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Introduction to Study

The discipline of study of the Word of God is critical in the life of any Christian, and it should be central in the life of all obedient Christians that are bearing fruit. After all, in John 1 we read that Jesus is the incarnate Word of God.

Not only is the list of benefits to the person extensive, (some of which we will explore here,) but logic dictates that studying the word of God demonstrates our love towards him. When a Pharisee asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is, his response is to quote from Deuteronomy 6:5 when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (ESV Bible, 2016, Matt 22:37). The application of loving God with all your mind must include a dedication to the study of his word. Anything less than a regular and intense study of the Bible is contrary to this commandment and to its logical application.

The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity of who he is. After Jesus, the Son of God, the Bible is our primary example of the revelation of God. Since we are living in the age after the first appearance of the Christ, but before his return, we must rely on the Bible to seek God in our lives and use it to get to know our Savior Jesus Christ. One day soon, he will return in person. Until that day comes, we have the gift of the scriptures to study and work to understand who God is.

Scriptural Basis and Context

The biblical substantiations for the importance of studying the Bible abound. For the purposes of this commentary, I have selected a few that I believe are some of the more obvious examples. However, books have been written solely on the biblical support for studying scripture.

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he wrote the following:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV Bible, 2016, 2 Tim 3:16-17).

This passage from Paul is the source for the Latin term solo scriptura which is a foundational principal of the Protestant movement and means scripture alone (Feldmeth, 2008). Solo meaning alone, and Scriptura meaning writings. (, 2023). By stressing that scripture is God-breathed, he is assigning its authorship to God himself. This establishes the authority of scripture in Paul’s argument, and understanding the Bible’s authority is the first step in applying the study of it as a regular discipline. Authority is defined as power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior. (Merriam-Webster, 2023). If the Bible does not have divine authority, then its power is greatly diminished and the study of it becomes something akin to pleasure reading of a history or self-help book.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he addresses the importance of the application of the Bible when he writes about taking up the whole armor of God.

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (ESV Bible, 2016, Ephesians 6:13-17)

Paul is telling the church how to stand against the evil that Christians face and he calls the Bible “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It is noteworthy that this is the only offensive weapon that Paul lists among the armor of God. I believe that Paul is conveying here that while the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of readiness, and the shield of faith are needed to defend against the attacks of satan, the word of God is the tool we use to counter-attack the schemes of the devil.

We see the perfect application of this from Jesus in the 4th chapter of Matthew. We read that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The devil tempted Jesus with food because he was hungry, he tempted Jesus with deliverance from his trials, and he tempted Jesus with power and position. At each temptation, Jesus counters the devil with scripture. Each response of Jesus includes “it is written”. (ESV Bible, 2016, Matt 4:1-11)

Finally, Jesus again shows us the example of using knowledge of scripture to stand up against the doubts and challenges from those who would seek to tear down the truth of scripture. When repeatedly challenged by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, he always uses scripture to make his argument for him. He uses the phrase “have you not read”, followed by a lesson from scripture. By studying his example in these interactions, we are called to be prepared to give a defense for our beliefs. (ESV Bible, 2016, Matt 12:3, 12:5, 19:4, 22:31, Mark 12:10, 12:26, Luke 6:3, 1 Peter 3:15)

Jesus’s knowledge of the scriptures was on full display for his disciples, curious onlookers, and even his biggest critics, and from his example we are able to see that a well-studied Christian mind is able to rebuke the attacks that inevitably come.

Modern application of study

Living in the United States in this age means that we are blessed to have access to the Bible. In other times, and even in this time in other countries, possessing and teaching the Bible came with consequences including arrest, torture, and death. In our society, a Christian has every opportunity to study scripture.

Charles Spurgeon said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” His point was that a worn out, beat up, falling apart Bible doesn’t get that way on its own. It happens after a long period of use. It has been carried around, opened, and closed, over and over. The pages turned back and forth. It may have notes in the margins or highlights. And while this exercise is happening, and the Bible begins to show its use, the reader becomes equipped. Study turns to understanding, and understanding turns to application.

How to Promote Practical Application While Keeping the Original Intent

While we live in a world that is ever changing, God does not change, the Bible does not change, and the fallen human nature does not change. Therefore, to be people in an everchanging society that re-visits its definition of morality on a near daily basis, having the word of God as a mooring line provides stability in the Christian life.

Study of the Bible is our primary defense of testing human words and identifying false teaching. The Bible is the lens by which we must examine other teachings to discern if they are of God, or of the enemy. Without the use of scripture for this test, we are reliant on how polished the presentation of the message is, and how it fits into our worldview.

Study of the Bible significantly shapes a person’s worldview, and rather than it being formed from the culture around, it is formed from the actual word of God. The worldview broadens into an eternal view.

The key to maintaining the original intent of scripture is to strive to understand context of the scripture itself. Who the author was and what he was trying to address, who his audience was and what they were experiencing, the social and political climate at the time of the writing, and the events that led up to the writing all provide the context of the book or passage. It is also important that as modern readers we do not fall into the temptation of inserting ourselves into the story by making the text mean something that it was never intended to mean. As Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart note, “A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or his or her readers.”  Determining the context and defending that context from our own suppositions is key to maintaining the original intent of the author.


If the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; (ESV Bible, 2016, Gal 5:22-23), then bible study is the daily pruning and tending to the tree that allows the fruit to grow into its full potential. Therefore, the discipline of study is both critical and central in the life of a Christian.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV Text Edition: (2016). Deut 6:5, Matt 4:1-11, Matt 12:3, 12:5, 19:4, 22:31, 22:37 Mark 12:10, 12:26, Luke 6:3, Gal 5:22-23, Eph 6:13-17, 2 Tim 3:16-17, 1 Peter 3:15. Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Merriam-Webster. (2023). Authority. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Feldmeth, Nathan. (2008). Pocket dictionary of church history: Over 300 terms clearly and concisely defined. Downers Grove, Illinois. InterVarsity Press. (2023). What is solo scriptura?. Got Questions Ministries.

Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas. (1993). How to read the bible for all its worth. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.