The thoughts in this article are not entirely original (I have heard various ideas of this article taught throughout my life). Still, as we consider how to “Excel Still More” in our Bible Study, it is crucial, I believe, to consider the very book we are trying to understand. There are a lot of false ideas, misconceptions, and errors birthed from a wrong view of the book we all seek to know. Let us examine the Bible a little better by exploring it from the big to the small.

We need to understand the whole Bible. Many misunderstand the Bible as just another ancient book, a collection of tall tales, or an old book of backward people. We must understand that the Bible is not from man, though penned by him. It is from God (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:21).

We need to understand the testaments. Some misunderstand the Bible because they do not understand the distinction between the Old and the New Testaments. They are just as likely to go to the Psalms to find the plan of salvation as they are to the Book of Acts. We live under the New Testament, not the Old (Gal. 3:19-24). The Old Law was put to death on the cross with Jesus (Rom. 7:4). We must understand that the First Covenant was taken away to have the Second (Heb. 10:9).

We need to understand the books. Though the Bible is one complete, unified message, the different books of the Bible are … different! All 66 have a purpose, a method, and a type that must be identified. Briefly, the Old Testament books point forward toward Jesus (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53; Gal. 3:24). The Gospels (Matt.-John) tell of Jesus’ time on earth to build faith in Him (Jn. 20:30-31). Acts details the church’s early history and tells of several conversions to Jesus. The epistles were written to groups of churches, specific congregations, or individuals who were all already followers of Jesus.

We need to understand the chapters. Except for Psalms, the original text of the Bible was not broken into chapters. By the 4th Century, some copies of the New Testament had been divided into topical sections. It was not until the 13th Century that the chapter divisions we now have were developed. Some misunderstand the Bible because they think the chapter divisions came from God rather than man. While chapters help us find texts, we must understand that they can interrupt a flow of thought. Many of the confusions people have are easily explained when we look at the flow of thought. Seeing the book without being interrupted by chapter breaks often helps us clarify.

Lord willing, my next article will cover four more areas in which there are many misunderstandings. Clearing them up helps us understand the Bible, which helps us better understand our Lord and His will for our lives. Keep Studying!

Corey Sawyers
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Corey Sawyers is the preaching minister at the Martin (TN) Church of Christ and an adjunct instructor with Bear Valley Bible Institute. He began preaching at the age of 15, filling in throughout Northwest Tennessee. He has been in full-time ministry since 1998 and has served with congregations in Tennessee and Colorado. He and his wife, Melody, married in 1996, and both are graduates of Bear Valley Bible Institute. They have three sons. Garrett is the youth minister at the Greenfield (TN) Church of Christ and is soon to be married to Bailey Jones. Gordon is the preacher for the Knob Creek Church of Christ in Dukedom, TN, and is soon to be married to Lauren Kelly. Gannon is still at home and wants to go into ministry when he grows up. Corey loves his family, ministry, the Tennessee Vols, the Andy Griffith Show, drinking coffee, and banana pudding.