Can We All Understand The Bible Alike?
Written by Randy L. Mabe
Sunday, 22 February 2009 19:32

Can We All Understand The Bible Alike?

It is an honor to work with the West Visalia congregation again in this lectureship. The books that are generated from these efforts are of supreme importance to the brotherhood and the world. I thank the elders for the invitation to have a part in this good work. I appreciate the work of the deacons, preacher and every member involved in this effort. You are dear to me.


Let’s examine our topic assigned: “Can we all understand the Bible alike?” Can: to be able. We: you and me. All: every one of us which includes every person with sound, rational minds. Understand: “to perceive the intended meaning” (Oxford 1257). The: a definite article denoting one. Bible: God’s communication to mankind through the sixty-six books comprised of Genesis to Revelation. Alike: “in a similar way” (24).

“Can” means ability in contrast to authority to so do. “May” would mean that we have the authority to understand the Bible alike. 1 Corinthians 1:10 extends that authority to us, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment”; but, do we have the ability to understand the Bible alike? Look at the difference in these two questions and draw the parallel: 1) May I go to the store? 2) Can I go to the store? The first implies you have the ability to go but now need permission. The second questions the ability to go; whether it is beyond my reach. Can we understand the Bible alike? Is this within our reach, our ability? We have the permission, yea, the command to so do.

The answer is, “No” - in most circumstances! Let us explore this thought in depth and see its import.

No: If we do not believe the scriptures to be inspired.

Our meaning of “inspired” here is to be God-breathed. We mean words that originated in the mind of God and traveled through the minds of men. These words stayed the same as they were spoken or written. Wayne Jackson addresses the subject of inspiration,

“That the scriptures are inspired of God admits of no doubt to those who have seriously studied the matter. The evidence for the divine origin of the Bible is absolutely overwhelming. Its amazing unity, uncanny accuracy, prophetic declarations, perpetual relevance, astounding durability, etc., all testify that this volume is not a mere human production.... We must briefly mention at this juncture that a proper view of the Bible must acknowledge that “inspiration” is not some nebulous influence that hovers somewhere in the general vicinity of the text. Rather, inspiration (involving both the source and the recording of the message) extends to the very words of the documents. This is the concept of “verbal inspiration”. The words of the narrative are, ultimately, the words that were given by God” (2).

The very words of God are preserved for us today in a good translation of the Bible. Many people do not believe this and will never see the Bible like one who knows it to be true. In their mind any and every other writing has the potential to be equal, or surpass, the Bible. Their own thoughts, feelings, wishes, wants and desires are equal, or superlative, in relation to what the Bible says. A point made explicitly and consistently in the Bible can be negated with that persons ‘feeling’ that it just can’t be that way. Never study the Bible with one who does not believe the Bible to be the word of God and the final answer in all spiritual matters, except it is on the subject of “Bible Inspiration”. It is a fruitless endeavor and our time is precious in carrying the Gospel to the world. Listen to Jesus,

I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words” (John 5:43-47)?

“And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them” (Luke 9:5).

When everyone believes the Bible to be inspired and the final answer in all things spiritual then, and only then, can we see the Bible alike! We will study effectively to find out what God has said because we know that He wrote with clarity to communicate His mind to us. His meanings are bound up in the definitions of words ready to be loosed and set free. His sentences are proper and give us the sense of His thoughts. His explicit statements are sharp and His implicit statements are as sharp as our perception and study. Just think how many things we would all know if we all believed the Bible to be inspired and each one used his many abilities in good fruitful Bible study – and we shared our results. So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all believed it to be inspired and the final answer in all things spiritual.

