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Definitions

Bible - comes from a Greek word meaning books. In a sense the Bible is a library containing 66 books.

Apocrypha - a collection of writings during the last two centuries before Christ and the first century after Christ, generally 14 or 15 in number. These books are not considered to be a part of the inspired Word by the evangelical world.

Old Testament - testament means will or covenant. It refers to the 39 books of the Bible which basically deal with God's dealing with man prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

New Testament - the 27 books of the Bible showing the new relation God provides through Jesus Christ.

Canon - the original word meant a reed or measuring rod, and thus a norm or rule. Later it cam to mean a rule of faith, and finally a catalog or list.

Verbal Inspiration - the words of the Scripture inspired by God, of divine origin, even though written by man so that the product is the Word of God. God-breathed, not merely giving divine approval to man's words but rather words breathed out by God.

Inerrant - without any error in the original writings.

Infallible - incapable of error because they are God-breathed and for this reason entirely dependable.

Original - inspiration is claimed for the original writings. The Old Testament is written in Hebrew with a few sections in Aramaic. The Septuagint Version is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The New Testament is written in Greek, not the classical Greek but a mixed-Greek, or Hellenistic.

Authenticity - the genuineness of the Bible, believing it corresponds to the original so that no basic truth or doctrine is affected in the course of copying and translations properly done.

2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Matthew 5:18
Mark 13:31; Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39; John 17:17; Acts 8:32-35;
1 Thessalonians 2:13; Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32;
Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19

Source

The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Word of God, inspiring men, guiding, controlling them to bring into being God's Word to man. The writers, numbering about 40, were men of God, living over a period of at least 1200 to 1500 years. The Bible deals basically with the message God and His relationship to man. In its major treatment it also speaks of many other subjects, each extremely accurate in what is said concerning it.

The canon established - determining what was inspired took place over a period of time. In the Old Testament time a prophet of God was one whose statements and predictions were 100% accurate. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Their writings were recognized as the true message of God. Just because people decided that a book was inspired of God did not make it inspired - rather, it was inspired and the declaration of men simply recognized it to be so.

For the New Testament the apostles, men who had known Christ personally, were eye-witnesses of His resurrection, and who had been commissioned by Christ, were the standard by which truth and falsehood were established. Those who were chosen by the Holy Spirit to be the writers of the Scriptures, presented these truths in harmony with the established Old Testament canon.

During the period of the Church Fathers further exhortation and teaching by written materials was circulated. This, however, did not constitute part of the canon. In these writings abundant Scripture is quoted and considered as inspired. This forms another part of the continuing link to the present time.

Copies of the Scripture were made by hand in a dedicated and sensitive fashion. Sufficient manuscripts are on hand to establish the accuracy of today's Bible. The accuracy of secular writings has been established by a comparison of 15-20 copied manuscripts, some of which were written some 900 years after the event. About 4500 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament are available either in part or in whole. Some of these dated back to 130 AD, 50-80 years after their writing. Variations do occur in the comparison of the manuscripts. However, a careful examination has revealed that these variations do not affect a single basic doctrine of the Christian faith.

Translations

The difference between a translation and a paraphrase needs to be noted. A translation is the product of taking a copy of the original, compare it with others, and then translate it into the language desired. A paraphrase is giving the sense or basic meaning of the original without necessarily translating the words.

Some translations are the result of a group of scholars while others are the work of an individual in consultation with others. Translations should be checked from the standpoint that they do not cloud or tone down any of the major doctrines of the Christian faith.

Dependability

Any statement that the Scripture makes is accurate. There are recorded statements that have been made by satan and others by man. These statements do not necessarily voice the mind or will of God for they may be contrary to Him and His will. They are accurate in that they are the actual statements made. It is dependable because it is God's Word and speaks to man's need and presents God's solution. When it speaks of other subjects, such as science, it is accurate even though modern scientific though does not agree with it.

