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#1 DaveW

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 10:33 PM

A slightly different aspect which has spoken around but not directly addressed.

There are those here who seem to be bold in proclaiming that they ONLY use the Bible to study.

That is fine, and it should be our primary source.
And any other material used should be carefully considered in many aspects, of course.

But if you reject all other material, then you are losing out on understanding and depth from the Scriptures that is not available without certain outside information.

IT DOES NOT CHANGE THE BIBLE IN ANY WAY, but can bring a depth and richness to understanding what the Scriptures say.

#2 MatthewDiscipleOfGod

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 10:57 PM

A problem I had as a younger Christian was using Bible commentaries a lot. I found myself taking on the theology of the commentators which I later found out was not Biblical. We need to use extreme caution when using anything other than the Bible. For example many "Church Fathers" where nothing more than Roman Catholic heretics.



#3 DaveW

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 11:00 PM

A problem I had as a younger Christian was using Bible commentaries a lot. I found myself taking on the theology of the commentators which I later found out was not Biblical. We need to use extreme caution when using anything other than the Bible. For example many "Church Fathers" where nothing more than Roman Catholic heretics.


Never had that problem myself - I mistrust commentators generally.

#4 ThePilgrim

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 11:26 PM

If we read the books of those who came before us we risk picking up a heresey.  If we read the bible without the books of those who came before us, we risk coming up with our own heresey.  Both paths are dangerous.

The solution I guess is to be a super genius, smarter than all the men who have written books, able to understand all that is in the bible without error.  But to believe you are a super genius you would have to be at least a little mad.  So instead of believing you are a super genius it might be best to have a line straight to God, then you don't need the books of those who came before you.  Of course some of those who came before you might have thought they had a straight line to God also, and you don't trust them.  So even if you think you have a straight line to God you just might be mistaken or maybe mad.

 

So all in all, it seems to me the best idea is to stay close to God, study the bible, read the works of those who came before, and pray that God will help you sort it out.

 

God bless,

Larry



#5 John81

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 06:37 AM

The Bible should be the beginning and ending point of our study. In between there is much helpful out there which can help us in our understanding. Books that expound upon the Word, biographies of men who walked with the Lord can be beneficial, etc.

 

Even as we are to do with preaching, checking what is preached by the Word of God, we must do the same with what we read of others. For instance, if we are reading a book and the author speaks of meditating we need to check what he says about that with what the Word says. Most older books speak of a biblical meditation while some newer books delve into eastern mysticism and other unbiblical things.

 

As we grow and mature in the Lord we will be better able to discern what to read and what to leave out. Even then, we must be careful to check all we read by the Word of God.

 

When we are yet babes or young in Christ we really need to be discipled. It's so easy to look to anything "Christian" and accept what's read there. That's one of the dangers when new Christians, eager to learn the Word, get (or have given to them) a study Bible which contains some questionable or outright wrong notes. For the new Christian, it's easy to regard the notes as being authoritative simply because they are right there in their Bible.

 

There are many great books, biographies, sermon collections and such out there we can learn from if we approach them with much prayer and reliance upon Scripture as the final authority.



#6 Arbo

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:08 AM

Never had that problem myself - I mistrust commentators generally.

 

Yep.  Commentaries are basically opinions.



#7 TheSword

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:43 AM

The books I find the most helpful are those that deal with background, culture, history,  and various other surrounding factors that help shed light on events and influences that occurred during biblical times, but the Bible either does not talk about much (if at all) or assumes the reader already knows the information. As others have said, everything should be read with a critical eye, but we cannot toss out facts, particularly when they are helpful to our understanding of what Scripture has to say.

 

Commentaries aren't my favorite, but I do read quite of bit of books that analyze issues and present thorough studies on a subject. I particularly like books that present multiple sides of an argument so you can see and understand the bad arguments and prepare yourself for how to deal with them. Like all books that are not the Bible, they must be read with discernment and careful comparison to what the Bible actually says and teaches. Take the good and accurate and toss out the rest.

 

I am in full agreement with what John said about newer Christians and discipleship. I think great care must be taken in making sure they are taking in good material. I generally recommend they stick to the Bible and encourage them to come back with questions if there is something they do not fully understand or are struggling with. I typically only make book recommendations when I get the sense they are spiritually mature enough to handle that particular material with discernment.



#8 DaveW

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 09:04 AM

The books I find the most helpful are those that deal with background, culture, history, and various other surrounding factors that help shed light on events and influences that occurred during biblical times, but the Bible either does not talk about much (if at all) or assumes the reader already knows the information. As others have said, everything should be read with a critical eye, but we cannot toss out facts, particularly when they are helpful to our understanding of what Scripture has to say.

