III. Study by Structure and Purpose of Book
A. What natural major divisions does the book divide into?
For example, a careful reading and study of the book of Romans will show it has three major parts or divisions.
Even well-known Bible scholars and popular Bible teachers have missed the structure of the book of Romans, and have come up with some obviously very mistaken ideas about what the book of Romans means. Failure to understand the structure of the book of Romans, for example, has led many interpreters to misunderstand and misapply material in Romans chapter 9.
B. Why was the book written?
1. What problems was it written to solve?
2. What is the author’s purpose in terms of the solutions proposed to the problems presented?
C. Answer these questions on the basis of your own findings–don’t look up answers in commentaries or study Bibles!
Years ago I shared with my students in public school a quotation that said something like “He who learns by finding out learns sevenfold what he who learns by being told.” That principle holds true for Bible study, too.
Some books of the Bible, especially in the New Testament, directly state why they were written. The Gospel of John is a prime example. Some books do not directly state the purpose of the book, but by using your inference skills, the purpose of the book can be determined through your own careful study.
The Bible is God’s love letter to us. The best way to get to know God better is to read His written word faithfully for ourselves.
Did you ever get a love letter from someone you loved? If you have ever received such a letter, most likely you read it with great care. You likely read it through more than once. You watched every word, weighed its significance. You tried to get every bit of meaning that the letter was intended to convey. You might even have tried to “read between the lines” to derive more meaning. You noticed what was said, and what was not said.
That kind of close, sensitive reading is how we ought to be reading and enjoying the Bible.
The Bible is our spiritual food. Just as we require physical food every day to remain healthy, so we require the spiritual food God has placed in His love letter to us, the Bible. We ought to spend time in God’s Word every day. I would recommend committing at least 20 minutes daily to Bible reading on even the busiest days. Many days we should be able to spend more time than that.
If we fed ourselves physically only to the same degree that we fed ourselves spiritually by reading and studying God’s Word, the Bible, what shape would our physical health be? That may likely be the shape of your spiritual health.
These posts about Methods of Bible Study are presented to help you get more out of your Bible study.
I have many more good ideas to share. I’m transcribing them from the notes I placed in my Oxford Loose Leaf Bible years ago when I was teaching the Bible to the students who attended the Bible Discussion Club at Cass Technical High School. I am filling in more information than I wrote in those notes based on my further study since those notes were written. I trust you will find these notes and outlines uniquely useful.