What I seek to do in this post is to give you a simple way of working through any passage of Scripture and coming out on the other side with a greater love for Christ and some viable applications to your life. If we truly believe that God’s Word is structured, that it tells a unified story centered on Christ, and is progressive in nature, then we should want to read the whole of the Scriptures responsibly.
Big Idea: God has given structured Scriptures in order to tell a unified story, revolving around Christ, and understood through appropriate reading. In this way, God has enabled me to rightly know Him, my fellow man, and my place within this story.
So the question is, “How do I do this?”
There are three Audiences to consider: (the following chart was adapted from Patton, “How to Study the Bible in a Nutshell.”)
2. Timeless Audience
3. Present Audience
The flow of movement indicated by the arrows is from the “Original” audience to the “Timeless” audience and then to the “Present” audience. The danger of moving from the Original to the Present audience directly is pretty evident if you have ever read in Leviticus or Judges for your morning devotions. Believe me, you don’t want to go there.
It would be like reading a love letter written to someone else as though it were written to me. If I start reading in the middle of it and take it as directly for me there are several emotions that could arise. I could feel warm and sappy because I have always wanted someone to love me like this. I could feel disgusted and sick because it is gross. I could feel angry, or indifferent, or perplexed. But it all would be misinformed. I have to run it through a grid of interpretation first.
For this reason we look at what the original audience was meant to understand. After that we can better see the timeless truths embedded in the passage. And only then can we make the proper Christ-centered application.
Here are questions that help us understand each of these Audiences. I have inserted the COMA questions from One to One Bible Reading in here to show how the flow works.
If you would like to hear this in action, you can listen here to two short passage being explained, Ps 84 (minute 8) and Numbers 3 (minute 27).
So What? This should:
- Expand our desire to read the whole Scriptures
- Limit our frustration in “coming away empty” from difficult passages
- Heighten our understanding of and love for God and his work
- Deepen our spiritual life through consistent application
- Bargerhuff, Eric J. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God’s Word Is Misunderstood. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2012.
- Carson, D. A. Exegetical Fallacies. Baker, 1996.
- Fee, Gordon D, and Douglas K Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
- Patton, C Michael. “How to Study the Bible in a Nutshell.” Parchment and Pen.
- Rogers, Matt. “7 Arrows for Bible Reading.” Trevin Wax.