What does your Bible study look like? Do you crack open a book of devotions in the morning? Curiously explore a particular topic or book? Maybe you just let it fall open and put your finger on a random spot, calling it a day. As for me, I like to dig deep and feast.
The Bible’s relevance and longevity is amazing, considering it’s a book that has parts in over 3,500 years old. Part of my vision for this site is to encourage a thoughtful Christianity. That takes in-depth study, asking questions, and exploring. The “What Method” is my usual method of study. I added some questions to it.
The What Method
Taught by Pastor Randy, the method gets its name from the questions it asks. It’s the baseline I use in my Learning Under Jesus Bible Study. Here’s what I have been doing.
- I copy the passage in my notebook, along with any parallel Gospel accounts.
- Then like a curious toddler, I begin asking questions of the text: what is going on, what is this about, what was taking place that impacts me now, what’s the point, what don’t I understand, what else does the Bible say, what can I learn from that, what is this passage saying, what does it mean for me, and what can I learn from this?
The key is to stay in the passage for a while, peeling back the layers. Exploring the context of the passage in relation to the book, and the book in relation to the themes of the Bible. Any commands given? What principles is it teaching, and so on.
The method is adjustable pertaining to the person. I wanted to explore what it means culturally by adding four more questions.
- What did it mean culturally then?
- What does it mean to the culture now?
- What is the result if it’s rejected?
- What happens ideally if it’s accepted?
To look at the first question, I like BibleGateway’s resources. It has a paid and free version, I have the paid version for more resources. The notes from the 1st Century Study Bible, and the commentaries How To Read the Bible Book by Book, Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes, and the Bible Panorama are especially helpful. It’s really interesting to look at Jesus against the backdrop of Judaism, and the Hellenistic culture.
The second question requires us to look at the world now. It helps if you understand relativism and postmodern lines of thought. Then you can get into the thoughts and motivations. Those aren’t new, though; they’re ancient as well. These two questions alone can fill up pages in my notebook.
The last two questions look at the doctrines, principles, guidelines, and commands in the passage. Then you think about the consequences if it is ignored. The results from following them? Consider this example, STDs wouldn’t be a problem if everyone remained a virgin until marriage and stayed true to their spouse. It wouldn’t have a way in.
Look at both in context of you personally, and the culture you live in.
Grow Into An Effective, Thoughtful Christ-Follower
Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This is another way to equip you. Context matters, seeing how it fits, and it can’t change our lives until we apply it.
What method do you use in your Bible Study?