TIPS FOR STUDYING SCRIPTURE
In order to study effectively, you must know about proper hermeneutics,
which means how to accurately study God's Word. If you are not already familiar,
you might want to add these basics to your list of study helps.
- Scripture interprets scripture. You must not interpret a
particular text in a manner that contradicts a major principle of God's
- Universal truths may be contained in writing where there are details
that are only valid to certain circumstances and/or cultures.
- The historical setting is important. You should note who wrote it, and
what was going on that caused it to be written
It is important to look at literary, linguistic detail. To do this remember
- Find the theme of the whole document
- Read paragraphs and chapters as a unit of thought that aids
interpretation of single verses. In other words, look at the context.
Remember that a text without a context is a pretext.
- Look for points that are clear in the original language that do not
translate into English.
- Words have various meanings; therefore, find out what the meaning of the
word is in the particular passage (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the
Bible, Gesenius' Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament and
Theyer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament will often help.)
- Study sentence structure to see if there is a cause-effect relationship.
- Do not impose personal bias.
- God reveals His plan in a progressive way through the scripture from
Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, note first mention by finding out
where a topic starts and by tracing it through the Word.
When dealing with words, use the Eight Rules of Interpretation used by legal
experts for more than 2500 years.
- Rule of Definition. Define the term or words being
considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.
- Rule of Usage. Don’t add meanings to established words and terms. What was the common usage in the cultural and time period when the passage
- Rule of Context. Avoid using words out of context.
Context must define terms and how words are used.
- Rule of Historical Background. Don’t separate
interpretation and historical investigation.
- Rule of Logic. Be certain that words as interpreted agree
with the overall premise.
- Rule of Precedent. Use the known and commonly accepted
meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which there is no precedent.
- Rule of Unity. Even though many documents may be used there
must be a general unity among them.
- Rule of Inference. Base conclusions on what is already known and
proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts."(1)
1 Charles Trombley, Who Said Women Can't Teach?, (South Plainfield,
NJ, Bridge Publishing Company, 1985), pp. 135-36.