Ask Questions About Bible Texts & Get Answers
Asking questions comes natural to young children. Young children, such as toddlers, are especially inquisitive. They have to be. Think about it... they are brand new arrivals on the scene and they don't know much about anything. They are humble. They rely on adults and older children to care for them, guide them, instruct them, and teach them everything about life. They are totally dependent upon others for information, so they ask lots of questions.
On the contrary, adults have more difficulty when it comes to asking questions. This is one reason why children are able to learn new things quicker and easier than adults.
Adults, and even teenagers, are often too proud to ask questions for fear that their ignorance may be exposed to those around them.
Besides that, adults often have their minds set on certain things, and choose to ignore things they are either not interested in or do not know about.
Worse, many adults have acquired bad habits when it comes to new information presented to them. Many of us, learn to overlook 'unknowns' because we are somewhat content in managing to live our lives with whatever information we've already obtained. In other words, we think we already know enough.
For these and many other reasons, it is extremely important for you to be intentional about asking questions about Bible texts.
What Was The LORD God Communicating?
The first and foremost question I ask of any Bible text is, "LORD, what were you saying through this text of Scripture?" To follow up on that question I would normally petition God in prayer saying, "LORD, please open up your Word to me by Your Spirit, that I could see and hear and know what you want to say to me through this text."
I highly recommend starting every Bible study with prayer because it was by God's command that the Scriptures were written. Since He commanded the content to be written, surely He knows better than anyone else ever could what is being communicated in the Bible texts.
Going to God in prayer is the best beginning for Bible study.
What Was The Writer Communicating?
In my opinion, most textual (or passage based) Bible studies should begin with a broad range of questions about the co-author (writer) and the book in which the passage is contained. Ask questions about the author!
Who was the writer(s)?
What was the writer communicating, and to whom?
Why did the writer write this text, and under what kind of conditions?
What circumstances may have motivated or influenced the writing and reading of this text?
Who were the recipients of this text?
What kind of response did the original intended (readers) audience give, and how was the text handled at the time?
What kind of cultural, language, or other differences may be obstacles or barriers to me in understanding this text 'as I am' in the twenty-first century here and now?
What kind of historical information do we (modern Bible students) have about this text, that will assist us in our interpretation of this text?
Asking Bible Questions - Doing A Thorough Investigation
Asking a multitude of Bible questions helps us look at texts from different angles. You may not get answers to all your questions, but it is important to learn as much as we can. The more we depend upon God to give us understanding and acquire knowledge through diligent study, the greater our understanding of Scripture will be. The greater our understanding, the easier it will be for us to apply that revelation knowledge to our lives in a practical way.
Some examples of questions you might ask for various Bible studies are:
Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD (Genesis 13:18, NKJV).
Questions - What would Abram's tent have been like? What are terebinth trees? Where was Mamre? Where was Hebron? What did an altar consist of, and look like? Why did Abram build an altar to the LORD? Had Abram ever built an altar to the LORD before?
"When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them" (Deuteronomy 7:1,2, NKJV).
Questions - What exactly is the land that God is bringing these people into to possess? Why are the other nations being cast out of that land? Who are the Hittites? Girgashites? Amorites? Canaanites? Perizzites? Hivites? and Jebusites? About how great (in number) and mighty were the children of Israel who were being led into the occupied land? Why does God want all the former occupants of the land to be conquered and destroyed without mercy? What does it mean to 'make a covenant with'? Why did God favor the Israelite peopl over the others? Is God merciless toward people? How does this total destruction of these people still reveal God's charater and nature as a good, perfect, and merciful God?
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God (1 Samuel 4:4, NKJV).
Questions - When was 1 Samuel written? Who wrote 1 Samuel? Where was Shiloh? What was the ark of the covenant? What does 'LORD of hosts' mean? What are cherubim? Who is Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas?
Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. And he began to build on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign (2 Chronicles 3:1,2, NKJV).
Questions - Who is Solomon? Where was Jerusalem, and specifically Mount Moriah? Who was his father David? What does it mean that the LORD appeared to David? What is a threshing floor? Who is Ornan the Jebusite? Is the second day of the second month Febuary 2nd, and if not, then what kind of a calendar/months did they go by? Can we date the fourth year of Solomon's reign? Why did Solomon begin building the house of the LORD then and there? What exactly is the house of the LORD? Does God need a house to live in? Does the house of the LORD still exist in Jerusalem today?
In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea (Isaiah 27:1, NKJV).
Questions - When (in what day)? Who is Leviathan? Reptile in the sea? What is Isaiah saying when he says that the LORD has a sword? Why is the LORD going to slay Leviathan? Why did the LORD reveal this to Isaiah? Who did Isaiah speak to or write about this? When did the LORD speak this to Isaiah and has it already happened or is this something that is yet to happen?
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17, NKJV).
Questions - Was there some sort of misconception among the people as to why Jesus had come? Who was Jesus speaking to? What is the Law that Jesus is referring to? What is the Prophets? What does it mean that Jesus came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them? What kind of effect would Jesus destroying the Law and Prophets have on those people? What kind of effect did Jesus' fulfillment of the Law and Prophets have on those people? Did Jesus indeed fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and if so, how?
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Matthew 10:5-8, NKJV).
Questions - Who were the twelve Jesus sent out? Why did they obey his commands? Who were Gentiles? Why didn't Jesus want the twelve to enter the city of the Samaritans? Who were the Samaritans? What did Jesus mean when he said, "go to the sheep of the house of Israel"? What is the house of Israel, and where is it located? What does, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," (or near) mean? How were these men paying for their travels, and how long would they be gone? What was the purpose of Jesus sending them to preach? Did they follow His commands, and if so, what happened as a result?
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1,2, NKJV).
Questions - Who wrote this? Who is we? 'Therefore' must mean something was said previously that is significant, so what was written right before this? Who are these 'cloud of witnesses', and what is meant by cloud? What weights and sins so easily ensnare them? What race were they running? What was the joy that was before Jesus? What is the cross that Jesus endured? What shame did Jesus dispise, associated with the cross? Where is the throne of God? How did Jesus sit down at the right hand of the throne of God? What is the writer's point in making this statement? When was this written?
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:10-13, NKJV).
Questions - Who wrote this? When was this written? To whom was this written? 'But' implies something contrary may have been written previously, what was written right before this passage? What is 'the day of the LORD'? What heavens is this referring to? Great noise? How are the elements going to melt? Does this mean the whole earth will be burned up, or just a portion? The earth is going to be dissolved? When is this going to happen? What does 'holy' mean? What is 'godliness'? Are the writer and or readers able to 'hasten' or speed up the coming of the day of the LORD? What 'promise' was given about a 'new heavens' and a 'new earth'? Is the writer using literal, allagoric, metaphoric, or symbolic language? What is righteousness? Why should the readers look forward to the events described? Have these things already happened, or are they supposed to happen in times to come?
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