get at is that without God, everything Is meaningless. Therefore pointing to our need for our Creator, as He is our hope and not anything of this world.
So as you’re reading wisdom literature, seek to identify the theme of each book and how the poetic and metaphorical language may be used to convey that theme so that you can gain the most of the wisdom within them!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of Narrative in the Bible
Narratives are biographies and stories of significant events. The Gospels are narratives of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. There are also some Old Testament books which have stories of key figures, that ultimately point to Jesus and God’s plan for salvation through Him on the cross.
Narratives share historical accounts of how God relates to people. We can learn from all of them, however, keep in mind that how God related to certain people, may not be the same way He would to us.
In Luke 18, the rich young ruler asked what he must do to be saved. Jesus listed several commandments, and the ruler responded “All of these I have kept from my youth.” (Vs.21) Jesus then said, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor ….How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter into the kingdom of God!”
Later in Luke 19, Jesus interacts with another rich man; Zacchaeus. Yet this time, Jesus does not list commandments or tell him it will be hard for him to enter the kingdom of God, but rather “today salvation has come to this house…for the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Jesus interacts with these men depending on their different needs. The message of the gospel is that we are saved by grace, not as a result of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that all have sinned, and “by the works of the law no human being will be justified…since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
Jesus knew the rich young ruler needed to be humbly reminded only God is good and everyone falls short of God’s standards. Zacchaeus, however, was not trying to prove Himself and knew he was in need of a Savior, therefore Jesus simply encouraged Him that He came to “save the lost.” (vs. 10)
So when you read narratives, observe how and why Jesus interacted with different people the way He did, and then ask what it teaches about God, and then what the application may be for our lives.
How to Look at the Genre of Prophesy and Apocalyptic Literature in the Bible: Part 1
The prophetic books of the Bible are Isaiah through Malachi in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament.
Prophesies are words given directly from God to people, giving predictions of future events, warnings of coming judgements and God’s overall plan for the nation of Israel.
Apocalyptic literature are prophesies that more specifically involve symbols and images, and predict destruction and disaster that is going to take place in the future.
We can learn a lot from each of these books about God; His plan for His people, His sovereignty, authority, and so much more. Yet, it’s important when we are reading prophetic and apocalyptic books to know the audience they were given to and the context around them, in order not to give false interpretations and application.
Look At the Genre of Prophetic and Apocalyptic Literature in the Bible: Part 2
The Greek word for apocalyptic means, “to uncover or reveal.” Or in other words, “when you suddenly see the true nature of something that you couldn’t see before.” (Bible Project)
The Genre of Prophetic and Apocalyptic literature can be some of the most misinterpreted genres of Scripture. In the Bible, the Lord would reveal apocalyptic visions to people giving them divine perspectives of things going on on earth and/or things regarding the past, present, and future.
Apocalyptic literature is found in books such as Daniel, Zechariah, and Ezekiel in the Old Testament and in the entire book of Revelation in the New Testament. They contain written records of dreams and visions given by God foretelling things that are going to take place.
Imagery and symbols are used to describe visions received from God of the end times, and often these visions can be quite strange and unusual. Some of the strange symbols may be due to things in the future taking place, which are so different from their day, that they could only be described best through symbols and imagery.
We can piece together some of the symbols and images by looking at how the same imagery is used throughout the Bible- letting Scripture interpret Scripture. But there’s apocalyptic literature that contains images and symbols which will not be understood until the end time, therefore it’s important not to read our own interpretation into the text, but rather allow God to reveal things to us in the fulness of time, and trust Him in the meantime to hold true to the promises to which He has given!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of Epistle in the Bible
The word Epistle is greek for “letter” or “message.” All the epistles in the Bible are found in the New Testament, making up 21 of the 27 New Testament Books. Thirteen of which were written by the apostle Paul, whose testimony of becoming a Christian can be found in Acts. These are known as the Pauline Epistles. Then there are the General Epistles, which were written by other apostles including James, Peter, John, and Jude. They are written to different followers of Jesus living in the Roman World.
Most of them begin with an introduction, then the main body, and then conclude with a personal message or blessing to certain people within the church the author was writing.