No: If we do not rightly divide the Bible

It is impossible for us all to understand the Bible alike if we do not properly divide the Bible. Again, God has commanded us to so do, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Tim.2:15). I will speak here of the simplest divisions. Failure of proper understanding is assured if one neglects the division of Old and New Testaments. How can one know what civil laws to keep unless he knows which books contain the laws governing him? Each country has laws but only my country’s laws govern me. Even in my country, not every law recorded governs me. There is a great difference in these two testaments concerning law. There is a difference in laws even within the Old Testament. It contains the Law of Moses which was given to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. It also contains the laws under the system of Patriarchy for all other peoples, Gentiles, including blood relatives of the Jews. One must recognize the divisions of covenants in the Old Testament to understand it properly. As long as some people view the Bible as one big book, equal in all its parts for every person, we will not see the Bible alike.

If we divide the Bible between the Old and New Testaments properly we can truly find the laws that govern every person today and keep them! They are found in the New Testament. But what about the ten commandments and all other laws of the Old Testament? Let’s see what the Bible says,

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph.2:14-22).

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Col.2:14).

The cross was where Jesus fulfilled the old covenants and established His covenant which is over every person living and that ever will live. It is not only a “new” covenant, it is a “better covenant which was established upon better promises” (Heb.8:6). The New Testament should be our first study. The Old Testament is also good to learn as it will increase our understanding about God, His way of working with mankind and many other things but it will not govern us. Romans15:4 states, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

. So yes, we all could understand the Bible alike if we all rightly divided the word of God.

No: If we negate prophecy and the supernatural.

The Bible contains prophecy and miraculous manifestations. To negate or ignore these phenomena, in their time, would necessarily keep a person from understanding God and what He has written. If God cannot be Lord and Master of all then He is no more than a man. This is the basic thought of Humanism. Higher critical thought and platforms, such as the Jesus Seminar, will never bring a person to truth. Their beginning platform negates any miracle or supernatural event such as prophecy. James Sire helps us see the proper position on the possibility of miracles and prophecy,

“Actually there is no way we as human beings can know with absolute certainty that miracles cannot happen. We would have to know everything about the way the universe, reality itself, works. No one has that kind of knowledge. No reputable physicist – not even Stephen Hawking – will say he possesses this kind of knowledge of the physical nature of the universe. Even if one could find the final formula that would unite our knowledge of all the forces and all the matter we can detect, we could not be certain that there is not behind it all an undetectable force or mind or god who brought it all into being and can intervene in its processes.

The idea that miracles cannot happen is an article of faith. It goes beyond our knowledge. That does not mean it is not true. Rather, it is either true or false that miracles cannot happen. In fact, even if no miracle had ever occurred at any time or place so far in the universe and we actually knew this to be true (which we don’t and can’t, but let’s waive that), it would still be possible that miracles could occur….

The case against miracles must deal with the evidence for miracles. It cannot proceed on the basis of the general principle that miracles can’t happen, for that general principle is itself subject to disproof. The first actual miracle disproves the principle (100-101).

If God claims to be able, and He does; and if God has performed the miraculous, and He has; and the evidence sustains that position, and it does – give Him the credit due! To deny Him denies you of proper understanding. Without the miraculous events and prophecy you do not have explanation for origins or the basis for the present conditions physically or spiritually. Without information one is left ignorant.

When you study the miraculous events and the prophecies of the Bible you are instructed and edified with knowledge and proof, even of God’s existence! Miracles were actually done before the very eyes of God’s strongest critics. The fact of the event was never in question, only what to do in the face of it. These critics exclaimed, “…What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name” (Acts 4:16-17).

We also must remember that the miraculous and the prophetic events were in a specific time and for a specific purpose. The prophetic is used no more to communicate with us. The miraculous events have ceased, vanished, passed away.

“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor.13:8-13).

The miracles were partial measures to aid an infant church. They pointed the way to the Christ and to His church. They instructed, edified and helped her in her work until that which was “perfect” came. James teaches us that the law of Christ is “the perfect law of liberty” (Jas.1:25). The written revelation is the full measure of instruction, edification and a lamp to our feet in our work. Why should we want to go back to a partial measure? And yet why would we negate what we needed until that written revelation came?

