How To Do A Study Of Scripture

By Craig Bluemel


Dedicated To My Good Friend & Brother Don Myers

Introduction – Study Is Different Than Reading


Reading and studying the Bible should be considered as distinct yet related.  The English word “read” is derived from a primary meaning, “to push, drive or advance,” and Webster’s Dictionary says this is also the primary sense of, “ready, that is, prompt or advancing, quick.”  Hence to “read” the Bible means to push or advance quickly thru it, such as is done by diligent reading of a one-year Bible.  A one-year-Bible divides the entire Old and New Testaments into 365 daily readings; this may include a passage from the Old and New Testaments, and adding a Psalm and/or a Proverb to each day. 


Reading the Bible is what the vast majority of born-again Christians do and reading should not be viewed as lesser than or inferior compared to doing in-depth study of scripture because many Christians use their daily reading as part of their overall prayer/communion and meditation time with God and with Jesus.  Qualifications made, to study the scripture means giving special attention to any given topic, passage or word meaning, using a variety of available study methods to formulate teaching, also known as doctrine.


To study connotes fixing and applying one’s mind closely upon a subject.  Reading and studying the Bible, though distinct are interrelated.  To study scripture means to apply one’s mind by reading and examining the inspired text for the purpose of learning and understanding.  Many aspects of study include contemplative reading, so that attentive consideration is given to the subject at hand, such as the study of OT Law, or the study of God’s nature, known as theology. 


Oftentimes Bible study is referred to carte blanche as theology and the word theology is from the Greek, theos (for God) and logos (to discourse as the expression of thought; literally, a running over a subject in speech; hence, a communication of thoughts by words).  Study of scripture involves the act of the undertaking, by which it passes from premises to consequences; it is the act that connects propositions and deduces conclusions from them.


The ultimate GOAL of scripture study is the effective and truth-based communication of thoughts by words, either to individuals or to church assemblies.  To find God’s heart in the Bible means the true teacher must have regular interaction with the body of Christ, so that his or her ideas in thought are generated from personal relationships, and not just hardcore study time in Greek and Hebrew lexicons.


The kind of biblical discourse that God intends for His people nearly always involves some aspect of human conversations.  Over the years my best Bible studies have been the byproduct of verbal exchanges with Christian brethren.  A good study is developed from the contribution of God’s people who are in touch with one another’s lives, hearts, feelings and ideas.  This is what makes the word of God come alive in printed text.  My best friends are my brothers and sisters in Jesus and they are my inspiration from on High.  God uses them to speak to my heart and mind as we share ideas, feelings, experiences, failures, successes, trials and humor.  I benefit from what they have experienced in life, and this helps me understand what is important to them, and ultimately important to God.


The aim of a good Bible teacher’s work is to activate mutual interchange of thoughts and ideas amongst members of the body of Christ.  Not everyone who studies or reads the Bible feels called to teach, and teaching is a very weighty responsibility (See James 3:1ff). If the student of scripture hits the mark of the human heart thru his or her work, God will use it to change lives.


When I was a young Christian my Bible studies were focused more on information for the head.  As I grew older (and wiser for the wear), I found my interests changed from head-knowledge to heart-knowledge.  I am still in the learning process and most of the topics I choose for study are built upon the foundation of mutual concerns that my wife, my friends and I have for the body of Christ. 


I am less and less concerned with the communication of thoughts or ideas in a formal manner.  I have little concern for apocalyptic revelations because I want to see people’s lives changed thru the use of common sense and practical truth found in God’s word.  If what I study and prepare for others to read is not useful or life changing, or if it does not serve an eternal purpose, what’s the point in wasting time on it?


It should be made perfectly clear that if you are unable to study the Bible by using Hebrew and Greek reference works, you should not feel pressured to do so, or beat yourself up because others study and you simply read your Bible.  I’ve met some Bible scholars whose head knowledge of scripture exceeds most, but who are obsessively self-controlled (a nice way of describing anal).  Their obsession with finding the correct meaning and nuance of Greek often overrides their common sense.


While reading and studying are different approaches to learning the essential truths contained in scripture, motive is key to discovering God’s heart in the treasure chest we call the Bible.  Love for the brethren and a desire to provide them with manna from heaven in the form of pragmatic truth should be your overriding motive for pursuing the study of God’s word.

Hermeneutics Is Not Always An Exact Science


Countless books have been written to describe nearly every aspect of the Bible’s contents, including its historical development, its authorship and the styles of writing used, its geography and demographics, the numerous topics, the characters, the commandments, and on and on.  My goal for this treatise is not to furnish another informational guide to the Bible; instead this is a loose-knit criterion to help those without formal hermeneutical training and a refresher to those who have. 


Hermeneutics is a generic term for the science of interpretation and is usually distinguished from the science of exegesisText Box: Hermeneutics is a generic term for the science of interpretation, which is the practical application of the principles derived from hermeneutical study.  Don’t be intimidated by these words because sometime in your life you have probably implemented the principles of hermeneutical study without realizing it.  Hermeneutics is just one long word to describe the method of logical, reasonable Bible study techniques.   A few of these techniques include common sense rules such as careful application of the context, or distinguishing between literal and figurative language, or finding word definitions in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) in order to learn the meaning of the original languages.


The interpretation of any text depends on a variety of flexible and inflexible principles or regulations.  Certain rules remain inflexible such as:


·         Scripture never contradicts itself

·         Scriptures must never be interpreted out of context

·         When in doubt consult the original languages


While these three rules are abiding principles, it is not uncommon for personal bias to affect the implementation of the rule.  For example, the NT teaches us that Jesus’ water baptism was done by full immersion in the waters of the Jordan River (Mark 1:9-10).  Two men with opposing views on the method of baptism are certain to disagree when it comes to defining what the context means.  The Lutheran will say Jesus went into the river to be sprinkled, and the Baptist will say Jesus went into the river to be immersed. 


Since both men agree scripture does not contradict itself, they consult with the original Greek language for the meaning of baptism (baptizo) to settle the dispute.  If both men are honest, they will find baptizo is defined from a root word meaning, “to dip,” and the controversy ends.  This is the ideal resolution for such conflicts, but sadly they often end with sore feelings or a hollering match and one goes away with the correct doctrine having won the argument and losing a relationship.  This example illustrates the importance of character and things like love, compassion and respect.


Text Box: The Bible is a unique collection of writings and differs from any other religious text because it is the ONLY canon (collection) of books that are Divinely inspired.Another example of hermeneutical study characteristics is the rules for interpreting and explaining a metaphor, allegory, or parable.  The rules are typically different for figurative texts than the rules of interpretation for passages that contain literal text.  For example, in John 6:53 Jesus said unless his disciples eat his flesh and drink his blood they cannot have life.  This must be figurative and symbolic for spiritual things; otherwise his words contradict the Law, which forbids drinking blood and eating human flesh.  By applying the rule of context and reading the passage, John 6:63 explains Jesus’ words are “spirit” (meaning spiritual).


