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How to Read the Bible Study Guide

How to Read the Bible Study Guide
January 2 – 30, 2022

Week 1: How to Read the Bible || The Bible as Divine Literature

Scripture Reference: 2 Peter 3:14-16

Group Discussion

  1. This week began with an encouragement that Bible study and comprehension is possible for us, even if it can be challenging at times. Do you find the idea of reading the Scriptures with a new approach to feel more exciting or more overwhelming? Why?
  2. Josh referenced a method for theological understanding called the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” that names four sources for developing Christian doctrine: 1) the Bible (primary source) 2) experience 3) reason 4) tradition. Which of these 4 sources do you tend to rely on most? Are there any that you tend to overemphasize? Are there any that you struggle to incorporate?
  3. Josh listed several challenges that we face when interpreting ancient texts: ancient languages, determining the author’s intent, different genres, use of idioms/metaphors, eastern versus western thought. Which of these do you find most challenging? 
  4. This week, Josh said: “Eastern people often present truth in paradoxical pairs.” Below are a few examples of this idea. Which of these paradoxical pairs have you noticed in Scripture before? How have you wrestled with these concepts, perhaps especially as you have grown in your faith?
    • predestination versus human free will
    • security of the believer versus the need for perseverance
    • original sin versus volitional sin
    • Jesus as God versus Jesus as man
    • Bible as God’s Word versus human authorship
  5. Last week we talked about the fact that many of us are more comfortable with “black and white” or “dualistic” thinking. What challenges might exist when a society that largely thinks in “black and white” reads Scripture written in paradoxical pairs?

Week 2: How to Read the Bible || Asking the Right Questions

Reference: Refer to the How to Read the Bible Companion Guide available for pick-up at IHC, or online – specifically, review the “Asking the Right Questions” section, which begins on page 7.

Group Discussion

  1. This week obviously covered a lot of ground, but it’s good for us to remember why all of this matters. Why do you think it’s important that we can read the Bible for ourselves?
  2. Josh listed seven different genres that are found in the Bible. Were any of these new for you? How does determining the genre of the text help you read the Bible?
  3. We looked at several examples this week of Scripture being misused. How have you seen the Bible be misused or misinterpreted before?

Group Practice

Learning information about how to read the Bible is only helpful if we put it into practice. Read 1 Corinthians 8 in the New International Version translation together as a group and answer the following questions about the passage:

  1. What type and genre is this passage?
  2. Who wrote this passage and what do we know about the author?
  3. What point did the original author mean to communicate?
  4. How would the original audience have heard this message? (Would they have been surprised, startled, angry, relieved, etc.?)
  5. What can I learn about this same topic from other Biblical passages?
  6. How does this passage apply to our day?
  7. How does this passage apply to my life?

Week 3: How to Read the Bible || Don’t (just) Read the Bible

Scripture Reference: James 1:22-25

Group Discussion

  1. How has reading the Bible actually changed your life? Can you give an example of a passage or portion or Scripture that has caused you to rethink the way you see the world or change something about the way you live?
  2. Josh talked about the difference between “spiritual knowledge” and “spiritual maturity” this week. What are some descriptions of “spiritual maturity” that you have heard through the years?
  3. Why do you think spiritual knowledge doesn’t equal spiritual maturity?
  4. Why do you think we have so often confused spiritual knowledge with spiritual maturity?
  5. How do you think we can get out of the trap of Bible study that doesn’t actually change our lives? What would we need to do differently to actually allow the Bible to function as the transformative agent it’s created to be?
  6. What is one thing that you’ll take from this series to improve the way you engage with Scripture moving forward? (It could be a tool that was suggested, a methodology, an application you’ll seek, etc.)