Bible Study - Best Practices

Golden Rules

  1. Scripture interprets scripture.
    • Acts 17:11, Isaiah 28:9-10, 2Peter 1:20
  2. Any doctrine requires two witnesses, at the least.
    • 2Corinthians 13:1, Revelation 11:3
  3. Seek scriptural harmony. It's real.
    • Matthew 4:4, 2Timothy 3:16-17
  4. Never go beyond what's written.
    • 1Corinthians 4:6, Revelation 22:18

Silver Rules

  1. Refer to multiple translations: Since no Translation is perfect, compare the text using multiple types of translations to arrive at the correct understanding of a verse that harmonizes with the rest of the Bible. Refer Golden Rule #3.
    Translation types:
    • Functional Equivalence – E.g. NIV.
    • Formal Equivalence – E.g. NASB.
    • Free Translation – E.g. The Message.
  2. Understand important Greek/Hebrew biblical words: Study Vine’s/Strong’s for interlinear translations, etymologies, and apply exegesis. In most cases, a word is best defined by Scripture itself. Refer Golden Rule #1.
  3. Verify earliest available manuscripts to resolve supposedly contradictory verses. Refer Golden Rule #3.
  4. Support any given doctrine with more than one Scripture. Refer Golden Rule #2.
  5. Read and understand based on context: A text must be understood based on its micro and macro context. 
  6. On any given topic, direct statements from Scriptures take predominance over any interpretative Scriptures. Refer Golden Rule #4.
  7. Avoid reading literal meanings into parables, allegories, and symbolic statements. If you treat a section as symbolic, be consistent and see everything there as symbolic. Avoid considering half of the things there as symbolic and half literal. Vice versa.
  8. Interpret parables, allegories or symbolic statements not by personal theories, but by using other Scriptures. Refer Golden Rule #1.
  9. Treat an epistle as a letter or an email, to be read in one sitting.
  10. Bear in mind the foundational doctrines of Christianity as listed down in Hebrews 6:1-2 “The elementary teaching about the Christ... foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”

Scriptures, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Scriptures indicated NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.