How to Read the Bible and Understand It. Part 1 Introduction to BibleStudy

How to read the Bible and Understand
This article takes a look at the rather bizarre question of "how to read the bible?". This is one of the most important parts of the Christian faith but the how to part is often overlooked. The most important thing is this, it's what works for you that matters. Some tips on what techniques, if you can call them that, which will peel away the layers of the Bible and reveal a second dimension that is not seen by most. This is Part 1 the Introduction. There will be a Part 2 which will go into more advanced forms of Bible study which will be an eye opener.

Is the Bible just another Novel or Book?

You have to remember that the Bible is not really one book but is made up of many parts. There is the Old Testament and Old Covenant or The Law that applies to the Jews and the New Testament and New Covenant that applies to Christians or "The Church". Many say the New Testament is then "rightfully divided" into the Pre Church Age as in the 4 Gospels and the Church Age after that, which runs from Acts (some say it starts in the Gospel of John) through to the final Book where it is mentioned in the beginning and that is the Book of Revelation.

The Bible also sub divides into 66 "Books", so is not really 1 book but a book made up of 66 books. Each one has a different writer but the author is always the same. Each book has it's own character and was written in a certain time period which spans many thousands of years. In the Old Testament it features Books that cover the following categories "The Law", History, Poetry, the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. The first five books also forms The Torah which is the foundation of the Jewish faith.

The New Testament covers the 4 Gospels, History, Paul's Letters, General Letters and Prophecy which is contained in the final Book... The Book of Revelation.

Some books you can say can be read in isolation, in facts all the books can, but to truly understand the whole Bible you have to read the whole Bible. But where do you start? Is it best to start at the beginning or to start somewhere else. Is there a short cut? In a word NO!

You have to realise that the Bible is not really a novel written by one author but contains stories, lessons, doctrine and theology written by many, some of which defies human logic. You have to approach the Bible which is a Holy Book, with an open mind and with no pre conceived theories otherwise the knowledge it contains will not be imparted to you. This is a spiritual book and it needs to be treated as such. It's God's word and he doesn't think the way we do!

What version?

I personally use the King James Version (KJV) or New King James Version (NKJV). The NIV is easier to read, but I don't recommend it. See a whole article I wrote on that called The KJV V NIV. Which is the best version? It really does boil down to what version you get on with. If you are wrestling with thev King James Version then try an easier version and maybe progress onto that version at a later stage. The Message Bible is recommended by many for novices as a lighter version that is easier to read and get the general idea of what is happening in each chapter. Designed for all ages. It is designed to be a reading Bible. The KJV is a heavier read and is more of a word for word accuracy Bible that can be used as a reading Bible but is more of a Study Bible to find deeper meanings and is designed for closer scrutiny. Many have a problem with the Elizabethan style English language delivery but you do get used to it.

There are other easier to read versions out there such as the English Standard Version which many use or the International Version. Again these are easier to read but I think the KJV version slows you down and disables the ability for it to be speed read and you will end up seeing more being revealed. That's just my experience. Some people recommend The Message, a very readable and dynamic translation that is aimed more at general overall meaning than word-for-word accuracy.

The version of the Bible is important.......... but again it's what works for you.

What format?

There are numerous formats of the Bible available these days including online, PDF download, software to use on a PC or laptop, app for tablet or phone and of course the good old hard copy. Here's some recommendations what I use

PDF Download: If you are just after a PDF Version of the Bible to read page by page and keep things simple then PDF is a good place to start. They normally are about 9-10mb in size and can be carried on a phone or tablet, read on a pc or laptop, pretty much anything really. The functionality will be pretty basic, but it's a good place to start and a good backup to anything else out there.

Online Bibles: Bible Hub and Bible Gateway are good starting places and staples and will give you the ability to cross reference. They will show a brief outline of what each chapter is all about, sometimes even a summary part way through a chapter as well. They may give you commentary and extra information such as Bible Encyclopedia and much more.Online Bible's are more designed for in depth research on a particular topic. Another recommended site is the King James Bible There are many others out there but these are the three main ones that I keep bumping into.

