Studying the Bible
 
Here are some guideline that have worked well for many Christians that have been gathered from several sources:
Below are some Scriptures you might want to familiarize yourself with and maybe even meditate on before you begin your new journey to become Biblically literate.

 

2 Timothy 2:15 - Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

Acts 17:11 - These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (This verse is the theme "song" of the Berean Bible Study Group!)

 

1 Peter 3:15 - But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

 

Jude 3 - Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:21 - Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

 

2 Timothy 3:14-17 - 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

Titus 2:1 - But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

 

Titus 2:7 - In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

 

Interpreting the Bible (Hermeneutics)
 

 

All scripture is inspired by God (God breathed):
2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
2 Peter 1:20-21 - 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
This is the basic principle of biblical inspiration, which is, God breathed through His Spirit upon the minds of men and their spirits, and caused them to record without error the message He wanted to communicate. Simply speaking this is called verbal inspiration. God gave it and that verbal inspiration extended to the entire text of Holy Scripture.
2 Timothy 2:15 - Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth
The Bible also tells us the Christian must "rightly interpret (divide) the word of truth. "What does it mean to interpret scripture? Peter has told us; 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:20-21.
No prophecy of God ever came by the will of man. It didnít originate with somebody sitting down and saying, "I understand the culture, geography, background, the language, the context, and now Iím going to give a prophecy, consistent with that information." It says that holy men of God spoke as they were moved (carried) along by the Holy Spirit. No scripture is of any private interpretation or originates from an individuals particular point of view. But it originates with the Holy Spirit who breathes upon the person and literally carries them along, so that they might communicate the word of God. This is true of the written word, as well as the gift of prophecy. When you have a genuine manifestation of the gift of prophecy (1Corinthians12 &14) you will have a person carried along by the Holy Spirit, and what they say will be consistent with holy scripture, but what they say is not scripture. Scripture was closed cannonically in the first century of the Christian era. We know this because:

Jude 3 - Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

Notice the phrase, "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints?" This shows that before the close of the first century, the faith of Christ, what was necessary for our salvation, the living of the Christian life, edification and evangelism, already existed, complete. You didnít need the kingdom of the cults, liberal theologians, or destructive higher critics in order for you to arrive at the faith. Because the faith was once for all delivered to the saints. For example, Jude 3 backs up GRACE Fellowship's creed, i.e.,
You donít have to go to the Bible to prove to a skeptic that there is such a thing as the "historic Christian faith." You can quote Jude 3, once for all and you can give them 1500 pages of documentation, spanning 19 centuries. That ought to be enough for any rational human being to believe that you have a consistent faith. So the Christian faith is consistent externally and internally and the creeds of Christendom and the history of the church validates this.
But the man of God is to be thoroughly equipped to perform every good work and to do that you must rightly interpret the word of truth. You must be carried by the Holy Spirit consistently with scripture and you must not deny holy scripture because of emotion, feelings, or because of any subsequent material you think is important. All materials are subject to what the word of God specifically proclaims, they may be used to help you understand scripture but they are not a substitute for scripture, nor can they judge scripture. Hermeneutics is both a science and an art of interpreting the text of scripture. It is not a hit and miss proposition. It is very detailed, carefully spelled out, and both Jewish and Christian scholars have come to basic agreement on principles of interpretation. We give a quick overview to enable you to think and pray about the proper interpretation of the scripture as you read and study.
Christians have a basic hermeneutical position that the Old Testament is to be interpreted always in light of the New Testament, never the reverse. You may not build New Testament theology by quoting Old Testament passages without a link to the New Testament, which is unfortunately the root of a great deal of heresy. If you are going to interpret the Bible the following things are necessary:
 
