The Bible’s Viewpoint
Why Study the Bible?
READING the Bible through from cover to cover is no small feat. Have you done it once or maybe several times? Many people properly take pride in having done so. Finding the time to read the Bible should be listed right near the top—if not number one—on our list of life’s priorities. For what reason? To know the basic contents of the most widely circulated book in all history, the only book that rightfully claims to be inspired of God.—2 Timothy 3:16.
However, a person can do more than just read the Bible and know its general outline. Is it your desire to please God and enjoy the full benefits of the teachings of that holy book? Then follow the advice that the apostle Paul gave to the young man Timothy: “Continue applying yourself to public reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Ponder over these things; be absorbed in them, that your advancement may be manifest to all persons. Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Timothy 4:13, 15, 16.
Such meditating on Bible teachings and becoming immersed in them involves more than a reading of the Scriptures alone. Reading the Bible does not in itself guarantee that a person can properly use the information gained, any more than reading a book about the human brain qualifies him to be a brain surgeon. Hence, listen to Paul’s further advice to Timothy: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 Timothy 2:15.
Opens Vistas of Understanding
Learning to handle God’s Word skillfully takes study. When a person studies the Bible carefully, considering what it says, getting the sense of it, reading passages in context, understanding its history, then unexpected vistas of insight may open up to him. He now begins personally to benefit from God’s Word.
Let us take an example showing that in just reading a portion of Scripture, we may not perceive the meaning of what is said unless we read the context. At Acts 17:11 we read concerning the people of the Greek city of Beroea, located not far from Thessalonica: “Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”
At first glance we might conclude that the Christians in Beroea were more studious than those in Thessalonica. However, note in verse 10 of Acts chapter 17 that Paul and Silas on arriving in Beroea went into “the synagogue of the Jews” to preach God’s Word. And Ac 17 verse 12 says that “many of them [the Jews] became believers.” That verse helps us to reach a different conclusion. The sacred account is telling us that it was not the Christians that were being compared with one another in these two cities, but, rather, it was the Jews in those places.
In addition, did you notice what made the Beroeans more noble-minded in character? They eagerly examined the Scriptures. Professor Archibald Thomas Robertson, commenting on those words in Word Pictures in the New Testament, wrote: “Paul expounded the Scriptures daily as in Thessalonica, but the Beroeans, instead of resenting his new interpretation, examined (anakrinō means to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes . . . ) the Scriptures for themselves.” Their examination was not superficial. Those Beroean Jews probed carefully for confirmation that what Paul and Silas were teaching from the Scriptures about Jesus as the long-promised Messiah was true.
Therefore, following the example of the ancient Beroeans, it is important that we not only read God’s Word but also study it—“carefully examining the Scriptures”—so as to get the meaning of what is said. In this way we can deepen our appreciation for the Bible, and we too become, like Timothy, persons able to ‘save both ourselves and those who listen to us.’ Why? Because, in addition to reading the Scriptures, we have studied them so as to act obediently on what we have learned.—Proverbs 3:1-6.
Source of True Values and Prophecy
Let us consider two other reasons to study the Bible. The Bible is second to no other book in providing moral and ethical values. Many years ago, an American educator made this observation: “I believe a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.” For Bible knowledge to become your treasure, your motive for studying the Scriptures must be to apply its precepts and teachings to your daily life so that it can make you a better person, ‘one who can handle the word of the truth aright.’—2 Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 2:1-22.
Additionally, within its pages are found God-inspired prophecies that have already been fulfilled in history and others that are having their fulfillment in our century. A study of Bible prophecies helps a person to understand the meaning of present world conditions—wars, famines, family breakups, violent crimes—and how to avoid being trapped by anxiety because of them. (Luke 21:10, 11, 25-28) Thus, we are enlightened by God’s answers to present-day problems, answers that reveal where we are in the stream of time and how we can successfully plan for the future. Those answers come to us through the channel of ‘the faithful and discreet anointed slave’ class, which uses the Watchtower Society as its publishing agency.—Matthew 24:45-47; 2 Peter 1:19.
Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” Therefore, people who regularly study the words of wisdom found in the Bible and who apply them will be among those who will understand God’s will and purpose and, in effect, have a lighted path that guides their daily lives through today’s moral quagmire.