John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (KJV)
John 5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, (NET Bible)
The Scriptures should be searched. Now why would anyone ever need to search the Scriptures? Isn’t it good enough to just read them? Shouldn’t we expect pastors and clergy to do the searching for us? If you are so fortunate to be under the care of a pastor who actually preaches, or better teaches, from the Bible, you may be lulled into a false sense of security that you are fed enough spiritual food on Sunday to last the whole week without any further effort on your part. But I believe you will enjoy better spiritual health if you are in touch with the message of the Bible more than just on Sunday in a worship service. We all need to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth may be reduced if we stay on a starvation diet! We should search the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) to (1) feed ourselves spiritually, 1 Peter 2:2; (2) promote spiritual growth, 2 Peter 3:18; (3) become workmen that need not be ashamed, 2 Timothy 2:15; (4) enjoy close communion or fellowship with God, Psalm 1:2; (5) become more proficient in the Scriptures in order to handle or interpret them correctly, 2 Timothy 2:15; (6) become an instrument in God’s hand to reach others for Him, Acts 18:24, 26, 27, 28; (7) have an answer to the questions others may ask, 1 Peter 3:15; (8) teach our own children the way of the Lord, Psalm 78:5, 6, 7, 8; (9) test the truth of what is taught to avoid false doctrine, 1 John 4:1; (10) find Christ in all the Scriptures, Luke 24:27. Each of these ten points could be greatly expanded and supported by more Scripture by searching out the cross references given for each of the verses I referenced. More points could be added–these ten came just now spontaneously and in no particular order off the top of my head. I would particularly call attention to number 8 with its reference to Psalm 78:5-8. The verses show both how and why we should teach children and young people the Bible in the home. In short, it will keep your children on the right path. Read those verses carefully and you will see they state a cause/effect relationship which is very evident even in our own day.
For those who desire to DIG DEEPER into this subject:
(1) Consult the cross references given in Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible on pages 1173-1174 for John 5:39.
(2) Consult the cross references given in The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge on pages 1194-1195 or in Logos 5 Bible software for John 5:39.
(3) Lacking access to those two resources, consult the cross references for this passage as I have developed them as given below:
John 5:39. Search. *S#2045g. Jn 5:39. *Jn 7:52. Ro 8:27. 1 Cor 2:10. 1 P 1:11. Re 2:23. The Greek form for “search” may be indicative, a statement of fact, and so rendered “Ye search,” as in many modern translations, or it may be imperative, a command, as in the A.V., “Search.” Robertson thinks the following words, “ye think,” which are indicative, favor taking the verb as indicative, not imperative. Alford favors taking the verb as an imperative, because of the preceding context, and its initial position in the sentence. The Companion Bible notes that “the indicative never commences a sentence without the pronoun or some other word, while the imperative is so used.” For the same Greek construction see Jn 7:52, “Search, and look…”; Jn 14:11, “Believe me…”; Jn 15:20, “Remember the word…” This Greek word for “search” occurs in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, in the following places: Ge 31:33, 35, 37. 44:12. Dt 13:14. Jg 6:29. 2 S 10:3. 1 K 20:6. 2 K 10:23. Pr 20:27. Je 27 (50):26. Jl 1:7. The word is defined “to seek out, trace; used of a lion who ‘scours the plains and traces the footsteps of the man who had robbed him,’ Homer, Iliad, xviii. 321; used of dogs tracing their game by the foot, Homer, Odyssey, xix. 436. Hence, to track, trace, investigate” (Bullinger, Critical Lexicon and Concordance, p. 672). The imperative should be adopted here; the Jews did not search, but merely read the Scriptures, as so many Christians today. Had they searched diligently, and believed, they would have accepted the claims of Jesus. Lessening the force of Christ’s statement by taking it as an indicative rather than imperative seems to detract from the Bible’s teaching regarding itself, that we are to search the scriptures, not merely read them. Some modern translations appear to weaken the force of a number of texts which contain the Bible’s teaching about itself at several critical points, particularly here, John 8:31, and 2 Tim 3:16. T#1068. ver. *Jn 5:46. Jn 7:52. Dt 11:18-20. *Dt 17:18, 19. *Dt 32:46, 47. +*Jsh 1:8. *Ps 1:2. +*Ps 119:11, *Ps 119:45, 97-99. Pr 6:23. 8:33, 34. +**Is 8:20n. 29:18. *Is 34:16. *Je 8:9. *Mt 22:29. Mk 12:10. **Lk 16:27-29, 31. Ac 8:32-35. +**Ac 17:11, 12. Ro 2:17, 18. 3:2. *Col 3:16. 1 Tim 4:13. **2 Tim 3:14-17. +**1 P 1:11. **2 P 1:19-21. 3:1, 2. Re 1:3. De Burgh notes that the following cross references suit the Indicative rendering, Ye search: ver. 45-47. Ezk 33:30-32. Mt 23:29-31. Ac 13:27. the scriptures. Dt 31:12. +*2 Ch 17:9. *Ps 19:7. Ec 12:12. +**Is 8:20n. Je 6:16. Ml 4:4. Mt 2:4-6. +Mt 21:42. +*Mk 12:24. Lk 24:25-27. +**2 Tim 3:15-17. for. FS71, +Jn 1:24. Here we have in two verses a double Epicrisis, the first approving, and the second condemning, but both adding a solemn truth, independent of the statement that goes before. (A) Search the Scriptures, (B) For in them ye think ye have eternal life. (A) And they are they which testify of me: (B) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. In the first and third members (A and A), we have the Scriptures; while in the second and fourth (B and B, the Epicrisis), we have the action and conduct of those who possessed them. in them. 1 Cor 15:2. **1 Th 2:13. **2 Tim 3:15. *James 1:18. *1 P 1:23. ye think. Gr. dokeō, S#1380g, Mt 3:9. Robertson cites Bernard who believes this word in John “always indicates a mistaken opinion (Jn 5:45. 11:13, 31. 13:29. 16:20. 20:15)” (Word Pictures, vol. 5, p. 92). The analogy of scripture, however, flatly contradicts this position, and forbids taking this as the meaning here, however correct it may be for the other passages cited, for scripture elsewhere teaches that we are born again through the instrumentality of the written word of God (**2 Tim 3:15. James 1:18. 1 P 1:23). The Pharisees rightly believed that “in them” they had eternal life, but as Jesus elsewhere states, they knew not the scriptures nor the power of God (Mk 12:24), made them void by their traditions (Mk 7:7-9), and failed to believe them (Jn 5:46. Lk 16:31). Dt 32:47. *Ps 16:11. 21:4. 36:9. 133:3. +*Da 12:2. Mt 19:16-20. *Lk 10:25-29. Ac 15:28g. 1 Cor 4:9g. **+1 Cor 7:40g,n. He 11:16, 35. ye have. ver. **Jn 5:24. Jn 3:36. +Jn 4:14. **1 J 5:13. eternal. Gr. aionios, +Mt 18:8. Mk 10:17. Ro 6:23. Titus 1:2. 1 J 2:25. they are they. Mk 9:4. 10:3. which testify of me. T#1020. ver. John 5:32, 36. *Jn 1:45. +*Jn 12:41. *Dt 18:15-18. **Ps 40:7. *Song of S 2:9. 8:2. Lk 4:21. See on +**Lk 24:27n, 44. Ac 3:22. *Ac 8:28, 30. 10:43. 18:28. 24:14. *Ac 26:22, 23, 27. *Ro 1:2. 1 Cor 15:3. He 3:5. **1 P 1:10, +**1 P 1:11. 1 J 4:14. 5:9. *Re 19:10.