Principles + Methods of Bible Study

Principles and Methods of Bible study (Part one)

Observation: Simply looking at the text and seeing what is taking place.

It asks the question “what do I see?” (Psalm 119:18)

Lets start with Acts 1:8.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you

And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria

And to the end of the earth.

*Learn to read again! Read different versions, unfamiliar ones. Learn to read faster and with better comprehension. Read the Bible as a love letter.

Ten strategies for first-time reading

  1. Read Thoughtfully

-Proverbs 2:4 likens biblical wisdom to precious ore, found not lying around on the surface but at a deeper level.

-You try it! Philemon is a short book only 25 verses long that you can read in one sitting. Use the principles of thoughtful reading and barrage the text with questions. What is the relationship between Paul, Philemon and Onesimus? Reconstruct the situation. What feelings might be involved? Why do think it is significant that it is included in the Bible? What issues do you face today that this book might address? How would you communicate this book and the insights you gain from it to someone else?

2. Read Repeatedly

-Start at the beginning of the book

-Read the Bible in different translations

-Listen to the Bible on audio

-Read the Bible out loud

-Set up a Bible reading schedule

3. Read Patiently (very hard to do in our “fast paced” culture)

-Work with one book for a month

-This allows you to take ownership of a book and get to know themes, people and concepts very well.

-Zoom in and zoom out

-Get the big picture and then zero in on stories or chapters

*Be patient with yourself, you aren’t going to be a biblical scholar in a day.

4. Read Selectively

-Six questions to ask the text

– Who? Who are the people in the text?

-What? What is going on?

-Where? Where is the event(s) taking place?

-When? When is all this happening in relation to other things in scripture?

-Why? An infinity of these can be asked, and like a two-year-old, ask a lot.

-So what?

-You try it! Read Luke 24:13-35 three or four times and then probe it with the six questions and write down your observations.

5. Read Prayerfully

-Pray through a passage of scripture and make it personal to your own life. Some good ones to start with: Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:28-31; Philippians 4:8-9

6. Read Imaginitively

-Use different translations and paraphrases

-Rewrite the text in your own words

-Have someone read the text aloud

-Change your setting

-this may help your imagination while reading through the scriptures.

-You try it!

-Act out the account recorded in Acts 16:16-40 (Paul and Silas)

-Rewrite Psalm 19 in your own words

-Rewrite 1 Samuel 17 as to relate it to a gang of inner city youth

7. Read Thoughtfully

-Take time to pray and work through the context while asking probing questions and examining your own life in relation to the passage.

8. Read Purposefully

-Look at grammatical structure


-subject and object


-prepositional phrases


Look at literary structure





-Ideological (ideas and themes)

9. Read Acquisitively

-read not only to receive it, but to retain it; not merely to perceive it, but to possess it. Stake a claim on the text. Make it your own property. Personal, active involvement in the text allows this to happen.

10. Read Telescopically

-Pay attention to context

-Evaluate the passage in light of the book as a whole

-Look at the historical context of the book

Six things to look for:

  1. Things that are emphasized
  2. Things that are repeated
  3. Things that are related
  4. Things that are alike
  5. Things that are unlike
  6. Things that are true to life

Summarize your observations!

            -This will make it much easier on you when you refer back to it.

-Don’t underestimate the value of a chart when dealing with your summarizing.

Principles and methods of Bible study (Part Two: Interpretation)

Why Interpretation?

Language barriers

-The Bible was written in three different languages; Hebrew-OT, Aramaic-portions of the OT, and Greek- NT

-Learning a different language is some much more than learning words. You must learn the mind set, the culture and the worldview of those who speak it, if you really want to understand what they are saying.

Tools to use: Bible dictionary

Cultural barriers

-These are closely related to language barriers because language is always culture-bound. We must seek to reconstruct the cultural context in areas of communication, trade, transportation, agriculture, occupations, religions, and perception of time.

Tools to use: Bible Handbooks, Maps, Bible Atlas.