Prophecy also gives us an inter-relationship between the Old and New Testaments that is invaluable. Leland Ryken points out this unique tool,

“….The subject of the unified network of cross-references and fore-shadowings and echoes that we find in the Bible is perhaps the preeminent example of special hermeneutics.

As an entry into this complex subject, I would like to ask you to picture the pages of the Bible with cross-references listed in the margin. I would note first that the Bible is the only book I know where this format regularly appears. Even after we have eliminated the somewhat arbitrary listing of passages that express similar ideas or simply use identical words, we are left with an anthology of diverse writings that are unified by an interlocking and unified system of theological ideas, images and motifs. Together the diverse elements make up a single composite story and worldview known as salvation history.

Biblical interpretation has legitimately been preoccupied with tracing the intricacies of this system of references. Of particular importance has been the use that New Testament writers make of the Old Testament. Often a New Testament writer will evoke an Old Testament passage in such a way as to show its fulfillment in the New Testament, though many different scenarios also exist” (The Word 149).

So yes, we all could understand the Bible alike if we all proved and accepted the prophetic and miraculous manifestations of God in the Bible.

No: If we do not expect to understand what we read.

To some the Bible is a mystery book that will never be revealed nor understood. To them it is mysterious and clouded in a mystical shroud. For them it is different from all other books in every way and cannot be fully comprehended. To them it is perceived to be written in a Holy Spirit language that is above man’s ability to grasp. Each person is believed to receive something different from the same text. It is impossible to understand any writing looked at in that light, and especially to understand it alike!

The Bible is a book similar to all other writings. It is about real people and real events. It has a message to be perceived and understood. This message is above all other messages in importance. The difference is that it is written by men and authored by God. Its transmission is different. Its message is precise. Its message is singular. It is written to be understood and so it can be understood. When you write a letter to someone dear you try to be clear in what you write. You choose the words that convey the idea of your mind distinctly. You phrase these words in such a way that the intended meaning stands out and is easy to grasp. Your dear one expects to understand what you say and unravels that message through your words and phrasing to that end. Remember that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). He has written to you as a dear, dear one.

Leland Ryken helps us see that the Bible can be understood though it is a unique book,

“The Bible is a written book and as such shares certain qualities with other books. This is not to deny that the Bible is unique, having been inspired by God in a way that other books are not. In format, though, the Bible is an anthology of diverse literary writings, similar to other anthologies. The writers of the Bible themselves signal their awareness of literary genres (types of writing) by referring with technical precision to such forms as chronicle, psalm, song, proverb, parable, apocalypse, and many others. In keeping with the nature of the Bible itself, therefore, there is much that we can learn about how to handle the Bible in translation by paying attention to how we treat literary texts beyond the Bible. If anything, our reverence for the Biblical text should be higher than the respect we accord to Shakespeare and Hawthorne” (The Word 23).

God’s message is more important than what you wrote to your dear one. God loves you more than you love your dear one. God is more able than you to write clearly. God created the language and our minds by which we understand! If God is able, and He is; If God is willing, and He is; If God has written, and He has; Then we can understand His writing if we do our part in effective Bible study. So yes, we all could understand the Bible alike if we all expected to understand the Bible and did our part effectively to understand it.

No: If we depend solely on commentaries.

Some people rely upon what a commentary has said about a passage without studying it themselves. This is dangerous and stands against what the Bible teaches. Listen to Jesus, “… Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me” (John 18:34)?

A commentary is an expression of opinions and explanations of events. Some commentaries are good. You can learn good things from commentaries. But remember the commentator is a person like you, yet possibly more studied. That person is apt to misunderstand if he has not studied correctly himself. He then expresses his opinion and you pick it up from him and pass it on for truth to another who will not study. This is dangerous to your soul and the souls of others. Mortimer Adler gives good advice on the use of commentaries,

“A third category of extrinsic aids to reading includes commentaries and abstracts. The thing to emphasize here is that such works should be used wisely, which is to say sparingly. There are two reasons for this.

