Question: I wonder at times, can I trust the person reading said translation, meaning myself? Regardless of translation, I am trying to bring fresh eyes to the reading of scripture. Thank you.
What follows are four questions I use to help get deep beneath the surface.
WARNING! You cannot dig deeper into Scripture without actually digging.
• What am I asking of God? (Meditation)
Open your Bible.
Close your eyes. Ask God to speak to you through His Word. Ask God to reveal new insights into His Word. Ask God to speak His Word through you at some time during the day.
Open your eyes. Read the passage. If it’s very familiar, read it aloud to force yourself to read each word.
Read it again. Slowly. Savor each word. Let it sink in.
Do this a total of five times.
If the passage is short—one or two verses—write it down on an index card that you can put in your pocket or purse and re-read it throughout the day.
Ps. 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
• What does the Scripture specifically say? (Meaning)
We all have a tendency to read into Scripture what we assume is already there or what we have been taught. This is called “eisegesis.” To avoid this it is important to force yourself to ask ‘What does this passage actually say?’
For example, many of us have learned that 1 Peter 3:18-19 teaches that Jesus descended into hell between His crucifixion and resurrection. Read the passage in your favorite translation. Does the passage actually say Jesus descended into hell?
Does it identify the “spirits in prison” as people in hell?
Well, who are these “spirits” then?
Ah-ha! Now we have some digging to do!
• What does the Scripture in general say (Context)
Let Scripture interpret Scripture. Using 1 Pet. 3:18-19 again, does the Scripture anywhere identify these spirits? Begin your search close, then fan out into Bible in general. Does the Bible anywhere else talk about what happened between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection?
• What Is God saying to me? (Application)
Once you understand what the passage means, close your eyes. You are now protected from incorrect doctrine and ready for God to apply this to your life. Ask God, ‘What do you want me to learn from this that will make me more like Jesus?’ Ask Him, ‘Is there someone you want me to share this truth with today?’
He may not answer you right away. You may need to walk into your day with Him before the truth of this passage comes into focus. You may need to share it with someone who needs it before you fully see its beauty and power. But God will answer.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).