It’s helpful to keep in mind the context of the lives to whom the letters were written, in order to get a fuller understanding of their purpose and meaning. Back in those times, people of different status groups did not intermingle at all, there was enormous persecution from the government toward Christians, and different cultural divisions were stirring between those who were now Christians and Jews, especially regarding the law. Amidst it all, the authors continued to emphasize the good news of the gospel, the call for unity among believers, and being set apart as followers of Christ.
Knowing the background context of the epistles helps the words take on new depth. As we read them it reveals the calling of Christians and the Church, to be set apart from the world, to remember the Good News of the Gospel, and the call for unity among followers of Christ!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of Law in the Bible
As we tackle the genre of law Gotquestions.org explains it like this, “The purpose of law is to express God’s sovereign will concerning government, priestly duties, social responsibilities, etc. Knowledge of Hebrew manners and customs of the time, as well as a knowledge of the covenants, will complement a reading of this material.”
The 10 Commandments are a great example of what was being shared in the video as God’s Holiness and ways are highlighted. Our inability to live in them is also seen, which shows our need for a Savior.
The law showcases and it is found in Exodus 20:1-17. Just a few are: “Honor your father and your mother... “You shall not murder…shall not commit adultery…shall not steal…shall not bear false witness against your neighbor…You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet...””
Jesus takes these even deeper, showing they are more that just actions but a matter of the heart in Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
But Jesus is that Savior as He perfectly lived out the law and gives His righteousness to us!!! Now we can praise God who sent Jesus not to abolish the law, but fulfill it (Matthew 5:17) and “has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4) Yewww!!!
How to Look at the Literary Genre of Poetry in the Bible
Books like Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Lamentation are completely poetic, while other books, such as Job and Ecclesiastes have some decent chunks of poetry found throughout them, even though that is not the main genre those books would be labeled under.
The dominant attribute in Hebrew (Old Testament) poetry is parallelism. This is when two different thoughts that have relation to one another are laid out side by side to help see the parallels between them. This could be to show how the thoughts are similar, or how they are opposite of one another. This is seen a lot in the book of Proverbs.
Rhyme is not as important in Hebrew poetry as in English, but even when it is used, it gets lost as it’s translated from its original language to English. It is common though for Hebrew poetry to use figurative languages, such as metaphors, hyperboles (claims or exaggerations not to be taken literally), personifications (giving a human quality or trait to something that is not a human: such as wisdom being labeled as a woman), and similes (similarities). All of these are common forms of Biblical poetry and identifying these can help us better understand what the author is trying to say in their different poems.
Hope this helps you as you read the different poems found in the Bible!
How to Utilize Genre In Our Bible Reading
The Bible is filled with various genres such as Law, Historical, Wisdom, Poetry, Narrative, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic. While our Bible reading is not completely led by the genre of the book we are in, understanding the genre will definitely help us interpret it accurately.
Just as in our conversations with others. As someone is trying to communicate something to us it’s important to know what tone they are speaking, whether it be sarcastic, firm, serious, funny, etc. but we don’t want to assume everything they say in that entire conversation fits into that tone, or label them as always being that type of person.
How to Handle Bible Passages that Seem to Contradict
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God”
Then Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
Hebrews 6:18 writes, “It is impossible for God to lie.”
And John 10:35 writes, “Scripture cannot be broken.”
If God Himself cannot lie, if Scripture cannot be broken, and if every word of God proves true, then the Word of God, which is breathed out by God, must be inerrant and looking to it as our source of truth we must take every word of it as infallible.
So, if you come across seemingly contradictory passages, it’s important to not jump to the conclusion the Bible has errors, but rather, prayerfully dig into the Word, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, and search out answers to learn how the passage you’re reading actually work together in light of Scripture as a whole.
As you’re seeking Truth through God’s Word, check out Matthew 7:7-11 for some encouragement!
How To Understand the Literary Styling of Phenomenological Language
Phenomenological language is found all throughout the Bible and “describes the way things appear to the naked eye. The language used is descriptive of the way things look from our perspective and is not necessarily asserting precise scientific fact.” (Ligonier.org)
We use the term moonlight often to describe the light reflecting off the moon. Technically moonlight is not a scientific phrase as the moon does not actually exude light, but rather reflects the light that is exuded from the sun.