The first is that commentators are not always right in their comments on a book. Sometimes, of course, their works are enormously useful, but this is true less often than one could wish. …. The second reason for using commentaries sparingly is that, even if they are right, they may not be exhaustive. That is, you may be able to discover important meanings in a book that the author of a commentary about it has not discovered” (174).

There is a place for the use of good commentaries. It is after you have exhausted all other tools (lexicons, interlinears, dictionaries, etc.) and components of Bible study and have drawn from the text what lies in it. You then may check your study against someone else, but stick with the Bible. So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all correctly used the tools of Bible study.

No: If we use eisegesis.

Eisegesis is the practice of reading into a text what you expect to find there. In order to do this one must bring a preconceived idea of the text’s meaning. If that preconceived idea is wrong and strongly held then the text will remain obscure. It seems to never fail that a person will always find what they are looking for in a text! To read the text through a preconceived idea is like looking at life through rose-tinted glasses. A filter filters. A bad filter filters badly. When eisegesis is employed the Bible is misunderstood.

God’s intended meaning shines through the text like the noon day sun in an open desert when exegesis is employed. To use exegesis is to draw out of the text what is in it. There is something in a text because someone has put a meaning in it. God put His intended meaning in the text of the Bible. Leland Ryken speaks to interpretation,

One of the interpretive assumptions that we make of stories is that storytellers intend to communicate meaning. Even in their choices of what stories to recount, storytellers gravitate toward stories in which (to use the French writer Baudelaire’s words) “the deep significance of life reveals itself.”13 Surely this is the impression we get from the stories of the Bible. The primary rule of narrative interpretation is thus the rule of significance: we assume that the writer intends to say something significant about reality and human experience” (Words 82).

Without a preconceived idea as a filter the text has a chance to speak. When proper method and tools are used to draw this meaning out of the text one can properly understand what God said. So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all used exegesis in our study properly.

No: When we use wrong methods.

There are many methods people use to study the Bible: Mystical, Spiritual, Allegorical, Hierarchical, Rationalistic, Apologetic, Dogmatic, Literal and Inductive (Dungan 6). Method is necessary but an improper method will lead one to an improper understanding of God’s word. It is interesting to me that only the Bible receives such treatment! One would not consider using a number of methods to understand the same medical text on surgery. One would not consider using the allegorical method in studying mathematics. But when it comes to the Bible anything goes when it comes to method. The only thing worse is to use no method at all. It would be easier to und erstandse nten ceswi thoutpr oper punctuation and division than to study the Bible with no method or an improper method.

Let’s look very briefly at the above named methods. The mystical method originated in heathenism (58). One has to be in tune to the deities and have a holy calling from them to be able to know what they said! No one could disagree with such a one even if he gave five different interpretations from the same text. The result of this method is division, ignorance and infidelity. The allegorical method treats everything like a combination of metaphors. Dungan called this “a splendid riddle” (60). One thing stands for another even though plain language is used. The meaning is therefore subjective. The Spiritual method indicates that every person is en rapport with the spirit world and can receive divine guidance to the meaning of scripture. Each one has the ability but each one has a different interpretation. Who can believe it? The rationalistic method employs eisegesis. “Nature is the standard and Reason is the guide” (67-68). What one already believes is certainly found in the scriptures. This is a sure way to remain in unbelief. The apologetic method looks to every statement in perfection and binds it on everyone. What about the lies, deceits and false beliefs that the Bible accurately records? They are still lies, deceits and false beliefs! The Dogmatic Method is the method of assumption and proof. Believe it, look for it, find it and it is proven. The desire to rule another birthed and maintains this method. The method of Literal Interpretation makes all language used in the Bible literal. It ignores and rejects figurative language. This leads to peculiar meanings already held by this kind of student.