Excepting small children, every interpreter of the Bible is sure to have doctrinal prejudice to one degree or another. Doctrinal prejudice is an opinion or decision of mind, formed without due examination of the facts or arguments necessary to make a just and impartial determination.  Religion in general and Christendom globally abounds in prejudices of doctrine and theology.  As part of a corporate assembly of believers, great and small alike, we Christians are accustomed to believe what we are taught, and to receive opinions from others without examining the grounds by which they can be supported. 


The books of the Bible have many similarities to other religious books of other ancient peoples, such as the Islamic Koran, the Indian Rig Veda, or the Talmudic writings of Judaism.  The similarities are found in writing styles, regions written, and even certain aspects of the moral code.  However, the Bible is a unique collection of writings and differs from any other religious text because it is the ONLY canon (collection) of books that are Divinely inspired. 


When we say the Bible is divinely inspired, it does not mean the Bible is inerrant, as many fundamentalist scholars believe.  Inerrancy means incapable of mistakes or containing no mistakes and simply does not reflect the nature of any Bible in its various translations available today.  No original writings of any ancient scripture exist today and the scriptures we do have are copies known as manuscripts.  By definition a manuscript is a copy and handwritten copies are not flawless.


Men wrote the Bible as a historical record of mankind’s relationship to and with God.  This is no minor point because the Bible is the most used and misused text in the history of mankind.  Because only manuscripts exist and copies are often copies of copies several generations removed, there are certain human errors involved.  It is the job of impartial scholars of scripture to fairly weigh and compare manuscripts and derive the most credible and reliable sources.


Some Christian ministers cannot accept that the Bible is anything but inerrant and their knee-jerk reaction is to make the King James Version the only truly inspired text.  Just the same, God left us the record of His word as it is.  I believe He did this to prevent men from worshipping the original writings as idolatry and in order for those who really seek the truth to find it.  The misuse of scripture by clergy for self-serving purposes stems from a basic misunderstanding of the nature of the Bible, particularly as it relates to indigenous environmental influences upon the original authors. 


The universal false doctrines and practices that abound in Christianity are based solely or in part upon the basic misinterpretations and misapplications of the Bible text.  Deep-seated beliefs have remained unchanged and unchallenged for centuries due to the widespread acceptance by Christians of the “clergy-to-layman” mentality.  Also, for many centuries lack of education and inaccessibility to Bible study tools kept the masses in darkness and ignorance.  Since the days of the Great Reformation there has been an ongoing increase in Bible knowledge and an explosion of information in the 20th and 21st centuries.


A great-unseen neo-reformation is taking place as I write these words in December of 2004.  Christian men and women truth-seekers use of computerized Bible reference books provides them with uncomplicated, quick access to a vast array of scripture-based programs.  Affordable Bible software programs provide the diligent student with knowledge pertaining to the indigenous setting and languages of the ancient authors of scripture.  As a result the Bible opens up to them in new ways they could never have imagined, causing Christians to rethink what has taught from the pulpit by pastors and ministers. 


Internet forums enable believers to freely and anonymously discuss hot doctrinal topics like the trinity or the deity of Christ without having to deal with the face-to-face reaction of others that might disagree.  A new openness to challenge orthodoxy and tradition is gaining momentum and God is exposing ministers with strong prejudices in favor of a particular church doctrine.  So often in Christianity our prejudices are unreasonable but fear based in ignorance has gripped the hearts of Christians and amplified their apprehension toward change.


Hermeneutics is a form of study is derived from the Greek word, “hermeneuo,” which means literally, “to translate.”  Hermeneuo is the origin of a more comprehensive word, “diermeneuo,” which means, “to translate by thorough explanation.”  Bible hermeneutics involves in-depth study to obtain the correct translation and explanation of the ancient text of the scriptures.  Hermeneutics involves translating from Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) into English by providing the translation and thorough explanation of the meaning of a scripture passage. 


True hermeneutic study of scripture is more than methodical study using Greek and Hebrew lexicons, concordances, dictionaries and interlinears.  Correct hermeneutics implements these tools wisely by approaching scripture with an unbiased and inspired way.  To do this, you need God’s help to present truth that becomes spiritual food for others to consume.


You can go to a Bible College to learn the technical aspects of hermeneutical study and the universally accepted criteria, such as careful adherence to the context, or proper grammatical construction of sentences and words, or using scripture in the original languages, or internal interpretation of words unique to the author, or application of the manners and customs of the ancient cultures in the dissemination of scripture, etc.  All of these tools and more are very helpful to understanding the meaning of scripture.  However, without the right heart and motives techniques of study alone will not make someone a successful student of the Bible.


Text Box: The single-most important aspect of scripture study is the student’s determination of the contextThere is no exact science for hermeneutical study of scripture; however, reason and logic dictate that certain common sense criteria should always be applied.  For an example, the single-most important aspect of scripture study is the student’s determination of the context.  The majority of doctrinal errors and practices that exist today are because Christians did not interpret the scripture using the context.


One verse of the NT that epitomizes hermeneutics is found in Luke 24:27; this is the story of the events immediately following the resurrection.  For 3 ½ years the disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and they saw his suffering, death, and now witnessed his resurrection.  Jesus rebuked them because their unbelief had dulled their spiritual senses and their ability to discern the fulfillment of the OT scripture.  Taking them aside, Jesus reveals himself to them; thereafter he thoroughly explains from the Law and the Prophets all that was said and fulfilled in and thru him.


·         Luke 24:25-27 And Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones; sluggish in mind, dull of perception and slow of heart to believe, adhere to and trust in and rely on everything that the prophets have spoken!  26 Was it not necessary and essentially fitting that the Christ should suffer all these things before entering into His glory?  27 Then beginning with Moses and throughout all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting (diermeneuo) to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself. AMP


The Greek word translated in the Amplified Bible as “explaining and interpreting” is diermeneuo and this Greek word originates from a cognate hermeneuo, the source of the modern word hermeneutics.   Jesus went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to him.  In order to do this, he spent his lifetime prayerfully and diligently studying the Scriptures.  As Jesus grew older he increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).


Text Box: The two major components of hermeneutics are translation and explanationBeing Jews, the disciples of Jesus were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures because they listened to them read every Sabbath in synagogue.  Jesus was a teacher and Jews called teachers “rabbi” or “rabboni.”  It is probable Jesus explained the meaning of the scriptures from memory, but he may also have had a copy of the Hebrew Bible (on scrolls made of papyri or parchment); if so, it is likely he read the text in its original Hebrew first and then translated it from Hebrew into Aramaic, the language common to the disciples.  The two major components of hermeneutics are translation and explanation.


