Alofun Oluwatayo Victor
Introduction to the Bible
Why study the Bible
What does the Bible say about itself
Interpreting the scriptures
Laws of interpretations of the scriptures
The chronological order of the Bible
About the Author
Many times when I hear young people asking what is the will of God or complaining about God not speaking to them, I laugh. I write this short pamphlet not as an expert who has got it all figured out but as a fellow burden bearer seeking to expand the frontier of learning among Christian brethren, in this wise I'm open to corrections, comments and query where necessary provided they can be established in the scriptures.. There are many definition about the Bible but only two of them has ever struck me like a dynamite in my entire Christian Journey, they include 1. The bible is the word of God and 2. The bible is the will of God. In Life when a man is going to die (Physically absent) he puts his thoughts into writing for his children including the extent of his belonging and how the children can claim those heritage. That document is called a WILL. He keeps this document with a lawyer who interprets the document and the extent of the claim, he gives them further information on the best way to claim these promises of their father according to the will. In the same way, God our father, knowing that he will not be physically present has also written a WILL, a document containing all his taught to all his children, it includes the extent of the fatherâ€™s estate and instructions on how to claim these heritage. More importantly, this document was also kept with a lawyer who is expected to interpret it and advise on how to claim it, that WILL for us is called THE BIBLE.
Godâ€™s lawyer to this effect is the holy spirit, the holy spirit is not a small lawyer, the scripture calls him an advocate, meaning if the holy spirit was a practising lawyer in Nigeria he must be a SAN- Senior Avocate of Nigeria. This is why the bible says that all scriptures are given through inspiration of the holy spirit and they are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3: 16-17) This is the most crucial part to understanding the scripture, it was sealed by the inspiration of the holy spirit, then only through the Illumination of that same spirit can it be unlocked. When the holy spirit unlocks the scripture to our heart, the word moves from being a Logos (mere knowledge or letter) into a Rhema (A living word). This was what David meant in Psalm 119:18 when he says Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. No wonder the bible says that this is the confidence we have that when we pray according to his will he hears us. What then is his will-The Bible. Iâ€™m trusting God to give you a spiritual adventure through this little and probably what you can call unprofessionally written book in Jesus name.
Why study the bible Why should we study the Bible? If I make this question a blank cheque question, I'm persuaded that everyone will have at least one thing or the other to say. More importantly however, when the allpowerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe has something to say, we had better listen. Unfortunately, many churches downplay the importance of studying the scriptures or even discourage Bible study. But just as children cannot grow to be strong without meat, new Christians must partake of the meat of the Word of God in order to mature as believers (1 Corinthians 3:1-2 and Hebrews 5:12-14). Even mature believers who have studied the scriptures for years can still uncover many more precious truths in God's Word. In this section of the pamphlet, I will also look at several Bible passages that encourage us to study the Bible. When instructing the younger Timothy in the ministry, our Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." This call to Bible study echos an earlier point that Paul had made in 1 Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." Note how these verses contrast those who study with those who do not study as "approved of God" and "worthy of double honour", versus disapproved and "ashamed".
During Paul's second missionary journey, when he and Silas arrived at Berea in Macedonia, Acts 17:11 says of the Bereans, "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." Note that the Bereans searched the scriptures, not one day a week, but daily, and with minds that were open to God's truths. In in Ephesians 6:11, Paul instructs the believer to, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." A few verses later in Ephesians 6:17 he explains that part of that armour of God is "... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God ...." We should go into battle with the devil skillfully wielding a sharp sword rather than fumbling with a butter-knife. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus Christ says, "... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Many churches use quarterly booklets that cover ten or so Bible verses each week, and boast that the quarterlies cover the entire Bible in seven years. But at that rate, only about ten percent of the Bible can be covered. This falls far short of being "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."will do all my pleasure ...." God proclaims that His ability to know and declare the events of the future one of his main characteristics, and evidence that He is the one true God.
What does the bible say about itself 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Proverbs 3:1-2 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Deuteronomy 11:18-23 â€œYou shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, ... NB: All scriptures in ESV
Interpreting the Bible The Bible is God’s Word. But some of the interpretations derived from it are not. There are many cults and Christian groups that use the Bible, claiming their interpretations are correct. Too often, however, the interpretations not only differ dramatically but are clearly contradictory. This does not mean that the Bible is a confusing document. Rather, the problem lies in those who interpret and the methods they use. We need, as best as can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word. Because we are sinners, we are incapable of interpreting God’s word perfectly all of the time. The body, mind, will, and emotions are affected by sin and make 100% interpretive accuracy impossible. This does not mean that accurate understanding of God’s Word is impossible. But it does mean that we need to approach His word with care, humility, and reason. Additionally, we need, as best as can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word. After all, the Bible is inspired by God and is addressed to His people. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God’s word means and how to apply it. On the human level, to lessen the errors that come in our interpretations, we need to look at some basic biblical interpretive methods. I’ll list some of the principles in the form of questions and then apply them one at a time to a passage of Scripture. I offer the following principles as guidelines for examining a passage. They are not exhaustive, nor are they set in concrete.