Is there not a good method by which to study the Bible? Yes, the Inductive Method. This method lives upon evidence. The first step of this method is to gather evidence, all the evidence at one’s hand, evidence even remotely related to the text. The next move is to analyze the evidence gathered. Priority is given to evidence directly related to the text. Remote evidence is of lesser importance. Evidence found to be no evidence is put aside. Finally one is to follow the evidence wherever it leads you! Truth will not lead you astray and will not harm you – follow it. James Sire writes, “…the only reason for believing something is that it is true…. In short, any argument for our beliefs should (1) be based upon the best evidence, (2) be validly argued and (3) refute the strongest objections that can be made” (94). So yes, when we all use the inductive method properly we all could understand the Bible alike.

No: If we are too lazy to know the rules of Bible Study.

One must know the rules of football to be able to play or to fully appreciate the game when viewed. Surely we can see the fallacy of not knowing the rules of proper Bible study under the Inductive Method. One cannot utilize what one does not know. How about you – do you know the rules of Bible study? You use them but do you know what they are? What if you leave one or two out, would it make a difference? There are many rules but they are relatively easy to remember. Clinton Lockhart gives us the following axioms of hermeneutics to remember:

1) The true object of speech is the impartation of thought.

2) The true object of interpretation is to apprehend the exact thought of the author.

3) Language is a reliable medium of communication.

4) Usage determines the meaning of words.

5) Two writers do not independently express thought alike.

6) Every writer is influenced by his environment.

7) An author’s purpose determines the character of his production.

8) Any writing is liable to modification in copying, translating, and the gradual change of a living tongue.

9) By one expression one thought is conveyed, and only one.

10) The function of a word depends upon its association with other words.

11) A correct definition of a word substituted for the word itself will not modify the meaning of the text.

12) One of two contradictory statements must be false, unless corresponding terms have different meanings or applications.

13) Truth must accord with truth; and statements of truth apparently discrepant can be harmonized if the facts are known.

14) An assertion of truth necessarily excludes that to which it is essentially opposed and no more.

15) Every communication of thought, human and divine, given in the language of men, is subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation (18-31).

D.R Dungan gives us the following rules to remember:

1) Who was the writer?

2) Who were addressed?

3) Who are spoken of?

4) What kind of composition?

5) When written?

6) The place of writing or speaking?

7) Always interpret according to the known purpose of the author.

8) Consider the author’s statement of purpose.

9) Consider the immediate context.

10) The Bible, truth, harmonizes.

11) Compare other statements of author on the same subject.

12) Compare statements of other writers of equal authority on the same subject.

13) Use common sense.

14) Use figurative rules to interpret figurative language.

15) Words are to be understood in their literal sense, unless the evident meaning of the text forbids.

16) Commands generally, and ordinances always, are to be understood in a literal sense.

17) The literal meaning of a word is that meaning given it by those to whom it is addressed.

18) Words of definite action can only have one meaning.

19) The writer’s explanation is the best definition that can be found.

20) In defining a definition, nothing but primary meanings can be used (9-11).

The Bible teaches us to expend effort in our Bible study: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15). The ASV 1901 says to “be diligent”. We are to know and to use proper rules for Bible study. So yes, we all could see the Bible alike when we know and use proper rules for Bible study.

No: If we run easily to figurative language.

Many people want the Bible to have many meanings for every text. Figurative language is one way of causing this to be so. The Bible does use a lot of figurative language but the majority of texts are literal. We are not at liberty to view a text either as literal or figurative as we choose. To do so ensures a failure to understand what God has said much less to understand it alike! At the same time if we use literal language all the time, or when figurative language is to be observed, we will likewise fail. If a person affirms a passage to be figurative have him prove it. The rule that must be followed is to start with literal language and only go to the figurative when you are forced to by the text. Dungan gives us the following ways to know when to observe the figurative:

1) The context demands it

2) Literal language makes an impossibility

3) Literal language makes a contradiction

4) Literal language demands that which is wrong

5) When it is said to be figurative

6) When the definite is put for the indefinite number

7) When it is said to be in mockery

8) By the common sense (p.11).

