If you’re ever in the mood to binge Bible study and dig in deep into Scripture, it’s good to arm yourself not only with the proper tools (like commentaries, various Bible websites, different translations etc.) but also with the proper questions to ask. I’ve developed seven different questions that I like to ask when I dig into a Scripture to unearth as much truth as I can. Here are those seven questions:
1. What did it mean to the original readers? Before you start to apply, you need to go back and understand what the passage meant to the original readers. Why is that important? Because Scripture can’t mean what it never meant. This will help wipe out a good portion of heretical interpretations that we see today. If you start with today, you’re twenty centuries too late.
2. What’s the context? If you’re studying a verse, read several verses before and after (or even a chapter) to understand the context of what you’re reading. For instance, the verses most commonly used by pre-Tribulationists to describe the rapture are actually describing the Second Coming of Jesus, if you look at those verses in context. Scripture without context makes no sense.
3. What timeless truths are there? Since human nature never changes, God’s Word will always apply, because God’s Word is timeless. Once you establish the foundation of the original meaning and its context, you can begin to successfully pull out timeless truths that affect us in the 21st century. Since the Word doesn’t change it still matters today.
4. Where else in Scripture does it say this? Better than a commentary or someone else’s opinion of what a verse means, spend some time looking at other Scripture to shed light and meaning on the Scripture passage you’re studying. Many study Bibles have cross-references already made for you. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.
5. How does it apply today? This is where you take the timeless truths from question three and begin to apply them to your life. As Jesus tells us at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27), it’s not just hearing the Word of God that counts but living it out. Information without application becomes stagnation.
6. How should this change the way I live in community? This question draws us back to the essential truth that our faith is a group faith. We are never called to worship God solely in isolation. Bible study will come alive when you study it and live it out within a community of believers. The Bible comes alive in me when I live it in community.
7. How can my life get better because of these verses? This final question is about vision, about faith, about the future. If you live out the promises you see in the verses you study, what incredible things will God d0 in your life? If I trust God and step in faith, what kind of life will God create?
I hope these questions are as helpful to you as they are to me!