We unfortunately not only have difficulties spending time in God’s Word, but we also struggle with spending time studying it with any systematic process. Additionally, many bible study books are short on substance and long on personal stories and relatable feelings.
But 2 Timothy 2:15 is pretty clear in that we are to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Additionally, that seems more of a command than a suggestion.
The question is “how?”
The first issue we encounter is “what version of the bible” do we even read?
Although there are some versions that are incorrect and should be avoided, I find the NIV and NASB both accurate and readable. Two important features.
Another approach is to work with a version you feel comfortable reading and understanding and study it along with some parallel versions. We’ll discuss this in the suggested approach below.
The next issue, if we are to go beyond the bible, is what commentaries, etc. should we read and trust? In fact, this is such an issue that there are even books commenting or surveying on the various commentaries.
As a suggestion, the following biblical services would provide a basic foundation for studying the bible:
- A parallel version of the bible – in other words, the bible in the various versions.
- An interlinear Hebrew/Greek – here we have the original words associate with the various interpretations.
- Commentaries – word by word analysis of the text of the bible.
A suggested approach
The Internet age, with all of the repressions on free speech, has still allowed a ton of information with decidedly and accurate Christian content.
The largest search engine “Google” is actually quite good at showing biblical results. For example, the search “rebuke satan” brings up an article with 100 bible verses about rebuking satan. The very first two verses are exactly on point with Jude 1:9 stating that even “Michael the archangel did not pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” and James 4:7 which advises that we “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Bible Gateway is a great resource for showing single as well as multiple verses from the bible. Its search bar is also good for some common searches – “the virgin Mary” for example quickly pops up Luke 1:26-38 with an additional reference to Luke 1:27.
The most comprehensive and interesting study application, which is also free, is a site known as BibleHub which not only has all the study items suggested above but offers even more.
For example, here’s a screenshot of 2 Timothy 2:15 which we referenced above (note: click to expand):
Notice that all the suggested aids discussed above are represented, including various versions, the original text with Strong’s information on the specific word, etc.
Now, by simply clicking on “comment” you open up the following screen:
With respect to Bible Commentaries, it may be wise to understand which commentary (or commentaries) to trust and to work with. The books which you may want to review are “New Testament Commentary Survey by D.A. Carson.” and Tremper Longman III “Old Testament Commentary Survey.” These surveys review a number of Old and New Testament Commentaries from one volume to Commentary series, to Individual (Bible Book) commentaries. Of course, you first need to trust the opinions of Carson and Longman but these two individuals are highly esteemed and trusted. Additionally, John MacArthur has a recommended list of commentaries, as well as other study books, as part of his “Rediscovering Expository Preaching.”
As far as a one-volume commentary, you might review Robert Gundry’s “Commentary on the New Testament” verse-by-verse explanations with a literal translation. It is outstanding and was highly recommended by D.A. Carson.
Another verse-by-verse commentary that covers the Old and New Testament is “The Wycliffe Bible Commentary” with Pfeiffer & Harrison as editors.
Either way, the purpose of the surveys is to get a perspective on which commentaries to pursue and study from a massive library of commentaries.
Of course, as in all studies of Scripture, the source of accuracy is the scriptures themselves. The various commentaries are only man’s opinion of God’s word. Prayerfully, we can learn from those men who are diligent about the command of 2 Tim 2:15.
Studying to glorify God.