Modern hermeneutical study involves the revision of the Bible text using the primary root meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek languages.  From these are derived accurate meanings of words, phrases, terms, and sentences.  The accurate meanings of words and phrases are used to formulate the correct translation.  Once you have the correct translation it is used to derive essential truths from scripture.  The essential truths are principles and commandments we live our lives by.  Scholars refer to the application of essential truths as exegesis.  I don’t think it is necessary to use exegesis as a term in one’s spiritual vocabulary.  Just find the truth and walk in it.


Knowing Greek and Hebrew is not enough because even scholarly experts in language have misappropriated word meanings.  In other words, finding the correct meaning of the Greek or Hebrew word means very little unless one can delineate between the ancient significance (in its cultural context) and the modern implication (aka – the essential truth).  To do this takes more than study; it involves a personal relationship with God and man.


In the context of Luke 24 Jesus’ personal relationship with God and man is demonstrated by the response of the disciples.  After he finished explaining the meaning of the scriptures to them they discussed with each other how his teaching made them feel inside.


·         Luke 24:32 And they {the disciples} said to one another, “Were not our hearts greatly moved and burning within us while He {Jesus} was talking with us on the road and as He opened and explained to us the sense of the Scriptures?”   AMP


Particular consideration should be given to the reaction of the disciples, “Were not our hearts greatly moved and burning within us … as He opened and explained to us the sense of the Scriptures?”   This experience is a far cry from what a certain well-known charismatic televangelist refers to as, “the anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus simply and articulately explained the meaning of scripture in a way that was palatable to the disciples.  His intimate knowledge of these men, including their personalities and behavioral characteristics played an essential role in his persuasion.


Considering Luke 24:32 takes place prior to the outpouring of the spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples’ reaction is quite remarkable.  Jesus did more than translate the Scriptures from Hebrew to Aramaic; he relied upon his Father’s guidance and wisdom to speak.  Jesus spoke only those things his Father God gave him to speak and this gave his words inspiration.  Jesus did not teach his disciples the same way the scribes and Pharisees taught the people.  He taught as a man with authority from God; when he explained the scriptures to his disciples it reached into the depths of the heart. 


From an early age Jesus is observed seeking wisdom from the holy writ; at age twelve he reasoned with the elders in the temple.  He studied the scriptures all his life, seeking to understand it’s meaning so that he was able to share it with others.  When Jesus spoke it his words reached the soul and spirit of those listening. 


·         Luke 4:31-32 And He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.  NAS


·         Mark 1:27 And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching with authority!  He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." NAS


So many ministers today prey on the gullibility of Christians who are seeking God in the wrong way. They are wolves in tailor-made sheepskins and patent leather shoes, speaking with a smooth and flattering tongue to deceive the undiscerning.  Their judgment will be severe because their righteousness is only the outward; their white suit-and-tie facade veils the inner corruption.  These men and women line their greedy pockets with the cash donations collected from naïve believers whose motive for giving is to buy into the gospel of instant gratification. 


What burned within the hearts of Jesus’ disciples cannot be described as the byproduct of a burned out boisterous female televangelist blurting into a hand-held microphone during a 30-minute daytime TV broadcast, whose camera crews pan in and out to catch the best view of some two-toned facial expressions.  The disciples’ reaction to what Jesus taught from scripture is not even remotely associated with a certain pseudo-Christian broadcast, whose well known name-it-and-claim-it protocol made this husband-and-wife’s daytime TV program so popular.  Nor should the words of the Lord Jesus be likened to what the prosperity folks refer to as, “the rhema word of God.”  Today’s prosperity message is said to produce an “uncommon effect” upon those watching and listening to the wealth-and-health preachers who devise these nutty buzzwords.  Jesus would denounce them publicly and overturn their stacks of phony prayer cards as he drove them out of the rented TV studio they merchandise the word of God in.


Jesus spent his entire life as a man of God studying the scriptures and seeking his heavenly Father in prayer for understanding, insight and wisdom.  His life set forth the pattern for others like the apostle Paul, Peter, John, James and the rest to follow. 


·         Acts 4:14 Now when they saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools; common men with no educational advantages, they marveled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.    AMP


Now that I have vented my disgust in those who lead God’s people astray, the next section discusses some of the things that help a person get his or her study environment ready.

How To Begin A Bible Study


GET ORGANIZED I do not have one set method of determining my approach to study but it is wise to have some sort of a plan before investing copious amounts of your time and energy.  I use word documents to format my studies, and I use Arial font since it is clean and widely used.  I always prepare my studies to be read by others, so it is important the format be simple, properly spaced and indented so that it is easy to read.  Also, use a font size appropriate to your venue, no smaller than #10 Arial.  You need a quiet, isolated workspace without interruptions (such as the phone, TV, etc) to be effective.


DECIDE ON THE KIND OF STUDY Another consideration before getting too involved in your study is deciding what KIND of a study you want to produce.  By a “kind” of study I mean what type or category; there are basic categories that are helpful for you in organizing.  Here’s a short list of possible categories:


1.     Topical Study - The Scriptures furnish an unlimited number of topics for study and the topics infinitely interesting. Topical studies typically deal with current interest and relate to something that is of particular interest at the moment.


·        Example: Love is a topic that can be studied from several viewpoints, such as God’s love for his children, our love for each other, a husband’s love for his wife, etc.  Let’s say you want to study how love should be expressed by Christians; to begin your topical study on love, open a concordance of the Bible and find passages in the NT that use the word love.  Begin by using a Bible encyclopedia or a topical Bible such as Nave’s Topical Bible to help you determine a starting place for your own thoughts.


2.     Textual Study -This is a study of a particular Bible text (or verse), including the subject matter contained in any given verse, verses, or chapter. Textual study involves grammar, including the construction of sentences or use of words in language.  A textual study is far more challenging than other kinds of formats and it is my least favorite type of study.  In a textual study a verse-by-verse or phrase-by-phrase breakdown analysis of any given text is done in order to determine the correct meaning and application.  Proper hermeneutical procedure dictates the text should first be understood from the perspective of the time it was written; once this has been determined, secondary application(s) can be made for its contemporary use.. 


·        Example #1: Let’s say you’re doing a textual study of 2 Corinthians chapter 13 and encounter the phrase in verse 12, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”  You must FIRST determine the meaning and application of a “holy kiss” at the time it was written.  This is done by giving heavy weight of consideration to the culture and customs of the day, including greetings in the particular region of the world.   After satisfactory research has yielded an explanation of the “holy kiss” in its ancient text, only then should modern correlations and application of principles and essential truths be made.  To give an idea of some of the things that are needed in making the initial determination, these include:


Defining the meaning of the Greek words hagíoo fileémati translated as “holy kiss” in 2 Corinthians 13:12 by using 3 or 4 different Greek dictionaries.


