For the serious searcher for Biblical truth, the task of learning the complete meaning of a subject isn't always easy. I am not one of those who delights in spending hours dissecting each and every word of a verse to come up with all the possibilities of the meaning. True, there are some Bible subjects that are of greater interest to me than others, so I may spend more time in study on those topics. I always try to find the intended learning for the believer in every aspect of God's word.
Numerous methods of scripture study have been introduced over the years and a lot of those are good for our understanding of some themes. Countless commentaries exist which will give varying interpretations of scripture, each with an author's line of reasoning behind reaching his conclusions.
One of the ways I like to study scripture is by using only the Bible. While there are good word studies in looking at entire verses in this way, the basics are usually understood better when studying a section of several scriptures as a whole. More recently the translations of the Bible utilize the chapter and verse divisions which we are used to, but also divide sections of scripture into paragraphs for easier understanding.
In pondering the ways of scripture study today, I ran across a term which demanded a little more consideration. The term is "contemplative scripture reading." The more I looked into the term, I learned it had been around since sometime in the third century. I want to mention it to you today just to let you see if this is a way for your personal Bible study to take on new perspectives. This method takes us through four steps as follows:
1. Reading the passage (maybe several times.) Sometimes for me, reading it aloud will help me in seeing which words were perhaps, "emphasized." Look for words which are repeated. Especially notice the words in the passage to which your attention is drawn.
2. Meditate on those "special" words from step 1. It is at this point where I try to think of other Bible verses which emphasize the same word or words. Continue your meditation and attempt to draw your thoughts into God's message in the passage.
3. Pray about the passage. Remember when we pray, we are not only talking to God but also listening to God. Your prayer may lead you to come closer to understanding God's purpose, as will the nudgings of the Holy Spirit. Your prayer should be accompanied by a heart that is open and receptive to what God is saying to you in the passage.
4. Contemplate what you have read, how the passage might relate to you, and think of how the passage will help you to grow spiritually and be useful in the work of Christ. At all times in this process we need to remember this is God's Word and it is speaking to us.
I do not give you these suggestions as THE only way to study, but something which you can try. I am always saying we should stay close to the Word of God, and this is one way that might be helpful to you. God bless.