So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all use literal language first and observe figurative language by the proper rules.

No: If we have wrong motives.

Some people have a desire that is not right in the sight of God and will keep them from understanding God’s word. A person who always has to be right will never understand God’s word properly. One who wants to always be in control will misunderstand submission. A person who wants to be the greatest in the kingdom of God by his own merit will be hindered from understanding God’s word. Is thy heart right with God? We sing a song by that title and we need to study the Bible having first considered that question.

The only motive that will grant a person a true pass to understanding God’s word is to know what God has said on a matter so that I can do what God says. If one will keep a picture of themselves before God at Judgment Day one will be better able to study the Bible today. It is God that is sovereign and we that are the sheep of His pasture. If the Lord is our shepherd we will not want, lack (Ps.23). So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all study with a desire to only know and do what God has said.

No: If we do not use sound reasoning.

A person that does not use proper logic in Bible study is a person that will not understand the Bible properly. I am not advocating every person take a formal Logic course, though it would not hurt anyone. I am advocating sound reasoning. One can understand a few basic principles of sound reasoning and do quite well when they are applied. A person who believes something can be and not be at the same time and in the same sense is a person who can believe anything contradictory at the same time! He could espouse, “There is a God” and, “There is not a God” and be perfectly content. You may think that people would not be so bold as to do this but consider that a person who has said, “There is a God and His name is Allah” has done this very thing, in principle!

Everyone with a sound mind reasons properly to some degree. Max Black makes this point clear,

“When the importance of reasoning is appreciated, it is natural to seek ways to improve the practice of reasoning. All men who are not imbeciles are able to reason with some degree of skill. Unless their reasoning prevented them from systematic belief in absurdities, they could hardly survive in a world not designed to provide an easy life for the stupid. But one may reason without being able to do so as well as could be desired. Reasoning is as natural and familiar a process as breathing, but it is also a skill in which indefinite improvement is possible for anyone who is not a genius (6).

One may improve his logical skills with a few basic principles understood and applied consistently to his thinking process. Douglas Groothuis offers some,

“The law (or principle) of excluded middle affirms that “either A or non-A.” Either there is a brown desk in my study or there is not; either there is a duck on the pond or there is not. There is no middle option. One more principle of logic teams up for further clarification. The law (or principle) of non-contradiction states that “A cannot be non-A in the same way and in the same respect at the same time.” It cannot be true that there both is and is not a brown desk in my study. However, a brown desk can be in my study one day and be gone the next. There is no contradiction in this because of the change in time” (88-89).

Add to these the truth that a proposition, a statement, is either true or false and you have a good place to start honing your reasoning skills. “Aristotle began his great work Metaphysics by writing that “man by nature desires to know” (9). It is important to know correctly. Correct reasoning causes us to know correctly. So yes, we all could see the Bible alike if we all use proper logic in our Bible study.

Bible Study Aids

There are aids to Bible study that can be utilized to remember and make good sense of all that you know Biblically. In my opinion the greatest of these is a timeline.


If you will draw a simple timeline with Christ at the center and place an entry on it of the text you are studying you will see its relationship to all other knowledge you have. This time line will enable you to remember much more than you would just trying to hold all the facts independently. Let the time line be your filing cabinet for all of your mind’s Bible knowledge. You will be able to retrieve your facts on that text and others that relate when you do. Some people study James and Jonah and never realize if they were together chronologically or not. When this is the case the facts of each may be known but the relationship is lost. Oftentimes the greater lessons are in the relationships of texts.

Another great tool of Bible study is a study worksheet. I offer the following one for consideration.

