Today’s Bible Study Tip #5 — Three Questions to Ask as You Read It Word by Word, Phrase by Phrase

 

Today's Bible Study Tip

Today’s Bible Study Tip

In Today’s Bible Study Tip #1, I recommended reading the Bible like a novel in order to get the overall picture of the Bible. 

In Today’s Bible Study Tip #5, I recommend the opposite.

With the backdrop of understanding the Bible’s story, now read it carefully:

Word by word,
Phrase by phrase.

I’m not talking about just reading every word, but noticing the specific words chosen, each individual phrase, and the order of the words in the phrase.

You’ll begin to notice phrases you blew right past before and ask questions you never thought to ask before. At least I did.

I underline or circle each word or phrase to visually set them apart from each other. If I only do it mentally, I’m more likely to miss something.

While I’m setting them apart with my pen, I ask myself these questions:

1. Which words or phrases stand out in the verse more than they did before?

2. Do I now see connections with other verses in the Bible that I hadn’t noticed before?

3. Is God revealing something by the order of the words in the sentence or verse?

With this method, I continually ask myself, How did I not notice that before?

Let me show you what this looks like using a verse in Deuteronomy 4.

In verses 1-6, Moses is reminding the people of God’s statutes and judgments and their great importance.

As I read, I set the words and phrases apart, underlining and circling.

Deuteronomy 4:6

Deuteronomy 4:6

I suddenly noticed something in verse six I’d missed before:

So – keep and do –  them, – for that – is – your wisdom – and – your understanding  . . . ‘”

1. Which words or phrases stand out in the verse more than they did before?

The phrase “for that” stood out more than before.

What exactly is “that” referring to?

It can’t be the judgements and statutes as I’d previously assumed.

Judgements and statutes are plural, so those would have to be them, like at the beginning of the verse.

That must be referring to the keeping and doing of them.

Our wisdom and understanding actually comes from the keeping and the doing, not the knowing.

That’s an important distinction. It made me wonder. Can that be true?

2. Do I now see connections with other verses in the Bible that I hadn’t noticed before?

I immediately thought of Satan. 

Satan knew God’s Word, twisting it in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He attempted to do the same to Jesus in the wilderness, but failed. (See Genesis 3 and Matthew 4:1-11.)

Satan knew God’s statues and judgments, but he didn’t keep or do them, nor does he possess wisdom or godly understanding.

I then thought of James 2:14-26 which teaches: faith without works is dead.

Actions pour out of faith. When we truly believe what we say we believe, we keep and do God’s Word. We can’t help it. 

I then asked the next question.

3. Is God revealing something by the order of the words in the sentence or verse?

The keeping and the doing of God’s Word precedes gaining wisdom and understanding in that verse. Does it also in life?

Naturally, if you already have godly wisdom and understanding, you’ll keep and do God’s Word.

But even when you don’t understand, if you keep and do God’s Word, you’ll become wise and gain understanding.

If you don’t keep and do God’s Word, you’ll become foolish.

Look at Solomon.

The wisest man who ever lived, didn’t keep and do God’s Word. He chose to marry hundreds of women, and they led him to worship other gods. How foolish is that?

Just knowing God’s statues and judgments (His Word) won’t give you wisdom and understanding.

It’s the keeping and the doing that are your wisdom and understanding

I don’t have to worry if I don’t understand. I only need to obey. The understanding will come.

When you don’t understand God’s plan, trust His hand — and obey. 

 

Today's Bible Study Tip: Read the Bible Word by Word, Phrase by Phrase

Today’s Bible Study Tip: Read the Bible Word by Word, Phrase by Phrase

Not every discovery you make using this method is going to be a bombshell of theological revelation or wonder. Sometimes it’s just going to make you sit in awe at the intentionality of God or the beauty of His creation and majesty. Other times it will just confirm what you already knew.

I don’t believe every word in the Bible is symbolic of something else, or that we must take the Bible apart to get to the deepest layer we can possibly reach.

I do believe, however, that when we slow down and look intentionally at exactly what God is saying, we will discover treasures.

Read the Bible like a novel, but also read the Bible word by word, and phrase by phrase. Both ways reveal more of the wonder that is God’s Word.

What about you? Have you ever slowed down in your reading and seen something pop out at you in God’s Word? Please share your experience by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

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Related Post: As I used this method reading John 1, I noticed many exciting connections. I discuss some of what I discovered in my post: The End from the Beginning. 

 

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