Bible Software: Bible Software can be used for just reading but is designed more with Bible Study in mind. There are a number of Bible Softwares available for Windows, Mac and Linux. I personally use Linux after getting fed up with windows many years ago. A couple of Bible Softwares that work on Linux that may worl on the other operating systems which I recommend are Bible Time (Free) and Xiphos (Free). Of the two I would say Bible Time looks better but for me Xiphos seems to offer more for doing Bible study presentations such as I do over at You Tube. The downside it doesn't look as pretty, which I can live with. Anything that is based on the Sword Project is your best bet.

Xiphos is split into different modules including Biblical Texts, Commentaries, Dictionaries, Glossaries, Daily Devotionals, General Books, Maps, Images, Cult/Unorthodoxa nd Prayer List Journal. I use it with the Strongs (Greek and Hebrew) modules and the TSK (Treasury Scripture and Knowledge) and has Morphology capabilities. There is a bewildering array of add ons including books, commentaries, biblical maps and much more. Another even better software is Bible Analyzer 4 but I had trouble getting this thing to work. A lot of the additional modules are free but a lot of the good ones are not. In short Xiphos seems to be the best in my opinion, everything is free, but again it really is down to what works best for you.

A nice simple one I use for scooping up verses and inserting into text on this blog/website is Wide Margin. It's basic, has a basic search, daily bible verses, what they call "Daily Readings" and a few other features, but is quick to use, lightweight and does the job for simple bible analysis. The only downside it has no cross referencing or Strongs which is essential for research of the Bible especially in Prophecy. It's designed more for reading rather than studying, but is a simple lightweight software that is a breeze to use and is in the King James Version.

Hard Copy: You can't beat a hard copy of the Bible even in this day and age of hi tech. Granted an electronic form gives you the ability to search and study in finer detail and much more quickly but sometimes the slower nature of a hard copy of the Bible just seems to drive the message home as it was intended all those thousands of years ago.

Hard copies of the Bible are available in a bewildering number of versions, sizes, paperback or hard back and from a number of sources including places such as Amazon and other online bookstores, regular bookstores in your town but the best way to get them is for free or very little cost. Churches normally will give you a copy for free (normally NIV) but the best places where I get mine are Boot Sales. I pick them up for about a pound or so, they are well used but sometimes that is better than new. With the low cost you can highlight relevant verses and phrases and even have multiple versions. I have two Bible's one is leather bound and rather antique looking that has Roman Numerals for Bible Verse numbers and the other is a bit more modern and hard bound and a similar size. You can also get them on Ebay if you are after something a bit more collectable. The advantage of a hard copy is it doesn't need any power or batteries to read it.

How Did I first read the Bible?

Before I was "Saved" on October 6th 2015, all I had read was a Childrens Bible as a kid the PDF Version of the Book of Revelation....that was it. I do not recommend starting with this Book of the Bible. Nor do I recommend starting with Isaiah which again is a difficult Book of the Bible to fathom. I started reading the Bible on October 6th 2015 and finished on 6th February 2016. 4 months to read the Bible from cover which is a monumental undertaking. This was read pretty much non stop during that period such was the hunger to read the word. This is common amongst New Borns in the faith. Again I don't recommend reading the whole Bible in that timescale, maybe a year is better. The order in which I read it was Genesis the first 7 days of creation then the New Testament followed by the the Old Testament. For the 40 days of Lent I read the New Testament again and again during those 40 days. Since then I have adopted various ways of reading the Bible using any of the following below, either one or a combination.

Suggested ways to read the Bible.

1. From Cover to Cover. Start from Page 1 and finish on the last page. In effect you are starting with the Old Testament and finishing with the New Testament. Many people get about half way through and give up with the Old Testament, it's a tough read. If you think you will finish by reading this way then go ahead. A better suggestion is 2 below

2. Start with the New Testament which is what the Christian faith is based on. Then when finished move onto the Old Testament. You will have a good grounding in Christianity and will have a much better chance to finish the larger Old Testament. You will have completed about 25% of the Bible before you even start the Old Testament.

