How to Study the Bible.

                        or

How to Study the Bible when you know that our English Bibles contain errors and mistranslations.

At this point in time (2009) there are no books that I know of that will tell you how to study the Bible in a way that will stop you getting caught up with the errors and mistranslations.

So, this is breaking new ground for me.

Please understand that as more people tackle this problem (separating the truth from the error) we should be able to grow with the help of their experience. But we have to start somewhere - and what follows has worked for me.


Not every word is truth.

Most people see the Bible as "instructions from God" with a bit of history mixed in. In actual fact it is a book of history with some instructions from God mixed in.
Just understanding that not every word in our English Bibles is true, goes a long way to get us started. So many ministers for so long have pounded the lectern while saying something like "we must live by every word of the Bible", or "the Bible is the Word of God",  that people have just come to accept that it is all truth.  Reversing that acceptance will make us more cautious about what we are reading.

That is a huge breakthrough in itself.

Some of the problems.

As I have read, Christ and the disciples spoke an Eastern version of Aramaic.  Thus the first Gospels, and all of what we call the New Testament, was written first in Aramaic. For us today, this was first  translated into Greek, and then from Greek into English.  You can't move text through two other  languages without losing something of the original.

Then there are errors due to copying over the centuries,  which means that there are errors in the source language manuscripts that translators are using today.  There are multiple choices in what you use as the source document (there are around 3000 complete Greek NTs in existence), and since they are all different in places, they can not all be right.  In our English language Bibles there are mistranslations of the source documents, and inserted deliberate lies.  On top of all that, there are books included in the Bible that are just recording history as the writer saw it (not all history in the Bible is accurate), or recording the writer's thoughts (eg Proverbs), or recorded what other people were saying at the time (eg Luke).

I feel, 2 Tim 3:16 should be translated as saying that only those Scriptures spoken/breathed by God,  are to be used for doctrine, correction and instruction.  To put it another way, we need to pay careful attention to "Thus saith the LORD ... " statements, and use common sense when a man is speaking. Also, 2 Tim 3:16 can only be applied to the Old Testament, as not all the books of the New Testament were written (and therefore the New Testament did not exist) at the time the Apostle Paul wrote 2 Timothy.

December 2011 Update.

[From here to "End of 2011 update" was added in 2011 in an attempt to explain how most of the New Testament is indeed Scripture , and is needed for our correct understanding of what is required of a person who has accepted Christ's sacrifice - a Christian.]

A primary point to keep in mind is that God never, ever, commanded us to live by the words recorded in our English Bibles of today.  Telling people to do that is an invention of men. They want you to [falsely] believe that what they are saying is backed up by God.

Don't ever let a man's words become more important (in your mind) than the words of God.

The old way to understand the Bible, was to give every verse "equal" weight, and if you found that two or three verses that "agreed", then the point of doctrine was more or less set in concrete. This method requires 2 Tim 3:16 to be translated as "all Scripture is inspired ... ", so that we could take any verse at "face value".

Understanding that not every verse is "inspired by God" (as given by the alternate translation of 2 Tim 3:16), means we have to redefine what books/verses can be used to formulate doctrine. If you read the Bible to find every verse on a given topic - in other words, read the Bible for themes - then you start to get a "feel" for what is important (the trunk of the tree)  and this helps to see what verses lie outside a theme. The biggest number of verses that disagree with a theme - that I have found so far - is around 20, so that kills the idea that if "two or three" verses agree, then it is OK to make the point "doctrine". Of course, I am making the assumption that the 150 verses that make up the theme are correct, and the 20 or so that don't, are not correct.

When we translate (as I understand it) 2 Tim 3:16, as -

2Ti 3:16 " Every word spoken [or inspired] by God [is] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness," - in other words, the same thought as expressed in:

Deu 8:3 NET  So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread alone, but also by everything that comes from the LORD's mouth.

Mat 4:4 NET  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

Then a couple of things happen.

First up - we break the nexus that every verse has equal weight.