TEN COMMANDMENTS OF INTERPRETATION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Who wrote/spoke the passage and to whom was it addressed? What does the passage say? Are there any words or phrases in the passage that need to be examined? What is the immediate context? What is the broader context in the chapter and book? What are the related verses to the passageâ€™s subject and how do they affect the understanding of this passage? What is the historical and cultural background? What do I conclude about the passage? Do my conclusions agree or disagree with related areas of Scripture and others who have studied the passage? What have I learned and what must I apply to my life?
In order to teach you how these questions can affect your interpretation of a passage, I have chosen one which, when examined closely, may lead you into a very different interpretation than what is commonly held. I leave it to you to determine if my interpretation is accurate. The passage that I am going to use is Matt. 24:40, "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left," (NIV). 1. Who wrote/spoke the passage and who was it addressed to? Jesus spoke the words and they were recorded by Matthew. Jesus spoke them to His disciples in response to a question, which we will get to later. 2. What does the passage say? The passage simply says that one out of two men in a field will be taken. It doesn’t say where, why, when, or how. It just says one will be taken. It doesn’t define the field as belonging to someone or in a particular place.
3. Are there any words in the passage that need to be examined? No particular word in this verse really stands out as needing to be examined, but to follow this exercise, I will use the word "taken." By using a Strong Concordance and a dictionary of New Testament words (Vine’s, for example), I can check the Greek word and learn about it. The word in Greek is paralambano. It means "1) to take to, to take with one's self, to join to one's self, 2) to receive something transmitted." A point worth mentioning about word studies is that a word means what it means in context. However, by examining how a word is used in multiple contexts, the meaning of the word can take on a new dimension. For example, the word for "love" in Greek is "agapao." It is generally believed to mean "divine love." This seems obvious, since it is used in John 3:16 in that way. However, the same word is used in Luke 11:43. Jesus says, "Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces," (NIV). The word used there is "agapao." It would seem then that the meaning of the word might mean something more along the lines of "total commitment to."
However, we must be careful not to insert a meaning of a word from one context into that of another. For example: 1) That new cadet is green. 2) That tree is green. The first green means "new and inexperienced." The second one means the color green. Would we want to impose the contextual meaning of one into the other? It wouldn’t be a good idea. 4. What is the immediate context? This is where this particular verse will come alive. The immediate context is as follows, Matt. 24:37-42, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come," (NIV).
Immediately we can see that the person taken in verse 40 is paralleled by people being taken in verse 39. That is, the "being taken" are of the same kind. A further question needs to be asked. Who was taken in verse 39? Was it Noah and his family or was it the people who were eating and drinking? The answer to that question might help us understand the original passage better. Therefore, the next interpretive step will help us greatly. 5. What is the broader context in the chapter and book? A passage should always be looked at in context, not only in its immediate context of the verses directly before and after it, but also in the context of the chapter it is in and the book in which it is written. Jesus’ discourse from which our verse was taken began with a question. Jesus had just left the temple and in verse 2 told His disciples that "... not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Then in verse 3 the disciples asked Jesus, "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (NIV). Jesus then goes on to prophesy about things to come at the end of the age. He speaks of false Christs, of tribulation, of the sun being darkened, of His return, and of two men in a field where one will be taken and the other left. The context, then, is eschatological. That means that it deals with the last things, or the time shortly before Jesus’ return. Many people think that this verse in Matt. 24:40 refers to the rapture spoken of in 1 Thess. 4:16-17. It may. But it is interesting to note that the context of the verse seems to suggest that the wicked are taken, not the good.
Now, about this time you might be thinking that this method of interpreting passages isn’t that good. After all, the "one taken, one left" verse is obviously about the rapture. Right? Well, maybe. You see, we all come to the Bible with preconceived ideas. Sometimes they are right, sometimes wrong. We should always be ready to have our understanding of the Bible challenged by what it says. If we are not willing, then we are prideful. And God is distant from the proud (Psalm 138:6). 6. What are the related verses to the passage’s subject and how do they affect the understanding of this passage? It just so happens that there are related verses, in fact, a parallel passage found in Luke 17:26-27. "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all," (NIV). Immediately we discover that related verses do indeed affect how we understand our initial verse. It is clear from this passage in Luke that the ones taken by the flood are those who were eating and drinking and being given in marriage. In other words, it wasn’t the godly people who were taken, it was the wicked.
