How Do We Read God's Word?
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand the Bible. While some passages are easy to understand and even easier to apply to our lives. Others remain difficult to grasp how it relates to us. Much confusion and false teaching has been done simply because of a misunderstanding of how the passage relates to us today.
I Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
These verses are well known to Christians around the world, but the riches of its truth could never be exhausted. There are some key points in this passage that helps us understand a few things in relation to how we read God’s Word. It begins with “All Scripture.” So we’re talking about the Book in your hands, the Bible. All of it is inspired or comes from God, this means that it is perfect and true because it is from God, Himself. So the Bible comes from God and is profitable or good for the following: teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. With the focus being that these things that flow from God’s Word will help us mature as believers or another way of saying it is that we will be sanctified.
I say that to help us understand that all Scripture has a purpose for us. Whether it’s to bolster our faith in seeing God’s faithfulness, or if the passage is a direct application for us to apply to our lives. The question becomes, how do we read God’s Word?
CONTEXT IS KEY
We read God’s Word like any other document. If you’re reading an email, you don’t just take snippets of the email out of the context of the email and think you understand what it means, right? This way of reading could lead to a messy misunderstanding. The same is true of God’s Word. We must read it in its context. Don’t just take one verse out and study that verse on its own. We must understand how the passage flows into that verse and how the verse fits alongside the rest of them.
We must understand what the author of the individual passage is trying to accomplish. If we’re looking at one of Paul’s epistles than we must keep in mind that Paul is writing this to a specific church facing specific problems. We cannot simply say that it belongs to us and is written directly to us, this undermines the author’s intent and leads to a faulty interpretation of God’s Word. That would be like slapping your name in the recipient’s section of a letter and expecting the letter to make sense. It won’t. The author did not have you in mind, but rather another. Yet, God’s word is profitable, remember? So while Paul meant the letter of Galatians for the Christians in Galatia who were facing specific issues, believers today can make application from Paul’s writing.
A lot of God’s Word is written to specific individuals and groups that the modern church is not a part of. Yet, believers today can make application from these verses. For instance, Jude writes in his epistle about false teachers in his time who were corrupting Biblical teaching within the church into heresy. While, Jude meant his writing for those specific individuals, we too have false teachers today who appear to be “in the church.” We can make application of this letter be remaining vigilant in our theology so as to not be corrupted by these false teachers. We must be careful of our application so that we do not speak where the Scriptures are silent.
We read God’s Word by making proper interpretation, which just means making sense of the verse. And then from there we can make application to our lives. This is how “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”