This is important - because Satan has inspired men to put error into the Bible (including a bad translation of 2 Tim 3:16 in at least 20 translations). 

Knowing that each verse has to be "weighed" for its merit, stops us giving the lies of Satan the same value as the words spoken by God - which is happening under the old way of understanding the Bible (every verse ["all Scripture"] is personally "inspired" by God) .

Second - we now can take the words spoken by God as the primary source of doctrine (training in righteousness) as we are instructed in Deut 8:3, Mat 4:4..

It blows my mind, that men can insist that, Aaron making a golden calf, David committing adultery, Judas betraying Jesus, Peter denying Jesus, Ananias and Sapphira lying about the price of their land, Luke recording incorrect words of Christ, and so on, and so on, are verses directly inspired by God for the purpose of "instruction in righteousness".

They may be used as examples of what not to do, but that is different to giving direct instructions on how to live a righteous life. Remember, Christ said that we are to live by " every word that comes from the mouth of God", not history as recorded by men. Sure, we need to use the lessons from history to increase our understanding, and to make sure we don't repeat them, but that is a different thing to formulating doctrine.

Of the two options of translating "God breathed" (G2315) in 2 Tim 3:16 - "all Scripture is inspired by God" or "the words breathed/spoken by God" - I believe the second is the safest. What could be more important than obeying God's personal instruction? It certainly gives us a way to bring to the surface, the lies and mistranslations inserted by men into our current English Bibles.

It also brings Paul into agreement with Moses (Deut 8:3) and Jesus (Mat 4:4), who both said that "man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God".

However, as I said, when we translate 2 Tim 3:16 this way, we lose the ability to use it to justify including the New Testament as "Scripture" - or do we? At the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy, all the books that became part of the New Testament were not even written, so he could not be referring to the New Testament as we know it today, anyway.

However, instead of "doing away with the New Testament" - the correct translation brings most of it into Scripture. Please let me explain, and I will try to keep it simple.

The words spoken by God (if they have been recorded and copied accurately) become our primary source of doctrine - our instruction in righteousness.

God tells us to listen (Deut 18:15,18-19) to His Prophets (the list of men and women is long), and the words He gives them to pass on to us.

Jesus was a Prophet (Deut 18:15, Mat 13:57, Acts 3:22), so we should listen to what He had to say (Mat 17:5) for "instruction in righteousness".

Christ in turn sent out at least 13 Apostles (Mark 3:14, Acts 9, Gal 1:19 allows for others) as a witness - so we are to listen to them.

[It is a point for discussion at another time perhaps, but I don't think HWA qualified to be called an "apostle" as he used errors in the KJV to put doctrinal errors into the church.]

This order of priority - the words spoken by God first, Prophets next, then Apostles - will include much  of the Old Testament and the New Testament as "Scripture" for "instruction in righteousness" - but not all.

What we do with the books, or parts of books, not written with God given authority to be part of our beliefs/doctrine (by people who are not Prophets or Apostles), is a story for another day. (But they do serve a purpose - just not a primary source of doctrine). Remember, if you lived around 200 years ago, the Bible would have contained 80 books. Both the Bishop's Bible and the KJV, and others, contained, what we call today the "Apocrypha". If you insisted back then - as people do today - in translating 2 Tim 3:16 as "all Scripture", and thus include all 80 books, then you have a big job on your hands explaining how it was all "inspired" by one mind - God's. Of course, if you translate 2 Tim 3:16 as "The God spoken [or inspired] words", then there is no problem working out what is doctrine and what is not, and much additional information and history is provided by the Apocrypha (and even by Luke).

In summary.

Topics mentioned in the Bible - say - over thirty times, give us the trunk of the tree. I feel God wants us to "get the point" through repetition. And 30+ verses in agreement makes a lot stronger case than just "two or three".

Our doctrines/core beliefs should come from the direct words of God, the words passed on from God through the Prophets, and then the words from the Apostles.