Using the Strong’s Reference number for each word (e.g. - hagíoo = NT:40) to do a query in Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the NT to find all the other places these same words are used first in the book of Second Corinthians, then First Corinthians, and then elsewhere used by the author (Paul) in the entire New Testament.


Determine if there are any antonyms of a holy kiss used in the NT, such as an, “unholy kiss.”           


Seek to understand from the immediate context why this greeting was used, and then seek to understand from the overall context why.  For example, was there any immoral practices being addressed by the apostle Paul, such as fornication, which required that customary eastern greetings of a kiss had to be preface and accompanied with a hagíoo to convey a higher degree of morality and holiness?


·        Example #2: One could do a textual study of the passage surrounding Luke 24:27 because it is a text that describes Jesus’ post-resurrection encounter with his disciples.  A textual study would examine the context of the post-resurrection events and develop commentary to explain the meaning of the passage to determine why Jesus felt it needful to interpret and explain his role as suffering Messiah from the Law and the prophets to his disciples.  This may include whatever information is relevant, such as the historical setting, definition of individual words using Hebrew or Greek dictionaries, parallels from other scripture passages that help illustrate and convey ideas, and whatever else is needed to explain the meaning of the text.


To do a textual study using Luke chapter 24, it would be best to determine ahead of time what the purpose or goal of the study is.  For example, perhaps after making an analysis of the events following the resurrection, you might show parallel accounts from other gospels to focus on the resurrection, OR you might take the study in a different direction altogether, and make comparisons to how hermeneuo and diermeneuo are used elsewhere in the NT.


3.     Word Study – In a word study you search for the origin of words to deduce their simple roots.  This type of study involves the breakdown of component parts of words in either the Hebrew or Greek language.  A word study explains the origin and derivation of words, with a view to ascertain their primary signification, including the deduction of words from their originals and the analysis of compound words into their primitives.  Word studies also use comparisons of word cognates, including synonyms and antonyms, how the word is used in different texts, and in different ways.  Some words have a very wide array of uses, and depending upon the context or grammatical construction, the meanings can vary dramatically.  


·        Example #1: One goal of a word study might be to determine its use in grammar, which is the construction of sentences or use of words in the original Greek or Hebrew language.  One primary factor in a word study is how the author uses the word, (e.g. – Luke was the author of the Book of Acts), including the interpretation of and affinity for different languages.   A thorough word study relates to the history and present state and use of the word in modern languages.  Different authors use different words to describe the same thing; for example, Luke’s gospel (Luke 18:25) identifies a “needle” using a Greek word unique to medicine because Luke was a physician, whereas Matthew’s gospel uses a common Greek word to describe the same parable (Matthew 19:24).  Word studies are one of my favorite kinds because they’re as simple or as complex as you need or want them to be.


·        Example #2: Let’s say you decide to do a Bible study on the word “faith” in the New Testament; you begin by seeing how Jesus in his teaching uses the word faith, in its related forms as a noun and/or verb, such as trust, trusting, belief, believing etc.  Next you use Strong’s Concordance of the New Testament to look up “faith” and identify whatever particular text(s) it appears in; then you locate the Strong’s Reference number.  In Matthew 17:20 for example, the Strong’s Reference number for faith is NT: 4102.  Once you have located this number, you use Strong’s Greek dictionary to locate the definition of the word; in this case, the word translated as “faith” is the Greek word, “pístin,” defined as meaning, “persuasion,” and is derived from NT: 3982, “peitho,” meaning, “to convince.” 


·        Example #3: Words studies have unlimited potential and some words such as Greek prepositions are frequently mistranslated by Bible translators because of certain doctrinal prejudices.  The Greek word pros is one of the most abused words in the NT because it can mean first in order of time or first in order rank, title or position.  Therefore, when pros is used in sentence construction where Jesus Christ’s rank or position of preeminence as a man is the intended meaning, it is not uncommon for Trinitarian Bible translators to misuse pros by referring to Jesus as the preincarnate Christ who existed before the creation of the world.  One such example is found in John 8:58 where most Bible translations render Jesus’ words to the Jews as, “Before (pros) Abraham was I existed.”  In reality, what Jesus is saying, and the correct use of pros in the context should read, “I exist as preeminent (pros) to Abraham.”  The first rendering makes Jesus appear as if he existed before Abraham in time, whereas the latter rendering and the correct one shows Jesus as having a position of importance in God’s kingdom that is greater or more preeminent than that of Abraham’s existence.  Imagine, one tiny preposition misused conveys a completely different meaning.  This shows the importance of diligent study to insure the veracity of every word of God in scripture.


4.     Apologetical Study - The apologetical study uses scripture to speak in defense of truth and to argue against a false teaching (aka doctrine).  Apologetic studies usually include a certain amount of rhetoric as a means of presenting the argument and persuading others.  Apologetics is a compound derived from the Greek preposition, “apo,” (away) and the Greek noun, “logos,” meaning, “the expression of reason,” or simply; “a discourse.”  This kind of study is geared for the mature believer, particularly if he is called as a teacher of scripture.  Apologetics is complex and to be done correctly involves several key factors:


·        You must begin from a premise of truth, which is derived from exhaustive, comprehensive research in scripture done with an unbiased mind & heart.  This involves a willingness to let go of your own former doctrinal position for the sake of truth alone.  Regardless of how adept one is at the study of scripture, he or she must always be flexible enough to change viewpoints; this is easier said than done.  Some err on the side of caution and refuse to state a position of doctrine because of the changing nature of individual revelation and the fear of leading others astray.  However, the NT admonishes us to take heed unto our doctrine, and ourselves and to live according to the standard of what we know, not what we don’t know.  In other words, establish doctrine but also have a teachable and persuadable attitude at all times.


·        You must have the skill and should possess an inherent capability to form logical reasons for and against opposing doctrinal positions.


·        You must have an ability to write in a persuasive manner without using crass sarcasm or other inflammatory statements to emphasize your point.


·        You should have a working knowledge of English grammar.


·        Humility is an absolute requirement; if you cannot admit you’re wrong when God or someone else reveals it to you, you have no business in apologetics.  Apologetical studies are not to prove your doctrine is right, but to find the truth.  A believer secure in what they have studied and understood, and operating with love as primary motivation, will be as concerned for his opponent’s heart as he is for the truth.


