Discover. Nurture. Act.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
We sit under God’s authority.
Paul told Timothy that the Bible is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. It is God’s word breathed out to us. The Bible is not just an instruction book but the authority for our lives. Our Statement of Faith states, the Bible “has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.” Therefore, it should be a book we not only know but read daily.
People usually read the Bible in one of two ways. Many read into the Bible. This is called Eisegesis. This form of reading the bible involves “reading meaning into the word.” Eisegesis imposes a preconceived or foreign meaning onto a text, even if that meaning could not have been originally intended at the time of its writing. One who reads the Bible from an Eisegesis fashion sits in authority over the Bible.
We should read the Bible in such a way that the Bible sits in authority over us. Therefore we should read out of the Bible. This is called Exegesis. It involves “drawing meaning out of the word.” Exegesis seeks to understand what a text means or communicates on its own. Remember this; “The Bible could never mean what it never could have meant to its original audience.”
The Bible is written in a context.
When reading the Bible one needs to remember that it is written in a context. In other words, each verse and chapter are not single thoughts in and of themselves but rather part of a greater body of text. There are four basic contexts to keep in mind when reading the Bible.
First, remember the Bible has a cultural context. The Bible was written at a particular time to a particular people. Since the Bible can never mean what it never could have meant, one needs to keep in mind cultural distinctions. For example, when Jesus was talking with the woman at the well in John 4, this was a cultural taboo. Men didn’t talk to women in the open square. So Jesus’ conversation was a big deal to his disciples.
Second, the Bible has a textual context. There are different genres of scripture; poetry, law, wisdom, history, letter, apocalyptic. Genesis is history. Revelation is apocalyptic. Philippians is letter. So for example you wouldn’t read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in the same way you would read Revelation.
Third, the Bible has a Biblical context. Each book is written as part of the greater narrative of the Bible. One cannot read the New Testament apart from understanding the Old Testament. For example, one must understand the Old Testament to understand why John the Baptist would call Jesus, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Therefore, it’s important to read through the entire Bible.
Finally, there is a Redemptive Narrative context. We need to learn how to read our Bible with the intent of seeing Jesus throughout the entire story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. So in Genesis we see God pointing us forward to Jesus when He says there will be One who will crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). And when Paul writes to the Romans saying that God loved us while we were still sinners He points us back to Jesus (Romans 5:8).
Four purposes accomplished when opening God’s word
These purposes are found in 2 Timothy 3:16 written above. When reading a passage of scripture, make it a habit to apply each of these purposes. You can do so by answering each question that goes along with the purpose. It’s helpful to not only answer the questions but write action steps for yourself to help you hold yourself accountable to obey God’s word.
- What does this say about God’s character?
- What is God doing here?
- What is God saying about me?
- In light of this text, what will I do? (this can be answered in the last section)
- Where am I not living by faith?
- How do I return to faith?
Training in Righteousness
- How should I practice this in everyday life?
- This is a process of repentance, faith, and obedience.