How many times have you heard someone teach scripture by appealing to word studies? Word studies are helpful if used correctly, however when used incorrectly, word studies can foster man made beliefs that are not consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

Allow me to explain this a little further. Taking a verse from 1 Samuel and linking it with a verse in Jeremiah because the same Hebrew word is used in both verses, tells you nothing about the narrative or flow of thought in 1 Samuel or Jeremiah.

The correct way to employ word studies is to help us define what a word actually means in Hebrew or Greek. However, we still need to read scripture contextually. Even though 1 Samuel and Jeremiah use the same exact word in a sentence, that doesn’t mean they are both talking about the same thing.

If I turn on the news and I hear a report that says a certain disease is killing 50 people every day, and then change the channel to a comedian telling a joke using the expression “you’re killing me”, it does not mean that they are talking about the same thing. They are simply using the same word in two different ways.

The same rule applies to studying scripture.

You cannot know scripture simply by knowing the definition of certain words, or by linking verses together from different places in the Bible simply because of the use of the same word. The question you must answer is this: Are the verses talking about the same topic? 

By far, the very best way to learn the Bible is to follow the narrative or the flow of thought that is being communicated by the author. To put it simply – what is the author talking about?

If you were to go into a book store and buy a novel to read, you would never think that if the word property were found on page 19, page 138, and page 542 that the book is about property, would you? You wouldn’t fixate your attention on the word property, instead you would focus on the narrative and your interest would be drawn to how the story unfolds.

You would never read any author’s book by cherry picking words, would you? Well then, why would you read God’s book in this way? Learn the narrative, pay attention to the context, hear the flow of thought, and you will be on your way to good Bible reading and study.

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