“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Because the Lord God has been good to the English-speaking world, and because of the price that others have paid to place the Scriptures into our hands, the Bible should not be neglected. Therefore, the following exhortation is only proper.
Study the Scriptures, do not merely read them. Give yourself to understanding the Bible.
Study the Scriptures with reverence and awe. It is the Word of God.
Study the Scriptures prayerfully. The same Holy Spirit which wrote the Bible can also interpret it for you.
Study the Scriptures constantly. Make the Bible your constant companion.
Study to find the Savior in all the Scriptures.
Study with every available resource that you can: dictionaries, concordances, commentaries etc.
Study in order to show appreciation to the Lord, all the while remembering,
The Bible reveals the mind of God,
The state of man,
The way of salvation,
The reward of saints
And the doom of sinners.
Its histories are true,
Its doctrines holy,
And its precepts binding.
It contains light to direct you,
Food to support you,
And comfort to cheer you.
It is the traveler’s map,
The pilgrim’s staff,
The pilot’s compass,
The soldier’s sword
And the Christian’s character.
It is a river of pleasure,
A mine of wealth
and a paradise of glory.
It is given you in life,
Will be open at the judgment
And will be remembered forever.
Read it to be wise; believe it to be safe;
And practice it to be holy.
Above all, remember how we got the Bible.
It is God breathed.
What is Seen in a Study of the Bible?
In studying the history of the Bible, we see God speaking to men in every age, and generation, through individuals whom His Spirit inspired, and through events which He was working to make His will known.
We see the Word of God establishing itself in the hearts, and in the minds of men.
We see the necessities of the human situation driving men to seek and to study, and to cling to the Word of God.
We see the events of history, and the needs of the human heart sending men for strength, and for guidance, for help, and for comfort back to the Scriptures.
Over a period of more than 700 years, beginning in 625 BC, and ending in 90 AD at the Council of Jamnia (near Jaffa), the Old Testament portion of Scripture was put together, and finalized.
In the early days of the formation of the nation, the Word of Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, was accepted as the Law of God. The Civil, Ceremonial, and Moral facets of the Law gave boundary, and structure, to the children of Israel, who recognized, and received the revelation of God’s will. The truth of God was written in stone, written in parchment, and written upon the heart.
But, because the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, sin would come to saturate the nation resulting in Divine discipline.
The nation of Israel, united under Saul, expanded under David, made glorious under Solomon, would be divided under Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.
Once divided, Israel would be subject to foreign conquest, and exile, which came to the Northern Kingdom in 721 BC, and to the southern kingdom in 586 BC
It was in the dark days of the Exile Period that men discovered the Prophets of the Word of God—and a second section of the ancient Scriptures was formed.
After the Exile, after the return to Israel, after the walls and the Temple had been rebuilt, the weakened nation was still subject to foreign domination. Israel was in the pathway of various dictators, such as Antiochus Epiphany.
It was in the agony of the time of Antiochus that the Writings began to emerge as sacred Scripture—and the third section of Scripture was received.
Time passed. There was still more upheaval in the land of Palestine. It seemed that there would be no end to the plight. The Romans came.
They were ruthless, with local rebellions, and the Jews were rebellious.
A violent bloodbath took place in the summer of AD 70, when the Temple was destroyed, and a way of life vanished. “It was when life had taken everything else away that the Jewish scholars at the Council of Jamnia in AD 90 defined the content of Scripture and accepted the fact that from now on, the Jews would be characterized as a people of the Book” (William Barclay).
Here, then, is no human work. The books of the Old Testament are not part of the sacred Scripture because a church council, or committee deemed them to be so. “These were the books in which men had met God in the times which tried men’s souls, and in which they had discovered the strength and the comfort of the Almighty.” (William Barclay)
The ancient councils “did not make these books into sacred Scripture and into the Word of God; they simply received the fact that men had already mightily found them so” (William Barclay).
God the Holy Spirit, who inspired men to write the very words of Divine revelation, preserved His word.
What was given by Moses [the Law], what was uttered by spiritual men [the Prophets], was recorded for meditation, and encouragement [the writings], was recognized by people who, under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, preserved the Sacred Scripture.