The Scriptures are a diverse compilation of writings encompassing a few thousand years of human history. Here are 5 ways to help make the Bible easier for you to understand.
1. Understand what the author intended
The stories in Scripture take place within a particular time and context. The authors faced similar circumstances as our own, but within their own historical context. Many New Testament books (such as the Gospels) were written to specific Christian communities addressing their particular needs.
Find a good resource on the historical context in which the particular book you are reading took place. A good Bible will have some introductory text explaining:
- who did the writing,
- to whom it was written,
- and the situation in which it was written.
2. Be open to the message
Read from the Scriptures, not into the Scriptures. Let God try to communicate to you what he wants you to know. It’s easy to fall into a habit of reading a preconceived notion into a passage to fit our own ideology, but a more fruitful way is to let the Scriptures speak to us.
3. Take time to reflect
Proper understanding comes through allowing yourself some time to think about what you read. Meditate on it. Think of how it might apply to your life. What is God trying to communicate to you through that passage?
Some in-depth questions might be:
- What does this text tell me about God?
- What does this text tell me about the people of God?
- What does this text tell me about myself?
4. Read it more than once
Something as rich and vast as the word of God does not always make sense on the first try. Re-read it as many times as you need to help unfold the various dynamics that might be taking place.
5. Form a Bible study group
Reading the Scriptures in a group allows for a chance to discuss it and hear how God is revealing himself to other people. In fact you might learn how God is revealing himself to you through your discussion with another person!
Good discussion will also allow for chances to reflect and an opportunity for everyone to share if so desired.
Helpful hints & tools
- St. Joseph Edition of the New American Bible
- New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Keeping these things in mind will help you enjoy the Bible in a clearer and concise manner!