II Tim. 2:15 – “Be diligent [study] to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (NKJV).
The original Greek word for “diligent” in that verse, is the word, “spoudazo,” which can be translated to mean to be diligent or to study.
Although the full context of this section, from verse 14 until the end of the chapter deals with being approved or disapproved as christian workers, several verses give reference to seeking the truth of the Word of God, i.e. verses 15, 18, 19, etc.
Therefore, we need to understand that Paul is instructing Timothy, his son in the faith, to diligently study the Word of God (which includes interpreting the Word correctly), thus being approved by God.
A true student of the Bible needs to be diligent in his study of the Bible, not just reading it rapidly, to see how many chapters you can read. One must first of all, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to him what He is truly saying in His Holy Word. You must also think about what God is saying to you and keep an open mind that is willing to admit that what you have been taught in the past about the Bible may not be 100% correct.
A well known Bible teacher, Ravi Zachariah (I hope I spelled his name correctly) has a radio program that he calls, “Let my people think!” Too many believers would rather just let their pastor or favorite Bible personality tell them what they should believe rather than diligently search out the Bible to determine what it truly does teach.
Many years ago, several believers of a certain denomination asked me what I believed about a certain doctrine that their denomination espouses. I used scripture to try to explain what I believe about that teaching, and many responded to me saying something like “well, my preacher believes this way, and I accept that.”
That is not what the noble people of Berea did in Acts 17:11 (as I mentioned in part 1 of this message); they searched out the scriptures daily or diligently to determine if what Paul and Silas was preaching was true. I urge you, my friend to read Acts 17:1-11 in your Bible and follow the example of the believers of Berea.
I was also one time speaking to two believers of a well known denomination about their beliefs. As I pointed out some scriptures concerning one theme, the younger one (a new convert to that denomination) asked the more seasoned believer, “What do we believe about that?” What a shame that a young man had to ask another man what he believed about the Bible. Instead of asking someone else what he believes, that young man should study the Bible for himself in order to determine what he believes. He should follow Paul’s instruction in 2Tim. 2:15 and follow the example of the Berean believers in Acts 17:11.
There are 5 vital pre-requisites that I would like to mention in order to properly interpret the Bible. They are: 1) Be born again by the Spirit of God; meaning you must be led by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:5-8, 14 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spirituallly minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot pease God…For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (NKJV). 2) You must have a passion to know the Word of God. 3)You must have a deep reverence towards God. 4) You need to be totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit; and 5) one needs a flexible attitude that allows you to change what you bleieve if you are clearly shown by the Word of God that what you previously believe is erroneous. For example, you attitude needs to be, “if what the Bible says clearly contradicts what I have believed in the past; I will change my belief in order to conform to what the Bible says; I refuse to twist what the Bible says in order to agree with my beliefs.
Let me close by mentioning different tools that would be helpful to you in interpreting the Bible correctly. 1) Lexicons, Interlinear Bibles and books that deal with the original languages of Bible, principally Hebrew and Greek; 2) Concordances, Bible dictionaries and maps; 3) Archeology books, books of Bible history and the cultures of Biblical times; and 4) Bible commentaries; it must be noted that Bible commentaries need to be used carefully as commentaries, although many are excellent and were put together by people who have a profound background of Bible history, culture, etc., the writers of commentaries include their own opinions about different subjects and they do not carry the same authority of the divinely inspired Word of God.
Part I of Interpreting the Bible Correctly: https://www.ourancientpaths.org/post/interpreting-the-bible-correctly-part-1