Thoughts on Reading Scripture

Not open for further replies.


Staff member
During my commute I dictate things into a recorder and transcribe them later using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Most of the time it is mundane or technical. But I was reading through some entries for this month and a couple of them seemed to address some of the discussions we've had recently:

Some thoughts on reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew.

It is important to know your limits. For example, I know enough Hebrew and Greek to be dangerous. When I am reading a text either in Hebrew or in Greek, I often come across something that strikes me as a new interpretation. It is exciting when this happens. But I always make a point to write down my observation and then go consult commentaries and other authorities to determine if I have some new insight or if I have gone astray. Very rarely do I have a legitimate new insight.

This is properly humbling. My level of reading skill in Hebrew or in Greek is probably around the third or fourth grade. However, I also have an adult ability to look at context. And I remind myself that a sober mind requires self-criticism. So I try always to be careful with my "new insights." Many intelligent men have looked at the same scriptures before me. If what I find is something new, I am careful to defer to prior wisdom and presume error on my part unless there is a very good reason to think otherwise.

But that does not mean the exercise is useless. First, I gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the word of God itself. Second, I gain a greater understanding and appreciation for biblical scholars. And third, I gain a greater personal understanding of my own abilities to understand Scripture.

On Regarding reading the Scriptures in general.

In response to those who might say that reading the Bible according to a schedule results in a ritualistic approach, I want to say something in defense of discipline. I believe a disciplined approach to study is not at all a ritual, if by the term ritual, one means some sort of mindless devotion or practice. Forcing yourself to study a topic, or to read a passage, even when the mind is tired or the spirit is unwilling, has many benefits.

The first benefit is simply that the words are in your head. Many times I have struggled through long passages of difficult understanding and closed the Book thinking to myself, "I wonder what that was all about." Then, months later perhaps, I run across another passage somewhere else in Scripture. That passage might spark the recollection of the obscure passage I had read before. What then follows often is a frenzied review of the prior passage, and a search to other parts of Scripture for something that might be related to that passage, and fruitful understanding comes about. If I had not plowed the dry ground and forced myself to go through with the discipline I had set before me, I would have missed this exciting event.

Another benefit of discipline is it increases endurance. Pushing yourself through a difficult reading stretch prepares you later for even more difficult stretches. As time goes on, you find that a passage that had been very difficult, perhaps a year earlier, now rings like a clear bell. It's simply a matter of exercise.

One other benefit, though there are many others, is the sense of righteous accomplishment. I know many Christians who have never read the Bible clear through. I think they are missing something very important. They are missing the ability to say, "My eyes have been exposed to the entire counsel of God." Because we are weak and fallen creatures, this has to be done over a period of time. Just because we don't comprehend the whole Bible (and no man is able to comprehend the whole Bible, no matter how many times he reads it) doesn't mean that we do not benefit from it.

So my recommendation is to pick your schedule, read consistently, and try to be a fruitful learner. Do not despair if the words seem dry or unproductive. You're plowing a field for a future crop, or laying a foundation for future building. The work may be drudgery but it is necessary. It may be a sign of our time, although I think this is true at all times, that we feel that we should have a moving and meaningful experience every time we read the Word of God. This simply is not true. Even though we understand David to sing about how much he loves the law of God, we also know that he had dry times in his life. This man after God's own heart suffered many hardships. He often had to do things out of a sense of duty. I think we should so frame our minds as well.


Puritan Board Junior
I think that in sense, yes doing it as duty can be helpful. I feel like I have memorized great parts of the new testament, maybe not intentionally, but lets say a question or something scripture starts coming to memory and outa my mouth that I hadn't intentionally learned.

So I think that this is a great advantage.
Though we cannot neglect the need to practically apply instead of just read, to our own lives each day.
Not open for further replies.