Bible Study Work Sheet

Date: ____________

1) Text: (Book, Chapter & Verse)

2) When: (Approximate time of narrative)

3) Who is speaking: (Give name and/or descriptive)

4) Who are the auditors: (Give name and/or descriptive)

5) What is the occasion: (Give name and/or descriptive)

6) Important words: (Copy all important major words in the text)

7) Mysterious words: (Copy all the words which you do not know the meaning)

8) Definitions: (Use Vine’s Dictionary and define all the words in #6 & #7)

9) Mysterious phrases: (Copy all phrases which you do not know the meaning)

10) Explore: Use sound commentaries and the Bible to define these phrases)

11) Other: (Use lexicons, interlinears, concordances to supply grammatical info)

12) Expand: (Use the info in 8 & 10 to write an expanded text in your own words)

13) Optional: (Consult a sound commentary for extra information)

Follow each step and supply as much information as possible. It is important to know when the event is happening. You may list a date or a relation to another event (i.e. ministry of Christ). Who is speaking and to whom the address is given should be filled in completely and specifically. The occasion may be a feast day, a well known journey, event or a day related to another event. Important words always include verbs. These give the action to the narrative and thus are important. If you are not completely sure then copy the words and phrases down and define them. In the line titled “Other” you may work at your level of knowledge with reference materials. I would suggest that you obtain a copy of Wayne Jackson’s book, Treasures from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader. It is an excellent resource for this line and for the beginning student with reference materials. When you expand the text write in all appropriate definitions for the words and phrases that you did not previously know. Also include all grammatical information necessary to the text. Yes, your text will be much longer than the Biblical text. This will give you the benefit of seeing all that is being said stated precisely in words.

When each step is completed you will know what that text says. You will have drawn out of that text what God put into it. File this worksheet in a notebook in Biblical book, chapter and verse order and refer to it when necessary. The truth will not change. Later, when you have learned more in other texts you will come back and do it again to the original text and find that God had more in there for you to find! You will not out study the Bible. It will last you a lifetime.


It has been obvious to the astute reader that each of the above sections have ended with a statement that says we “could” all see the Bible alike if we all applied that section’s instructions. It must be understood that each section is important but that all sections must be properly applied before we all “will” see the Bible alike. There is no such thing as a stable one legged stool and so it is with Bible study. These directions do not make Bible study laborious but rather fulfilling because it is done properly and therefore the results are correct. Absolute truth is comforting and fulfilling. It is the sustenance of the soul. Let’s review these principles:

1) Believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.

2) Rightly divide the Bible.

3) Prove and accept the miraculous events and prophecies in the Bible.

4) Expect to understand the Bible.

5) Use correctly all tools of Bible study.

6) Use exegesis in Bible study.

7) Use the inductive method in Bible study.

8) Know and use proper rules of Bible study.

9) Use literal language until forced to use figurative language.

10) Have right motives.

11) Use sound reasoning in Bible study.

You have control over you. I encourage you to apply all these principles in your study of the word of God. I am going to also, then we can see the Bible alike and will be apt to do so. Encourage everyone you know to do the same. Everyone who follows all these principles can see the Bible alike and will be apt to do so. God has commanded us to do so. Let’s obey God. Listen to the inspired Apostle Paul, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor.1:10).

Randy L. Mabe

4000 W. Oakey Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89102


Works Cited

Adler, Mortimer and Van Doren, Charles. How To Read A Book. New York, NY: MJF Books, 1972.

Black, Max. Critical Thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1952.

Dungan, D.R. Hermeneutics. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Co.

Groothuis, Douglas. Truth Decay Defending Christianity Against The Challenges Of Postmodernism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Jackson, Wayne. Treasures from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader. Stockton, CA: Courier Publications, 1996.

Lockhart, Clinton. Principles of Interpretation. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Co.

Ryken, Leland. The Word of God in English. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002.

Ryken, Leland. Words of Delight A Literary Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992.

Sire, James W. Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All?. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,1994.

Soanes, Catherine, ed. Oxford Compact English Dictionary. Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2003.