If the recorded words of a Prophet conflict with the words of God - then we are to put the conflicts aside for further research (could be an error in copying or translation) - and the same goes if words from the Apostles conflict with the Prophets. In the same vein, verses that lie outside a Bible theme, should also be set aside for further investigation. Never use the words of a lesser authority to over-rule the words of a higher authority.

Clearly, not every verse in the Bible carries equal weight - though Satan wants men to think that, so that his errors are kept in high profile.

Christ is looking for people who will put the Father's will first - and certainly before the day to day running of a church, or as we used to call it, "doing the Work". Notice how Christ calls "Christians" (people doing church work) "lawbreakers", if they are not also doing the Father's will.

Mat 7:21-23 NET. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven — only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (22) On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?' [and here they could quote the numbers for TV/ radio stations, and monthly magazines] (23) Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!'

I think Christ calls them "lawbreakers" because if you take the lies of Satan, the accidental or deliberate mistakes of men, or the jumbled memories recorded by Luke, and then give them equal status as the words spoken by God, we are not putting God first, and that breaks the First Commandment.

Also, as I understand it, incorporating the errors of the Bible into our doctrines - and thus propagating Satan's lies - can not be equated with "doing God's will".

In my view, it is important that we sort out - or at least ignore for now - the errors in our current English Bibles.


End of 2011 update.

[The original article continues].

Using the majority.

 In the past, if people found just one verse that supported the concept they needed proof for, they felt it was OK.  If they found two or three verses that supported their concept, then in their mind it was "beyond question".

To study the Bible for the truth that it has, requires us to leave these old methods behind.

Just take an example I have already mentioned.  There are around 150 verses that give or support the concept that there is just one God.  There are around 20 verses that give or support the concept that Jesus was God, and therefore there are two Gods, or Jesus was at least "divine".  If you are using the old method of just one or two verses being enough, then certainly 20 verses puts it beyond doubt.  However, the fact is that the 150 "one God" verses from the majority of Scripture, swamp the 20 "two Gods" verses from the minority - and hence these verses have to be regarded as doubtful Scriptures.

Learning to use themes.

If there is a theme running throughout the Bible, then there is a good chance that it represents truth. While some original words may have been lost or mistakes made in copying, it is highly unlikely that the same loss/mistake would happen in the same way throughout different books where this point is made.

Instead of reading just one verse in great detail (but there may be a time to do just that too) we have to start by scanning the Bible for all (including for and against) it has to say on a topic.  

The most basic way to pull out themes from the Bible is to read the Bible from cover to cover and have pieces of paper beside you with the headings that you want to follow up, and then when you read a Scripture that falls into one of the categories that you are looking for, you jot it down.  This is how I started to formulate themes.

Under "Themes" in the Miscellaneous Index, I try to explain a way that these Scriptures can be typed up and sorted.

A quicker way to discover themes is to use a computer program such as e-sword (free from e-sword.net).  In reading the Bible (I feel we should be reading something out of both Testaments every day) we may come across something that we would like to follow up.  Put the key words into the search engine and see what you get.  But we should not leave it at that.  When we find a verse we should look in the margin ( or books like "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge" ) to find cross-references to other verses that may also include some additional information, which in turn may lead to other verses.

But that is not all.  All the key words that you are looking for will have a number in Strong. We need to find that number, and then do a search (using KJV+) for every place where that number is found. This is necessary because the translators often use different English words for the same Hebrew or Greek words.  If new relevant verses are found, then we repeat the process of looking for cross-references.

Obviously not all these searches and look-ups are going to be successful, but they are necessary if we are going to try and find all the Bible has to say about a topic.

Building a foundation.

Once we have found a theme with over - say 30 - verses, then we can start to have confidence that this topic is something that God wants us to know about.  The strongest theme I have found so far - the Commandments are to be kept - has over 160 verses.

