Our previous article about Scripture memorization touched on Bible study and why context is important if we want to understand Scripture. In this article, we want to take a step back and look into why it is necessary for us to do our own Bible study and why we should apply self-discipline and establish a habit of daily Bible study. Most people believe it is enough to listen to teachings or sermons and read other’s Bible studies. Although we can learn from other people, and we do believe it necessary to hear what YHVH has revealed to others, we also believe that it is essential to do our own Bible study.
We have written quite extensively about how to do Bible study. We wrote a four-part series starting with Introduction to Bible Study â€“ Know what you read, Bible Study â€“ Part 2 â€“ Getting to know the books of the Bible, Bible Study â€“ Part 3 â€“ What does this phrase mean? and Bible Study- Part 4 â€“ How to study the words in the Bible. So, in this study, we will search for a Scriptural basis as to why we are to study the Word for ourselves.
Before we do this, let’s perform a simple test. You hold to a certain doctrine; if you were asked what the source of your information is , what would you answer? Did you hear it from someone, maybe a teaching, or read it somewhere? Or did you study it and came to a conclusion? There is always a change that what we hear or read, might have been interpreted from that person’s view. We all have biases and perspectives and we tend to interpret Scripture in line with that. Considering this, would you say this was the best source for truth. I know of many teachers who twist the word to promote themselves or their doctrine. They take Scripture out of context to prove what they want to promote.
So, if this is your only source of learning, it might not be the best and may not always be in line with Scripture. It is up to us to prove all things.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
The Complete Jewish Bible translates this verse as follows:
1 Thessalonians 5:20â€“22
20 donâ€™t despise inspired messages. 21 But do test everythingâ€”hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil.
Evil is the opposite of good, it means bad or dysfunctional.
Now, let’s look at what we can learn from Scripture.
The first reason to study YHVH’s Word is to gain YHVH’s approval in handling His Word. We will have to give an account of what we did. We won’t be able to stand there and say, we did or say or believed something because some prominent teacher or ministry said so. That is not accurately handling the Word of truth. It says in 2 Timothy 2:15 that we are to be diligent to present ourselves approved by accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to Elohim as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Three words stand out here “diligent,” yourself” and “accurately.” We are to be diligent workers in order to be approved by YHVH in our handling of His Word. It is about YHVH’s approval of us. The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this written about this verse:
2:15. As for Timothy, he was to do his best (lit., â€œbe zealousâ€) to be sure he would meet with Godâ€™s approval, a â€œlaborerâ€ (ergatÄ“n; cf. Matt. 20:1, 8) who does not need to be ashamed. Paul had spoken of shame before men (2 Tim. 1:8, 12, 16); far worse is shame before God. Timothy need not fear such shame if he would correctly handle the Word of truth (cf. Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; James 1:18), which for him included both Old Testament Scripture and what he had heard orally from Paul. The Greek orthotomounta, â€œcorrectly handling,â€ found only here and in the Septuagint in Proverbs 3:6 and 11:5, means literally â€œto cut straight,â€ but just what image Paul had in mind here is uncertain. Stone masons, plowers, road builders, tentmakers, and (least likely of all) surgeons have all been suggested, but a firm conclusion remains elusive. What is clear is that the shame of Godâ€™s disapproval awaits those who mishandle His Word.2
This reminds me of the parable Y’shua told of the master giving talents to his servants. This parable illustrates this point well. If we are diligent and handle YHVH’s Word accurately He will say to us as was said to the faithful servant:
23 â€œHis master said to him, â€˜Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.â€™
Did you know that we will rule with Messiah? Read Rev 20:3 and Rev 3:21; 5:10; 20:6; 22:5. From these Scriptures we learn that there is an eternal reward waiting for those who overcome. We will only overcome if we handle YHVH’s Word accurately; we would otherwise be deceived. This brings us to the next reason we should be doing Bible study.
