In 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul writes, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV). A more modern version reads, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (NIV). This verse emphasizes the importance of studying the Word of God and interpreting it correctly.
Here are some practical steps for how we can study and show ourselves approved unto God:
1. Prayer is essential for Bible study because it helps us to approach the Word of God with a humble and teachable spirit. When we pray before reading and studying the Bible, we are acknowledging our need for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help us interpret and apply the Word to our lives (John 16:13).
Additionally, prayer deepens our relationship with God. As we study the Bible, we can use what we learn to inform our prayers to give praise and glory to God for who He is and what He has done for us.
2. We should set aside a time each day to read, study, and meditate on the Word of God. This could be in the morning, afternoon, or evening. The key is to be intentional and consistent. That way, we demonstrate that knowing and learning more about God is our top priority (Psalm 1:2).
When we approach the Bible, we should ask God to speak to us through His Word. We should also be open-minded and willing to learn and be challenged by what we read. This is how we grow and mature in our understanding of spiritual things.
Regular Bible reading, studying, and meditation helps us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the content of Scripture.
3. To interpret the Bible correctly, we should consider the literal, grammatical, historical, and synthetic contexts of the passage in question. The literal context is what the passage plainly says. The grammatical context is the immediate sentence and paragraph within which a word or phrase is found. The historical context is the events narrated, to whom the passage is addressed, and how it was understood at that time. The synthetic context involves comparing the passage being studied with other parts of Scripture.
For example, when studying the New Testament, we should consider the sociopolitical climate of the Roman Empire. We should also consider the socioreligious culture of the Jewish people. This background information can help us understand the original meaning of the text and how it applies to our lives today. In short, context is king.
4. We should use reliable resources to help us interpret difficult passages and gain insight into the meaning of the text. These resources can include Bible commentaries, dictionaries, and concordances. We must choose resources that are based on sound biblical scholarship and align with the truth of God’s Word.
These resources should not replace the Bible as our primary source of information (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16). They should instead be used as a supplement to Bible reading and study.
5. The goal of Bible study is not just to gain information but to glorify God with our thoughts, feelings, and actions: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31; cf. Romans 12:1). We want to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).
Bible study is essential for our spiritual growth and maturation. It requires consistent reading, prayer, understanding context, using reliable resources, and application. As we study the Bible, we will discover more about God and how we can better serve Him and others. It also helps us to distinguish truth from error, overcome trials, deepen our relationship with God, and become better witnesses for Christ in the world. By following these steps, we can study to show ourselves approved before God.