- Introduction: Reading the Bible faithfully Introduction discussing how God chose to deliver Scripture by inspiring many people in many times and places (cf. Heb 1:1) being faithful as we read the Bible means being faithful to them as well as reading prayerfully and open to the Holy Spirit. Reading faithfully means asking what message the writers of Scripture intended their hearers to “get” from each passage. Recognising the eternal truth in or underlying their message, and applying it effectively today.
- The messengers God chose
Introduces the who, when, where, what and why questions. Focuses on who (including when and where).
- The differences that matter
There is a great gulf of culture and assumptions that separates us from the writers and first hearers of Scripture. This gulf impacts our attempts to read faithfully. This article suggests what we can do to minimise the problem.
- Translations and translation: Reading a foreign text
Both notices that Scripture comes to us in translation, and what that means for understanding, and talks about different sorts of translation and how they can be most useful.
- Taking the message seriously (The words of the Word)
Looks at understanding the words and phrases. How we can read carefully and not miss what is really being said.
- Taking Scripture seriously: How does this passage fit?
Noticing how a particular passage fits into the flow of a book, or the flow of Scripture as a whole. How this helps us understand faithfully.
- Logic and rhetoric: How does the passage flow?
Looks at how we spot the flow and direction of the argument in the passage itself, as a way of realising what the author’s main point was.
- Don’t miss the point!
Recognising and faithfully identifying the author’s main point and the change they hoped to achieve in their hearers.
- God remains faithful: What’s the eternal principle?
The Bible writers wrote in language and cultural forms that were time-bound, and they wrote about topics that were important to their hearers (but which may be of little concern today). Yet the God who inspired them remains faithful, and what they had to say about God and how God relates to us/the world also remains true. How can we spot this timeless truth in these ancient texts?
- How is this filled out in/by Jesus?
Jesus fulfils (fills out, makes perfect) all Scripture, in what ways does our knowledge of Christ help to fill out this passage’s message, or fill in some gap in this passage.
- Application: Where the rubber hits the road
Reading Scripture is not faithful to the goal of Scripture (to change lives and draw us nearer to God) unless it is applied, this section will give some simple tips for powerful application that is faithful to Scripture yet relevant today.