As you begin to study your Bible, there are a few time-tested steps to help guide you in your pursuit of more knowledge of the Word. The first step is to Observe.
Observing is incredibly important and at the same time, one of the more forgotten aspects of good Bible study. We will keep these blogs to a manageable length, so we will highlight a few aspects of observation.
Words: Words are important. Words have meaning. Whatever your heart language when you are reading the Bible, the words used are important. When I read my Bible in English, I have to remind myself that the Bible was not written in the language I am reading. Because of that, the words I read were chosen by translators to convey the correct meaning in the English language.
You get stuck? Try looking at a different translation. (We will spend another blog exploring the translation debate. Stay tuned.) Different translations may have slightly differing parameters that the translators were using to solidify a decision on a translation.
Some questions to ask will be:
- What words are being used?
- Are they repeated?
- How many words are being used to talk about a subject?
- Are there “if and then” statements I should pay attention to? Are there some common themes that continue to be referred to?
Grammar and Punctuation: The rules for these words to be put together into logical streams of thought (otherwise known as sentences) are the bane of some people’s existence. Grammar, though loathed by many, is vitally important. One misplaced comma can be the difference between: “Let’s eat, Grandma.” and “Let’s eat Grandma.” Grammer saves lives, people.
Grammar is something that can help break down a difficult statement or sentence. Simple diagrams scrawled out on scratch paper or in a notebook can help organize your thoughts and decipher what in the world the Biblical author was trying to get at.
Look for the Ws: Look to find those key identifiers: Who? What? Where? When? These can provide much clarity later on in study and keep us from error. When reading a longer text or a whole book, watch for when these things change.
Don’t Move on Too Quickly: It is easy to begin the next step, Interpretation, before proper Observation has taken place. Try and find as many observations about a passage as possible before moving on, even if those observations seem overly simplistic.