1. Starting without prayer.
It is difficult to start out a scripture study session under the pressure of stress. Prayer can help relieve your tensions and clear your mind from current problems or distractions. Conducting your studies under the guidance of prayer can not only help you understand Biblical meaning, but may lead to scriptural answers to modern quandaries.
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”
~ Corrie ten Boom
2. Using today’s definitions for Biblical words. The Bible was originally written in different languages, namely Greek and Hebrew. The translation of some words into English may not have the exact meaning. If you run across a word or phrase that doesn’t quite make sense, consider doing some research on the Biblical translation to see if there is an alternate meaning. For example, the word jealous in today’s dictionary is “feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages.” As opposed to the Biblical translation from Greek and Hebrew as warmth or heat which can be linked to the word passionate. (Go Here for a more detailed explanation.)
3. Confusing the spiritual with the literal. Just as not being sure of the exact definition for certain words, trying to take every story from the Bible literally could lead you to an intellectual dead end. Christ was often using parables or stories to explain a concept. These stories often included several meanings that would be entirely missed or misunderstood if the reader was taking them literally. Although this is an obvious concept with most avid Bible readers, it is important to keep it in mind during your studies to ensure you are not overlooking important lessons. Reminding yourself that there are several meanings behind each concept will help you get a greater view.
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4. Studying a subject without any idea of time frame. The Bible was not ordered chronologically and can be confusing when you are doing your reading from front to back. The letters of Paul are arranged from longest to shortest. That is why it can be hard to understand what he is saying. Using a reference for when those letters were written can help clarify their message. You can use this free bookmark to help.
5. Going Solo. While there is nothing wrong with reading your Bible on your own, conducting a regular scripture study is much easier when you have others involved. Maintaining a regular schedule is one of the most important aspects of Bible study. Being involved or creating your own study group in which you have responsibilities to will help keep you on task. The more regular the study group, the stronger the bond between study and friendship. Each person can lean on the other for clarification on Biblical concepts.
6. Not knowing the writer. Who is speaking and who are they speaking to? What is the goal of the writer and what circumstances were they under? With this in mind, it is much easier to understand the intent and meaning behind the writer’s words.
7. Researching Biblical stories with no idea of the historical background. Keep in mind that the writings of the Bible are based on reactions of and teachings to the people in real history. Many prophets were subject to the rulings of common historical leaders. Who were those leaders? Were they good or evil? What were their current circumstances? These factors played a major role in how those prophets were treated. Ask yourself these questions: What time period did am I reading about? What historical events were taking place? What historical events were about to happen? Where is this event? How does this affect the reactions of the people during this time? If you can answer any of those questions, your studies can become more clear. The Bible Timeline is a great tool to use for that purpose.
8. Overthinking. Going into too much depth over topics without reading the entire story can lead to confusion. “Verse overkill” makes it possible to miss the real meaning from looking at one puzzle piece instead of the entire puzzle. Keep in mind that spending a lengthy amount of time on one subject can make it easy to forget the original purpose of the topic.
9. Giving grammar too much credit. Going back to the translation of the Bible, remember that each language is written differently. The English punctuation may not match the Greek and Hebrew versions. For an “un-grammar lesson” on the Bible go here.
10. Expecting an instant understanding. There are several depths and several meanings to the Bible. For many, each time they read the Bible, they learn something they didn’t notice before. If you come across a portion of the Bible that is overwhelming, consider moving on and going back to that topic later. You may find clarification in your studies as you progress. Do no give up because one section is hard to understand.
What helps you study the Bible? Comment below with your advice.