Isaiah 30:26 for instance uses the phrase moonlight, saying, “Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun…” This here is phenomenological language. It’s not actually scientific but is making a point using the moon as it appears to us in order to make an awesome point about the glorious reality of the blessings of the future messianic kingdom.
Just like the weather forecaster uses the term “sunrise” and sunset” when in reality the sun is not setting or rising. While it may not be scientifically accurate, it allows the audience to understand and get the picture of what is trying to be communicated. (Check out https://www.gotquestions.org/moon-light.html for more)
It’s important to keep this in mind so we don’t confuse this language with scientific language. Rather, appreciate how phenomenological terms can help us grow in appreciation of the truth the Biblical author is trying to emphasize through them!
How to Understand the Literary Styling of Anthropomorphism
The word Anthropomorphism comes from the Greek word “Anthropos” which means “man” and “morphe” which means “form.”
Although God the Father is not human, but Spirit, the Bible uses anthropomorphic language to describe God because it can help us understand His actions and character.
Examples of this are:
Exodus 7:5 God “Stretched out His hand”
Psalm 34:15 God “keeps His eyes” on the land
Psalm 113:6 God “stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth.”
This use of anthropomorphisms helps us visualize God’s response to His people, even though God Himself isn’t physically doing those things.
It’s important, however, not to let the use of human characteristics to explain God lead us to limit our idea of who He is. God is incomprehensible and no words can fully capture the fulness of His power, glory, and character.
How to Look at the Interpretive Tool of Types in the Bible
The Bible is filled with “types.” In H.A. Virkler’s Hermeneutics defines a type as “a preordained representative relationship which certain persons, events, and institutions bear to corresponding persons, events, and institutions occurring at a later time in salvation history.”
In Numbers 21:9, “Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”
Then in John 3:14-15, Jesus shares that the serpent back in Genesis was a type of foreshadowing and pointing towards what would be fulfilled in Him. The lifting up of the serpent and the healing of all who looked upon the serpent pointed towards the ultimate lifting up of Christ so that whoever believes in Him may be healed of their sin and have eternal life.
Another example is the unblemished and spotless lamb sacrificed every year during Passover (Exodus 12), which ultimately was a type pointing towards Jesus; the perfect and spotless Passover lamp who was the sacrifice for sin once and for all for the salvation of all who believe in Him as their Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19)
Understanding types found in the Old Testament brings the Word to life in a new way, and helps us see how the Old and New Testament work together all pointing towards the salvation story of Jesus Christ!
How to Get Meaning From the Bible Using Exegesis
Being mindful of how we interpret the Bible using exegesis is absolutely key. It’s not uncommon to hear different worldviews using Bible verses in ways that are actually opposing the true teachings of Scripture, so it’s important to know how to interpret the Word correctly so that we are not led astray.
We can look at 1 John 4:16 as an example, which writes, “God is love.” Interpreting this verse using eisegesis, can take us to a place where we’re assuming that whatever we think, or whatever our culture says is loving, is who God is. Yet each person, being of different ages, cultures, and worldviews, have opposing ideas of what is loving and acceptable. So if we use eisegesis to define God’s love, we’d end up with a very inconsistent God of the Bible.
Yet allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, using exegesis, we’ll see that God does not always accept or validate all He sees, but rather, in His love calls out sin and brings forth correction when needed, in order that people may turn from death to life and live according to the fullness of His ways.
Read John 10:1-18 for some encouragement!
We can learn what love is by learning who God is in His Word; what things He accepts, what things He in His goodness says to stay away from, and what things He corrects and disciplines, that we may walk in His holiness. This is applying exegesis. The ultimate example of love was revealed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who said He alone is “the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Knowing this allows us to see the truth about what love is, and ultimately will transform our lives.
Check out Romans 6:1-14 and how we can be brought from death to life through the love exemplified to us through Jesus Christ, and enjoy learning who our awesome God is as He has revealed Himself in the Bible!!!