As you can see, this has a profound impact on how we understand our passage in Matt. 24:40. Does the context suggest that the one in the field who is taken is the one who is wicked? Also, how does this context affect my preconceived ideas about this verse? Let’s read the verse again in context. Matt. 24:37-42, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come," (NIV). What do you think now? Is the one taken the good or the bad? Also, does this verse refer to the rapture or not? Just asking.
Of related interest is a passage in Matt. 13:24-30 where Jesus gives the parable of the sower who sows good seed in his field and someone sows tares. The servants asked if they should go immediately and gather up the wheat. But, in verse 30, Jesus says, "Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." The point worth noting here is that the first ones gathered are the weeds, not the wheat. This is most interesting since Jesus explains the parable in Matt. 13:36-43 and states that they will be cast into the furnace. Additionally, when we turn to Luke 17, which is the parallel passage of Matt. 24, we discover that the disciples ask Jesus a question in response to Jesus’ statement that "two will be in the field and one will be taken." In verse 37 they ask, "Where, Lord?" He [Jesus] replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather." They are taken to a place of death.
7. What is the historical and cultural background? This is a more difficult question to answer. It requires a bit more research. A commentary is worth examining here, since they usually provide the historic and cultural backgrounds that help to unravel the text. In this context, Israel was under Roman rule. They had been denied the right of capital punishment, of self-rule, and the ability to wage war. Rome had dominated the small nation. Judaism was tolerated among the Roman leadership. After all, Israel was a small far-away country with a people that were fanatical about their religion. So, Rome allowed Israel to be ruled by Jewish political puppets. The Temple was the place of worship for the Israelite community. It was there that the blood sacrifices were made by the high priest for the atonement of the nation. It had taken 46 years to build (John 2:20). Jesus said the temple would be destroyed, which prompted the question which lead to His discourse which contains the passage we are examining.
Culturally, the Jewish people were dedicated to the Old Testament. Within those pages were prophecies of the Messiah, of the end of the age, and of the delivery from bondage. The Jewish people knew that, and were in a state of expectation. Along comes Jesus with miracles and words of great power. Naturally, they would look to him as a possible deliverer. 8. What do I conclude about the passage? Since the context of the passage suggests that it is the wicked that are taken, I am going to conclude that the one taken in the field is not the good, but the bad. I also am tempted to conclude that the wicked are taken to a place of judgment. 9. Do my conclusions agree or disagree with related areas of scripture and others who have studied the passage? I’ve already presented other verses which seem to agree with my conclusion. However, it is not in agreement with all of the commentaries I’ve read on this verse. At this point I would need to present my conclusion to others to see what they think. Just because I studied the Word and arrived at a conclusion does not mean that it is correct. But it doesn’t mean it is wrong either.
By consulting with others, by examining the word again, and by seeking God and his illumination, I can only hope to arrive at the best possible conclusion about a passage. 10. What have I learned and what must I apply to my life? Interpretation of scripture is for a purpose: To understand God’s word more accurately. With a better understanding of His word, we can then more accurately apply it to the area that it addresses. In this case, the passage deals with an area of the future, and area of judgment. It is information that Jesus has revealed and that He wants us to know about. The application then would be that God will execute judgment upon the unrighteous at the end of the age and I must flee from this wrath that is to come. Concluding remarks This piece is only an illustration. It is basic and does not cover all the points of biblical interpretation. But it does give a direction and an example for you to apply. As I said before, pray. Read His word. Look into the scriptures as best you can with as much understanding and skill as is possible. Be humble in your approach and test everything by the Bible. One last thing: did you agree with my conclusion? Either Yes or No, you can reach me on 07030536220, 07082286583; e-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter: @afrika2020
