One of the biggest inner joys you can experience is to come to the word of God (known as the Bible), read it, and then understand it so you can apply the knowledge and wisdom within it in your life. Many people turn to reading the Bible in an extreme time of darkness or frustration in their life, only to be oft times disheartened because they try to read it as you would a traditional novel.
They do not understand the language and culture at the time the situations were happening- so they do not understand how it relates to life today. They do not understand the Bible has a perfect structure- but you cannot read it with the expectation that it is the same as reading a novel.
The good new is this: whether this is your first time at reading the Bible, or if you have been reading for many years, this article is designed to give you instruction on how to understand the beauty of how perfectly God’s word was put together for our instruction on living a live that is more than abundant.
This article is in no way the end all for your study- it is meant to lay out the foundation of information on how to read the word and allow for your spiritual growth and understanding.
The first thing to understand is this:
2 Timothy 3:16:
”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
God is the one constant in the whole Bible, cover to cover. God gave the inspiration to the men who chose to follow on that inspiration and write down what God said. There is not just one person who wrote the bible, there are a 40. These were real men, who actually lived here on earth and their writings are a combination of historical facts and accounts from God’s perspective. There are some writings that God inspired that have not occurred yet- and those are there for our study and understanding so when those times arrive, we will be prepared.
2 Timothy 3:16 also tells us that God’s word is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. The word profitable relates to having benefit for us. We benefit (in our understanding and life by) doctrine, reproof and correction and instruction in righteousness.
Second, we need to know that the written word of our modern day has been diluted and watered down compared to its original inspiration of many, many years ago. Originally,
historically, there was no formal way of writing things down. When God spoke with Adam, they spoke. They didn’t write. Instruction and knowledge, communication from one generation to another was given orally. It has been well proven that the best way to learn is to have a mentor, a teacher, one you can go to for communication in specific areas. That practice was prevalent in the early years of the world. The elders of the family would teach the up and coming generations. Verbal communication was the standard.
At some point though, God, inspired Moses and the other believers to write down the truth of God’s word. During the time leading up to the life of Moses, many things had transpired. People were forgetting the oral word of God. Their priorities shifted away from God and were becoming focused on ways of man. People were also demanding laws to live by. God told the people "no- you don’t want laws” but the people kept demanding “Yes, yes we do”.
Since their demand for laws and structure was so great, God gave them His laws. This is in part of what motivated God to inspire his believers to write the Word down. It would help preserve the integrity of God’s word – and it allowed a way in the beginning for the people who wanted laws to have a way to be held accountable to the laws given by God.
Knowing this, here’s where we, as believers of modern times need to understand something. The “Word” or “Bible” we read from today has been diluted also! This is important for us to remember so we can study to show ourselves approved.
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew (this is Old English for the word show) thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth (this is Old English for the word needs) not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 " Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation"
21"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"
"Ye (you) shall (absolutely shall not) not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought (take away) from it, that ye (you) may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you"
God wants us to study his word- to work it each day. We need to know how to rightly divide the word though- to eliminate or prevent any further misinterpretations. The forms of the printed Bible often used today have had many personal interpretations, mis-translations and even politically influenced decisions as to what was allowed to be printed at various times of history. With that in mind, we need to keep in mind that no translation or version of the Bible may properly be called the Word of God.
So what do we do in order to accurately study
the Word of God and Rightly Divide it for the truth?
As far as anybody knows, there are no original texts in existence today. The oldest dated Biblical manuscript is from 464 A.D. and written in Aramaic in Estrangelo script. When we take into consideration that there were then copies made of these manuscripts, and then later translated into other languages- how do we get to the point where we are studying the closest ‘authentic prophesy which was given to holy men of God – as God spoke”?
We have to study the Bible- line by line, verse by verse, and word by word. We have to understand HOW to study the word- and then use valuable research tools to help us further understand the depth and beauty of the wisdom in God’s word.
For myself, (and many others) one of the best ways to start personal study is to have at our fingertips a copy of the Original King James Version of the Bible. Why the King James? For English speaking and reading people, this version has the least translational errors and changes in it. It was translated directly from the Hebrew written language for the Old Testament and the Greek Language for the New Testament. Minimal politics and Governmental influences are found in the King James Version. Also, when you understand how to read Old English- you will see that it is very similar to modern English.
In 2 Peter; God clearly tells us that we need to understand – first and foremost- that nothing in the original God inspired scripture was of ANY private interpretation. This was not the desires of men; this was not personal thoughts or conjectures of worldly thinking. The authors spoke the word as God inspired them – and then they later wrote the word down.
In Deuteronomy we see the precedence that God set forth – that we are not to add to the word of God or take away from it. God is perfect in his wisdom. We are to not add to it nor detract from it. We are, however, to study the word – rightly dividing it – so we too, can learn how to walk with divine wisdom for a life that is more than abundant. God wants us to come to the fullness of the knowledge of his truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4:
3 “For (when ever you see the word ‘for’ it gives us the reason why this is being stated) this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
In order to come to the knowledge of the truth, we must be saved and we must be able to rightly divide the Word of God for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.
To “rightly divide” the word is a key in our spiritual growth. Notice it does not just say ‘divide’ or ‘take out of context’ or even find a verse of the day that we can manipulate to substantiate a belief system we may have. We did not create God, we did not create the universe. God created us. We need to remain humble to that reality. As we remember that fact- it allows us to adjust our thinking and our manly, five senses natured belief systems and bounce it against what the Word of God says. We are NOT to take what the word says-and pick it apart – to support our worldly beliefs. (There are consequences for this if we do so!!)
To sum up Part I: remember this: God wants us to be able to walk with righteousness. (right believing- meaning, our thoughts and beliefs are lined up with God’s thoughts and instruction so that we are morally upright; without guilt or sin) To do that, we may need to adjust our thinking from what we’ve learned from the World around us.
When we research 2 Timothy 3:16:
”All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” going back into the Greek language- before it was translated to our current Bibles – you’ll see some translational changes in the language itself.
In the Greek- the original Aramaic is more accurately translated to:
- Doctrine: Teaching
- Reproof: Conviction
- Correction: A setting aright
- Instruction: Nurture
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof (conviction), for correction (for setting aright), for instruction (nurture) in righteousness”.
God wants us to be righteous- without sense of sin, guilt or condemnation for our thoughts and beliefs. It is one of our son-ship rights as a born again believer. However, as God created everything to have balance in this world, in order for us to receive the fullness of that right, we need to be willing to put forth effort in studying His word, rightly dividing it- so we CAN show ourselves approved.
This is the first part in a series of articles on HOW to research the Word to rightly divide it for our growth and learning. Join us for Part 2 where we’ll take a look at how to avoid
misinterpreting the language of the Bible.
Many blessings to you,
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Debbra Sweet is a biblical scholar who served 8 years on the Board of Directors for ACF (The Association of Christian Fellowships) a worldwide biblical research ministry. Debbra Sweet and her husband, Pastor Daniel Sweet, were in charge of the North San Diego County Region of in home fellowships for ACF. She has overseen the growth and development of multiple in home fellowships and has been instrumental in helping many people come to the knowledge and truth of God’s Word. She is also the founder of Sweet Marketing Solutions and an author in the Power of Leadership book series.