I did a Google search on “how to study the Bible”. 47, 200, 00 results!
It seems there is a method for every personality on earth:
turn your bible into a color book method
flip the pages randomly while saying “no whammies” method
create your own worship dance to tune into the spirit method
sitting for a long time in your chair waiting for the Lord to audibly tell you what to read while trying not to fall asleep method
Forreal, it’s so many.
However, there is an amazing illustration in the Bible of a group of people devoting themselves to searching the Scriptures. Although their process was not limited to a specific method, it was still fairly simple.
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11
They were open-minded. They listened. They searched the Scriptures.
They Searched. The Scriptures.
Don’t you want to know what this word ‘Searched’ means?
The Greek word used for searched is anakrino.
Which means: to examine or judge; investigate; scrutinise – as Strongs puts it: “by looking through a series of objects or particulars to distinguish or search after“.
Illustration: when your mama caught you and she became the judge and jury – listening to the witnesses…reviewing the evidence…judging the arguments…questioning intently.
This – my friends – does not describe an individual reading the entire book of John. Praying about it. Then going to wash the dishes. Nor does it mean falling asleep in the middle of Ephesians only to wake up and thank God “for giving rest to the weary”.
No. That’s not searching the scriptures.
The Bereans were Purposeful. Active. And very Careful to find out if these men of God were telling the truth. (What is Truth? I may blog about that soon :). In other words – they didn’t take Paul and Silas’ word for it.
The man who was heading the ministry of ethnic cleansing of followers of Christ. Went blind because he met the risen Christ. Now devoting and living his life for the sole purpose and glory of Christ til his death.
No – they didn’t take his word.
They anakrino – searched, judged, scrutinized – the scriptures to see if Paul and Silas were telling the Truth.
Using the simplistic but profound method of the Bereans – we will take a minimalist approach to studying the scriptures.
Before I begin. Can I share with you that I strongly dislike the word – study? Study to me is retaining knowledge to regurgitate information for class or work. However. When dealing with scripture. I want to understand. apply. grow and mature. in my relationship with the Lord.
I just wanted to share that.
So here we go.
Recognize the God you are about to approach. The literal God of Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Moses. And also the God of Sarah. Deborah. Tamar. Esther. You.
If the Queen of England came to your door. (I love The Crown by the way). Or if your favorite movie star invited you to dine with them in Bora Bora. For that moment – your heart would forget all of its woes and worries.
You wouldn’t feel inconvenienced, rushed, or tired.
Make time for God. Make space for Him. Yes physically my friend. But most importantly with your heart.
Have a heart of expectancy – not expectation – eagerly prepared for what He’s going to reveal to you.
Now Pray. Thank God for the Holy Spirit being your teacher of all Truth.
Some people try to complicate the observation process. Sherlock Holmes does it in a 30 minute TV special. Not that hard.
Here’s a simple observation method using:
Notebook or journal
App: Greek and/or Hebrew Concordance
If you’ve been to church recently take out the pastoral notes and see what scriptures were used – read those. If you have not been to church recently, think of a scripture you are most familiar and read those.
As you read the scriptures – you will have questions or comments pop into your mind. Write them down.
An example – let’s say I’m reading this scripture: Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
Questions to ask:
What does he mean by “open-minded“? Who were the people of Berea? Thessalonica? I wonder why they were so eager for Paul’s message? What was Paul’s message? What does it mean “They Searched“? Why did they “Search”? Is this the Old Testament Scriptures or was it current Scriptures in their time? Who was Silas?
If you don’t have questions that’s OK. Are there contrasts or comparisons, nouns, verbs, keywords – write them down. Then, form questions from what you wrote down.
An example of contrasts and comparisons:
People of Thessalonica vs people of Berea
Paul and Silas
An example of nouns, verbs, and keywords
Is there a word that sticks out to you? Look that word up in the Greek or Hebrew to gain a better understanding of how it was used then.
Now. Read the entire passage of scripture. So in my example it would be the entire 17th chapter of Acts. Write down any thoughts or answers you find to your questions.
Did other scriptures come to your mind when you were asking questions? Write those down and read them. Did this answer some of your questions from the original verse? Write the answers down.
Meditate & Pray
Once you have finished anakrino (look at you – understanding Greek 🙂 ask:
a. What did this verse tell me about God?
b. What were some convictions, promises, or new information I learned?
c. How will I live differently because of this?
Whatever is stirred up in your heart at this moment – convictions, frustrations, eagerness, worry, uncertainty – Write. Them. Down. Thank God for stirring those things in your heart and thank Him for giving you the power of the Holy Spirit to help you live out – in spirit and in truth – what He’s shown you. Confess any sin. Pray His promises. Pray for whatever/whoever the Holy Spirit brings to your mind.
And live your life.
Wait please! Before you go. I have to share one last thing:
Acts 17:12-13 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble.
Number 1 – The Bereans and many Greeks did not believe because of Paul and Silas, they believed what the scriptures said about the message from Paul and Silas which was the Gospel. Don’t just believe what you’re told about the Bible, I encourage you to read for yourself and find out if what is being said is true. The Bible is the authority not man.
Number 2 – “But when” . Because of your practice of anakrino, you will share with others what God has shown you. So expect trials and adversity from not only those you don’t really know, but even from those closest to you. The enemy is always alert and so should You.