These strong themes can then become part of our foundation.  We build on them as we bring in the lesser mentioned themes.  For instance, there are over 150 verses that tell us there is one God, so that can be a part of our foundation.  There are six verses that tell us we are to be baptized in Christ's name (or with His authority) and only one that tells us to be baptized in "the father, Son, and Holy Spirit", so that is useful information (that we are to be baptized in Christ's name)  that we can add to our fund of knowledge.

Let us start by looking at the themes with over 100 verses, and see how these foundational themes will give us a different understanding - a new Biblical understanding - from what is currently taught in the Christian churches of today.

One God.
With over 100 verses showing us that there was, and is, and always will be, just one God, we have a solid foundation stone. The fact that there is only one God, can have a huge impact on our understanding.

Most of the Christian churches has either one God made up from three persons, or teach that there are two Gods. Some Christian churches do teach that there is just one God, but then blot their copybook by saying that the Commandments don't have to be kept.

Coming to know the one true God, and that He is deeply concerned about our spiritual growth, is a wonderful truth to know.  It removes a lot of the "mystery" that people have put around God.  He has a plan (the "miltha' - Aramaic,"logos" - Greek) to build a spiritual family, and everything He does fits into that plan.  He wants people to know Him, and have a relationship with Him.  While time and chance can happen to anyone, the bulk of humanity today are showing us the result of God's Laws being broken. To put it another way, we are living in God's classroom.

Are we paying attention to what God is trying to teach us?

The Commandments.
The keeping of the Commandments - and what happens when we do, and do not,  keep them - is a very strong theme.  Not teaching our children the Ten Commandments - and thus give them a way of understanding the rewards for good behavior and the punishment for bad behavior - is, in my view, one of the greatest "crimes against humanity" in the world today.  Putting the Commandments back at the top of the agenda, gives us a framework to understand why God uses one nation to punish another.  While men make war, God puts their mistake to good purpose to punish the Law breakers. The history of the Biblical nation of Israel shows us that if a nation breaks God's Laws, then He will break that nation, and He can send the people into captivity for 70 years, or disperse them throughout other nations for 2520 years.

World history and world wars, and periods of peace, begin to make a lot more sense when we start to evaluate which nations kept God's principles, and which nations rejected them.

God will punish.
Following right on after establishing that the Commandments are to be kept, the third biggest theme found so far, is that God will punish the Law breakers.  He has given us examples of doing this at the personal level, family level, tribe, nation or empire level. Every human that has ever lived, will come under judgment at one time or another.  

The Christian churches - for the most part - only teach about the benevolent side of God, and omit to explain to the people that God can just as easily be our enemy - if we break His Laws - as be our friend.  Understanding that punishment hangs over the head of law breakers, helps us to understand the importance and urgency for repentance.  Yes, God is merciful, and if we get our attitude sorted out, He will forgive and forget our sin.

Adding to the foundation.
Next on the list of themes, are a number that fall between 30 and 100 verses.  These too - I feel - are still a part of the foundation we need to build.  While not as strong as the major three, they need to have our attention.

The Kingdom of God.

With over 80 verses telling us about the Kingdom of God, we can see that it has a certain priority with God and His Son.  It was one of the first things Jesus spoke about when He started His ministry. Another way to explain the Kingdom of God, is to say that it is the time when everyone will prove that, living by God's Laws, works.  The people in positions of power and authority will be hand-picked by Christ from a pool of men and women that have proved that they can be trusted to uphold God's Law, and thus seek God's will.  The knowledge of God will cover the earth like the sea covers the seabed:

 Jer 31:34 NET.  "People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me," says the LORD. "For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done." See also Heb 8:8-12.

Those who qualify to be part of the first resurrection from the first 6000 years of God's 7000 year plan - the 144,000 of Rev 14:1-5, - will help God and Christ in running the Kingdom for 1000 years.  During this time everyone will have a very important job to do.  The world has to prepare homes, food and clothing and so on for the billions of people who will come up in the second resurrection.  Because the people will be obeying God's laws, the world will be blessed with just the right type of weather, and there will be no disease or infertility.  It will be a beautiful abundant place.  The people resurrected at the end of the millennium will then be able to compare the world they died in - where many of God's laws were broken - to the Kingdom of God where His laws are being kept.  After some initial instruction, they will have to make a decision about which type of world they want to live in.  Those who reject the Kingdom, will be burnt up and gone forever in the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:15).

