Why We Need To Read The Bible In Context | Bible Study Tips & “Translation” Cautions

Context, context, context as one of my favorite Christian Youtubers says. Fighting 4 Faith, known as Pirate Christian, Pastor Chris Rosebrough has taught both my husband and myself the importance of understanding scripture’s context. I have a lot of information for you today, so feel free to use the headers to make your way around the post. If you are serious about getting into Bible study, then you might want to read everything I’ve shared.

Our world, especially for Americans, tends to be extremely fast paced. Proper Bible studying is not a high priority for many believers. Instead our quick fixes tend to be:

  • Open Bible randomly and go at it.
  • Cherry-pick verses
  • Use Christian books to explain topics
  • Listen to sermons/videos
  • Use a short devotional for the day, usually related to life application

Now, these options ARE NOT BAD by themselves ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s totally okay to do and use these resources. Well, probably not cherry pick verses, that can be a really bad thing, but a discussion on what it means to proof test will be for another day. The actual issue all of the above tends to relate to is one of two things.

1.) We want someone else to inform us. – Now, God created teachers and shepherds for a reason. We need to be informed, instructed, and guided on the truth of God’s word. This is very important. The problem relates to only relying on others, and not actually getting our feet wet, so to speak. We need to be engaging the Bible by ourselves, as well.

We need to become familiar with the pages of our Bible and the stories we read. Instruction helps us connect the context and know how to apply the truth in our lives, this is wonderful. But if this is all we do, then on our own we won’t be able to answer people’s questions well because without someone else holding our hand, we are unstable. We won’t be able to properly guide others when we are asked for help or when other thoughts/concerns are brought up to us.

Listen to teachers, yes, but then go back and compare. Test the teachers you listen to. Become familiar with the Bible so that you are able to memorize scripture on various topics. Do your own research, and do a lot of it.

2.) We treat the Bible like instant breakfast. – We want something immediately and on the go. We aren’t willing to sit down and slowly chew through a 9 course meal. So we pick an appetizer (a Christian video/sermon that’s intriguing), the quick breakfast (short daily devotional), or the delicious dessert (Christian books/movies/shows), and leave the main course (the Bible). Sometimes we forget to hydrate (which I would compare to reflecting on scripture throughout the day, as Christ is our living water.)

The Bible can be made into bite-sized pieces without scripture being cut and watered down for us. This is why we can read a chapter a day and why we can easily go through the Bible in a few months, a year, or a few years (depending on our pace of reading/studying).

There are ways to completely read through the Bible and not be overwhelmed. Yes, there are ways to read the Bible in a year, no, that does not mean you have to do that. What is most important is for you to get into His word daily, and receive proper understanding to the context of scripture.

