Why Study the Bible?
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We study the Bible because within it are the very words of God. God “breathed out” the Scriptures and inspired men to write His truth. God’s words complete us and equip us for every good work. This is why we study the Scriptures. If you love God, do you long to know His words? For followers of Christ, there are many reasons to study the Bible. The main reasons are (1) the Bible teaches us about God, and (2) the Bible teaches us how to follow Him. The Bible is our lifeline. In order to know and follow Christ, we must read His Word.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” God’s Word illumines the path for us in this dark, sinful world. We read the Bible because it teaches about Jesus, grace, mercy, salvation, and love. We read the Bible because it teaches how to love God and love His people. We read the Bible to know the very God of the universe. Through His Word, God has given us all we need to know about Him and how to follow Him. Studying the Bible is necessary for our spiritual growth in Christ. Ask God to put within you a longing for His Word. As Satan was trying to tempt Jesus to turn stones into loaves of bread, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4). We read the Bible because we live by its very words. God’s Word nourishes us, fulfills us, and sustains us.
If we believe that God’s words are true, and that they give us life, that changes everything about us. Scripture allows us to live and talk and interact with others differently because we see everything through the lens of God’s word. It not only brings us life, but informs how we live and so it can be used in that way to help us bring life to others as well. We don’t study the Bible just to have knowledge about God, but in our pursuit of this knowledge we encounter who He is and it changes us in every way.
How should we approach the Bible?
C O N T E X T :
When we begin to read our Bibles, several things are important, including the context of the scripture—the background, the author, who the author is writing to, and the purpose of the writing. Context helps us understand the real meaning of the scripture because it helps paint a picture for the bigger vision of what is happening in the text. When we know not just the author of a passage, but why they were writing, who they were writing to and why that matters, we see the story in a truer light.
P O S T U R E :
Aside from context, it is extremely important to approach the Scriptures with humility. We need the Lord to help us understand the Scriptures. His wisdom is infinite, and ours is finite. We cannot claim to know everything, and therefore, we must approach the Scriptures with humility and prayer, knowing that we cannot understand Scripture without the Holy Spirit’s revelation. In prayer, we should ask the Lord to reveal His truth to us.
P O W E R :
The Holy Spirit helps us understand and apply the truths of the Scripture. We can trust that the Holy Spirit will always lead us into truth and that His leading will never contradict God’s Word. As 1 Corinthians 2:12 says, we have received God’s Spirit “so that we might understand” the things given to us by God—the good news of Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to truth.
The Bible As a Whole
When studying the Bible, it is helpful to know how a passage of Scripture fits into the bigger picture—the Bible as a whole. By knowing where the book of Philippians fits in with the Bible, we can have a greater understanding of the actual content of Philippians. Here is a brief overview of the Bible and how it is constructed. The Old & New Testament: The Bible consists of two major sections: the Old and New Testament. The Old Testament has 39 individual books, and the New Testament has 27 individual books, which means the Bible as a whole has 66 total books. The Old Testament starts with the creation of the world and proceeds to tell the historical account of God’s chosen people, the Jews. The New Testament begins with the birth of Christ and tells of His life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and the ministry carried on by His followers (Maher, 2007).
From a bird’s-eye view, the entire Bible can be explained in five words. As scholar Mitchell Maher puts it: “anticipation, manifestation, proclamation, explanation, consummation.” Each of these five words is focused on Christ. The entire Old Testament, Genesis through Malachi, can be explained by the word anticipation. God’s people are anticipating the birth of Christ— the Saviour. The Gospels, Matthew through John, can be explained by the word manifestation. They cover the manifestation of Christ on earth, discussing his life, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts can be explained by the word proclamation because Acts discusses the beginning of the church, which was spurred on by the disciples proclaiming the good news of Jesus. The Epistles (or letters) of the New Testament, Romans through Jude, can be described with the word explanation. These books explain the work of Jesus and how His followers are to live. The book of Revelation can be explained by the word consummation; it tells how Jesus will return one day and finish His Father’s work (Maher, 2007).
- Anticipation: Genesis–Malachi
- Manifestation: Matthew–John
- Proclamation: Acts
- Explanation: Romans–Jude
- Consummation: Revelation
The book of Philippians falls in the explanation section of the Bible. Philippians is a letter Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. And as part of the explanation section, Philippians discusses the person and ways of Jesus and how to follow Him.
What You Will Need
In order to study your Bible, you will need a Bible, a journal, and a pen. If you enjoy technology, feel free to use a notepad on your phone or computer. Regardless, you will need some way to take notes on the book of Philippians. Through this process, we pray that you will fall in love with the very words of God and discover that you can understand the Scriptures.