Our Reward.

Very much tied into the Kingdom is our reward.  Believing in our reward is just as important as believing that God exists - so it is right up there (Heb 11:6).  We have seen that a strong theme is that God will punish - that is the "stick" - but God also has "carrots".  The more we are able to master obeying and upholding God's Laws, the higher the position of responsibility and service we will receive in the kingdom.  It is most definitely not a matter of just accepting Christ and then doing nothing - as some people will try and tell you.  Again, never believe what people tell you about the Bible without checking it out first.  Another part of the reward for those in the first resurrection is that they will get to live in the beautiful New Jerusalem (Rev 21:27, 22:19).

God will restore Israel.

While the 144,000 spirit beings from the first resurrection are helping Christ set up and run the Kingdom of God, there is a parallel event taking place in the physical world.  The 144,000 physical people in Rev 7 will be used by God as a foundation to restore Israel. There are over 30 verses that show us that God will pick up where He left off, and will restore Israel to be the model nation for the rest of the world to emulate.  The only time they came close to doing this was at the start of Solomon's reign.  But with qualified spirit beings able to give correction when required (Isa 30:20-23),  Israel will be able to do what is needed to set a right example.  No doubt this will give great joy to the father of the people of Israel - Abraham.

Another reason for having this truth as a foundation, is that it is a good reminder that God's plan - grand design - for creating a family of spirit god beings, is far from complete. Numbers wise it is still in its very early stages. Sure, God has touched the lives of more than 144,000 people, but on the other hand there are yet billions and billions of people who know virtually nothing about God and His Laws.

Restoring Israel as an example for other nations to follow, is an important first step in getting the bulk of humanity turned around and submitting to God.

Keeping God's Holy Days.

I feel we can only truly understand the meaning of God's Holy Days if we are keeping them, and are keeping them according to God's calendar.

Each of the seven Holy Day seasons or days, highlights a major aspect of God's plan - His "Grand Design" as I like to put it.  There are a number of important places in Scripture that can only be correctly translated by understanding the OT instructions about how to observe the Holy Days.  The translators of our English Bibles of today, as I understand it, do not keep the Lev23 Holy Days, and this is reflected in some bad mistranslations in the events surrounding Jesus's death.  

By making the knowledge of God's Holy Days a part of our foundation, we can better sort out some more verses that are "history, but not trurh", and in some cases, we can come up with a better translation than the current translators.

The "calendar" that we should use to know when to keep the Holy Days is built into the solar/lunar system.  The two equinoxes (and especially the Spring equinox in the NH)  are fundamental to the calculations, and separating them are the longest and shortest days. The seasons are the "little hand".  The months all start with a new moon, so the phases of the moon are the "big hand". By having to keep certain days special by the "clock" God has built into the solar/lunar system, we are drawn closer to the way God views time.


Getting Started.

With the points given above forming our foundation, we then can proceed in our study of the Bible.

Having a foundation of solid truth will help us to keep close to the trunk of the tree.  So many people get caught up with "twiggy" points that consume time and energy, but don't go anywhere - 2Ti 2:16 NET.  "But avoid profane chatter, because those occupied with it will stray further and further into ungodliness,"  If the point under discussion is not supported by our "foundation", then we should be careful not to waste too much time on it. However, our understanding can be helped by history, so there are times to work with non "trunk of the tree" stuff - just not "twigs".

Two points first.

As we get into our Bible study using this new perspective, there are another two points that we need to keep in mind.

Point one.

Another of the "lies" put out by men about the Bible, is that God and Satan are "fighting" to get people to their side.  Or, some put it as God is trying as hard as He can to stop people from sinning.

