How to Study the Bible (part 2)

This is a continuation of a practical article begun last month.

The following aids to Bible study are helpful.
The Concise Bible Commentary by A.C. Gaebelein,
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New and Old Testament Words,
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance,
A commentary by a respected author on the book you study.

There are two basic approaches to studying a book – the microscopic approach and the telescopic approach. Usually a young believer wants to begin with the microscopic method, this being more manageable, for in it he will be studying the small parts, that is, the words. This is a very valuable approach, for one has said, “Since God has chosen to speak to men by words, I plan to make words my life study.” This is why he will need Vine’s Dictionary.

You should take out the telescope before taking out the microscope. In this way you will look for the big picture and will ask questions, such as: What is the book about? What is the purpose of the writer? What is the major theme of the book? What would be an appropriate title for the book if you had to rename it? What are the other themes? What is its structure? Where are the chapter divisions and sub-divisions?

For this last, A. C. Gabelein’s Commentary has an excellent way of presenting the theme and divisions, and is dispensationally strong. The detailed commentary chosen on Jude will help you feed your soul on the epistle, for it will moderate your thinking as you see what others have received from the book.

The Bible is not a textbook. It is God’s Word, and above all we are to hear God’s voice speaking as we read, meditate and study.

Suppose you were studying the book of Jude. As you read, you will see why Jude has been called The Acts of the Apostates by some and The Battle for the Bible by others, for the falling away in the last times seems to be the major theme. You might ask if it could be called Contending Earnestly for The Faith. A Prescription for Preservation from the Perils of Apostasy might also be an acceptable title, so as to see the positive and practical things in verses 17-25.

Note keeping is vital as you study the Bible. C.H. Spurgeon said, “Reading makes a full man, but writing makes an exact man.” You may note a number of triplets in the epistle (there are twelve). You will also be impressed with Jude’s purpose in writing as stated in verse 3, “That ye should earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints.” It appears that if Jude had had his way, his epistle would have resembled First Peter, but because of his sensitivity to the leading of the gracious Spirit, his epistle resembled Second Peter. Jonah was a frustrated preacher, because he could not adjust his will to the leading of God. With Jude, frustration was turned to fruitfulness, for he was willing to be guided.

You can imagine Jude sitting down with his soul afire, as he contemplated the great salvation in which the believers participated. He would begin writing his title across the top of the page only to be led to a different topic by the Spirit (Psalm 32:8-9).

After another week of study you should be able to see the divisions within the chapter.

1-2, Preface
3-4, Purpose
5-7, Previous Examples of Apostasy
8-10, Practices of the Apostates
11, Perils of the Apostates
12-13, Pictures of the Apostates
14-19, Prophecies Concerning the Apostates
20-21, Prescription for Preservation
22-23, Pitying and Pulling
24, Praise

Alliteration is unnecessary, but if you wish to use it, it can be helpful, providing you are careful not to become its slave, for sometimes people give up the real sense of the passage in order to get the word they want, wrapping the Scriptures around their sermons instead of their sermons around the Scriptures.

Read your Bible to feed your own soul first. Get the microscope out to study verses 20-21. Notice that “keep” is an imperative, while “building,” “praying,” and “looking” are participles. The way to keep yourself in the sunshine of the love of God is by building (through the Word), praying, and “looking” for the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Make a note: Edification, Effectual Prayer, and Expectation.

Meditate on verse 24, and then study all the doxologies of the Bible. Note the word “able” (dunamis, Strong’s # 1410-1415) in the verse, and list all the places in the Bible where we have “God is able” and related expressions. What is God able to do? You will need the microscope.

Reread the epistle to see how many of the twelve triplets you can find. Some are found in verses 1, 2, 5-7. How many more will you be able to see? Study the words “sanctification,” “common” and “lasciviousness,” among others.

Remember the expression, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” You are beginning to learn to fish!