Literary barriers

-There are many diverse genres in the Bible, and we must learn how to interpret these genres in their own light. For instance, you cannot read Song of Solomon using the same cold logic that we read Romans. Also, you cannot interpret the parables of Jesus simply by doing the exhaustive word studies you would use while reading Galatians. Different genres require different ways of looking at them. You cannot expect to read a letter from me, the same way you would read a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s written differently, and therefore must be interpreted differently.

Six pitfalls to avoid when interpreting scripture

-Misreading the text

-Distorting the text

-Contradicting the text


-Relativism – the text meant one thing when it was written and means a different thing today.

-Overconfidence- thinking you have mastered a portion of scripture

Determine the type of literature

Different Biblical genres:

  1. Exposition- Paul’s letters, Hebrews through Jude
  2. Narrative or biography- Genesis through Ezra, The gospels, and Acts
  3. Parable- 2 Samuel 12:1-6, Ecc. 9:14-16, Matthew 13:1-53, Matthew 14:1-34, Luke 15:1-16:31(?)
  4. Poetry-Job through Song of Solomon
  5. Proverbs and wisdom literature- Proverbs
  6. Prophecy and apocalyptic – Revelation and Portions of Daniel and Matthew

Five basic principles of Interpretation

  1. Content- this you already possess in doing your observation of the text.

You try it! Begin by observing Daniel 1-2, one of the most instructive passages for the believer today, especially if you work in the marketplace. Remember to ask the six questions of the text: who, what, when, where, why, so what.

2. Context- context is what goes before a portion of scripture and what follows.

Some types of context:

Literary context- Paragraph, book, Bible as a whole.

Historical context- What else is taking place in history at this time? What is going on in the world while this is taking place? What are some social, political influences that are affecting the writer at this time?

Cultural context- the more you know about ancient cultures the more you’ll know about the text

Geographic context- this is incredibly relevant to the interpretation of scripture. This answers questions about the terrain, weather, relation of a town to another town, and what a particular location was known for.

Tools to use: Bible Atlases

Theological context- what did the author know about God? What other worldviews and religions were competing for influence? What was the relationship of his readers to God?

It is important to locate your passage in the flow of scripture.

Tool to use: Commentary

*You try it!

Daniel 1-2 have been observed, now it’s time to move on to context. Go back to 2 Kings 24-25 and 2 Chronicles 36 to get the preceding context. Then look at the following chapters in Daniel.

3. Comparison- in this step we compare scripture with scripture. Comparison points out the great need we have for a concordance. A concordance is a tool that helps you chase down the terms and concepts from one book of the Bible to the next.

You try it! Daniel 1-2 terms to look at:





4. Culture- this will help you understand why the author wrote what he did and why he wrote it in the way he did.

You try it!

Using a Bible Dictionary and/or a Bible handbook, look up the four items you just searched for in your concordance. See what additional light you can shed on Daniel 1-2.

5. Consultation- involves the use of secondary resources

-online or on your mobile device


-Strong’s Bible Concordance

-Vines Word studies

-Bible dictionaries

-Bible handbooks

-Macarthur Bible handbook

-Halley’s Bible handbook



-some trustworthy commentaries/authors

-John Macarthur

-NICNT (new international commentary on the NT)

-Bible Knowledge Commentary

-Warren Wiersbe

-Old Testament books by Leon Wood

You try it! Consult an Old Testament commentary and perhaps a single volume commentary on the book of Daniel. What questions do these resources answer for you? What additional information do they supply?

Additional things to check out in the bible dictionary and handbook would be: government in Babylon, the Chaldeans, ziggurats, Cyrus, and foods in the ancient world.

Coming to terms: Using a concordance and Bible dictionary

Principles and methods of Bible study (Part Three: Application)
Studying the Bible without applying it is like eating without digesting. In other words, when you take the time to observe the Word of God, figure out what it means, and fail to put it into practice, you do not profit from the purpose of the Bible. You see, the Bible wasn’t meant to satisfy our curiosity, it was meant to change our lives.

Four steps in application
1. Know
-Know the text
-a key thought: “Interpretation is one, application is many”. There is ultimately only one correct interpretation, but there can be many applications to life.

