4 Simple Reasons to Study the Bible
Recently, I tuned in to a podcast recommended by one of my pastors. In one of the episode, they talked about how to study the Bible as a married couple. This triggered a reflection in me, and some frustration within me as well. I realised that I have talked much about how to study the Bible in this blog but I took for granted the why. Hence, I hope to offer 4 reasons on why we should study the Bible, not just read it.
Study the Bible to Understand Its Eternal Relevance
The Bible is God’s Word. It is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). As such, it has eternal relevance. The principles in the Bible speaks to all humankind of all ages and cultures. Its authority is absolute!
And because the Bible records God’s eternal principles for Christian living, we cannot avoid studying it. In fact, we cannot say that we see no use to study the Bible if we indeed call ourselves followers of Christ. In fact, this goes beyond reading the Bible for devotion. This calls for us to really sit down and exegete what the Bible really says.
Study the Bible to Understand Its Human Authorship
However, another nature of the Bible is that these are human words written in history. Human authors across 1,500 years wrote the 66 books in the Bible canon in three different languages. Of which, none of them is English. Hence each book in the Bible has its own historical context addressing to its own particular audience.
For example, while we may study the book of Romans as if it is a theological textbook, Paul did not write the epistle as a general theological treatise. In fact, he was writing to the Roman church to address certain issues and to establish certain contacts. Understanding these historical context will allow us to dig deeper into the rich messages of the Bible.
Therefore, we need to study these to understand how the human authors of their times used their Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to address their intended audience so that we can exegete what God is really speaking through them. If we do not do so, we may end up applying the Bible literally as if it is a set of truth propositions and sayings. For example, we may read Deuteronomy 22:8 and start building parapet on our roofs.
This requires us to study and bridge the gap between the ancient context and the contemporary context.
Study the Bible to Build Foundation
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus taught about the people who hear his words and put it into practice. His main point is that if we put his word into practice, we are building our life on the rock.
However, if we want to put God’s word into practice, we need to understand what He really says before practicing them. For example, when Jesus talked about two or three gathering together (Matthew 18:19-20), he wasn’t really talking about us gathering in a small group. When Paul talked about him doing all things through Christ who strengthens him (Phil 4:13), he is not talking about Christ strengthening him to do everything.
Given the human nature of the Biblical authorship as mentioned above, it is therefore imperative for us to really study the Bible carefully so that God can transform our lives in accordance to the Bible.
Study the Bible to Disciple Others
There were times when I hear comments like “I see no need to read the Bible.” There were also times when I observed people desiring to play a greater part in church but found themselves not growing much to serve and to disciple. There were even times when people focused too much on themselves and end up consuming Christianity.
The last reason here to study the bible is really to disciple others. Jesus’ Great Commission commanded us to make disciples and teach them all that Jesus has taught us. Implicit in that is that making disciples encompasses the ministry of teaching. And we have nothing to teach if we do not study the Bible. We cannot participate in God’s Great Commission and claim to be a disciple maker if we do not take the Bible seriously and study the Bible.
After all, the Bible is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). These are discipleship activities. At the end of the day, we have nothing to offer to other people if we do not study the Bible. There is nothing to disciple if we do not grow ourselves in the Word.
It is not about studying!
Understanding the need to study the Bible is the first step. I hope that these are reasons that we can convince ourselves to do so. However, I want to end this off with one more thought.
Many of us will study the Bible but for study’s sake. We can attend a lot of Bible study classes but our lives remain untransformed. That’s why I want to end off this post cautioning all of us that it is not about studying. We study the Bible so that God can transform our lives and we can live in accordance to His words.
This alone, would be the most important reason for studying the Bible.
To learn how to study the Bible, there is a book that I recommend to get all of us started. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart’s book on How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is an excellent resource to get started. These two are the two topmost experts in the Old and New Testament. They are not always right but their work here will offer a good starting point for everyone.
So share with me your thoughts in the comments on why you study the Bible. I read these comments and look forward to interact with them.