General Guidelines To Follow


As with any document, there are some basic rules of logic and reason necessary to adhere to when studying scriptures.  First, put yourself in the times and place of the one that wrote the scripture.  This information is readily available by consulting with a good Bible dictionary or encyclopedia.  There are just a few essential questions to ask and answer to determine the original author’s purpose in writing:


1. ESTABLISH THE HISTORICAL FACTS FIRST.  Who wrote the text and to whom was it being written?  For example, some gospel accounts in the NT were written as simply as an inspired historical narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) for the early church, whereas others add a dimension by including eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ personal interaction, such as John’s gospel.  For example, this is an important element to understand when studying and comparing John’s gospel with Peter’s epistles to corroborate each other’s account of the transfiguration.  Another example are the Pauline epistles; some letters Paul wrote as encouragements and others were written with exhortations and even rebukes, such as what he wrote to the Galatian church, which was plagued by legalism promulgated by Judaizers promoting circumcision and other statutory requirements of the Law for salvation.  Perhaps one of the most abused texts of scripture today is the Book of Revelation, which was written by the apostle John TO the seven actual churches that are in Asia.  Many apocalyptic Christian authors and teachers have destroyed the correct interpretation of the Book of Revelation simply because they did not heed this simple approach to understanding the book’s content.


Text Box: Simply defined, context is the text surrounding a word or passage: the words, phrases, or passages that come before and after a particular word or passage in a speech or piece of writing and help to explain its full meaning.  2. CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT!  If you learn nothing else from this study please remember context.  More wrong doctrine and more confusion and more wrong practices have come about as the direct result of Christians and others using the scripture OUT OF CONTEXT.  Simply defined, context is the text surrounding a word or passage: the words, phrases, or passages that come before and after a particular word or passage in a speech or piece of writing and help to explain its full meaning.  To determine context requires consideration first be given to surrounding conditions and the circumstances or events that form the environment within which something exists or takes place.


The English word context is from Latin contextus meaning, “cohering, connected,” from contexere meaning, “to weave together.”  This definition describes what every student of scripture should do EVERY time she or he reads a passage of scripture seeking to understand its’ meaning and essential truths.  Weaving together IS NOT finding similar verses or words elsewhere in scripture and weaving them into your understanding of a given text of the Bible.  One must FIRST determine what the context of the passage being read is, and thereafter comparisons to similar contexts can be made.


The Bible was not written and compiled to be a manual of formulas that tell us what to do or not do.  The Bible records the history of mankind from the very beginning of creation, and ending with a record of what the first churches were like after redemption came via Jesus as the Christ.  From this record we are able to glean commandments given by God for men to obey and ways that men related to God in a good and in a negative sense.  We find how men treated their fellow men and how God took notice and responded.  It takes time, commitment and the effort required to ascertain the context of whatever passage of scripture we are studying.  This kind of diligence makes better equips a believer to apply the essential truths of scripture to his or her life and the lives of others.


Because the Bible is an inspired history of mankind it lapses over many ancient peoples, lands, cultures and customs.  It is incumbent therefore not to interpret its content with solely westernized modern concepts.  Consult with Bible encyclopedias and Bible dictionaries before you study each book of the Bible, because this will clue you in to the environment the text was written in.


To determine context also requires a person differentiate between figurative and literal language.  Common sense tells us to seek the literal meaning first, and when it is not possible to do so without doing damage to the meaning of the text, then look at other possibilities, such as allegory, metaphor, parables, etc.  Whenever dealing with figurative language, including types and antitype, beware of pursuing instant revelations without weighing them against the general tenor of scripture.


Typology is from the Greek túpos meaning to strike a blow and leave a mark; e.g. – Adam is a type (túpos) of Christ in the text of Romans 5:14.  Think of it this way; the word typewriter is a compound of túpos and a word meaning to engrave; when the typewriter key strikes a blow against the colored ribbon, it leaves a mark or “type” on the paper.  The mark left on the paper by the typewriter key symbolizes the key itself and yet it is only a mark of ink and not the actual metal key that struck the blow. 


So too there are numerous types in the OT that are symbolic of the Jesus Christ and his church in the NT.  You might consider these OT types like the ink mark left by the typewriter key.  For example, the lamb sacrifices offered up according to the Law are a type (túpos) of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who offered his own life as propitiation for the sins of the world.


Not surprising is the tendency of inexperienced students of scripture to formulate doctrine from typology alone.  This can be dangerous in the wrong hands because there are certain personality types that thrive on personal ‘hidden’ revelations in the scripture.  It’s tragic when someone who sees the types in scripture feels they have ascended to a mysterious elite height of revelation because Satan uses this mentality to feed the human ego, and soon the person is deluded and even deceived.


If we fail to take heed to our approach and diligence to follow the context, we will end up living our lives by misconstrued application of Bible verses.  This is the single greatest reason so many churches and individual Christians have erred and led others astray in varying degrees.  The Bible was never intended to be an easy, “How To,’ manual for people bent on twisting the scriptures to fit their preconceived ideas.


3. Word keys are key!  There are many seemingly insignificant word keys throughout scripture that assist us in our quest to figure out its meaning.  Pronoun keys tell us whether a he, she or it is being used; often Bible translators have erroneously inserted a masculine pronoun “he” into a text that’s’ original language of Greek is neuter.  One such example is found in John 1:2 of the New American Standard Bible, a translation I usually favor over the King James Version.  However, the translators of the NASB erroneously translated the neuter pronoun Hoútos in John 1:2 as, “He” to corroborate their doctrine of Christ as the preincarnate “Word” in John 1:1.  Because of their doctrinal bias and belief that Jesus Christ is the “Word” in John 1:1 (which he is not), they automatically assumed masculinity was appropriate in violation of the word structure in John 1:2 and render it as a masculine pronoun, “He,” instead of, “this one,” or, “the same.”


Time keys are words and phrases that tell us when something happened (past tense), will happen (future tense), is happening (present tense), and so on.  Because these time keys are frequently ignored in favor of one’s own personal doctrine and bias, entire passages of scripture are twisted to mean something they don’t mean.  For example, most Christians use Isaiah 9:6-7 to substantiate their theology concerning Christ, referring to him as Deity based upon select parts of the text, ignoring altogether the multiple time keys that say things like, a child, “will be born,” (future tense) and a son, “will be given,” (future tense) and his name, “will be called,” (future tense).


Preposition keys are another of the many word keys that need our attention and recognition whenever we study the scriptures.  For example, it is not uncommon for the Greek preposition, diá meaning through (i.e. thru as in via the agency of) to be mistranslated as, “by.”  Another of the many prepositions mistranslated is the Greek pros; this word pros has a wide range of uses and these include meanings such as, “first in rank; chief in purpose,” which are often mistranslated as, “before,” as in time.