While Satan is a spirit being that has rebelled against God, and is an adversary to God and His people, He is still very much under the control of God. There is no "war" or fighting going on. God does use Satan's adversary characteristics to test people, or to take people further into sin if that is what they want to do, but Satan has no control over people that God does not give permission for (see Job 1&2).

In Romans 1, God says three times (v24,26,28) that He (KJV) "gave them up" to sin. The Greek word G3860 can mean - surrender, yield up, intrust.  There is not the least bit of of a hint that God is trying to stop someone from sinning. In fact, if you want demons to help you to sin, they will be provided free of charge.

[2017: My current understanding is that God is using Satan and his lies to test us. When Satan tested Jesus, he wanted Jesus to do things that were against God's will. If we end up believing the lies that Satan has had men put into the Bible, then we also end up doing things that are not God's will. So - it is an either/or situation. If you put the Bible first, you go against God. If you believe God first, then you must reject hundreds of verses in the Bible that are in error.]

Of course, God wants people to obey His Laws, but if you are not going to do that, then you might as well go in the other direction and have no excuse when you face the Lake of Fire. The other aspect is, that if you fully embrace sin, there is just the chance that you will be so hurt by it that you will want to turn your life around and ask God for help not to sin.

As we study the Bible, we should keep in mind the words of Jesus.

Mat 7:21-23 NET.  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heavenonly the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  (22)  On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?'  (23)  Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!'

God will help you do whatever you want. If you want to obey His Law - He will help you do that.  If you want to sin, then He may help you do that, or certainly will allow you to do it.  If you want to come up with an alternate way of worshiping God and organizing religion - then He will help you do that too.  In Rev 3:15,16 it is obvious that Christ does not like "lukewarm" people, so the pressure of tribulation will be applied to force us into action - good or bad.

The fact that you get help from God to do something you want to do, does not mean a thing - unless the results are what God is looking for.  The test is -  are we doing things "according to the will of the Father?".

An extreme example is given in Rev 13:13 NET.  "He performed momentous signs, even making fire come down from heaven in front of people".  No man can cause this type of miracle without God being involved.  To put it another way,  if the people want to believe in another "god" other than the true God, then there are times when God will help them.  One of the curses put on Israel when they rebelled against God was that they "would worship foreign gods".   Understanding this important principle helps us to make sense of Rev 22:11 NET.  "The evildoer must continue to do evil, and the one who is morally filthy must continue to be filthy. The one who is righteous must continue to act righteously, and the one who is holy must continue to be holy."  Note - there is no middle ground.  We end up on one side of the fence or the other - we are never left sitting on top of the fence.

In general, people believe what they want to believe.  As Christians, one fundamental rule of Bible study is that we look for what God is telling us to believe, and not use "bits" of the Bible to give "respect" to our own agenda.


Point two.

When you see something that we are told to do in the Bible, we should start doing it straight away. Of course, study about it and follow it up any way you can, but your forward progress will be slowed until you live it.  As you obey the truth given to you, more truth will be given.

If you rebel, or are too embarrassed to step out, or allow peer pressure to influence you, then your forward progress will slow to a snail's pace - at least that has been my experience.

As we study the Bible, we should also keep in mind these words of Jesus.

Mat 13:18-23 NET.  "So listen to the parable of the sower:  (19)  When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path.  (20)  The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy.  (21)  But he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.  (22)  The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth choke the word, so it produces nothing.  (23)  But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown."

The problems are,
"not understanding" - make it a rule that you always continue to check things out.
"trouble or persecution" - do not expect an "easy ride" into the Kingdom.
"Worldly cares and wealth" - try and keep a long term view of things.
Success comes when,
"we bear fruit" - put into practice what we are learning.

Mat 13:11-13 NET.  He replied, "You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not.  (12)  For whoever has [puts the laws of God to work so they will be in the Kingdom] will be given more, and will have an abundance. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  (13)  For this reason I speak to them in parables: ... "

Our own actions and obedience are a big factor in how much we grow through Bible study.

The basic approach.

