Updated: Oct 8, 2021
Understandest thou what thou readest?, Acts 8:30.
There are still places in a King James Bible that I have no idea why they say what they say. For over 40 years, when I have read such a passages I have wondered. The last things that I ever intend to do about those passages is to consult a commentary or to consult a lexicon in an attempt to decipher the meaning by borrowing some alternative meaning for a Greek or Hebrew word.
In that period of time, I have had many passages come alive for me. Passages that for 25 to 30 years had seemed incomprehensible to me suddenly made sense as I read them. Over the many years when those passages had seemed dark to me, I slowly built my knowledge and understanding in other passages. Like tumblers in a combination lock, as I slowly learned and understood more about supporting passages to a particular place, the passage that had so vexed me unlocked its meanings for me.
There is simply no substitute for understanding the word of God other than to allow precept to be added to precept and line to be added to line.
Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Isaiah 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
We have the word of God in this other tongue and through it God speaks to us. What is all too often lacking is understanding. The devil has wrought havoc in the churches by this lack of understanding. Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way, Psalm 119:104.
There is a three pronged approach to understanding the bible.
1. There must be a perfect bible that the reader can trust. Recently, Brother Paul Scott published a post titled Builded or Built. Some time ago, he had contacted me and noted that the King James Bible used both forms of the word "build". When he saw that both words were in use and even were used in the same verse (Hebrews 3:4) he realized that each word had a slightly different meaning. How did he know that? He knew that they had different meaning because he believed the text in front of him. He knew that it was never arbitrary or haphazard for any particular word to be used. There is always a reason and it is to God's pleasure to reveal that reason. Trusting that the bible in front of us is always the first step.
By believing what he saw written, Brother Scott was able to resist the dictionaries that said that the words were synonymous. Clearly they were not synonymous in a King James Bible. He then was able to look at each word as it was used in context and God showed him the difference.
2. God must give a person understanding. Apart from receiving the Holy Ghost in John 20:22, and utterly separated from the Day of Pentecost, Jesus Christ opened the understanding of his disciples. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, Luke 24:45. Understanding does not come naturally to men. The Apostle Paul spoke of the natural state of man when he said; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God, Romans 3:11.
No man ever sought God until God enabled him to seek. Just as a palsied man could not stretch forth his hand until he heard Jesus Christ command him to do so, a sinner is unable to seek God until he hears the command to seek God through the preaching of the word of God. So is the man who would seek to understand the things of God. Let him ask the Lord to open his understanding. That was some of the best advice that I ever got as a young man.
3. A man or woman who seeks to understand must pay a price. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2nd Timothy 2:15. Solomon said; much study is a weariness of the flesh, Ecclesiastes 12:12. There is a occasional joy to bible study, but there is more often than not a weariness to the flesh. Reading the bible and studying the bible are two distinctly different things. A person who seeks to understand and know God must do both.