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE BIBLE Chronological Order of Old Testament Genesis 1 - 22 Job Genesis 23 - 50 Exodus Psalm 90 Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Psalm 91 Joshua Judges Ruth I Samuel 1 - 16:13 Psalm 23 I Samuel 16:14 - 19:11 Psalm 59 I Samuel 19:12 - 21:15 Psalms 34, 56 I Samuel 22:1, 2 Psalms 57, 142 I Samuel 22:3-23 Psalm 52 I Samuel 23 Psalms 54, 63 I Samuel 24 - 31 II Samuel 1 - 7 Psalm 30
II Samuel 8:1-14 Psalm 60 II Samuel 8:15 - 12:14 Psalms 51, 32 II Samuel 12:15 - 15:37 Psalms 3, 69 II Samuel 16 - 20 Psalms 64, 70 II Samuel 21, 22 Psalm 18 II Samuel 23, 24 Psalms 4 - 9, 11 - 17, 19 - 22, 24 - 29, 31, 35 - 41, 53, 55, 58, 61, 62, Psalms 65, 68, 72, 86, 101, 103, 108 - 110, 138 - 141, 143 - 145 I Kings 1 - 4 Proverbs Song of Solomon I Kings 5 - 11 Ecclesiastes I Kings 12 - 22 II Kings 1 - 14:25 Jonah II Kings 14:26-29 Amos II Kings 15 - 25 Psalms 1, 2, 10, 33, 43, 66, 67, 71, 89, 92 - 100, Psalms 102, 104 - 106, 111 - 125, 127 - 136, 146 - 150 I Chronicles 1 - 16 Psalms 42, 44 - 50, 73 - 85, 87, 88
I Chronicles 17 - 29 II Chronicles 1 - 21 Obadiah II Chronicles 22 Joel II Chronicles 23 - 26:8 Isaiah 1 - 5 II Chronicles 26:9 - 23 Isaiah 6 II Chronicles 27 - 32 Isaiah 7 - 66 Hosea Micah Nahum II Chronicles 33, 34 Zephaniah II Chronicles 35 Habakkuk Jeremiah 1 - 6, 11, 12, 26, 7 - 10, 14 - 20, 35, 36, 45, 25, 46 - 49, Jeremiah 13, 22 - 24, 27 - 29, 50, 51, 30 - 33, 21, 34, 37 - 39, 52, 40 - 44 Lamentations II Chronicles 36:1 - 8 Daniel II Chronicles 36:9 - 21 Psalm 137 Ezekiel II Chronicles 36:22, 23 Ezra 1 - 5:1
Haggai Zechariah Psalms 107, 126 Ezra 5:2 - 6:22 Esther Ezra 7 - 10 Nehemiah Malachi
Chronological Order of New Testament Matthew Mark Luke John Acts 1 - 14 James Acts 15 Galatians Acts 16 Philippians Acts 17:1 - 10 I Thessalonians II Thessalonians Acts 17:11 - 18:11 I Corinthians
II Corinthians Acts 18:12 - 20:1 Ephesians Romans Acts 10:2 - 28:30 Colossians Hebrews Titus Philemon I Timothy II Timothy I Peter II Peter I John II John III John Jude The Revelation Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 (KJV)
PROFILE OF THE AUTHOR Alofun Oluwatayo Victor is a graduate of Mass communication from the prestigious University of Lagos. He is a writer, a public speaker and a multimedia and online journalist.
Tayo started his career as a student freelance writer for Campus Daily online in 2009; he later did his media attachment with the same organisation in 2010. During his writing career, he won a dual award of Best Reporter and Best IT student.
He was later chosen by CNN International in November, 2010 as one of the five Nigerian students recruited as University correspondent. In addition to this, in the early part of 2011, he became the first Nigerian student to write a lead story for United Press International (UPI) about the Microsoft cybercrime campaign. He was both the President of Communicators for Christ Fellowship (CFC) and University Bible Fellowship (UBF) during his University of Lagos days simultaneously. After which he became NCCF Zonal coordinator in his service year in Enugu state. He graduated in September 2011 from the University of Lagos after defending his thesis on the Influence of social networking sites on interpersonal relationship of students and winning the UBF scholarship twice. Immediately after his graduation he had a brief stint with The Nation Newspaper as a reporter and web/social media manager, there he pioneered the creation of the newspapers’ first E-newsletter. Tayo thereafter proceeded to Enugu state for his National Youth service. During the service year, he was the 2012 Best Debater in NYSC Enugu state as well the best Presenter for the CBN entrepreneurship programme for the South East region. After the service year, he has won several other medals. He is one of the 2013 YICT best twitter category- the award which fostered his choice by Google Business Group, Nigeria as the social media manager for the 2013 Google Day. A certified Google Ad-words consultant, web and social media manager and the creative Director of Eden Store- A Lagos based fashion outfit dealing in shoes, bags and belts. Tayo has a passion for God and young people. He believes in the capacity of the human mind to be whatever God designs them to be irrespective of background or challenges. Tayo is currently the Media and Communications officer for Human Development Initiatives (HDI) Nigeria.