2. Relate
*Application helps you relate the Word and come up with some new insights on life:
-a new relationship to God
-a new relationship to yourself
-a new relationship to other people
-a new relationship to the enemy
-the Word exposes your sin
-the Word gives you God’s promises
-the Word gives you God’s commands
-the Word gives you examples to follow

3. Meditate
-We must weave scripture into the fabric of everyday living according to Joshua 1:8. So therefore meditation is so key here in the third step of studying the Bible.

4. Practice
-Ask yourself some questions to help you put the text into practice.
1. Is there an example for me to follow?
2. Is there a sin to avoid?
3. Is there a promise to claim?
4. Is there a prayer to repeat?
5. Is there a command to obey?
6. Is there a condition to meet?
-John 15:7 “If you abide in me…”
7. Is there a verse to memorize?
8. Is there an error to correct?
9. Is there a challenge to face?

Connection Groups


Connection Groups exist for growth in smaller groups outside the normal weekly gathering. If you would like to join or start a connection group of your own, contact Pastor Matt for more info.

Here are THREE reasons to join a connection group with friends in your area:

  1. Smaller Communities Are More Effective

    You can learn, ask questions, involve yourself in the lives of others, and generally make yourself vulnerable among other people who are doing the same in small groups. You just can’t do that in sermons. There is no conversation, no feedback, and no questions. There’s no room to challenge the preacher or even question any part of what’s being taught. Spiritual growth happens better with others, in community, with open lines of communication and freedom to speak into one another’s lives.

  2. Deeper Friendships

    Small groups deliver deeper friendships that double as accountability. When people know you, really know you, your life becomes far more transparent, including your sin. Others learn to read you and will call you out for those sins, creating opportunities to deal with real life difficulties as they surface. This is part of what we should expect from good friends.

  3. Appropriate Participation

    There are opportunities to discuss the issues with others in the church. Church life issues can be discussed openly among trusted friends. Mission can be planned out and participated in together. Lives are sharpened and leaders developed. Small groups are an absolute necessity for involving as many people as possible in the life and ministry of your church.

Sketches:Wisdom from the past for life in the present

Starting in January 2017 on Sunday nights we will be looking at “dead guys” who made a huge impact in the history of the church and lives of Christians everywhere. Each individual has a unique story of what God did in their life and how He used them to shape their context for the kingdom of God.

Pastors, missionaries and churches today are indebted to their steadfastness in the gospel.

The timeless truths we can learn from their biographies provide wisdom from the past for life in the present.


Augustine gave us a theology of will transforming grace that liberates the Christian life by replacing our loves.

Luther left us the utter settledness of God’s favorable verdict over our morally fickle and despair prone lives.

Calvin gave us the majesty of God over every detail of the Christian’s life.

Owen brought us into the joy of loving communion with the triune God.

Bavinck’s legacy is the restorative dimension to divine grace, grace opposed not to nature but only to sin.

Spurgeon gave us in unparalleled language the gratuity of the gospel against a backdrop of an utterly sovereign Lord.

And Edwards has given us the beauty of the Christian life, first of the beauty of God, beauty that comes to tangible expression in Christ and, the beauty of the Christian, who participates in the triune life of divine love. (Dane Ortlund. Edwards on the Christians life.)


|An escape event for anyone 18-25|  August 5th @ Cornerstone Community Church

“The door locks…
Your pupils dilate and your pulse quickens as the adrenaline courses through your bloodstream. Everything you need to escape is in front of you… freedom at your fingertips. There’s only one catch…” –

Teams of 5-6 will have 30 minutes to move through the puzzles and clues to receive the code and unlock the final door to ESCAPE with the fastest time!

Can you beat the clock and your opponents?

