Tools for Bible Study
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).- 2 Timothy 4:2
This week we have been looking at the process of hermeneutics, the science of biblical interpretation. We explored the grammatico- historical method, explicit versus implicit deductions, and the basic literary forms found in the Bible. Today we conclude our brief study of hermeneutics by outlining some of the tools necessary for Bible study.
Scripture. The first tool for Bible study is the Bible itself. Since most people cannot read the original Hebrew and Greek text of the Scriptures, a good English translation is needed. The best translations in English rely on a literal “word for word” approach to translation. The English Standard Version is perhaps the best translation currently available in English that relies mostly on a literal “word for word” approach.
Concordances. Serious study also necessitates the use of a concordance to look up Bible verses. You can find the location of a verse in the Bible by looking up a word that you know is part of the verse. A concordance can also be used to find many of the texts that address a particular biblical theme. Dozens of concordances are available in book stores and on the Internet.
Bible Dictionaries. A good Bible dictionary for looking up definitions and a good Bible atlas for viewing biblical maps are also indispensable for study. These tools help the modern reader become familiar with unfamiliar terms and the biblical culture.
Commentaries. The Bible is the church’s only infallible authority, and throughout history God has raised up men within the church to teach the truths of His Word. Biblical commentaries help us see what the church has learned from Scripture. Commentaries written by those within the Reformed tradition, such as John Calvin’s commentaries, have proven to be reliable commentaries that have withstood the test of time.
In Knowing Scripture, Dr. Sproul recommends that those who would like an overview of the message of Scripture read these books in the following order: Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, Acts, Ephesians, 1 Corinthians, 1‑Peter, 1 Timothy, Hebrews, and Romans. At the bottom left-hand corner of Tabletalk’s devotional pages you’ll find verses that, if read daily, will take you through the entire Bible in a year.
An important work of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate the meaning of Scripture for us. One way He does this is by working through our diligent study of His Word, utilizing the commentaries of men He has raised up throughout history. When you sit down to study, do not neglect the tools the Spirit has given the church for understanding the Bible.
Passages for Further Study
2 Chron. 15