In December, part one of this article noted that as we consider how to “Excel Still More” in our Bible Study, it is crucial 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. Last time, we noticed that we need to understand the whole Bible, the testaments, the books, and the chapters(read “Understanding the Bible Part 1 for more information). As we continue to focus from large to small, we realize:

We need to understand the verses. Some act as if the verse divisions came from God. So, many expect too much from one verse. They expect to get the whole plan of salvation, the entirety of worship, or an argument for basic theological positions, each from only one verse. No one verse will do it, however. Just like the chapters, verses were arranged by man. We need the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), all of which is given by God (II Tim. 3:16).

We need to understand the phrases. There are times when we detach specific phrases from a verse or text without being honest with their meaning in context. For example, some use the last phrase of Mark 16:16 to try to get salvation before baptism. Other times, individuals will change a phrase, like in Acts 2:38. To “repent and be baptized” is “for the remission of sins,” not because of the remission of sins. The wording is the same as Matthew 26:28. The blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sins, not because we already had remission of sins. See, phrases have to be taken in context, and they have to be used as they are given.

We need to understand the words. Words have meaning. We are convinced that the inspired writers used the exact word that the Almighty wanted in each place. So we cannot change the word’s meaning to suit our doctrine. Instead, our doctrines must reflect what the words used by inspired writers mean. For example, “repentance” does not just mean to be sorry. It is related to Godly Sorrow (II Cor. 7:10). “Baptism” is not just an act that involves water. It involves dipping, immersion, or burial in water (see Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 8:36-39).

We need to understand the letters. Sometimes it is the slightest letters that change the meaning of words entirely. Singular, plural, past, present, and many other important facts can be determined by one letter in a word. Paul emphasizes this point himself in Galatians 3:16, “It does not say, ‘And to offspring’s,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”

The Bible, the testaments, the books, the chapters, the verses, the phrases, the words, and the letters can all lead to misunderstandings. Clearing them up helps us understand the Bible, which helps us better understand our Lord and His will for our life. 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.