How to Start Putting Together Theology as You Read the Bible
First and foremost let’s define theology. Theology is Theo (God) and ology (study of) which makes the study of God. This is something we all have and do, but what is so important for us is to be doing this where God has revealed Himself, aka the Bible so we can truly be studying whom God is as opposed to a made-up idea of “God.” As gotquestions.org says, “Christian theology is simply an attempt to understand God as He is revealed in the Bible. No theology will ever fully explain God and His ways because God is infinitely and eternally higher than we are…However, God does want us to know Him insofar as we are able, and theology is the art and science of knowing what we can know and understand about God in an organized and understandable manner.” Ultimately that’s what we are trying to do and show with our Foundation Friday posts so keep checking those out to help build the right theology and look at foundational theological points!
That said, this is the first of three videos looking at theology. The other two will look at the two main types of styles of dialing in our Theology, being Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology.
But before we get into those I want to leave us with a starting point in shaping theology.
So here are 4 clutch questions to get us started as we study God every time we open the Bible:
What does the passage you are reading reveal about God and His character?
What does the passage you are reading reveal about humankind and God’s relationship with, and to them?
What does the passage you are reading reveal about different aspects of creation and God’s relationship to it?
What does the passage you are reading reveal about God’s plan of salvation?
How to Know What Testament You're Reading
Check out this video to learn how to know what Bible Testament you're reading.
How to Better Understand the Bible Through Audience Context
One key to help us understand the context of a Bible verse more fully and what the take away can be is to know the audience. Considering who is being spoken to in each passage helps us to accurately interpret and apply it to our lives!
Check out John Chapters 3, 4 and 5 and how Jesus speaks to the different people groups: like the Samaritan woman, the official and his son, and the paralyzed man.
Doing a study on the audience of the chapter you’re reading can also help further understand why they were spoken/responded to in certain ways and what we can learn from it!
Knowing the audience helps us see the heart of God and how He relates to His creation in an accurate way.
How to Approach Your Time In the Word
As we approach our time in the Word, it’s key to first go to the Lord in prayer asking Him to prepare us emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically for what He has to reveal to us through it about His Truth and who He is.
Here are some verses we can pray through and reflect on as we approach the Word to prepare our hearts and mind:
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Psalm 27:11 “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.”
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
Psalm 119:36-37 “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”
Enjoy all the Lord has for you through His Word as you seek to know Him further in it!
How to Look at Verses Knowing They Have One Meaning With Various Applications
As we read the Bible it’s important to understand that while some verses can have multiple applications, they were written with one meaning and specific hearers in mind. So in order to apply passages accurately to our lives, we must first understand the original meaning intended for the audience.
Things to ask to help understand the one meaning of the text and how we can then apply it to our lives are:
-What was the time of writing?
-How was language used in their day?
-What’s the culture and geography?
-Who is being written about?
-Who is the audience and why were they told what they are?
With that we ask how does the singular meaning apply to my life? How does answering those questions help us do so in an accurate way?
In Romans 1:16, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
In order to understand what this gospel is, we must have an accurate understanding of the Biblical gospel and not one that we have made up from outside influences, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes in the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 19:30, Hebrews 9:11-28), which atones for our sins (1 John 2:2), and is received as a free gift of grace (Romans 5:12-21)!
It’s important to understand the one true gospel, so false understandings don’t lead us astray. Yet the one gospel applies and transforms individuals around the world, from generation to generation in various ways.
As each one of us has our personal testimony of how the one true gospel has transformed our lives, let us individually go out and share with others what the gospel is using the unique testimony God has given!
How to Do A Word Study (Part 1)
Words today can be used in ways that are different from the past, and words we find in the Bible can be taken out of context if we don’t know the meaning intended in their original language. For example, the words justification, Christ, closet, cousin, prosper, faith, and repent can be interpreted incorrectly if we don’t have a Biblical definition of them. Doing word studies can help prevent us from misinterpreting words the Bible uses and help us get their full meaning so we can make the most of the application it has for our lives!
What tools do you need:
BIBLE: Always our main source
CONCORDANCE (We use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance): A concordance allows you to look at definitions of words in their original language, and also see all the other Bible verses that use that same word. Due to differences in languages and translations, some words in the English Bible may be the same to us but actually have different meanings in their original language: Such as LORD (Genesis 2:4) and lord (Ruth 2:13). We can look up the English word in a concordance to see what the word translation is in the original language to help prevent confusion (Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament)
BIBLE DICTIONARY (We use Ingers Bible Dictionary): This allows you to get an in-depth definition of the word and its meaning in Biblical history. Then you can go back to the Bible with a more in-depth and accurate understanding of what the author was saying when they used that word.