The main theme and purpose of the Scripture is to reveal the redeemer and show how sinful man can, through the Redeemer, come into fellowship with a holy, righteous and loving God. The application of the truths of Scripture to life as it is lived brings about the deepest satisfaction known to man.

Studying the Scripture

Because we believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God, we consider it of utmost importance to know what the Scriptures say. Since the Bible is also the only rule of faith and conduct the message must not only be known but also applied. Two portions of Scripture will serve sufficiently to point out this importance.

2 Timothy 3:16-17. Here we find the basic statement that all Scripture is God-inspired and therefore profitable. The areas of profit for the individual are given. Doctrine is sound teaching, instruction. The Bible gives the kind of sound teaching necessary for a Godly life. Reproof carries the idea of conviction. The Word of God will reveal what is out of line, what is sinful. Correction includes restoration. We are not only told what is wrong but we are shown how it can be corrected. Instruction is really training. The Word shows this type of ministry as the outfitting of the man of God for every good work. The word perfect does not have reference to sinlessness but rather to maturity, completeness, capable of properly meeting life and its challenges so that God can be glorified.

2 Timothy 2:15. This verse challenges the believer to study the Word of God. The purpose for this is also given. We need to be approved unto God. If we want God to be pleased with us we will need to know what He says in His Word. We are to be workmen that are not ashamed. One who knows what he is doing and is confident that he is doing it right does not need to apologize nor be ashamed of his workmanship. Knowing the Word of God makes this possible for the believer. The tools are given here as well, the equipment is the Word of God. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth does not have reference to cutting it up to see what can be kept and what can be rejected. It comes from words which mean to "cut straight". Study of the Word make possible a proper laying out of that Word in portions that can be handled and effectively taken in.

Realizing the importance of the study of the Scripture, how can we go about it properly? We realize first that the Word of God is its own best commentary. Some portion which may provide some difficulty is often explained by comparing it with another passage. Much help can be derived from center or marginal references. There is also a section in the back of some Bibles, or in a separate volume, known as a concordance. These helps provide listings of other references where the same word or statement is used. An ordinary dictionary, and a Bible dictionary, if available, can be a great help in understanding words and their meaning in particular places. Above all, the student needs to ask the guidance of God through His Holy Spirit, the Author of the Word, to give insight and to guide into the truth.

A very important consideration in study is to determine the setting in which the verse or verses is found. This is known as the law of context. That which goes before the text you are considering and that which follows it will gibe sufficient information for a proper understanding. A consideration also of the setting in which the statement was made, and to who it was first written, can help to determine the initial purpose and message.

The Word of God must be studied on a regular basis because the soul derives it's food and strength from it. It must be considered prayerfully for thus the heart, mind and whole being can be readied for its message. The Word must be taken in practically. It is not merely a greater knowledge we need - it is a changed life. That Word we study must be obeyed, applied to daily life so the spiritual benefit can be gained for which it was given.

A variety of particular methods are open to the Bible student. A brief look at these can be of help to determine what particular method is desired at the time. Survey - an overall view of a book, or entire sections, gaining a general insight into the passage considered. Book Study - a particular book of the Bible is chosen and the main message with detailed truths and applications is studied. Word Study - individual words are studied and their meaning is determined. Then the word is considered in passages where it is used so as to give deeper and wider meaning and application to the passage. Another aspect of this study is to follow the use of a word throughout the Scripture. Themes - a familiar theme or truth is chosen and followed through the Bible. Sometimes word studies and themes run hand in hand. An example of a theme study is the Second Coming of Christ. By looking up the passages where the statement or subject is treated, one can gather the facts and the application concerning that theme. Character study - a study of the lives of the people who actually lived, their relation to God and to the world in which they lived. From such a study insight is gained into the fact that they too, were ordinary men and women who walked with God. Valuable lessons can be learned.

The above are some of the common methods used in the study of the Bible. Together with study there should be frequent reading of the passage and attempting to memorize important verses. The Bible is God's message to us today - a changeless word for a changing world.