The documents that make up the Christian Bible were written over a 1500 year period, on three different continents, in three different languages by 40+ authors. It tells a coherent, unified story about a broken relationship with our just and merciful Creator and how we can be reconciled through Jesus.
We believe that whatever the Bible claims is true, is true. It is the inspired and infallible written Word of God, completely without error in its original manuscripts and transmitted to the present without the corruption of any essential doctrine.
While many believe the Bible is outdated and irrelevant, there are good reasons to believe the books that make up the Bible are as relevant today as when they were originally written. (*)
Given that we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, we seek to establish our faith and our actions based on its teachings.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3: 16-17
His Word can also help us discern our own motives and intentions and show us where we need to grow and change on our journey to be more like Jesus.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
In order to base our lives on its teachings, we must read and study and work to understand God’s Word.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2: 1-5
Some Helpful Tips For Reading God’s Word
There are many modern translations of the Bible. Those in widespread use are essentially the same in the central messages of Christianity. There are some differences in opinion when it comes to translation of some particular words or phrases, but they don’t change the essential meaning or message of the Bible.
Translations come in three main categories:
- Word for Word translations. (Also called literal translation.)
- Thought for Thought translations. (Also called dynamic equivalent translation.)
- Paraphrase translations. (Also called free translation.)
Word for word translators do their best to translate the original languages word for word into modern languages. This stays as true to the original text as possible to avoid the translators bringing their own ideas into the translation. Sometimes the language and flow in these translations can feel a bit cumbersome because we don’t write and talk the same way as they did when the documents found in the Bible were written. (ESV, NASB, NRSV, KJB)
Thought for thought translators also work to keep their own ideas out of the text, but rather than translating word for word, they update the style and structure and grammar as they translate. Some of these translations are more readable and flow better than some of the word for word translations, but there is a possible loss in precision in the process. (NIV, NLT)
Paraphrase translators translate thought for thought without the same constraints that come with directly translating words and phrases of the text. They also try to stay true to the meaning of the original language, but are the least precise in translation and leave more room for interpretation in the process. They are the most readable for modern readers. (The Living Bible, The Message)
Reading The Word
These are a few things we’ve found helpful as we have started reading more consistently.
- First, the more we read and study, the more we find we want to read and study. God will give you a greater desire to study His word as you take the step to consistently read it.
- Pray for God’s help in understanding His Word. The Bible says that The Spirit will help you interpret and understand spiritual things. (1 Cor 2:12-14)
- Our tendency is to look at the Biblical text to find support for something we already think is true instead of reading in hopes of finding God’s truth. We need to do our best to approach the Bible to hear what God has to say, not to find what we want to hear.
- Always read the paragraph or chapter before and after the passage you are studying. The books of the Bible were not originally written with chapters and verses, these were first added in the 16th century to make it easier to reference scripture. The New testament was written 1500 years before that and parts of the Old Testament close to 3000 years before. Placement of chapters and verses aren’t perfect. When a chapter or verse ends, it doesn’t mean the thought from the verse or chapter is complete. There may be clarifications to the meaning of the text before or after the verses or chapters you are studying.
- Think about what the author meant to say to their audience. This can add context and help discern meaning. Who wrote it? When and where? For whom were they writing? For what purpose? Is the passage poetry? History? A Letter? There are many good study Bibles that give this information in footnotes right in your Bible. Commentaries can also be helpful.
- Cross reference and use other scripture to help interpret unclear passages. If 10 other passages are clear about a specific question, consider them as you interpret the passage you are struggling with.
- If you have trouble understanding a passage, get help. Ask a pastor you trust. Discuss with a Christian friend. Read commentaries. Find a book by a trusted author. Use a study Bible. Check several translations.
There are many great resources available to help us interpret scripture, but don’t accept everything you see or read at face value. That includes what you see here at Well Christian Woman! Think and pray about it and look at more than one opinion. Never take someone else’s opinion over what is clearly stated in God’s Word. Ultimately, as you seek to know more about Jesus, the Spirit will help you understand His Word.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8
We believe the Words of God are as relevant today as the day they were written and they always will be. May God draw you closer to Him and bless you as you consistently read His word.
God’s Word Brings Hope, Strength and Peace
We have experienced God’s Hope and Strength and Peace ever since the time of diagnosis of terminal cancer. It has come to us through prayer and through God’s word. If you’d like us to share the passages that have most helped us on our journey, just sign into the form titled “Updates” on the right side near the of this page and we’ll send a passage to you each week over the next few weeks.
We pray these readings help draw you closer to Jesus and experience His Hope and Peace and Strength in whatever trial you are facing today.
(*) Resources For Questions About The Bible Can Be Found Here