Protection against deception
People manipulate YHVH’s word for many reasons. Some for gain, others to prove their theology, others create a following for themselves. These people are often very convincing, mostly because they use Scripture to convince, or their interpretation of it. Just think about someone like Harold Camping, he had thousands of people convinced that a rapture would take place a while ago. People sold their homes and did crazy things because they believed him. There was even a woman who killed her children and herself because she believed his deception. There have been many incidents like this in history. My point is, if people studied and knew their Bibles, changes are they would not have been deceived.
Y’shua warned in Matthew 24
4 And Y’shua answered and said to them, â€œSee to it that no one misleads you.
He didn’t say that we are to pray not to be deceived, He said that we are to see to it that no one misleads us. We are to be active in this. The Lexham English Bible has “Watch out that no one deceives you.” We can only do this by studying YHVH’s Word. We have seen so many times how people are being led astray by others, because they do not know their Scriptures. We are to be like the Bereans. They did not just believe what Paul and Silas told them, they went and studied the Scriptures to see if it was indeed true.
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
373 á¼€Î½Î±ÎºÏÎ¯Î½Ï‰ (anakrinÅ): vb.; â‰¡ Str 350; TDNT 3.943â€”1. LN 27.44 study thoroughly, seek to learn the truth of by the process of careful study (Ac 17:11); 2. LN 56.12 investigate in court (Lk 23:14; 1Co 9:3); 3. LN 33.412 criticize, express disapproval (1Co 9:3), for another interp, see prior; 4. LN 30.109 evaluate carefully, examine, judge (1Co 2:15; Ac 11:12 v.r.)3
First of all, they were open-minded and eager to learn, but they examined the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. That is what we are to do and that is how we see to it that we are not deceived.
When Hasatan tried to deceive Y’shua, he quoted Scripture to Him, but Y’shua who knew YHVH’s Word, could counter it with the truth every time. That is the best example for us. Deception can only be proven wrong with truth and we can only know this truth when we study and learn YHVH’s Word.
Another example from Scripture is the temptation of Eve. When Hasatan tempted Eve, she added to YHVH’s instruction. YHVH commanded them not to eat of the tree, He didnâ€™t say anything about not touching it, yet, Eve said He instructed them not to eat of it or touch it.
3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, Elohim has said, â€˜You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.â€™ â€
Eve didn’t know YHVH’s Word well, she added to it. Could this be a reason for her being deceived?
It is also said by YHVH, that His people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. This knowledge referred to by YHVH is His Word, since He said “ you have forgotten the law of your Elohim”
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your Elohim, I also will forget your children.
A much quoted passage, Ephesians 6:10-17 also tells us how we are to put on the full armor of YHVH against the schemes of Hasatan.
10 Finally, be strong in YHVH and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Elohim.
All these passages confirm that we have an active role to play in order not to be deceived. We are to study YHVH’s Word for ourselves and verify everything we hear or read. It is our responsibility, we cannot passively hope that we would not be deceived. That brings us to the next point which is connected with this, the renewing of our minds.
Renewing of our minds
In the letter to the Romans, Paul commended them not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of Elohim is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We have also seen in the previous article “Speak truth to yourself” how we are to replace the misbeliefs we have with YHVH’s truth. These misbeliefs make us depressed and miserable, cause anger and can ruin our lives. These are also a form of deception and we can only replace this with truth if we know YHVH’s Word by reading, studying and memorizing it. We have discussed this in more depth in the previous articles Speak truth to yourself and Scripture memorization as a way of renewing our minds.
Not only scripture memorization, but also studying YHVH’s Word for ourselves forms part of the process of renewing of our minds. Not only are we transformed by this, we also learn what the will of YHVH is and what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The next reason to read and study the Scripture for ourselves is, because YHVH speaks to us through His Word.
YHVH speaks to us through His Word
YHVH speaks to us through His Word. However, He is not restricted to speaking to us in this way, He can and does speak to us in many ways. He speaks to us through His creation, He speaks through dreams, visions, prophets and other people, even through our circumstances.