3. Search the scriptures. There are other ways to read the Bible, one is to search the scriptures. Have a question for the Bible? Search for anything and the Bible will reveal a massive amount of information on that search. Best done with a Bible App on phone or Tablet or on PC/Laptop. This will take you on a journey through the Bible. Here's one of my favourites to get you going type in this in any Bible App "living waters" and go from there!

4. Cross reference the Scriptures. Sometimes reading the Bible especially the hard copy you will see little notes and corresponding letters appearing in the text. These are cross references that will take you to a different part of the Bible which has a similar topic, theme or meaning. Again this is something that will take you on a journey to different parts of the Bible and reveal another dimension.

5. Read a particular topic or Chapter. Maybe you just want to read Genesis and understand that, everything at the beginning. Maybe read all 5 of the first books of the Old Testament known as the Torah. Maybe you are just interested in reading about the women mentioned in the Bible and what role they had to play. Maybe you are just interested when angels appeared throughout the Bible. Maybe Sodom and Gomorrah has some interest. Maybe David or Daniel. Maybe just focusing on Paul in the New Testament and the early Church. The list goes on.

6. Look for the answer to a particular question. Maybe you have questions about life, morals, behaviour, prayer, belief, lifestyle, faith, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit.

7. Read the Best or most informative stories first. Maybe before you read the whole Bible from cover to cover, maybe you really want to read about Solomon before reading anything else, or maybe just about Moses. Maybe the well known David and Goliath, maybe the crucifixion or birth of Jesus OR Read one of the 4 Gospels in the New Testament. Each one is a story of the life of Jesus, each has it's own style and narrative.

8. Re-reading many times is understanding. Sometimes a verse or Chapter will not reveal itself on the first read, but after multiple reads finally opens itself and reveals the meaning. Meditate on what you have read helps, not New Age meditating just staring out of the window with a cup of tea or coffee a sort of contemplative meditation with your eyes open.

9. Read chronologically. Read the books in the order in which they were written This will give you a greater comprehension of the changing times and seeing how the ideas changed over time which amounts to many thousands of years.

10. Make sure you take notes. Note take on everything you read in a separate book and not on the Bible itself otherwise it will get cluttered. You will have trouble remembering everything you read and notes will provide memory triggers.

11. Don't read the Bible all the time on your own, sometimes read it with friends in the faith and bounce ideas of one another and you will get a greater understanding and maybe find out something that you may have missed on your own.

12. Use a Bible Study Guide along with the Bible. which gives a brief outline of Chapters and Verses that cover various topics. I use The Bible Readers Handbook which you can download in PDF form. It is based on the NIV version but just for outlining the Bible this is not a problem.

How to NOT read the Bible.

1. Do not approach the Bible as merely a novel, story book, literature or an Encyclopedia. The Bible is beyond this. It is the word of God and a Spiritual book that will come alive in the right hands demonstrating the right mind set

2. Do not approach the Bible with pre-conceived notions or theories or ideas you have read or heard or seen somewhere else. Clear the mind, pray if needs be before reading and it will open itself to you and come alive in the process.

3. Do not approach the Bible with any advanced human logic, a MENSA or scientific level of intelligence, it will reveal nothing to such a person.

4. Do not try to get answers from the Bible that are not there. There is a saying "if you torture a person long enough, they will give you the answer you are looking for". The Bible is no different, torture it long enough and it will give you the answer you are looking for, that fits in with your what you are expecting........ but it will not be the right answer. Read 2 above again

5. Most importantly whatever is written in the Bible no matter how far fetched it sounds, BELIEVE what it says and it will open itself up to you and reveal another dimension that most will miss. Many people call this a "coming alive". If you don't believe in it, then it will be a closed book and will read just like a mere novel.

6. Don't try to read the KJV Bible in 4 months like I did. You will have a headache fo 4 months and a headache for a couple of weeks afterwards when you finish! A little but often and regular as in daily is probably best

Bible Quotes about Reading the Bible (Old and New Testament)

Job 23:12
Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Nehemiah 8:3
And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
How to Read the Bible and Understand It. Part 1 Introduction to BibleStudy How to Read the Bible and Understand It. Part 1 Introduction to BibleStudy Reviewed by Frank John on February 21, 2017 Rating: 5
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