Encouraging God’s People to Study the Bible Better!
Welcome to the June edition of the Bible-Student-Online.org e-zine, The Encourager.
We're a little later this month than usual. We apologize for that. Many issues have clamored for our attention this month. But we did get this month's issue out at last.
...without further ado...
Here are some of the useful little tidbits we’re offering in this issue…
1. Tip of the Month – Supercharge your Bible study time with these great ideas.
2. Starters of the Month – Can’t find anything to study? Look here for “starter” ideas.
3. Study of the Month – We’ve posed a question that we would like you to answer by making a thorough study of the Bible. Feel free to use resources. But the applications need to be your own.
4. What’s New? – We have several projects going (and are we busy!) Find out the "new news" here at Bible-Student-Online.org!
Alright…let’s get to it!
Bible Study Tip of the Month
My wife recently ran into a dilemma in her Bible study time. She stated it in one question...
How do I use the material in a commentary?
Now I just want to say that my wife is an amazing researcher. Her ability to gather facts surpasses the ability of anyone else I've ever worked with. Yet when it came to using commentaries in her Bible study time, she was stumped. She wasn't sure what to do with what she found.
The problem lay in the way she viewed the information she found. My wife tends to be black and white. So she depends upon finding clear cut, pat answers in her research. Unfortunately, commentaries don't furnish such a need.
Maybe you've been in that same boat and have asked, "How do I use the material I find in commentaries?"
In this article, I've outlined seven principles to follow when using commentaries...
1. Always begin with your own commentary first. Read the passage and write down your own ideas on a piece of paper. Try to keep your information as organized as possible. You might want to list things and then number them in order of importance. Or you may want to categorize information you find.
Whatever you do, make sure to keep it in a written form that you can use later. You will use it later in your study time.
2. When you come to the point where you've written everything you've noticed about the passage, choose at least two or three commentaries that you know you can trust. Don't use just one. That will give you a very narrow view of what other people have written about that verse, passage or topic. Use as many sources as time allows.
3. As you use your commentaries, keep in mind that they are written by fallible men and women. That means their commentary isn't perfect. Much may only be speculation. Remember...
God's Word, the Bible is the only perfect book.
4. Write down information from your commentaries, keeping information grouped in a separate category for each source. Once again, organization is important. Don't just randomly jot down information. Make sure you know what commentary it came from.
5. Now it's time to compare the notes from one commentary with all the others. Did you find any similarities between what all the commentators said? That may be a good indication that that particular information may be valuable.
Was any of the information unique to just one commentary? If this is true, be careful! It doesn't necessarily mean that commentator was wrong. But it should send you searching for why that person wrote what he or she did. If you can't figure out why that person said what they did about that passage, dispense with that little tidbit. But if it makes sense, it may have some merit. Keep it for now.
6. This is a good point to take what you've learned and compare it with your own thoughts that you wrote down at the beginning. The process should be very similar to step five. Compare and contrast what other commentators say to what you wrote down.
There may be similarities. There may be differences. Look at what you wrote and do some editing. Throw out any ideas that you realize don't fit with the passage you're studying.
You may have misread the passage or not fully understood the meaning of it (don't worry, it's happened to me too!) If so, rethink what you've written. That will lead you to the final step.
7. Neatly rewrite your thoughts on the passage using what you now know. I can't stress enough, keep your thoughts organized! This may help if you decide to write a Sunday School lesson or sermon on it one day.
Well, I hope these seven steps helped you understand how to use a commentary. We'll have more next month.
But until then...
Keep up the good work. And...
Keep the Faith!
Bible Study Starters of the Month
Here are a couple ideas to jump-start your brain for your personal Bible study…
1. Study the life of Christ from all four gospels at the same time. (Yikes!) You may want to use a "Harmony of the Gospels" to help you with this. Many local libraries carry something like this. Or ask your pastor. He probably has one.
2. Study Genesis 1. Answer these questions...
a. What does God do on each day? Write your answer down on a piece of paper.
b. Do you see a pattern as to why God did each act on each day?
c. From what you read, can Christians take the creation account in Genesis as historical fact?
Bible Study Project of the Month
Put on your thinking caps this month...
Think about how your church or denomination handles worship, preaching and ministries in its week to week functions. Does your church have a biblical foundation for the way they do things? Study the writings of Paul (Romans through Philemon) and find information regarding how churches should be run. (You may want to look in Acts as well.)
A good place to start in the Pauline writings would be I and II Timothy and Titus. These were pastors that Paul wrote to. So he placed many helpful hints as to the running of the local church in those books.
Contact us through our “Contact Page” and tell us what you found. We're interested to hear what your studies turn up!
Next month we have a special treat. We'll be welcoming a special guest who has been gracious enough to write next month's "Tips" article. So you'll want to stick around for that one.
And of course...
Don't forget to continue to pray for the ministry here. We can't do any of this without your prayer support. Thanks everyone!
That about wraps it up for this month. We hope you enjoyed this e-zine provided by Bible-Student-Online.org.