General Principles
You must understand the structure and the idioms of Bible language, you must understand their culture linguistic principles, vocabulary, language, and background. You donít have to read Hebrew or Greek but you ought to understand that they had a culture and linguistic principles perfectly consistent with our own. The Bible is to be interpreted like any other book, because it is a book originating with God but utilizing fully the vocabulary, culture, background and education of man. These things donít have a right to change scripture, but they are valuable to give you a background to understand scripture.
Biblical literature has prose (or poetry), history, allegory, literal and symbolic language. You must know which is which. Otherwise you find yourself in an absolute untenable position. You should have some sense of historical background so you donít approach a book of the Bible as if it was written now, but in its historical context and the culture that produced it.
You must understand the geographical condition, the influence of terrain and climate and how the people looked upon these things and what it meant to them. An example of this was Baal to the Canaanites. Baal was their rain god who fertilized the earth. That was the culture to them so Baal worship was worshipping the god that gave them rain and made possible the success of their civilization. So you canít understand the Canaanites and Baal worship, and what the Jews ran into when they got into the land of Canaan, unless you understand how fanatic the Canaanites were in worshipping Baal.
You have to understand the life setting. What kind of people were those people we meet in the Bible. Youíve got to look at the times through their eyes, not through yours. You must remember that the Bible is an Eastern book, its not Western or Aristotelian (which is the way we think). Its filled with paradoxes and Eastern reasoning. Many Eastern religions and Hindu based cults think Christianity is a Western religion. Jesus Christ was born, lived, worked His miracles, was crucified, rose from the dead and will return all to Asia. Christianity is an Eastern religion.
Specific Principles
These involve the interpretation of separate documents, but their interpretations as parts of the Bible, they all are part of one big puzzle. You canít take a passage isolated from others if you believe the Holy Spirit is the author of divine inspiration. One mind organized and inspired many minds, so you look for the unity of that one mind in the scripture. We therefore expect to find such a unity in the Bible, that each part can be interpreted in the light of the whole. The conception of the biblical revelation as historical and progressive is fundamental. It is historically rooted and God progressively reveals Himself. God didnít talk to the Jews in Egypt the way He talked to the Jews in Jerusalem later on, because they had evolved in their concept and relationship with Him. Because of that involvement it was for them to understand more. So we have to face the fact that it goes back to the creative insight of Christ Himself, in which are combined a profound understanding of the essential teaching of Hebrew scripture, and a sure judgment of His own contemporary times. Jesus is the perfect example, He commanded them by Old Testament scripture, even to Satan "It is written". Then, He didnít divorce the Old Testament from His own time, instead He said, "now you have heard that it has been said by them of old time" and He would quote "But I say to you". He was integrating and now the progression had reached its consummation. Jesus was the end of the Law and the Prophets, He didnít abolish them, He fulfilled them.
Here now is a list of special or specific principles:
Now these are general principles and specific principles, all of it is pointing forward to Godís saving acts in history, how He is reaching into history and explaining Himself to us. This is an overall, simplified view of general and particular hermeneutics.
Now how does fit in with our study of Galatians?
In looking at any individual book of the Bible, it is worthwhile to consider where and how it fits into the whole. Let's review the overall structure, then, before beginning this study of the message in Galatians. We can first divide the Bible according to its natural divisions of Old and New Testament to find out what each testament contributes to the supreme message of the Scripture. That central message, essentially, is that the whole revelation of God -- the entire Bible in other words -- is given so that we might be complete human beings in Christ. That is its aim. The Bible was given so we might experience all God intended for man in the beginning, wholly filled and flooded with God himself.
To this end the Old Testament contributes the theme of preparation, the groundwork. The New Testament contributes the note of realization. It actually confronts us with the person of Jesus Christ, who is himself God's program and plan for making life complete for us.
As you may recall, there are several divisions within the New Testament. The Gospels and the Book of Acts present Jesus Christ to us. Each Gospel gives a different aspect of his life. Acts ties these gospel presentations of Christ to his present manifestation in the world today, in his body, the Church. This is Christ at work. Christ in human life.
Next, the Epistles give us the explanation of Jesus Christ -- his person, his work and their significance -- all spelled out for us so that we might understand and grasp them. The Epistles are further divided into three major groups. The first four -- Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians -- express the truth "Christ in us" -- what it means to have Jesus Christ living in us.
The second division, encompassing the rest of the Epistles through Philemon, gathers around the theme, "you in Christ" -- the significance of the fact that we are made part of his body. These Epistles explain the work of the Church and the proper life of the Church.
The third group, beginning with the letter to the Hebrews and including those to James, Peter, John and Jude, are the letters which describe the operative word "faith" -- what faith is, how it works, why it suffers, and what it faces in life. Faith is the means by which all that Christ is in us and all that we have in him are made manifest in our experience.
The last division of the New Testament is the book of Revelation, standing by itself as the great consummation of what Christ has come into the world to do. It describes for us the great scene when all will be ended and the work of redemption is accomplished. This, in brief, relates the study of Galatians that we are now beginning to the Bible as a whole.