There can not be a more basic approach than just reading the Bible on a daily basis, yet most professing Christians in the world today, don't even make it to this level.

Use whatever system that suits you best, but an idea to get you started, just get two book marks and put one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.  Then read something out of both each day (travel, emergencies and sickness may be a factor in that - but it should not be much else).  Depending on how your Bible is laid out, it can be a chapter or a page. Since both my current Bibles that I am reading have notes at the bottom, it makes more sense to just read a page.  When you get to the end, just wrap around and start that Testament again.  For variety , you may want to do it over in a different translation.

I feel that this basic approach to Bible reading needs to be continued regardless of what other Bible study you do.  Find a convenient  time of the day, and make it a habit. It is amazing what jumps out at you on the fifth reading, that you skipped over on the previous four.

What Bible to use?

There are many different translations in the world.  Most have some value (personal paraphrases the least, as I see it),  and they all have good and bad points.  I don't want to get into the business of promoting a particular Bible, but I can make some comments about the ones I use.

NET.  New English Translation.
One of the latest on the market (2005), and the First Edition has the most notes of any current Bible.  There is also a reader's edition with just a few notes per page.  One of the great positives of this Bible is that people are allowed to quote from it in articles and on Internet sites, without copyright problems.  It certainly is the one I have most quoted.  I would like to see this as our primary Bible for group discussions.
I also call it an "honest" attempt at translating. If the translators are having a problem understanding the best English equivalent, at least they tell you in the notes. 

NLT.  New Living Translation.
This is a dynamic equivalence translation - not an attempt at a word-for-word translation. Not being tied to the original word structure makes this an easy to read Bible.  I feel this is ideal for getting the story flow, and it goes a long way to making the meaning clear.  Of course, it has places where the translators (not having the foundation mentioned above) get it wrong. The NLT Full Verse Cross Reference Bible has been a great help in building themes, and saves a lot of time turning to the referenced Scriptures.

NKJV. New King James Version.
My most used Bible, but slowly being passed by the NET Bible.  It is a rewrite of the KJV, and gets rid of the "thees" and "thous", which helps.

KJV. King James Version.
Originally you needed one of these so that you could link into Strong's Concordance. Computer programs have now taken over this role.  However, if you don't have a computer and you do have Strong, then you will find it handy.

NIV.  New International Version.
One of the first Bible translations to break away from just using the Received Text as the sole source for the New Testament.  Easy to read, but hard to memorize.  Pushes the Trinity, but this is easy to work around.

I also use "The Jerusalem Bible", "Moffatt", "The New Testament by Phillips", the "Companion Bible" - which has excellent material in the appendix, and a number of others not so often used.

If I had to pick just two, they would be NET First Edition (with a Reader's Edition for public occasions), and A Life Application Bible with the NLT edition.

But as I have said elsewhere - any Bible is better than no Bible.


A more advanced approach.

At this point, I need to address the question of computers.

I started out without a computer, so I understand what can be done without one. Today, I have the use of a computer, and appreciate the time it can save.

No Computer.

If you don't have a computer, then all your study will depend on what books you are able to gather together. Obviously you will needs some Bibles, and then the next most important book - I feel - is Strong's "The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible".  I have found a few errors in the book, but I feel that he has done a great service to mankind by putting so much information into one book. Basically, you use it in two ways.  The first is to find every place in the Bible where a particular word is used - basic to identifying themes - and then the second is to find the possible meanings of the Hebrew or Greek word that has resulted in the English word used in our Bible.

While it takes time to turn the pages back and forth, and keep track of all your book-marks, it is possible to learn much about the Bible, and even identify verses that could have alternate translations. One important point to keep in mind, is that Strong used the KJV, and if there is an error in that, most likely there will also be an error in Strong. The classic example is the KJV translators translating the Hebrew phase "between the evenings" as just "evening". Strong won't help you get back to the original - you have to use an Interlinear.

