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Appendix one: So why study the Bible?

My Notes on Teaching the New Testament, by Mama Brenda

What is the Bible?

Law - God’s rules for living

History - the history of the Jews

Poetry - special descriptive writing

Prophecy - people speaking what God has told them to say

39 different books in the Old Testament

Gospels and Acts – the story of Jesus and the early church

Letters from Paul, Peter and John - teaching Christians then, including us today

Prophecy - picture language of what God will do at the end of time

27 different books in the New Testament

When? – The Bible was written over a period of 1600 years but finally came together as we know it in the 4th century A.D. (300-400 A.D.) The Church Fathers in 100-300 A.D. gathered the sacred texts and evaluated them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit - which ones were seen to be used by God, authentic, helpful, used to encourage, and accepted by the Church over time? These became what is technically called ‘the canon of scripture’.

Who? - God inspired the Bible while human authors wrote it down.

Authors: Matthew Mark Luke John Paul Peter James Jude

Moses (First five books of the Old Testament and at least one Psalm, 90)

King David (Psalms)

King Solomon (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon )

Joshua, Samuel

Ezra (Ezra, Nehemiah and perhaps 1 and 2 Chronicles)

Asaph and sons of Korah (Psalms)

Agur and King Lemuel (end of Proverbs)

16 other named prophets

some names forgotten over the centuries

some who edited court papers into records of history (1 and 2 Kings?)

Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; 1 Peter 1:1; Psalms 23 and 90.

Do we know who wrote each of these?

Read Psalm 92 and Hebrews 1:1, 13:22-25. Do we know who wrote each of these?

We know who wrote some parts of the Bible, but not all of it.

How? - There are three languages used in the Bible with occasional other words, for example see Daniel 5:25-28

Hebrew - the ancient Jewish language (used in Israel today)

Greek - the most used language 100B.C.-200A.D.

Aramaic - the language Jesus used most - see Mark 5:41

Where? - Countries involved in the Bible include some in Africa, Asia and Europe as well as the Middle East.

Where did Bible people live? Who did they have contact with? You may need to use the maps on pages 3 and 4.

Look up Genesis 11:31; Daniel 1:3-4; Acts 8:26-27; Acts 10:1-2; Acts 19:1; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1.

Why? – and this is most important - God purposed and preserved His word – a single book with a single Author – a single theme – God the Holy Spirit revealing God the Son and the saving purpose of God the Father.

This truth is the greatest key of the Bible. He shows Himself to those who seek Him:

without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”, Hebrews 11:6.

Studying the Bible

It is easy to misunderstand the Bible and to make it say things it does not say. Read Psalms 14:1, 53:1. Yes, the Bible does say, “there is no God”, but in context our Bible reads that only fools say that!

So here is a simple guide in three columns to help us get it right:

1. Observing the text What does it say? Look

2. Interpreting the text What did it mean? Understand

3. Applying the text What does it mean for today? Do

When you read the Bible for yourself use the column of words above that makes most sense to you!

1. Observing first read the passage then answer the question

a). Genesis 3:6 Question - Who ate the fruit?

Answer - Eve first but then Adam

b). Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 Question - How many wise men were there?

Answer - We don’t know, but there were three gifts

c). 1 Timothy 6:10 Question - What is the root of all evil?

Answer - Not money, but the love of money!

2. Interpreting - read the passage, seeking to explain any difficult meanings.

a). Acts 10:9-10. In many colder countries houses have sloping roofs because a flat roof would collapse under the weight of snow in winter. So in UK, where I live, this would need to be explained because no one would go and sit on a roof! For some of you it is easier to understand!

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b). Luke 14:26 – ‘Hate’? To emphasise how much we must love Jesus more than our family, the original language uses ‘hate’ our family - in English that needs to be explained - perhaps in your language too? ‘Hate’ means to dislike someone or something very much.

Compared to our love for Jesus, our love for family and friends must be in 2nd and/or 3rd places in any competition.

c). Psalms 18:2 and 19:14 talk of God as a rock – does this mean God is hard and unfeeling? – or God is strong and dependable? The psalmist is using the good attributes of a rock to describe God, taking things we know to describe Someone we do not fully understand. We must be careful to discern scripture correctly, sometimes literally, sometimes not.

3. Applying bringing the Bible and everyday life together

a). 1 Corinthians 8:13 - the problem for these Christians was eating meat offered to idols - the principle Paul sets for us to apply today is – ‘if my action causes my sister to stumble I must stop doing it’, ‘even if I am otherwise free to do it’

b). Luke 9:23 - we must go Jesus’ way even if it is very hard. There is no other choice

c). John 21:15; Titus 2:3-5 - we must look after the younger Christians we know

Always ask yourself questions of the Bible text - look objectively even if you have known the story since you were little!


who? who is involved in this passage?

what? what is happening?

when? what happened before and what happened after? where? where did this take place?

why? why did it happen?

how? how did it happen?

Look/Understand/Do - correctly reading, interpreting and applying the Scripture is vital.

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