There are many other word keys too numerous to mention, but paying careful attention to EVERY word in scripture, and comparing it against the original Hebrew or Greek text for accuracy in meaning will make you a much more cautious and deliberate student.  You will also see things most Christians glance over carelessly. 


4. Esteem the teachings found in scripture as final authority and always superior to manmade tradition that runs contrary to its truth.  While the Bible is not intended as a ‘How-To’ manual, it is God-breathed in that its penmen wrote as they were born along by God’s presence and input.  There are of course many didactic messages in scripture, and many doctrines can and should be formed from them; doctrine is teaching formed from either the essential truths or in the case of the gospel in the New Testament, the teachings of Christ and instructions of the apostles.


To find the treasures buried within this awesome book we call the Bible requires that we set aside all of our preconceived bias and doctrinal prejudice whenever studying scripture.  This doesn’t mean you throw away your accumulated experience as a researcher, but that you allow God to direct your heart and mind, keeping in mind that ultimately, He is the One that inspired what you are studying. There is much more I could write, but this finishes my guidelines for study commentary.  Now it’s time to get started!

Getting Started

This is the final section because the only way to discover you aptitude for doing a Bible study is by just doing it.  To get started, here are some things I use to help me.  Your needs might be different, but these are time tested methods used and developed over a span of almost 30 years.


PRAYER - Pray each time and even as you’re doing the study for guidance and insight. 


DISTRACTION-FREE - You must have a distraction-free environment; this means the phone ringers are tuned off, no television or music and ask members of your household not to interrupt you unless of course it’s an emergency.  I cannot emphasize this point enough.  At my age (51 years old) I still require an environment free from noise input; my sweet wife always respects my request for a noise-free area so I can concentrate.  How can you expect to listen for God’s revelation if the air about you is filled with noise?


WATER - For me, having plenty of ice cold drinking water is essential.  If you don’t take care of your physical body, it becomes increasingly difficult for you to effectively utilize your spirit.  Also, don’t try to study right after eating a big meal.  I find it helps if I give myself a minimum of 30 minutes for my food to settle.  Find the time of day when you have the most energy and optimize the use of these hours; for me it is best if I study between 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.  In the evening I’m usually too tired to study effectively.


LIGHTING - Good lighting means your eyes are not straining to see your keyboard or books used during your study time.  Also, make sure the contrast and resolution light emitted from your computer monitor is right for your eyes.  This allows you longer sessions of study without getting headaches caused by straining to see.


ROOM TEMPERATURE – If you are in a room that is too hot or too cold, you won’t be comfortable.  It is best to study in a room that is cooler than warmer because heat can often make you feel groggy and sleepy, especially after a meal.


ERGONOMICS – Make sure you have comfortable, back supporting chair, keyboard, and computer desk.  The desk should be at proper height so you don’t strain your neck, which can result in headaches and neck or back pain.


BE RESTED – It’s important you are not overly tired or have had not enough sleep.  Your physical body can help or hinder your study ability.  For me, mornings are best for study because I have had a full night of sleep.  However, if you work a day job, you might not have this luxury.  Set a realistic time to study, even if it’s once a week.


STUDY TOOLS & SOFTWARE - Bible software has been the greatest blessing for me in study.  I used to do all my studies using bulky and very heavy Hebrew and Greek concordances, lexicons, dictionaries and Bible translations; now all I have to do is point my curser using a track ball, and click onto an icon, and I have whatever I need at the press of a button.  I use just a few essential study tools, and your needs may vary, depending on how in-depth your study techniques are.  Below is a list of tools I consider absolute to study:


·        MULTIPLE BIBLE VERSIONS FOR COMPARISON - I use the New American Standard Updated version, the Amplified Bible, The New King James Version, the New International Version, the American Standard Version, the King James Version, and the Webster’s Bible.  I also use the following Bibles which are not yet available in software programs; Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Concordant Literal (NT only; I don’t care for Concordant’s OT books).


·        GREEK & HEBREW STUDY HELPS - Strong’s Exhaustive Greek & Hebrew Concordance & Dictionary, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon & Dictionary, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon & Dictionary, Zodhiates Word Studies of Old & New Testaments, Hebrew-to-English Interlinear Bible version, and Greek-to-English Bible version and finally, the most important tool in my study is Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance and Englishman’s Greek Concordance.


·        WORD STUDY HELPS - Word studies can be jump-started oftentimes using tools like Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament words, Kenneth Wuest’s New Testament word studies, etc.  One word of caution however: Word study books always contain the doctrinal bias and prejudice of their authors, so they should not be considered final authority when seeking an accurate word definition and/or application.  Often a word study reference book is nothing more than an inductive study guide.


·        TOPICAL STUDY HELPS - Topical studies can be jump-started oftentimes using tools like Nave’s Topical Bible or the array of inductive study Bibles available today.  Often good Bible software will include a cross-reference tool that provides an alphabetical list of topics in scripture and corresponding verses.  I prefer not to depend on the veracity or accuracy inductive study helps because inevitably they are slanted in the favor of this doctrine or that, and originate from a system of beliefs.  For example, a fundamentalist author that disagrees with the modern use of glossalaliá will create an inductive study path that incorporates Bible verses conforming to his or her way of thinking and arrange proof texts to discredit speaking in other tongues.  While I don’t DEPEND on inductive study helps, they can be useful in the course of study to find an assortment of scriptures on any given topic.


·        DICTIONARIES & ENCYCLOPEDIAS - It is important to have good quality Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.  I use these ONLY for gathering historical data about people, places, languages, etc.  Perhaps the most comprehensive is ISBE, an acronym for the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; it contains thousands of articles, maps, photos, archaeology, and more.  I never use Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias to form opinions about doctrine and whenever I use them as study help, I try to compare them with others to verify the accuracy of the data.  Other Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias are Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Faucett’s Bible Dictionary, New Unger’s Bible Dictionary etc.


·        WEBSTER’S 1828 DICTIONARY - This is perhaps one of the greatest tools I acquired in many years because it is software containing the original 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, which uses primarily Bible verses for examples to illustrate the use of words in the English language defined in it.  Also, the use of modern English is much different than the English language spoken in the 19th century.  This is important because many of the Bible reference tools we use today, such as Strong’s Exhaustive Greek & Hebrew Concordance & Dictionary use words meanings that vary greatly from ours’ today.


·        COMMENTARIES - I do not use commentaries so I don’t recommend them for Bible study.  Some scholars say they are helpful for gathering pertinent historical data, but I find them cumbersome and wading thru the rhetoric dulls my mind to the crisp tone of scripture.  I’m not against using commentaries per say, but I do recommend they be used only as an afterthought when the serious student is defining truth in doctrine from scripture.


