Bible Study Proper
– Method 1: Allegory
– Method 2: Exegesis – finding the meaning (with
– Content and context
– Bible Typology
– Common pitfalls: Eisegesis, blind application,
– Guidelines for effective study
Two Approaches to Bible Study
With practical examples
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
In the city of Antioch in Syria, Greek influence
was mainly from Aristotle
Aristotle believed that only the material was
Antiochene Christians focused on the text
itself as containing the meaning
They championed literal interpretation
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
It helped solve apparent inconsistencies
It helped preserve the transcendence of God
It respected the limitations of human language
Allegory in Action
Genesis 11:5 – And the Lord came down to
see the city and the tower
– God is not like a human being
– He does not have to travel
– He never leaves one part of the universe devoid of
– The passage must be understood figuratively
Origin’s Allegory on Luke 10:25 -
The two coins
The promise to come back
• The world
• Satan and his demons
• The Law
• The Prophets
• Christ’s body
• The church
• The Father and the Son
• The Second Coming
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.
– David’s enemies are our enemies
– Goliath represents our biggest challenges
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
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
Addicted (1 Cor 16:15) Physically/mentally
Amazement (1 Peter 3:6) Wonderment Terror
Exegesis – A Definition
Exegesis is the interpretation and explanation
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
Ten Commandments of Biblical
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?
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
Establishing the Text
What does the text actually say? Which Bible
version is closest to the best available Greek
– Read the passage in many versions
– Choose any majority version
– Most versions use the word firstborn
– That indicates a clear text
Classifying the Text
What type of passage is it?
– Legal procedure
– Eschatology (last days)
Our text from an epistle
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?
Context is a very Rich Queen
– V 12: Inheritance
– V 12: kingdom
– V 13: dominion,
– V 17: before all things
– V 18: head of the body
– V 18: supremacy
– V 23: become a
Now these make sense:
– V 5: stored up for you in
– V 18: the beginning and
firstborn form among the
What is the passage about??
The Historical Context
What is the context of the passage?
– History, Culture, Geography, Politics, Religion
– 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)
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.
Words: firstborn, beginning, dominion, thrones, dominions,
principalities, powers, preeminence/supremacy
– 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
From Grammar to Syntax
How do to the words in the text relate to one
OF (association) or OVER (subordination) all
– The Greek form accommodates both association
(πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως)
– The context suggests authority: over
– Most versions render over
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
He created all things
Scripture on Scripture
How does your interpretation relate with other
– 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
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
– 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
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,
Applying the Text
What is its significance to today’s Christian?
– Christ’s preeminence answers questions on
– 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
Applying the Text
What is its significance to me?
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
– When God “does” evil things
How has it been interpreted in history?
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.
Interpreting the different genres of Scripture
(poetry, commands, narratives, epistles,
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