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Can We Understand The Bible?

Can We Understand The Bible?

When Jesus came to earth the religious world was in as much confusion as it is today. But Jesus was the Word of God in human form (Jn 1:1-14). In His words were clarity and “…the common people heard Him gladly” (Mk 12:37). Later, the apostle Paul said that his letters could be read and understood (Ep 3:4). God’s word CAN be understood. But like all important things, it will take effort and discipline.

Be open. Reading with an agenda (ex: I’m going to prove this right or wrong), a closed mind (ex: I’ll never accept THAT), or the expectation of not understanding can be a self-fulfilling prophecy or confirmation bias. See what is really there.

Read methodically. The Bible consists of 66 books and letters. Don’t start in the middle of a book, in the middle of a narrative, or the middle of a logical argument. The New Testament fulfills the Old Testament, so beginning in the New Testament can be helpful. The New Testament begins with four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ and is a good place to begin reading.

Read contextually. Stay aware of who is talking to whom and what’s going on in the stories being recorded. Often the verses around a verse will explain the meaning of words and why things were said and done. Try to understand how the original writer intended the message to be understood by the original audience and see how that applies to us today.

Look stuff up. Sometimes there are words in the Bible we don’t often use in everyday situations. Modern dictionaries will give modern English usage which may not be how it is used in the Bible times. Bible dictionaries are available online. Also comparing English translations can be helpful at times. If an Old Testament Scripture, person, or event is referenced in the New Testament, go read about it in the Old Testament to have full understanding.

Ask for help. In Acts 8, when an Ethiopian struggled to understand the Scriptures he was reading, he asked a preacher named Philip for help (Acts 8:26-40). Find someone spiritually minded who is committed to knowing and obeying the word of God and nothing more. Then, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Th 5:21). Make sure what you are taught is good and true according to God’s word and only accept what tests out to be good.

We CAN understand God’s word, the Bible. But we have to read it. So, read it. Read it a lot!  dd