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How to Study the Bible Effectively Part II


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The second in a three-part series on how to study the Bible effectively. Deep, effective Bible study is not just for theologians.

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How to Study the Bible Effectively Part II

  1. 1. Part II Bible Study Proper – Method 1: Allegory – Method 2: Exegesis – finding the meaning (with practical examples) – Content and context – Bible Typology – Common pitfalls: Eisegesis, blind application, prooftexting – Guidelines for effective study
  2. 2. PART II Two Approaches to Bible Study With practical examples
  3. 3. Alexandria Platonic centers of learning For Plato, the world was a mirror of an unseen ideal world where things are real. Everything in the material world had a counterpart in the non-material. Alexandrian Christians, the Bible text was a mirror of a supernatural meaning This is called Allegory
  4. 4. Antioch In the city of Antioch in Syria, Greek influence was mainly from Aristotle Aristotle believed that only the material was important Antiochene Christians focused on the text itself as containing the meaning They championed literal interpretation
  5. 5. Allegory A story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning - Oxford Dictionary In allegory, everything in the Bible is a symbol of something spiritual It helped solve apparent inconsistencies It helped preserve the transcendence of God It respected the limitations of human language
  6. 6. Allegory in Action Genesis 11:5 – And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower Philo claimed: – God is not like a human being – He does not have to travel – He never leaves one part of the universe devoid of His presence – The passage must be understood figuratively
  7. 7. Origin’s Allegory on Luke 10:25 - 35  The victim  Jerusalem  Jericho  The robbers  The priest  The Levite  The Samaritan  The donkey  The inn  The two coins  The promise to come back • Adam • Heaven • The world • Satan and his demons • The Law • The Prophets • Christ • Christ’s body • The church • The Father and the Son • The Second Coming Origen’s interpretation
  8. 8. Allegory: the Good Parts It helps solve apparent inconsistencies It helps preserve the transcendence of God It respects the limitations of human language It is useful with parables and certain OT passages (Zech 1 – 2, Daniel) It allows the student to personalise the text. Eg: – David’s enemies are our enemies – Goliath represents our biggest challenges
  9. 9. Allegory: the Bad Parts We can easily disbelieve Bile history – David actually killed Goliath – The flood actually happened We can easily spiritualize away real things like: – Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Judgment We will often be wrong about the actual meaning of the passage. – David’s enemies are not our enemies
  10. 10. Exegesis “Awful and Artificial”
  11. 11. Tricky Bible Words Word/Phrase Current Meaning Old Meaning Replenish (Gen 1:1) To refill To fill Closet (Matthew 6:6) Cupboard Private room Conversation (Eph 4:22) Discussion Behaviour By and by (Matthew 13:21) Over time Quickly or immediately Addicted (1 Cor 16:15) Physically/mentally dependent Devoted or ordained Amazement (1 Peter 3:6) Wonderment Terror
  12. 12. Exegesis – A Definition Exegesis is the interpretation and explanation of Scripture. It is based on hermeneutics Hermeneutics is a style of interpretation Adventists adopt the Historical-Grammatical method of exegesis It emphasizes the meaning of words and The historical context
  13. 13. Ten Commandments of Biblical Exegesis 1. What does the text actually say? Which Bible version is closest to the best available Greek text? 2. What type of passage is it? 3. What is the textual context of the passage? 4. What is the historical context of the passage? 5. What are the key grammatical elements? 6. How do to the words in the text relate to one another? 7. What is the likely meaning of the passage? 8. How does your interpretation relate with other Bible texts? 9. How does it relate with the Spirit of Prophecy? 10. What is its significance to today’s Christian? 11. What is its significance to me?
  14. 14. Example: Colossians 1:14, 15 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature
  15. 15. Establishing the Text What does the text actually say? Which Bible version is closest to the best available Greek text? – Read the passage in many versions – Choose any majority version – Most versions use the word firstborn – That indicates a clear text
  16. 16. Classifying the Text What type of passage is it? – Command – Poem – Legal procedure – Narrative – Correspondence – Prophecy/Declaration – Eschatology (last days) Our text from an epistle