BIBLE COMMENTARY (We like Expositors and ESV Bible Commentaries): This then allows you to keep your interpretation of the word and Bible passage dialed as you learn from commentators who expand further on the passage.
If you can’t access these resources, you can check out blueletterbible.org
We cannot vouch for every resource/commentary on their site, as they include commentaries of a wide variety of views, but overall it’s a great tool. Just remember the Bible is our main source of focus!
STAY TUNED!!!! In Part 2 we’ll discuss further how to use a concordance!
How To Do A Word Study (Part 2)
Check out Part 1 to watch and read a recap of the different resources and steps to do a Word Study.
As this video further goes into how to use a concordance to learn the original meaning of a word in the Bible in its Hebrew or Greek language, we used the example of justified. Paul was the author of many New Testament books, and James was the author of the book of James and the half-brother of Jesus. Both of them write of being justified through Jesus Christ in their books in what can initially seem contradictory. Yet as we dive in further we see that they are not contradictory, but compatible.
In Romans 3:28 Paul writes, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” In James 2:24 James writes, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. At an initial glance, these seem to be contradicting what it means to be justified, which translates in Greek as “to show to be righteous, declare righteous.”
What James is meaning though is that “‘Faith alone’ means a bogus kind of faith, mere intellectual agreement without a genuine personal trust in Christ that bears fruit in one’s life.” (ESV Study Bible)
If we read Ephesians 2:10, another writing of Pauls’ we see him agreeing with James that those justified are called to good works: “we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
In reading more of Romans and James, we see they are emphasizing different aspects of the same justification. Paul is emphasizing how we are declared righteous/justified by faith in God’s sight, and James, in agreement with that, goes further to explain how a person’s works and actions demonstrate that they have already been justified by faith. (ESV Study Bible).
As this can be a heavy topic to summarize, reach out to us with further questions!
How to Look At Parable Teachings
The Gospels are filled with parables, which are stories that are “’cast alongside’ a truth in order to illustrate that truth” (Got Questions). They were earthly stories that illuminate a heavenly truth. When Jesus was asked why He spoke in parables, He responded, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10-13)
We read in the Gospels of religious groups in Jesus’ day who publicly rejected Jesus as their Messiah and were filled with proud arrogant hearts. They boasted in themselves and their religious practices, but were spiritually blind and had predetermined opinions about Jesus- being closed off to what He was teaching.
So Jesus started speaking in parables because they were a way to illuminate truths to people who desired to know the truth and were open to the Lord’s teachings, but to conceal the truth from those who were closed off, hard-hearted, and not open to the truth.
Tips for understanding Parables are:
-Look at the context surrounding the parable to see how it could give clarity as to why that parable was being used.
-Compare the parable with other teachings in the Bible, as they are used to build upon Biblical doctrine and will never contradict other parts of the Bible.
-Know that not all aspects of parables are crucial or carry meaning, but some details may be used more simply to make the parable more realistic. So don’t get caught up in all the little details, but seek the bigger picture and make sure it lines up with other Biblical truths!
Hope that helps and check out:
for more information!
How To Recognize Similes and Metaphors in the Bible
The Bible is filled with both similes and metaphors. Metaphors compare two different things in order to expound on an idea, making connections between things to further elaborate a truth by saying that one thing IS another thing. Similes compare two things using words such as LIKE and AS.
An example of a metaphor is found in verses such as John 15:5 when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches” emphasizing that He is the vine and we must abide in Him as our source of life. He is the vine that keeps us alive and allows us to produce fruit. The Bible uses metaphors to elaborate on complex truths and concepts. As we ask ourselves what the comparison teaches us, it will help give a deeper understanding of the truth being spoken about.
An example of a simile is “if you have faith LIKE a mustard seed…” Matthew 17:20. This passage is not saying faith is the same as the mustard seed, but saying if your faith is as small as a mustard seed, it has the ability to do much. Similes are used more like a figure of speech to compare different things and give a visual to what is being said.
Understanding the difference between metaphors and similes, and keeping in mind their use for explaining different concepts in the Bible, will help us grow in knowledge as we dive deeper into the Word!
