September 1, 2002
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth
not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
Principles of Biblical Study
by Jack Northart
In the earlier issues of The Grapevine, we learned the basic keys to properly studying and unlocking the Scriptures. In #4, we covered how we got the Bible in the first place, and that paragraphs, punctuation marks, marginal notes, chapter divisions, and verses were all added by man and were not part of the original "God-breathed" Word. And we learned more about the King James Version, and how it was translated from the Stephens Greek text in 1611.
In issue #5, we covered the differences in the Bible between body, soul and spirit. We also learned about the expanse of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and how the heavens and the earth became without form and void.
In #6, we covered the difference between FORMED, MADE& CREATED. And we saw how God FORMED the original man, Adam, out of the dust of the ground, and how God MADE man a living soul by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, and how he CREATED man in HIS own image, which is spirit.
In Issue #7 we saw exactly WHEN soul life was first created and how God only had to make soul life in man rather than create it. And then in Issue #8, we covered the creation of the heavens and earth in greater detail.
In the more recent issues of the Grapevine, we have covered "To Whom is the Bible Addressed?" We have also learned about God's classification of people, and we have learned about the seven administrations in the Bible. Now we are ready to cover the next aspect of proper Biblical study, which is:
All Scripture Must Fit Together
God does not contradict Himself, like the critics imply that He does. God is perfect, therefore His Word must be perfect. It is our job to study, in order to rightly divide the Word of Truth. And we cannot rightly divide if we have the attitude that the Bible is not God's Word, or that it is full of errors and contradictions. We must work this Word as workman and not be lazy or read it haphazardly. With this in mind, it is vital that we understand
1) Each scripture must fit with every other scripture pertaining the same subject. In other words when you have 9 clear verses on a subject in the Bible, and one verse that doesn't seem to flow with the other 9, we don't throw out the 9 clear and adhere to the 1 unclear verse. All 10 must fit and flow together. It may take some time before the one unclear verse relates with the rest of the Bible, but that's fine. We don't force it to make it say something that we want it to say. Time is not as important as accuracy.Additionally, we must understand that:
2) Any words or verses that are difficult to understand must be understood in light of that which the Bible clearly states. There may be one verse of scripture that seems difficult to understand, or appears to be in contradiction with the many clear verses on the same subject. If so, we take the time necessary to work it. If your not sure how it agrees with the rest of the Word of God, then set it aside for awhile, and then come back to it when your knowledge of God's Word has grown.
3)The words in the verse must agree with all of the other words in the verse as well as with all scripture relating to that subject. The words that are used in a verse of scripture must not only fit that particular verse, but they must fit with every aspect of the subject that it is pertaining to. This may also take time. However, being accurate and rightly dividing the Word is more important than time if we want to be honest workman of the Word. And finally, we must:
4) Separate whether things are similar or identical. This great Biblical truth to which we must adhere is to separate whether two or more records in God's Word are similar or identical. Things that may appear to be similar are not necessarily identical. Our culture tends to call things that are similar, identical. For instance, if I own a 1965 Metallic Blue, Ford Mustang with a white top, and someone comes along with a similar year, model, color car, are they identical? NO, they are TWO different cars! They look alike, but they are different cars.
So it is when we come to God's Word, people tend to confuse similar records as being identical and identical as similar. Most people tend to stray from this truth frequently. One gospel record has Jesus going into a certain town and he stops to heal a blind man. Another gospel has Jesus coming out of the same town and stops to heal a blind man. Sounds like an identical record, and most people have it as an identical record. But if we just read what is says, we can see that it cannot be, because one is an ENTRANCE into the city, and the other is an EXIT from the city. Two different blind men.
When we see these differences like this, and we pay close attention to the details of each record, then we can piece more of a particular story together, and see it bigger than ever before.
Now, when we begin to utilize these keys and principles, we will see that they will work every single time we study the Word of God, just like when we utilize the principles of mathmatics. And the verses that have been unclear for so many years will begin to open up to you like a sunflower opens to the sun.
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