How should I study to find the meaning of God's Word?
A key to engrafting God’s Word into our lives is deepening our understanding of it by studying passages of Scripture, understanding the meanings of root words, and considering cross-references and historical data.
Scriptural meditation is to a Christian what rumination is to a sheep. Sheep do not simply munch the tips of the blades of grass; they eat right down to the roots of it. Similarly, a Christian must not just skim over the surface meanings of the words in Scripture; he must dig down to the root meanings of the words and phrases in order to fully comprehend their meanings. Just as a sheep ruminates, chewing a meal over and over again, so a Christian should meditate on the Word of God, pondering His truth again and again.
Use the Tools That Suit You Best
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is an excellent tool for in-depth study of the Bible. It accounts for every word in the King James Version of the Bible, assigning each original Hebrew and Greek word a number. Hebrew and Greek dictionaries at the back of the concordance, organized by the Strong’s numbers, give brief lexical definitions of each original word. This concordance is used and referenced in many new study resources.
- Take advantage of online resources. Many Web sites offer valuable information to assist you with a study of Scripture. Learn more >>
Use commentaries with caution. The use of Bible commentaries can easily become an excuse to not do your own study of a passage. Be diligent to memorize, study, and meditate on the Scriptures. As you do, you will discover insights God wants to personally reveal to you. Avoid spending too much time reading commentaries.
“The time to consult commentaries is after you have done your personal study. You may find by reading a commentary that you have overlooked some significant difficulty, or that there are resolutions to problems in the text which you had not considered in your personal study.” (Doug McIntosh, God Up Close: How to Meditate on His Word, Moody Press, Chicago, Ill., 1998, 97.)
- Consider using the Scripture Meditation Worksheet as a tool for documenting your study and compiling your notes.
Do a Word Study of the Passage
The next step is a word study of key words and phrases in the passage. Look up the words in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by using an actual concordance, a Bible study software program, or online resources. Research the root meanings of the words, which can give you a more thorough understanding of the original message of the passage.
A cross-reference is a verse, passage, Biblical biography, or example that further illuminates or expands the passage you are studying. Most Bibles include many cross-references. Some cross-references will apply more directly to your study than others. Often, when you look up one cross-reference, you will find that the second verse listed has a further cross-reference that will offer even more insight into the original verse.
You can also find cross-references at biblegateway.com or by using Strong’s Concordance. In the concordance, select key words in a passage and look them up. All the Bible verses in which these same words are used will be listed. Often there are several Strong’s numbers for only one English word, indicating a variety of Hebrew or Greek words that were all translated as that single English word.
For example, in I Corinthians 15, the word vain appears six times. However, according to the Strong’s numbers, you will see that there are three different Greek words that were translated as vain. Your review of all pertinent Greek words and their meanings will lead you to precise, rich insights and interpretations.
Be Alert to the Holy Spirit
As you meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit will often bring to your remembrance verses that you have previously read or heard; these will add new dimensions of understanding to the passage. The more you understand the principles of Scripture and the character of Christ, the more other cross-references will come to your mind, because Scripture is unified and it all speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After your thorough study of the passage, take time to meditate on God’s Word. Learn more >>