4 Not-So Secret Questions for Helping Us Understand the Bible Better

Believers all around the globe love spending time reading the Bible. Interpreting and understanding the Bible isn’t always easy. Sure, parts of it are pure and straightforward, and easily grasped. Other parts require more careful reading and deeper study. Because the words of the Bible were written to a different culture with far different customs and traditions than our own, speaking in forgotten and faded languages, facing daunting situations over a vast period. We know that there are lessons contained within its chapters and principles underpinning its passages that apply to us 21st century Christians today.  How do we cross the divide between then and now?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

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 complete, equipped for every good work.

Frequently, fellow believers ask me, “How can I understand God’s Word better?”

For me, what works are answering the following four questions whenever I approach a text.

  1. What did the text mean to the original biblical audience for whom it was intended?
    1. Observe everything you can about the text.
      1. What are the significant words in the passage?
      2. How does the passage relate to the one immediately before it?
      3. How does the passage relate to the one immediately following it?
      4. What is the historical and literary context of the passage?
      5. Based on your observations, in 2-3 sentences, summarize what the passage meant to original audience.
  1. What differences are there between the original hearers and us?
    1. How wide is the divide between them and us?
      1. How does their culture, language, situation, place in time differ from us today?
      2. What covenant reigns over the passage? Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic? Old or New?
  2. What is the theological principle contained in the text?
    1. The theological principle is part of the meaning of the passage.
    2. As readers, our job is to discover not create the meaning.
    3. While in Scripture, God speaks to a particular group, teaching them specific things, Scripture contains universal theological teachings for all believers throughout time.
  3. As a Christian living in today’s world, how do I apply the theological principle in my life?
    1. How does the 21s Century Christian implement God’s Word given then, to the real-life situations they are facing today?

As you study God’s Word, know I’m praying for you.


Next time, we’ll look at some things to look for as we chew on pieces of God’s Word.


  1. Great questions!
    Thank you. I will use these.


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