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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Do I Understand the Bible? - The People of the Bible

I have a confession to make, this is my favorite way to dig more deeply into the Bible. I love looking at the people of the Bible trying to understand what it might have felt like to be in their sandals, to think about what their world was like. When I use this style of study, I find that the characters become so much more real to me and I learn from the rich experiences of their lives.

A Biographical Study is looking specifically at the life of one person from the Bible in an attempt to understand who they were and the experiences that shaped them.

1. Choose a person. It is best to pick someone who is not mentioned in multiple chapters or multiple books. If your curiosity about one of the "big" Bible names (Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, etc.) draws you into studying one of them, another way to do so is to study their life one period as a time. (e.g. Moses - Moses' in Egypt before Age 40; Moses in the Dessert; Moses' Return to Egypt and Leading the Exodus; Moses and the 10 Commandments; Moses Preparing to Enter the Promised Land; Moses Leading the Israelites through the Wilderness for 40 Years; The End of Moses' Life - each of these periods of his life provide a rich and powerful study.) Also, watch out for duplicate names such as Joseph (son of Jacob and Jesus' stepfather) or Mary (Mary mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Mary mother of John Mark). You'll want to make sure that the references you are using all pertain to the same person.

2. List all references. Using a concordance list all the references that pertain to the person or the specific period of their life that you plan to study.

3. Pray asking the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you, to show you insights and truths from this study.

4. Read the references about this person. As you read look for clues to the following items. Write down your observations.
  • Character development
  • Crises faced
  • Motivations
  • Reactions to life's events
  • Environment (location, culture, family)
  • Significant relationships
  • Spiritual life
  • If OT, NT references
  • Unusual birth or death
5. Summarize your observations and the lessons you learned. A helpful question to ponder as you do this is: Why did God put this person in the Bible and what can you learn from him or her?

Suggested people to study: Cornelius, Hannah, Dorcus/Tabitha, Caleb, Ruth, Daniel, Esther

What people from the Bible have especially impacted you? 
What about their life impressed you?

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