You may have experienced how when you read a passage that you have read before, something just jumps out at you. It may be something absolutely relevant to your current situation and speaks to you. That is how YHVH speaks to us through His Word. His Spirit brings what we need to hear at that specific moment to the fore. Sometimes, it is for comfort or the answer to something we have struggled with. It just never ceases to amaze me.
We can also use YHVH’s Word to verify when we think He spoke to us in another way. He will not tell us anything contrary to His Word. To give you an example, YHVH gave us commandments regarding the Sabbath day, like resting, not working and not buying and selling, would He then tell us to go out and buy or work on this day? Certainly not and that is how we can verify whether it was YHVH who spoke to us. If it is contrary to YHVH’s Word, it wasnâ€™t from Him. To give you another example, YHVH will not tell us to commit adultery or murder. It is against His written instructions. We are to examine everything carefully and test it against YHVH’s truth.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
We also sometimes wait for an answer on something, when He has already given us an answer in His Word. If we know YHVH’s Word, we won’t need an audible voice telling us what to do, but YHVH through His Spirit will bring His Word to our remembrance and we will know what His will is in a certain situation. For this we would have to know YHVH’s Word.
Something we don’t know can’t be brought to remembrance
26 â€œBut the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Not only will this give us guidance when we need it, but, we don’t know when we might need YHVH’s Word to carry us through difficult circumstances. I have read by many people, sometimes unbelievers, who, when in life threatening situations remembered Scripture, they were taught in Sunday school when they were children. This gave them the hope and strength they needed to persevere.
29 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for YHVH Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
Knowing YHVH’s Word is also important because we have a relationship with Him and he reveals who he is through His Word.
YHVH reveals Himself to us through His Word
The Bible is YHVH’s Word and His character is revealed to us through His Word, He also reveals to us what He requires of us. So, if we really want to get to know Him, we need to study His Word. As I said, it is all about having a relationship with our Heavenly Father and doing what brings Him glory. When we study YHVH’s Word properly, we learn that He requires obedience from us, that means we are to keep His commandments. The opposite of keeping His commandments is being lawless.
We certainly don’t want YHVH to say of us that He never knew us.
23 â€œAnd then I will declare to them, â€˜I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.â€™
YHVH’s Word is wisdom to us
Knowing YHVH’s Word is wisdom to us.
6 â€œSo keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, â€˜Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.â€™
7 The law of YHVH is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of YHVH is sure, making wise the simple.
2 Timothy 3:15
15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Y’shua.
Not only is YHVH’s word wisdom to us, but life.
19 â€œI call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving YHVH your Elohim, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which YHVH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.â€
YHVH gave us instructions for living, His commandments are to our benefit. We have written about this on numerous occasions to show you how we benefit in the physical when we keep YHVH’s commandments. However, that should never be our only motivation; we are to study His word in order to learn these instructions and live it, for that is wisdom and life to us.
We can share that wisdom with others. Ezra set his heart to study the law of YHVH and to practice it and to teach it. Ezra was a priest, it was his responsibility to do this, but he is nevertheless, a good example to us.
10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of YHVH and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.
We can share YHVH’s truth with others and we believe that we ought to, but in order to do this, we have to know the truth first. We find that by studying YHVH’s Word and by living it. A very wise saying I heard was “always preach the Word of YHVH and when necessary, use words”
From this study, we have learned that there are two main objectives for doing Bible study, firstly to know YHVH and secondly to know Scripture. We can’t have a relationship with somebody we don’t know, that is why YHVH gave us His Word, to get to know Him, to learn about his character and what He requires of us. We also learned that we have to know Scripture in order to know how to live, but also to protect us from being deceived. We can only achieve this by studying the Word for ourselves and not rely on others to do it for us. We can certainly learn from others, but the responsibility is with us.
The Apostle Paul teaches that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
We are to, continually work, towards our salvation with respect and humility. That we can only do if we study, learn and do what is written in YHVH’s Word.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Litfin, A. D. (1985). 2 Timothy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 754). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.