How to Look at Explicit and Implicit Truths in the Bible
The Bible reveals truth in two different ways.
One is through EXPLICIT Truth, where the truth is clear and straightforward- such as in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Second is IMPLICIT Truths, where truths are implied even though specific words are not used-such as the Trinity. The word trinity is not found in the Bible, yet it is implied all throughout it. The word trinity means that God is seen to exist eternally in 3 persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They share the same divine nature yet are different in role and relationship. “They are equal in essence yet distinct in function.” (ESV Study Bible)
To read more on the trinity, check out our “Faith Basics” blog titled “The Biblical Worldview” at:
Got Questions also has a good article on the Trinity which references a lot of Scripture in describing this implicit truth. If you want to check it out, go to:
Keep in mind that implicit truths will never contradict with explicit truths, so as we’re studying the Bible always let the explicit truths lead the way of our interpretations!
As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions!
How to Find a Bible Verse
Check out this video to learn how to find a Bible verse!
How to Read a Bible Passage
As you’re diggin into the Word seeking to grow in the foundational truths God has laid out for us, it’s important to remember context is key!
It may seem like you can read a Bible verse and apply it as though it stands alone, but in order to understand them accurately and to the fullest, we must read it in light of its entire context.
Here’s an example,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
If we just read this verse alone we’d interpret “I can do all things” as anything we’d like, but if we read the verses just before 4:13, we’ll see the author lays the foundation by saying “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”(vs. 11-12)
The full context changes everything! In understanding the full context we realize, “I can do all things” is not meaning we can have whatever we want whenever we want it and all we need to do is pray for it. The awesome truth of the verse is that through Christ, we have all we need in Him, so whatever circumstances the Lord has us in we can be content, because God is our peace and sustainer in all circumstances! So dialed!
As you read through John, or any Bible verse, keep this in mind that we may understand God's truths to the fullest!
How To Use Historical Context to Interpret the Bible
Check out this video to learn historical contexts to consider when reading the Bible that will help you understand passages more clearly!
You can also visit Blueletterbible.org for intro’s to each book of the Bible to help understand the context of each book in more depth
How to Know the Difference Between Descriptive or Prescriptive
As you’re reading through the Bible one key to keep in mind is that the Bible is written with two different styles.
Some passages are Descriptive: Describing what people did, not necessarily always saying that is what the Lord called them to, rather sometimes it’s simply sharing what people were doing according to their sinful nature.
Other passages are Prescriptive: prescribing how we should live.
It’s important to keep this in mind so that validation is not given to things that are not according to God’s ways, as we want to live according to the fullness of all the good works to which God has called us by His grace, all to His glory!
Check out Ephesians 1:1-10!
Understand Syntax (Part 1)
Syntax refers to the way words, tenses, and terms are structured together to form phrases, clauses, and sentences. Each language has its own syntax. In our language, we may say, “I like to ride my bike.” We understand what the meaning is because it fits with the English syntax, but if the words were rearranged to say, “My bike ride I to like,” it would come across as a little confusing to us or hard to understand.
The same way we form sentences using syntax is the same way Bible interpreters use it to translate every passage from its original Greek and Hebrew languages into English in a way they believe will most accurately correlate with how it was intended to be understood by the original audience.
This is important as there are times in reading the Bible when our interpretation of a passage may seem confusing, or you find a lot of people debating the meaning of a passage. As Biblical applications and apologetic claims are made by people every day, having an understanding of how syntax works will help us interpret the Bible more accurately. We’ll know when odd claims or confusion comes up, to ask questions such as, “are tenses and sentence structures used properly?” Or, “how do the words used, relate to one another or possibly modify one another?”Being equipped with proper tools and questions like this will help us come to the truth.
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll dig deeper into what syntax is and things to consider with how English syntax differs from Greek and Hebrew, which will equip us to come to a sound understanding of the Bible!