·        GENERAL TOOLS - There are many other Bible study tools that could be listed, such as Bible maps, Bible book outlines, sermon notes of past Christian theologians, etc.  For my purposes, most of them are superfluous and non-essential.  Good Bible maps and photos are helpful, particularly if you are doing a study with information pertaining to a given geographical area.  For example, I recently finished a series on speaking in tongues, and downloaded several detailed Bible maps mapping the regions and cities where the apostle Paul journeyed on each of his apostolic missions.  The maps were helpful to determine what other cities were in close proximity to Corinth because once these cities were found; I could research historical data on the philosophies, lifestyles, and forms of worship indigenous to and influential upon Corinth.


·        SECULAR ENCYCLOPEDIA - With today’s software becoming more available, affordable and compatible with personal computers, I recommend you invest in a good quality and comprehensive encyclopedia.  I use Microsoft’s Encarta Encyclopedia & Dictionary because it is interactive, and I can go online and access virtually an unlimited amount of information on just about any subject.  Oftentimes Bible scholars have limited scope and vision and don’t use the secular versions.  Encarta comes highly recommended by me and has served my needs in researching cultural, archaeological, historical, and other data, and the word dictionary is interactive with the encyclopedia.


PC POWER - Your computer should have enough juice to operate with several open windows.  Oftentimes I have as many as 15 windows open while doing research and word etymology.  Your hard drive should accommodate PC Biblesoft Version 4.0 Reference Library Plus.  This is my own personal preference, which is a nice middle-line software package.  It contains all of the essentials and you can add updates.  I like using Zodhiates Greek & Hebrew word study Bible, formerly only available on a separate disc you couldn’t download.  But now PC Biblesoft incorporates it in some software, or you can purchase it as an addition.


START SMALL - The biggest mistake made by a lot of people is organizing their material, and getting it formatted.  You can get overwhelmed, especially once you learn an aspect of Bible software, such as following the path of root word origins.  The best solution is this: START SMALL and only do a 2-3-page study at first.  Stay small until you have mastered one aspect of using Bible reference tools, and then progress to the next level of Bible software, but keep the studies themselves SHORT.


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH? In this article all I want to accomplish is basic information that will contribute to more effective study.  I made this determination before I got started.  Once you begin, it may seem difficult to turn out more than a 2-3-page study, but as time and effort continue, soon you’ll find yourself trying to find a stopping place so you don’t exceed the limit for a readable study.  Ten pages is fairly standard, but less if possible.  My studies range between 10-15 pages in length.  If the pages exceed 15 it is usually best to break the subject matter up by converting it a two-part study; in today’s fast paced society people want information that is user friendly.


Conclusion – Important Grammatical Considerations For Studying Scripture


GRAMMATICAL CATEGORIES – As in English, the Hebrew and Greek originals have their own set of grammatical definitions.  If you are serious about Bible study you must invest in a Bible software program that provides you with, ‘At-A-Glance,’ descriptions of Greek & Hebrew nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, etc.  Each language has characteristics vital for acquiring the correct meaning of a specific word, which affects the meaning of the phrase or sentence that word is used in.


For example, Greek uses verbs in various tenses, such as the active voice, which represents the action as being accomplished by the subject of the verb.  You must be familiar with these language grammatical categories and this requires you to possess a fairly good working knowledge of the English language.


The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek and without having access to study tools and reference works that help define word meanings in these languages, it is impossible to determine accurately how they are used.  All words in language convey the meaning of something said; some words are primary or root words, whereas other words are compounded from a combination of nouns, adjective, preposition, verbs, adverbs, etc.


Hebrew has its’ own set of grammatical notations and these are completely different than Greek grammatical notations.  It is not the purpose of this treatise to define the multiple grammatical notations; instead, you will find below just a few definitions of Hebrew grammar and Greek grammar notes below obtained from The Complete Word Study Bible Copyright © 1991, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc.   I consider this program one of the best available for this specific purpose because each grammatical note is provided for the student in a readable text of the Bible in the King James Version, plus many extras that make this affordable disc worth every dollar invested.


To give you a better idea of what is required for in-depth study of the scriptures, I have copied and pasted an Explanation of Format Abbreviations used throughout The Complete Word Study Bible Old Testament and The Complete Word Study Bible New Testament:



PLACEMENT OF NOTATIONS AND NUMBERS In most cases, grammatical notations associated with a word are placed directly before the Strong's number representing that word. However, certain grammatical particles are not assigned numbers in Strong's dictionary and therefore have only notations. The opposite also occurs, as is the case with eth (853, the sign of the object), which was not assigned a grammatical notation because it is not technically assigned a part of speech, is not translatable, and is the only word that serves the function. Notations and numbers are placed above the word they designate (whenever possible) or are placed as close as possible above the word(s) with which they are associated.


When two English words placed next to each other represent a single Hebrew word, the grammatical notation and number of that Hebrew word are placed above and between the two English words. (For procedures adopted when three or more adjacent English words are used to translate a single Hebrew word, see WORD CLUSTERS, below.)

When two or more Hebrew words are represented by a single English word, a virgule (slash) is used to separate the respective notations and numbers (e.g., "prison" [Gen. 39:20], which is coded cs,nn1004/df,nn5470).


On occasion, words which appear in the Hebrew text are not translated into English. Such words are depicted by having their corresponding notations and/or numbers placed in parentheses above the text in the position that the English translation best allows. If a word represented by a Strong's number is not translated, but some of the grammatically coded preformatives and/or sufformatives attached to it are, the notations for those preformatives and sufformatives will be placed before the parentheses that enclose the Strong's number of the word to which they are attached.


The less common stems of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, some of which it can be debated are not separate stems at all, but are actually morphemic variants of the traditional stems, have not been given separate codes within the work. Instead, they have been coded with the codes of the stems from which they are derived, but with an asterisk added to the end of the code. Hence, a participle in the hithpalpel stem, which is derived from and has the same meaning as a participle in the hithpael stem, would have the code htpt*. Two less common stems, however, because they constitute compounded stems with separate meaning, have been coded separately. These are the hothpael and nithpael stems. (For a list of the irregular stems and how each is coded, see the "List of Irregular Verb Forms" in the Study Helps section of the book.)


Words in the original text that are neither Hebrew nor Aramaic, such as the Egyptian word 'avr¢kh (86), have not been given grammatical codes.


WORD CLUSTERS are groups of three or more adjacent English words which are connected with each other. These have been set off by asterisks between each word in that cluster. Asterisks have been placed after the first word in the cluster, before the last word in the cluster, and between intervening words. Word clusters have been used in the following instances:


To demonstrate where three or more English words have been used to translate one Hebrew word (e.g., "be*gathered*together" [Gen. 1:9]).