Time slots are 30 minutes per team. Pizza and pop will be available while teams prepare to face the challenges. (walk-ins are welcome… we will add time slots depending how many participants we have)

Time slots:
7:00-7:30: Needs 2 more people
7:40-8:10: Needs 2 more people
8:20-8:50: Full
9:00-9:30: Full

Register your team here, or email Pastor Matt at



“Rio de Jail-time”

You and your friends have been wrongly charged with “fixing” Olympic events by the Brazilian Authorities. They have locked you in a room while they prepare to try you for a global offense. An American sympathizer has left you clues to find the key and escape. You have 30 minutes to get out before they return!

What is an Escape Room? (from Sophie-Claire Hoeller, travel columnist)

Escape rooms are basically the real-life version of video games. And they’re growing in popularity.
Allegedly started in Japan in 2007, escape rooms quickly spread across Asia, and have since invaded the United States. In a world where even reading a book has become an interactive experience, so-called escape rooms are a welcome fusion of competition and puzzle, group activity and theater.

Ok, now what exactly is an escape room?

Simple. You and your friends will pay money (sometimes) to get locked in a room, with the mission of escaping by solving a variety of puzzles, riddles, clues, and tests.

Like lock locked?
Yes, lock locked.

What if I can’t solve puzzles?!?!

Calm down, this isn’t a Bourne movie. You’ll be let out after a certain amount of time, usually an hour or so, even if you’re stuck on a clue. You’ll probably be disappointed in yourself, and will no doubt feel like a failure, but hey — that’s the price of freedom.

Are there physical challenges? Should I start working out? 

You should probably start working out, but only because your health is important. And we care about you. But no, there are no athletic feats or American Ninja Warrior stunts involved. Puzzles are purely intellectual – brainteasers, if you will. Basically, we’re talking about a scavenger hunt, but within the confines of a room. One solved mystery will lead to another, and another, and another, until either the clock runs out or you punch the guy who won’t stop quoting National Treasure.
So, what kind of puzzles?
It really depends on the room/game master, although examples include crosswords, math problems, logic games, jigsaw puzzles, color quizzes, and riddles.

Are there any tricks?
Be rational. Stay calm. Think fast. Most importantly, be smarter than a combination of Stephen Hawking, Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, and Flash.

Are there any rules?
Not really. Obviously, don’t get angry, violent, or hurl yourself out of a window in frustration, but other than that, anything goes.

So I can bring my phone?
No, that would be cheating. So yes, there is one rule — don’t bring your cell phone!

What can I win?
Honor. Glory. Bragging rights. Yeah, nothing.

That’s lame.
Think of it more as entertainment. You don’t win anything at the movies, do you? Also, apparently the success rate for these real-life escape rooms are between 20-30 percent, so best not put the cart before the horse.

Who can play?
Anyone over the age of 13, usually. But be warned, nothing will make you feel stupider than watching your 14-year-old nephew solve a puzzle you can’t figure out.
*For this round we are allowing 18-25 year olds to try it out.

Secret Church

Save the date for Secret Church simulcast on April 29th!

Secret Church is our version of “house church” where we meet periodically for an intense time of Bible study—lasting 6+ hours—including a time of prayer for our brothers and sisters across the globe who are facing persecution and for those who still have not heard the gospel.

Watch this to find out what it’s all about:

2016 specific SC16 promo video:

Registration is $10 for a workbook and food.

So we know how many are coming, register via email Here





In the book of Job we see the themes of faithfulness, suffering and the sovereignty of God. In our series beginning on February we will look at all these, but also the overwhelming piece of this book that focuses on Job’s friends and his response.Job’s friends quickly show their true colors. They offer wisdom of all kinds and Job is overwhelmed with “friendly advice”, all the while he awaits an answer from another friend; God almighty.

We invite you to join us each Thursday night from 7p-8:15p at Cornerstone Community Church. Come experience Jesus and His church. Come discover hope and purpose for life.



Special Speaker: Sam Hunt


We are excited to have Sam Hunt back from her short term mission trip to Malawi. This Thursday night she will be sharing with us about how God is continuing to build his church even in the most remote places.

Come join us for this evening of worship, prayer and testimony of what God has done and what He continues to do; in southern Iowa and around the globe.

See you this Thursday at 7p, at Cornerstone Community Church in Chariton!