Some Rules For Bible Study
1. Realize that the Bible must be studied and rightly divided. (2 Tim. 2:15.)
2. Realize that the Bible contains the mind and will of God. (2 Peter 1 :2 1.)
3. Approach the Bible reverently and humbly. (I Thess. 2:13.)
4. Have profound faith in ALL it says. One cannot accept only a part of the Bible as being inspired. We must accept it all or reject it all.
5. Let the Bible speak to you-not you to it.
6. Study for profit and with an earnest desire to know more of God's will, and not just to argue or endeavor to justify yourself.
7. Be willing to obey implicitly what God commands of you. (Matt. 7:21 ; Lk. 6:46.)
8. Use common sense in your study. For example, some contend that the word "water" in John 3:5 does not mean water, but common sense will convince us that it does. The letters w-a-t-e-r spell water in any other book, and there is nothing to indicate that it is used figuratively in this passage.
9. Observe who is speaking. All of the Bible was written by inspiration but that does not mean that all the statements recorded therein are true or were spoken by inspired persons. Example: Job 2:9 and Psalms 14:1.
10. Observe to whom each statement is addressed. Whether to the alien sinner, Christian, unfaithful, etc.
11. Observe why each book was written. For example, the first four books of the New Testament were written to produce faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the book of Acts records the cases of conversion of the apostolic age and a history of the early church, the next twenty-one letters are instructions to Christians, and the book of Revelation is a book of symbolic teaching showing primarily thing., that are to come and offering encouragement to the early Christians under severe persecution.
12. Study and interpret each passage in light of its context or setting. Failing to do this, some have argued that Paul teaches in I Cor. 1:17 that baptism is not essential, but the context shows that he did baptize some, and the reason he was glad he hadn't baptized more was "lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name."
13. Realize that there have been three distinct dispensations of religion-the PATRIARCHAL (from creation to Sinai), the JEWISH (from Sinal to the cross), and the CHRISTIAN (from Pentecost of Acts 2 until the coming of Christ). The New Testament is our guide in this dispensation.
14. Study the meaning of the titles of the books of the Bible.
15. Consider the history and chronology of the events of each book in the Bible.
16. Do not interpret one passage of scripture so as to contradict the teaching of another. For example, one cannot correctly interpret Romans 5:1 or Acts 16:31 to teach salvation by faith only for that would contradict James 2:24 and Gal. 5:6.
17. Determine if the language is literal or figurative. Take all passages as literal unless the context forces a figurative interpretation. To illustrate, it is clear that the "water" of John 3:23 is literal, while the context and wording shows that the "water" of Rev. 22: 17 is figurative.
18. Don't read something into the text which is not there. Be content with taking only what it says.
19. Harmonize the Scriptures, taking ALL God says on any subject, letting all obscure passages be understood in light of the plain.
20. Have the proper attitude toward the Bible and how it teaches. Produce the scripture for ALL you do in religion, and don't appeal to the SILENCE of the Bible for authority for anything. The Bible furnishes us completely (2 Tim. 2:16-17). We must not pervert it (Gal. 1:6-9). We must not go beyond that which is written (I Cor. 4:6). We must not add to or subtract from its teaching (Rev. 22:18-19).
Truth Magazine III:10, p. 1