What is the best way to understand the Bible?

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Answered by: David, An Expert in the Studying the Bible Category
Many people are overwhelmed with the idea of studying the Bible, let alone actually studying it. Where do you begin? Genesis, "the book of beginnings?" Maybe the Book of Psalms midway through the Bible would be a great place for a novice to begin. Certainly, the deep things of prophecy as recorded in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel & Revelation would be too much for someone who doesn't even know that the Bible is made up of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over a 1500 year period.

Regardless of where you start in trying to understand the Bible, start someplace that shows some appeal to you. The Bible is an acquired taste because its universal function is to reform your life and such reforms always lead to a set of decisions that we are uncomfortable in making. Yes, it is filled with history, poetry, valiant stories, prophecies, miracles, the records of generations of people and the like. But, they help someone study the Bible is by first teaching them to pray over the book first. This is no ordinary book. In the book 2 Timothy 3:16, it records the following: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." We need to pray for God to bless us as we read this book because this book is filled with power and is not just another ancient tome.

If you want help or if you want to help someone understand the Bible for themselves, I would encourage you to pick out a more modern translation. The classic King James Version is still valid and can be used. But we are hundreds of years from that variety of English so anciently practiced. My favorite is the New American Standard Bible because they formed modern American English around the ancient manuscripts. This is not an editorialized version or a paraphrased version good for conveying the beauty of the Bible but for which is not very good as a study Bible. The Living Bible fits this definition. Other translations like the Revised Standard Version are quite good as well. Today, there is a New King James Version for those who simply must have the "original." Some of the more difficult passages have been smoothed out.

If I was helping someone to study the Bible, I would start with the first five books of the Old Testament (also known as the Pentateuch) and then the the first five books of the New Testament. The five books include the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The fifth is the book of Acts which is actually a sequel to the book of Luke written a Greek doctor of the same name. The book of Acts is the historical record of the launching of the Christian Church just weeks after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

One last piece of advice - get yourself a concordance. A concordance is a book that lists every word in the Bible from the first book of the Bible to the last. You will get more out of your study if you do a comparative word search throughout the Scriptures. This means that if you read the ten books I tell you to read along with a study concordance (like Strong's Concordance, Young's Concordance or Cruden's Concordance), you will eventually get to the other 56 books as a matter of course.

Simple enough? May your life be blessed as you read the pages of this incredibly life-changing book!

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