What Is A Good Balance For Bible Studying

  1. Have trusted teachers/preachers you listen to. I also recommend finding people who know Hebrew and Greek for scripture. Pastor Chris is one of my favorite sources for this, and I have benefited from listening to James White on a few videos as well.
  2. Devotionals/Books should not be a requirement in order to have a Bible Study- Devotionals are not a requirement for women to study the Bible, just saying. ๐Ÿ™‚ Devotionals can be helpful, but they also can be narrowly focused on aspects of our life. Again, life application has its place, but devotionals often are not helpful regarding the fact we are given cherry- picked scriptures for topics, and not the full context of scripture. Being able to do Bible Studies while going through entire books of the Bible is so important.
    • NOTE: Bible Studies can specifically be on a subject, but I think it’s fair to say there is a high potential that the studies are more focused on learning about the topic, how its defined in scripture, than actual studying of the Bible. In studying a topic, we must be careful in understanding the context of scripture used.
      • For example, Justin Peters recently shared a great video breaking down the scripture “where two or three are gathered” and Christ being with us. The scripture actually is not about prayer… it’s about church discipline. But most miss the context, so this scripture meaning gets twisted. (Justin Peters’ Video | Inigo Montoya: Where two or three are gathered)
    • NOTE: Bible Studies do not need to have a devotional accompany the Bible. Devotionals and books are okay to use and can be wonderful resources. But we should be able to discuss many topics the scriptures themselves bring up without any help.
  3. Study with others– It’s important to have other brothers/sisters in Christ study the Bible with us. Great questions can come out of Bible studying. Questions we may not come up with on our own. Fellowship is important and I encourage you not only to fellowship in church, but meet outside the doors, or virtually (be it because of COVID-19 or to meet other people in the Christian blogging community). I’ve met a few sisters in Christ this way. Also, it’s important for families to study together, and spouses to study together. If you are dating, you need to be studying the Bible together. Being together allows fellowship, worship, and prayer. Iron sharpens iron.
  4. Study by yourself- Get a notebook. Get a highlighter. Have a physical Bible (I recommend one with decent commentary, too, see below.) Ask yourself what the scripture is saying. Do research on the cultural context of the book you are reading. Cross reference, what do other verses say?
    • NOTE: The Bible originally was not written with chapter and verse numbers. These were added later, and certainly are helpful to us and help make referencing better. The issue is we wouldn’t read other historical letters and documents the way we read the Bible. We wouldn’t randomly open a book and start reading it. Again, we can do this with scripture, and we can certainly take things away that benefit us. But cherry-picked scriptures and receiving pieces of scripture, out of context, is not the most beneficial way to learn scripture.
  • Other books on Christian topics, Bible commentaries, sermons, Christian videos, etc, are absolutely okay! Clearly, I have references scattered in this post, and I hope they are encouraging to you.– We just need to make sure we are also getting into God’s word daily on our own. Everything else is an additional blessing.

Resources I Recommend:

Study Bibles I’d Recommend:

  • NKJV Study Bible (Thomas Nelson) – I think this is helpful for a beginner. I’ve benefited a lot from the commentary as well. I’ve heard this Bible is not the best for serious readers and those who want to study more deeply, but it’s a great introductory study Bible.
  • ESV Archelogy Study Bible– This is on my wish list. This Bible shows the historical and archeological finds that relate to the Bible. It gives cultural context of the people and what their lives were like in Biblical times. At least 200 maps and over 2,000 notes.
  • NASB MacArthur Study Bible (2nd Edition) – I own this Bible and have greatly enjoyed it. There are other translations available, like NIV and NKJ. I’ve heard a lot of great things on MacArthur’s Study Bible. Many have recommended this Study Bible.
  • The Interlinear Bible- Hebrew-Greek-English– Also on my wish list. This Bible is important for those who want to study word meaning and context. It is the only Bible with complete Hebrew & Greek texts, with English translation for each word. The Strongs Concordance number for each word is used. (If you would like to study the Hebrew, Greek, and Strongs you can use Bible Hub for free, to save some money.)
  • Note: I am not sponsored ๐Ÿ™‚ just wanted to share.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS TO STAY AWAY FROM! The Passion, The Message, and the Mirror Bible.

  • The Message is not a translation, it’s a very loose and “hip” paraphrase Bible. The author, Eugene Peterson never intended for the MSG to be used for sermons or intense Bible study. As time has gone on, however, people tend to forget this, and use the MSG as an translation, teaching from it. If you have a pastor preaching from The Message, that’s a red flag because many false teachers use The Message since the decorative verses fit into their theology best.
  • The Passion Bible was written by Brian Simmons, who is not a scholar, and who claims to have received new information from Christ. He claims he was “breathed on.”
  • The Mirror is completely twisted to fit the author’s new age beliefs and glorifies self.

I do not have the proper amount of time to go over why these “translations” are dangerous in detail, but I have seen amazing people take the time to break down why these translations are dangerous, please check out:

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Monthly Scripture To Ponder/Memorize From Psalm 85 โ€“ (NKJ) Psalm 85:11, โ€œTruth shall spring out of the earth, And righteousness shall look down from heaven.โ€œ

Community Prayer โ€“ October, 2020

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