  17. 17. Context is Queen What is the textual context of the passage? – Discover the literary unit (pericope) – The logical start and end points – Read it several times to be sure it is clear – Often this will reveal most of the meaning What is our pericope?
  18. 18. Context is a very Rich Queen Initially obvious: – V 12: Inheritance – V 12: kingdom – V 13: dominion, kingdom – V 17: before all things – V 18: head of the body – V 18: supremacy – V 23: become a servant Now these make sense: – V 5: stored up for you in heaven – V 18: the beginning and firstborn form among the dead What is the passage about??
  19. 19. The Historical Context What is the context of the passage? – History, Culture, Geography, Politics, Religion Colosse: – A city in decline – A city of Gentiles – Church planted by a student of Paul, Epaphras – Infiltrated by false teaching • Diminishing the Person of Christ - Col 2:8, 9 • Insisting on Jewish festivals (2: 14 – 16) • Teaching ascetic practice (2:20 – 23)
  20. 20. In a Nutshell I thank God that you have found Christ, who has the right and power to bring you into the kingdom of light and to reserve great treasures for you in heaven. He is supreme over all things dead and alive, so you are sure of good things if you remain in Him, and whether you live or die.
  21. 21. Grammatical Analysis  Words: firstborn, beginning, dominion, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, preeminence/supremacy  Phrases: – Firstborn of all creation – The image of the invisible God – He is before all things – He is the head of the body  Grab your Bible Lexicon/Dictionary – Firstborn: first to be born/produced – Beginning: initial, first, supreme, ruler, principal – Kingdom: rulership, reign, territory of power – Before: prior, superior – Head: head, ruler, leader
  22. 22. From Grammar to Syntax How do to the words in the text relate to one another? OF (association) or OVER (subordination) all creation? – The Greek form accommodates both association and subordination (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως) – The context suggests authority: over – Most versions render over
  23. 23. The Likely Meaning Jesus is the image of God, and has preeminence or supremacy over all creation. He is before all things: He is superior to all the aforementioned powers (Gr. the all) He is the Head of the body: He is the ruler of all creation He created all things
  24. 24. Scripture on Scripture How does your interpretation relate with other Bible texts? Firstborn – Gen 49:3 – “my might, the first sign of my strength” – Exodus 13:2 – Consecrated to the Lord, whether animal or human – Exodus 4:22 – Israel as God’s firstborn – Psalm 89: 19, 20, 27 – David as God’s firstborn – Jeremiah 31:9 – Ephraim as God’s firstborn The Firstborn is in a place of preeminence
  25. 25. Scripture on Scripture How does your interpretation relate with other Bible texts? Image of God – Illusion, phantom, resemblance; hence a representative figure or idol – Originally from Aramaic: an idolatrous figure (statue) – Daniel 3 – Genesis 1: “Let us make man in our own image, and let them have dominion An image can be an authoritative representative of a higher power
  26. 26. The Little Light  How does it relate with the Spirit of Prophecy?  Only go to the SOP once you’ve studied from the Bible In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. – DA p. 530 This Saviour was the brightness of His Father's glory and the express image of His person. He possessed divine majesty, perfection, and excellence. He was equal with God.” (2T 200) If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. (The Word Made Flesh, 1906)
  27. 27. Applying the Text What is its significance to today’s Christian? – Christ’s preeminence answers questions on Christ’s deity – It builds confidence in church doctrine – It speaks to a pluralistic society of the preeminence of Christ (New Age, etc.) – It challenges notions of evolutionary origin – It clarifies the loyalty or allegiance of the church
  28. 28. Applying the Text What is its significance to me? Let’s discuss
  29. 29. Other Useful Points Pay attention to genre Pay attention to prepositions (in, of, by, with) Note idiomatic expressions. Eg: – “Sons of” (John 8:44 and the Serpent’s seed doctrine) – When God “does” evil things How has it been interpreted in history?
  30. 30. It is a moral imperative for the interpreter to do his or her best to understand the text correctly so as to discover the meaning placed there by the original author. Anything less is intellectually dishonest and spiritually immoral and unworthy of a person of integrity.
  31. 31. Part III Interpreting the different genres of Scripture (poetry, commands, narratives, epistles, prophecy, eschatology) Interpreting The Spirit of Prophecy SDA Methods of Bible Study How to use Bible study tools (lexicons, concordance, commentaries, software) How to effectively share Bible truth