Because Strong has based his book on the KJV Bible, it is helpful to have one of these available, as this will give you the exact word he was working with.  For the most part, I found no problem working with a NKJV Bible - but I did have a KJV for the times the NKJV word could not be found in Strong.  A good "value for money" KJV Bible is the Companion Bible. You get the KJV words and a lot of extra information in the margin, plus some very useful information in the Appendix.



Having a computer. 

What sort of computer you will need will depend on what you want to use it for. If you want to go "on line" and access the Internet, then you will need something with some "grunt". However, if you are just going to use the computer for your study, then it can be old (cheap) and it will still do a good job. I am using an oldish IBM laptop that fell off a desk and had the screen broken (who wants a laptop without a screen?). To replace the screen I am using a plug in stand-alone screen that was thrown away as not working, but my son was able to repair it. So, moving to a computer does not have to be expensive, but you do need to learn the skills required to run it and maintain it.
 
There are  many Bible computer programs on the market.  I have tried a few, but the one I like the best is a free one from e-sword.net.  You have to down load the basic suite of programs, and then you can choose many other books to add to your collection.  Each book file down loaded has to be double clicked on to upload it. [Not required in the later versions].  Many books and Bibles are free with e-sword, but some you have to pay for.  We thought that NKJV and NLT were good value for the money.

A nice feature allows you to "compare" a particular verse across all - or the ones that you chose - Bible translations.  You can also look at Bible translations "side by side".

Look for what the whole Bible has to say on a topic.

In the more advance approach to Bible study, you are trying to pull out all the Bible has to say on a subject. Having found a list of verses, you can look at each one in more detail. For instance, the Strong number will show you other possible translations of a word.  By searching for the number, you can see all the ways that the translators have translated it. There are books (like King James Concordance) that you can add to your e-sword program that will show you this too.  You can also look up what various people have said about the verse.

Sorting out the verses.

In the article about the Nature of God and His Son, I go into detail about how I classify verses as either "soft" of "firm", so I will not repeated it here.

In summary, a verse is "soft" - and therefore not used for doctrine - if it can have different translations (with different meanings), or it is in conflict with a Bible theme, or commentators indicate that there are problems with the source documents.

[In 2011, we can add that books/verses that do not contain words from God, the Prophets, or the Apostles, should also be considered "soft".]

A "firm" verse is one that stands up under investigation.

Recording your results.

I find it useful to write up your Bible study - either as notes or an article.  In putting words on paper you are forced to give form to your thoughts.  Having started to make notes on a Bible topic, you can always come back to it and update it - but you will not forget (lose) the work you have already done.

My experience has been that as I progress in this new Biblical understanding technique, I have to come back and update or add to previous study notes [as I have done to this article].  

Of course, compiling themes is a constant "work in progress" affair.

The best approach to Bible study.


This one is beyond my ability, so I can only pass on the thoughts of others.

I did read once where a man said it was easier to teach people to read Hebrew and Greek, than to make a translation into English.

If you are able, I can only conclude that learning the original languages would be the best approach to Bible study.  You still have the problem of what "text" you use as your source document, but with a good foundation coming from the themes that you and others have built up, I would imagine you could sort through the source documents a lot quicker than those who still see God as a Trinity, and the the Commandments are "optional".

One final point.


Be careful about using one verse to "override" another verse.  For example, I have heard ministers use the verse in 1 King 8:9 that says that only the stone tablets are in the ark, to indicate that the other objects have been taken out.  Since this verse goes against the Bible theme of what was placed in the ark, I would call it "soft".  When the ark is opened, I expect to see Aaron's rod and the manna, as well as the tablets.

Often the "bigger picture" comes out by adding the information of different verses together.

Summary.

Primary foundation (over 100).

There is only one God - God the Father.

The Ten Commandments are to be kept.

God will punish those who break His Laws.

Also part of the foundation (30-100).

The Kingdom of God.

Our reward.

God will restore Israel.

We are to keep God's Holy Days.


Once you have these seven points firmly planted in your mind, the rest is just padding out the details.


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Bob Orchard  2009

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