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Chapter 23 - Bible Tools
There are two ways to learn about God, Jesus, eternal life, and truth, the bible and people who tell you what the bible says. For the person who charts his own course to spiritual maturity, the opinions, conclusions, and assertions of others may be helpful, but in the end he will have to learn how to use the bible himself.
There are various ways to study the bible such as word studies, topic studies, and book studies. Being able to use tools such as a concordance and bible dictionary can be helpful. For example if one were to read two verses in Galatians, they might sound contradictory at first;
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
For every man shall bear his own burden. - Galatians 6:5
Looking at the Greek dictionary for the meaning of “burden”, we find that the first verse uses the word “baros” for burden which is defined as a heavy weight or trouble. In verse five, we find the word “phortion” which in Greek refers to the cargo of a ship that has to be unloaded. These sort of insights help add clarity to our understanding the bible.
Free bible software like esword can be very helpful both in being able to quickly see the original Greek and Hebrew as well as compare different translations. The subject of translations can be very sensitive to some people. I usually recommend the Amplified version for someone new to bible study. I think the expanded translations captures the meaning better than a simple word for word translation even though the Amplified is based in the “critical” text (as are most modern translations) which I feel is inferior to the “majority” text. However, getting a more clear translation I think can be more helpful.
Considering that for 1500 years most people only heard about the bible from someone else, the opportunity we have to delve into its richness and draw in its power is an opportunity it would be a shame to squander.
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