Understand Syntax (Part 2)
In syntax part 2 we’re going to be looking at how to get to the root of the passage. The key to this is remembering that the original languages of the Bible are not English. The two main languages are Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament, and the Bible also contains a few places where Aramaic was the original language. Praise the Lord for translators that know the languages and through a faithful and in-depth process (which gotquestions.org goes over more at Bible-versions.html ) had accurately translated the original languages into English and other languages that people around the world speak. That said it is important and practical for us to understand aspects of that translation process so that when we come across a passage we want to grasp at an even deeper level we will be able to do so, or if we come across difficult passages, or people telling us different things that don’t line up with what the Bible teaches, we will have resources and wisdom to work through God’s Word to stay rooted in truth. As said in this video, when we are chilling in our time of reading with the Lord we can use a more sentence for sentence or point for point translation, but when we are really trying to get to the root, we what to use a more word-for-word translation. Below is a list of where different versions are at on that spectrum so you can find what you have and work from there!
Starting from word for word and going to a more thought for thought here is a list for you to use.
This list is just an outline as there are many more but these are the main ones you will find.
Another one is the Message or MSG but that is a paraphrase so really be careful with that one as you don’t want to base any major points on it.
Hope this helps as you dive in!
(Correction from video): Old Testament is in Hebrew and some Aramaic. New Testament is in Greek.
Understand Syntax (Part 3)
After part 2 of syntax you might be thinking that’s great that the Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Greek, and a bit of Aramaic, but why do we need to look at how words relate to each other, and grammar and sentence structure since we typically don’t do that when we talk with one another? You’re right, we don’t because we just know it in our language.
For example, we know saying, “Bike the I ride to like!” is wrong and, “I like to ride the bike!” is right.
It’s clutch for us to realize that technically syntax is what allows us to know what the legit sentence would be.
When we think of the impact of syntax, it makes us see the importance of being aware of sentence structure in other languages to make sure we are understanding the Spirit-inspired author’s original meaning.
In light of that, it’s key to know that both Hebrew and especially Greek are less focused on word order than English is and Greek really focuses on the root of the word, and then it has different variations of word endings that tell us the part of speech as well as case and tense which directs the flow and emphasis of the sentence and word relationships.
All this helps us to know part of the process the translators went through in what you and I now read so we can get to the source when questions come up or we want a deeper understanding.
Though this may seem super technical it gets real practical for us in understanding why we want to be using a more word-for-word translation that really takes syntax into account to make sure the full and right meaning of the original text is reported to us and not just ideas of the meaning.
Understand Syntax (Part 4)
Part 4 is more of a side note than one of the main parts of syntax but it is still key to take note of in our study especially as we go into Part 5.
Just as the Bible wasn’t originally written in English, it also did not originally have all the chapters, section breaks, paragraphs, and verse breaks that we have in our Bibles now. Those were put into our Bibles to help us navigate the Bible and help point to and explain to each other the area of the Bible we are talking about, studying, memorizing, and being transformed by. Think of them as addresses. Just like we have home addresses for where we live, these are addresses to where specific passages live in the Bible.
That being said, those breaks are not authoritative and therefore are not always in the perfect spot regarding overall context. This is important for us to keep in mind so it's not the breaks that lead us in our study but rather the thought or flow of the Spirit-inspired author and the meaning that he is trying to get across. The breaks are there to help us get to the general area to do that kind of comprehensive study, just as I used them in one of our first How To’s to be able to point you to John 3:16 to draw your attention to what God has done in His love for us to have eternal life through belief in Jesus.
For more in-depth insight on this check these resources!
Understand Syntax (Part 5)
Here in part 5 we are going to give some pointers to look at so we know where and why we need to really look at the syntax to go deeper in study to make sure we are understanding the original Spirit-inspired meaning the author was intending.
Think of it as searching for spots when you are out shredding the street.
Here’s the spot in the Bible and its corresponding spot for when we are linking up with friends to shred in the streets.
Bible - World
Testament. - Country
Book of the Bible - State/Providence
Chapter - City
Section break - Neighborhood
Paragraph - Shopping center
Verse - Area in the shopping center
Sentence - Group of ledges or banks at the spot
Clause - Features at the spot that can be linked in a line
Word - The one feature we are shredding
As we do this we are going to come across the key theme/topic in the passage we are studying in light of the whole.
Getting into the session starts broad to take in the whole context and then narrows down to get to the one specific meaning intended by God. This shows us what we need to be looking for to really session the Word with the Lord from the chill sessions to the sessions where we put in more work to get all the way to the root of difficult passages, or to handle difficult questions posed to us or that we are wrestling with ourselves.