To show where an English word(s) has been placed between two or more English words associated with a single Hebrew word (e.g., "carry*it*down" [Gen. 37:25]). If the intervening word possesses a grammatical notation and/or Strong's number, a virgule (slash) is used to separate the respective notations and numbers (e.g., "came*Joseph*near" [Gen. 33:7], which is coded nipf5066/nn3130).


To represent where one Hebrew word has assimilated into another to form one word; a virgule (slash) is again used to separate the respective notations and numbers (e.g., "out*of*Eden" [Gen. 2:10], which is coded pr4480/nn5731).


To render Hebrew idioms according to their English equivalents (e.g., "went*on*his*journey" [Gen. 29:1], which would literally be translated "lifted up his feet").


INTRODUCTIONS to each book of the Old Testament cover Bible history, archaeology, and customs that are important in understanding the significance of the book in relationship to the Bible as a whole.


FOOTNOTES explain the exegetical, theological, historical, and geographical significance of certain passages. A key (§ in this electronic version) in the text informs the reader that there is a note at the bottom of the page that discusses that verse, and perhaps several of the verses that follow.


STUDY HELPS appear after the Book of Malachi. They include:


THE GRAMMATICAL CODES and their explanation. The letters over the English text of the Old Testament refer to the grammatical structure of the Hebrew or Aramaic word(s).


THE ARAMAIC CODES and their explanation. These are special grammatical codes that are only used in the portions of the Old Testament that are written in Aramaic: Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Jer. 10:11; Dan. 2:4-7:28.


THE LIST OF IRREGULAR VERB FORMS gives the irregular Hebrew and Aramaic verb forms and shows how each was coded in the text.


GUIDE TO TRANSLITERATION of the Hebrew alphabet.


A TRANSLATIONAL REFERENCE INDEX of the Old Testament which lists almost every word of the King James Text of the Old Testament followed by the Strong's numbers for all the Hebrew and Aramaic words translated by that English word.


A SCRIPTURE INDEX which is designed to aid the reader in locating all the Scripture references found in the Introductions and Footnotes.


A HEBREW CONCORDANCE of the Old Testament which lists by Strong's number the occurrences of every word found in the Hebrew Old Testament will also be available as a separate volume.


ABBREVIATIONS – What follows is a comprehensive list of all abbreviations used to represent grammatical codes and notations of the New Testament.  I have not listed the abbreviations because of space limitations.

From The Complete Word Study Bible and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc. - Explanation of General Format (Abbreviations not listed)



In most cases, grammatical notations associated with a word are placed directly before the Strong's number representing that word. This is not the case, however, when conjunctions and other grammatical particles occur because these are not assigned notations. In addition, non-declinable proper nouns are listed with only the Strong's number. These notations and numbers are placed directly above the word they designate (whenever possible) or are placed as close as possible above the word(s) with which they are associated.


When two English words placed next to each other represent a single Greek word, the grammatical notation and number of that Greek word are placed above the two English words and between them (for procedures adopted when three or more adjacent English words are used to translate a single Greek word, see Word Clusters, below).

On occasion, words which appear in the Greek text are not translated into English. This frequently occurs with double negatives which are acceptable in Greek grammar but are not so in English. Such words are depicted by having their corresponding notations and numbers placed in parentheses above the text in the position that the English translation best allows.


When a word, or group of words, is carried over from one line to the line below it, the grammatical notation has often been placed above one line and the Strong's number is placed above the line below.


When particles such as an (302), eán (1437), or men (3303) seem to be associated with words that express uncertainty (in the first two cases) or contrast (in the case of "men"), the numbers for these words have been placed after the word with an intervening virgule (e.g., art3588/3303).


The Greek word hóti (3754) is often untranslated when used to introduce direct discourse (e.g., Acts 26:31). In such instances, the number of hóti has not been placed over the text. When not used in direct discourse and not translated in English, however, the Strong's number has been placed over the text in parentheses (e.g., Acts 24:21).


WORD CLUSTERS are groups of three or more adjacent English words which are connected with each other. These have been set off by asterisks between each word in that cluster. Asterisks have been placed after the first word in the cluster, before the last word in the cluster, and between intervening words. Word clusters have been used in the following instances:


To demonstrate where three or more English words have been used to translate one Greek word (e.g., mêpote has been rendered as "lest*at*any*time" [Heb. 2:1]).

To show where an English word(s) has been placed between two or more English words associated with a single Greek word (e.g., in the phrase "they gathered*them*together" [John 6:13], the supplied word "them" is placed between "gathered . . . together" which, in Greek, is the word sunêgagon [4863]). If the intervening word itself possessed a grammatical notation and Strong's number, a virgule (slash) would be used to separate the respective notations and numbers (e.g., aina4863/ppro846). The first notation and number would represent the first word appearing in the English translation.

To render Greek idioms according to their English equivalents (e.g., "found with child" in Matt. 1:18 is literally "found to be having in belly" in Greek. Therefore, it is presented as "found*with*child" to reflect the translation of this expression).


INTRODUCTIONS to each book of the New Testament cover Bible history, archaeology, and customs that are important in understanding the significance of the book in relationship to the whole Bible.


FOOTNOTES explain the exegetical, theological, historical, and geographical significance of certain passages. A key (§ in this electronic version) in the text informs the reader that there is a note at the bottom of the page that discusses that verse, and perhaps several of the verses that follow.


STUDY HELPS appear after the Book of Revelation. They include:


THE GRAMMATICAL CODES and their explanation. The letters over the English text of the New Testament refer to the grammatical structure of the Greek word(s).


THE LIST OF IRREGULAR ADVERBS records the occasions where adverbs function as prepositions. Where this has occurred in the text, these adverbs have been assigned an ad* notation. It must be remembered that even though these words may play the role of prepositions, they are still classified as adverbs.


GUIDE TO TRANSLITERATION of Greek with helps for modern pronunciation.


A GREEK CONCORDANCE of the New Testament, which lists the occurrences of almost every word in the Greek New Testament.


A TRANSLATIONAL REFERENCE INDEX of the New Testament which lists almost every word of the King James Text followed by the Strong's numbers for all the Greek words that are translated by each English word.


A SCRIPTURE INDEX which is designed to aid the reader in locating all the Scripture references found in the Footnotes and Introductions.


ABBREVIATIONS – What follows is a comprehensive list of all abbreviations used to represent grammatical codes and notations of the New Testament. I have not listed the abbreviations because of space limitations.

From The Complete Word Study Bible and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc. - Explanation of General Format (Abbreviations not listed)



This is the end of the study. I hope you enjoyed it.  Please refer back to its contents for help in your study of scripture.  If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at:



God bless you!



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