The Life Foundations Nexus
WHAT YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
By Dr. Michael J. Bisconti
Do you need a college education to understand the Bible? No. If you can read, you can understand most of the Bible without any special knowledge or training. However, there is about 5% of the Bible that requires more than the ability to read. II Peter 3:15-16 says:
(15) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
(16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Verse 15 tells us who Peter is talking about. He is talking about the Apostle Paul. In verse 16, Peter refers to Paul’s epistles (letters), which make up a part of the New Testament. Peter says that in Paul’s letters, letters to churches in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philipi, and Colossae, there were some things “hard to be understood.” So, the Bible itself tells us that everything in the Bible is not easy to understand. Peter tells us what is needed to understand these difficult (hard to be understood) passages AND THE REST OF THE BIBLE. What is needed is “learning” and “stability.” Note that Peter says that those who are “unlearned and unstable,” the opposite of “learned and stable,” are unable to understand the difficult (hard to be understood) passages in the Bible AND they are unable to understand the rest of the Bible, the easy passages in the Bible (“also the other scriptures”).
Peter tells us the importance of “stability.” Stability is consistency (faithfulness) in doing what is right, in doing the will of God. The ability to understand the things of God requires instruction from WITHOUT, instruction from the Bible, and the operation (purposeful activity) of God (God the Holy Spirit) WITHIN. NOW, THE HOLY SPIRIT ONLY WORKS IN THOSE WHO ARE STABLE, IN THOSE WHO LIVE CONSISTENT LIVES, THAT IS, CONSISTENTLY RIGHTEOUS LIVES. (Of course, God, being merciful and kind, makes exceptions when the need is great enough but these exceptions are by a higher and unfathomable wisdom of God that makes it impossible for us to ever predict whether such exceptions will occur.) The key thing to remember about stability is this:
THERE IS NO POINT IN ATTEMPTING TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE UNTIL YOU HAVE DETERMINED IN YOUR HEART TO LIVE A CONSISTENTLY RIGHTEOUS LIFE.
The other thing that is needed to understand difficult (hard to be understood), and easy, passages in the Bible is “learning.” Learning is “knowledge.” Well, what “knowledge” does one need? Christians in the time of Peter and Paul did not have the printed, “Bible study” resources that we have available today – commentaries, Bible dictionaries, concordances, etc., etc. What they did have were pastors and teachers. These pastors and teachers provided the same type of information that we have available in the printed, Bible study resources of our time. Acts 8:26-35 says:
(26) And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
(27) And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
(28) Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
(29) Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
(30) And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
(31) And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
(32) The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
(33) In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
(34) And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
(35) Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
This passage tells us that an Ethiopian man (verse 27) was reading the “Book of Isaiah” in the Bible (verse 28). The man could not FULLY understand what he was reading (verse 30). He obviously had a PARTIAL understanding of what he was reading because he knew that the passage he was reading was talking about “himself [Isaiah], or…some other man” (verse 34). Philip, one of the first deacons, taught the Ethiopian man the prophetic meaning of the passage. The Ethiopian had to be taught that there was a man named Jesus and that this man was not only a man but that he was also the Son of God. Note that Philip had to provide the Ethiopian man with HISTORICAL INFORMATION. In our time, we will find historical information in Bible dictionaries, among other places.
It is not our purpose in this article to provide a detailed discussion of “Bible references to Bible dictionaries,” “Bible references to Bible commentaries,” “Bible references to Bible concordances,” etc., etc. You can try to eke out this (relatively inconsiderable [not worth consideration]) information for yourself. What you need to know is this:
FIRST, YOU CAN OBTAIN COMPUTER VERSIONS OF ALL OF THE BIBLE STUDY AIDS LISTED BELOW FOR FREE AT:
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE DO NOT AGREE WITH ABSOLUTELY EVERY VIEW EXPRESSED AT THIS WEBSITE. HOWEVER, WE WOULD BE REMISS IF WE DID NOT THANK MR. RICK MEYERS FOR HIS GENEROUS, EXCELLENT, AND, WE DARE SAY, INCREDIBLE…CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORK OF THE LORD.
HERE ARE THE BIBLE STUDY AIDS YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE ENTIRE BIBLE:
INDISPENSABLE (MUST HAVE)
THE BIBLE STUDY AID YOU NEED MOST IS A KING JAMES DICTIONARY, WHICH CONTAINS THE OVER 800 WORDS THAT HAVE CHANGED IN MEANING SINCE THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE WAS TRANSLATED.
HELPFUL BUT NOT NECESSARILY INDISPENSABLE
(YOU CAN USUALLY DO WITHOUT THESE)
ADDITIONAL HELP CAN BE OBTAINED FROM A BIBLE DICTIONARY, A BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA, AND A BIBLE COMMENTARY. THESE BOOKS CONTAIN THE WRITINGS OF BIBLE SCHOLARS.
SAVE TIME BUT NOT INDISPENSABLE
(YOU CAN DO WITHOUT THESE BUT A CONCORDANCE USUALLY SAVES A LOT OF TIME)
FINALLY, A CONCORDANCE AND A TOPICAL BIBLE WILL SAVE YOU TIME. A CONCORDANCE GIVES AN ALPHABETICAL INDEX OF SOME OR ALL OF THE WORDS IN THE BIBLE AND LISTS A NUMBER OF VERSE REFERENCES, POSSIBLY EVERY VERSE REFERENCE, WHERE EACH WORD IS FOUND. A TOPICAL BIBLE IS SIMILAR EXCEPT THAT IT INCLUDES THE ACTUAL VERSES (UNDER THE NAMES OF TOPICS) RATHER THAN JUST THE REFERENCES TO THE VERSES. A TOPICAL BIBLE IS NOT NECESSARILY AS COMPLETE AS A CONCORDANCE.