As we get into that second half (aka paragraph, verse, sentence, clause, and word) and see the key theme/topic that is being built on or modified. That is when we can know where and why to really look at grammatical and word relationships and go back to original language resources to make sure we are truly understanding that key theme/topic as the Lord originally meant it. Then we can accurately apply it in our lives.
Understand Syntax (Example)
Let’s look at John 1:1-5 as an example to put these different parts of syntax together in practical use.
As we consider the Bible as a whole let’s read our specific passage in John.
Now let’s read or listen to the whole book of John and then read the specific passage again.
That done we see the book of John is in the New Testament which reveals the work of Jesus that the Old Testament was pointing towards. We see the purpose statement of the book of John in John 20 30-31
Now let’s dig into our specific passage.
“The Word” is used 3 times which shows emphasis and importance as the key point in the passage. So let’s see what it means and how it is built upon.
We see the Word was:
In the beginning
Was with God
That all things were made through Him
Without Him was not anything
In Him is life
The life that is in Him is the light of man and that light has not been overcome
Now that we have gathered these observations from and around our passage let’s connect what it’s telling us.
It looks to be telling us that the “Word” is God both directly, as well as by way of characteristics only belonging to God. Along with being God, we see that the Word is a distinct person, which the context of the passage goes on to show as God the Son Jesus being distinct but equal and one with God the Father. The rest of the book of John goes on to show also God the Spirit, making this a foundational passage in showing the Trinity.
This is a point like I have been mentioning throughout this series; that someone may try to say something different about how they see God or what they think God is like. So let’s pause and now go to a good expository commentary to help us with the original languages and their grammar and syntax along with a Bible dictionary and a concordance to make sure we are on the right track to understanding the Spirit-inspired author’s original meaning.
There are many dialed resources to be studied that highlight different aspects of greek grammar that really strengthen all the points being made in this passage that we have seen in the text, sadly I don’t have room to quote here. ESV Study Bible is a good place to start.
Then apply it to your life!
A Word of Encouragement
This week I just want to encourage you in the joys of getting to dive into the Word! After going through syntax the last 6 weeks, and looking at more of the technical aspects of studying the Word, I want to wrap it up with a reminder that it truly is so awesome we are able to read God’s Word! Through the Bible, the God of the universe wants to communicate with, and encourage us in ways that will truly transform our lives!
So whatever you’re facing in this season, dive into the Word and see how the Lord wants to speak to you, build you up in His truth, and help you see the different things you’re facing through His eyes, that you may know His wisdom, peace, and joy in whatever you are going through!
“You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.” -Psalm 119:114
How to Do a Spot Check in the Bible
Just like it makes a big difference if you have been to, seen a photo or video of, or heard about how easy or hard a feature is to shred at spot or a skatepark. So it is with understanding spots in the Bible aka lands, cities, places and more.
These are real historical places you can go to and see some are still functional cities some are artifacts in those cities, others are ruins and excavation sites and some are still to be excavated. For some, the places may not be that far, and for others like myself in the States it is a very far journey, but we can hear from people who have been there and gain great insight on the places.
I know for me seeing where Thomas went on his missionary journeys in India, seeing what things were like in Rome, seeing things in Egypt for Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, and Jesus has been a real blessing as being to those places helped me to understand them better. I would love to, Lord willing go to Israel one day. With that said, we can still look up maps and photos of all the different locations we read about in the Bible to understand, distances, elevations, geography, empires areas of rule, different routes, and places and more.
I know I have done that recently; looking at the different routes Jesus took in His ministry to better understand the area of Samaria and His stop there in John chapter 4. And as the local church I’m a member at gets ready to go through the book of Jonah, I have been looking up maps of Nineveh and where Joppa and Tarshish are, as well as the span of the Assyrian empire at the time, so that my understanding of the different spots in that book will prepare my heart for how the Lord is going to work through the study of His Word!
Hope this helps you as you dive in so you can be locked in and aware of the different spots throughout God’s Word!
Check out these resources to help:
-My go to is The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands
-A good study Bible such as the ESV Study Bible
-At the bottom of this link are all the free maps to access on Bible Gateway: