What an important question as we seek to know more about the Lord through His Word. In consulting a dictionary, we see the word ‘READ’ means to look at carefully so as to understand the meaning’. The word ‘STUDY’ means ‘research or a detailed examination and analysis of a subject.’ Let’s consider the difference between reading and studying in a natural sense. Things a person would read would include a newspaper, a novel, a brochure, etc. Things a person would study would include an instruction manual, a non-fiction book, a map, etc. We see that while reading is crucial to understanding, it is through study that we gain greater comprehension and appreciation of a subject.

The Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesians, said in Ephesians 3:3-4, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye READ, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” He also wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be READ unto all the holy brethren.” The Lord Jesus often chastised others for their lack of knowledge because of their lack of reading. A few examples are:

  • Matthew 12:3, “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did…?”
  • Matthew 19:4, “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read…?”
  • Mark 12:10, “And have ye not read this scripture…?”

It is obvious, then, that reading is expected of us and is necessary to learn. In the book of Acts, we find an Ethiopian eunuch reading his bible. He was reading the book of Isaiah. The Lord sent Philip to him and we read in Acts 8:30-31, “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, UNDERSTANDEST WHAT THOU READEST? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” It is possible to read, yet not understand. Surely, this man was reading with a true desire to learn. He needed help. He needed someone to guide him. Acts 8:35 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” Philip expounded on what the eunuch was reading and helped him understand the portion he was reading. Surely Philip had studied the Word and was able to share his knowledge with this man.

How, then do we study our bibles for understanding? A few thoughts for profitable study are:

  • PRAY – David prayed in Psalms 25:5, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” Before beginning a study session, pray and ask the Lord to give you understanding through His Spirit who indwells every believer.
  • SEARCH – John 5:39, “Search the scriptures…they are they which testify of me.” Diligently look for the truth, comparing scripture with scripture to make sure you have proper understanding.
  • BE WILLING TO OBEY – Proverbs 23:12, “Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.” Read with the realization that God’s Word is true and you will obey its teachings. It is only as we obey what the Lord has given us, that He will give us more.
  • ASK – Even as the eunuch needed help in understanding the Word, we should ask those with more knowledge and Christian experience for help. However, we must realize that ONLY the Word of God is authoritative. Any help we receive MUST agree with the scriptures. The Apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians for receiving his teachings and comparing it with the Word. He wrote in Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, whether those things were so.”
  • TAKE IT IN – Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ DWELL IN YOU richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

I suggest that you try to study God’s Word on a daily basis. The same time each day helps establish a pattern for good study. ALWAYS begin with prayer and a willingness to accept God’s Word and walk in the truths the Lord entrusts you with. (252.4)