Vol.II No.V Pg.4
June 1965

Use Your Bible . . . . . .

Robert F. Turner

In our April '65 issue we used this space for the first of a promised series on HOW TO STUDY. Before reading article two, which follows, we wish you could and would read the previous matter. Questions re. STUDY are solicited from our readers.


This is the magic word-- the most necessary ingredient of all interpretation. Your purpose is to determine what the text says, i.e., what ideas it carries-- what it means. Application, and consequent benefit, can not be yours until you know the message.

But the message must be regarded as a whole. Before any of its parts can be understood, we must grasp the general theme of the writer-- be able to follow his general argument, and see the particular verse as a piece of that argument. This is CONTEXT.

Some books of the Bible are more closely knit than others (Ex.: Romans vs. James) but none can be properly studied verse at the time, with the exception of portions of proverbs, or other compilations of materials. Yet we frequently are in Bible classes where a single verse is read, and the class is expected to "get something" out of that. They do, too; but often it is a bit of "sermonizing" wholly unrelated to the text considered.

WHO is writing? To WHOM written? WHY? These are the usual questions that should be answered in order to grasp the context. But there is more than this to context. We must seek the mood and "feel" of the material. PECULIAR USE OF WORDS

John establishes a special use of "ho logos"--"The Word" (Jn.1:1-) which can be seen even in the English. This affects several of his arguments. In Romans, Paul is contrasting a system of law with a system of faith; as can be seen by carefully studying his first three or four chapters. This affects his use of "faith" "works" "law" and other terms; and a verse taken out of context may be almost impossible to correctly understand.

The ability to "find another passage" to explain the first is greatly abused, even though wide familiarity with the Bible must be admired. Until we carefully establish our subject, by immediate context, we will surely add confusion by bringing up another verse whose only kinship is use of some of the same words as our text.

Analyze And Outline

Don't be frightened by this suggestion. After rereading the section containing the verse in question--and several rereadings are in order-- try to write down: (1) the general subject (What is he talking about-- trying to prove?) (2) a list of "points" (How does he prove his contention?). If the material is history (Acts) or biography (in a sense, Mark, etc.) just list the order of happenings. By writing these things, trying to see the "order" in the author's mind, you will open new avenues of thought.

Work? Certainly it is work? Where did you get the idea it was all easy? BUT THE REWARD MAKES ALL WORTHWHILE.