5 Ways to Study the Bible to Understand it Better

by Henrietta C. Mears
Time: 5 Minutes

Study the Bible as One Unified Book

The Bible is one book, one history, one story—His story. Behind 10,000 events stands God, the builder of history, the maker of the ages. Eternity bounds the one side, eternity bounds the other side, and time is in between: Genesis (origins) to Revelation (endings) and all the way in between, God is working things out. You can go into the minutest detail everywhere and see that there is one great purpose moving through the ages: the eternal design of the almighty God to redeem a wrecked and ruined world.

You can go into the minutest detail of the Bible and see that there is one great purpose moving through the ages: the eternal design of the almighty God to redeem a wrecked and ruined world.

The Bible is one book, and you cannot read separate excerpts and expect to comprehend the magnificence of divine revelation. You must see it in its completeness. God has taken pains to give a progressive revelation, and we should take pains to read it from beginning to end. Don’t suppose reading little scraps can ever be compensation for doing deep and systematic study of the Bible itself. We must concentrate on the Book and look at it as a whole, not treat each chapter or book piecemeal, as a stand-alone piece. One would scorn to read any other book, even the lightest novel, in this fashion.


Study the Bible by Genre

Another way we can study the Bible is by groups—law, history, poetry, major and minor prophets, Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Revelation. Here again we find great unity, for Christ said, “It is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God” (Hebrews 10:7). Everything points to the King!


Study the Bible One Book at a Time

Each book has a message, and we should try to discover what that message is. Read until you discover the message of the book. For instance, in John it is easy to discover the purpose; it is stated in John 20:31. The message is not always given so clearly, but the truth is there to be found.

In one sense we should treat the Bible as we treat any other book. When we get a book from the library, we would never think of reading just a paragraph, taking some 10 minutes, reading a little at night and then reading a little in the morning, and so spending weeks, perhaps months, in reading through the book. No interest could be maintained in any story by such a procedure. Take a love story, for instance. We would naturally begin at the beginning and read right through to the end (unless we turned to the finish to see how the story ended).

Do you come to the Bible with such eagerness? Do you read with that purpose and persistence? The Bible is not a book of separate, stand-alone texts; it is a story—a revelation—to be begun and pursued and ended as we start and continue other books. Don’t trifle with the Bible. Don’t divide it into short devotional paragraphs and think you have understood its messages. It may be excusable for those who can hardly read to open the Bible and take whatever their eyes light upon as the message of God. Many people do that, but the Bible isn’t to be misused in that manner. We must come to it in a commonsense fashion. Believe that every book is about something, and read and reread until you find out what that something is.


Study the Bible Itself

First read the Book—not books about the Book or books of commentaries or even comments at the bottom of the page. They will come in good time, perhaps, but give the Book a chance to speak for itself and to make its own impression, to bear its own testimony. As the late country-music singer Johnny Cash is credited with saying, “The Bible sure does throw a lot of light on the commentaries.”


Study the Bible Believing Every Part is Necessary

Don’t wish to put on colored glasses of people’s opinions and then read through the interpretation put on the Bible by other minds. Let the Spirit of God Himself teach you. We all have a right to read it for ourselves. “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Read it seeking enlightenment. The Bible is a revelation, and God will flash light upon the page as you come humbly.

The Word of God is alive and every part is necessary to the perfection of the whole. We don’t say that every part is equally important. If you were to ask me whether I would give up my finger or my eye, of course I would part with my finger; so it is with the Word of God. All is necessary to make a perfect whole, but some portions are more precious than others. You can’t take away the Song of Solomon and have a perfect revelation. No one says that the Song of Solomon is comparable with John’s Gospel, but both are parts of an organism, and that organism is not complete if any part is missing.

The Bible is a whole and we can’t tamper with it. For example, to add anything to the book of Revelation or to take anything from it would mar its absolute perfection (see Revelation 22:18-19). The canon of Scripture is closed. Other works throw valuable light upon it, but the Book itself stands unique, alone and complete; the parts comprise the perfection of the whole.

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