Commentaries aren't my favorite, but I do read quite of bit of books that analyze issues and present thorough studies on a subject. I particularly like books that present multiple sides of an argument so you can see and understand the bad arguments and prepare yourself for how to deal with them. Like all books that are not the Bible, they must be read with discernment and careful comparison to what the Bible actually says and teaches. Take the good and accurate and toss out the rest.

I am in full agreement with what John said about newer Christians and discipleship. I think great care must be taken in making sure they are taking in good material. I generally recommend they stick to the Bible and encourage them to come back with questions if there is something they do not fully understand or are struggling with. I typically only make book recommendations when I get the sense they are spiritually mature enough to handle that particular material with discernment.


The historical and cultural is exactly what I was implying.
The commentary thing has been spoken of at length already.

For instance, the armour mentioned in Eph 6.
I am sure we have all seen those pictures of the old English knight in shining armour with this chapter reference next to it. But that is not what Paul was speaking of. He was speaking of the Roman soldier.
However, the armour of the Roman soldier is not described in the Bible in great detail.
Of course you can go with a basic understanding of the parts and do fine, but each part grows in significance as you study the Roman armour.
The Sword for instance was of a particular sort - the attributes of which meant that a relative novice could wield it effectively. It didn't take years of training like for instance the Samurai sword, or huge strength like the English knight's broadsword.

Yep, sword is enough, but to take the description of the Roman sword opens a rich well of encouragement.
as do the other pieces of the armour.

but you only know this detail by studying extra biblical material - however, the people reading it in those days knew this information.

#9 swathdiver

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:58 PM

A new Christian should be discipled by the members of their local church, right?  Then they wouldn't need commentaries or risk getting the wrong ones from heretics, or at least "heretics" that disagree with their local church!

 

In my first three years as I christian I didn't belong to a NT church or know any other christians other than those on tv and the internet and got into all sorts of error that took years to correct.



#10 Covenanter

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:35 PM

I would suggest a "study Bible" rather than a commentary. I started with the Bible Society "Jubilee Bible" which had lots of maps, dates & diagrams simply to clarify the text. I moved on to a Bible with cross references, so one could build up an understanding from parallel passages & OT sources of NT quotations, etc.

 

Commentaries do have their uses, but I only use them now to explain details of the text, rather than interpret it. e.g. Scofield is particularly bad because it imposes one interpretation system on the text.



#11 ASongOfDegrees

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:19 PM

I've found a lot of helpful things from commentaries especially early on in my Christian life. I don't think the Lord intended us all to be islands when it came to study of his word. Over the years from my own studies I have come to question some things I learned and pruned some of the false teachings out but most of it was good. This includes some IFB teachings. Fortunately, I got on a good track early on because I constantly questioned what was taught and prayed to God for understanding in his word. I think the mistake some make is they find someone whom they really take a liking too and latched onto his teachings without ever daring to question them or search the scriptures for themselves to see if those things were so. With others, it's all about feelings or experiences and they really don't care what the bible says.

 

Some commentaries and books that helped me early on were:

 

Merrill F. Unger's OT Commentary and Bible Dictionary.

 

The notes from Charles Ryrie's Study Bible.

 

Lewis Sperry Chafer's "Basic Bible Themes".

 

J. Dwight Pentecost's "Thing to Come".

 

C.I. Scofield's "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth".

 

Thompson Chain Reference for devotional studies.

 

Four of them are from theologians from Dallas Theological Seminary.

 

Today, though, I basically go with just a plain old bible with no notes or references, an computer concordance and a bible dictionary (International Standard).



#12 ASongOfDegrees

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:21 PM

 

 

Commentaries do have their uses, but I only use them now to explain details of the text, rather than interpret it. e.g. Scofield is particularly bad because it imposes one interpretation system on the text.

You should have said, "Scofield is bad because he still believes God's promises still belong to the nation of Israel".



#13 Ukulelemike

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:21 PM

When I worked on my master's thesis on headcoverings, I went to a lot of history and cultural writings to really flesh-out the subject. Gained a lot of understanding, not just on that, but the context of a lot of things in the Bible, like issues of dress and hair, (broiding and plaiting), as well as, of course, the subject at hand. Also learned a lot of things some really believe, like only harlots went uncovered, were completely untrue.



#14 Ukulelemike

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:22 PM

You should have said, "Scofield is bad because he still believes God's promises still belong to the nation of Israel".

And, "He teaches the Gap Theory".  **ducks**



#15 ASongOfDegrees

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:25 PM

And, "He teaches the Gap Theory".  **ducks**

Yes, but that isn't want gets under Covenantor's skin. It's the fact that Scofield's notes still hold a future for the nation of Israel. 



#16 DaveW

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:29 PM

But I am not talking about commentaries. Commentaries have been discussed over and over.
I am talking about history books which describe the cultures of the day. Farming books which explain methods of farming.
Even books which explain the eastern method of farming sheep, which is entirely different to that which is done where I live.
Looking at sheep from a modern western perspective gives you a very different view than that which one gets if you study the methods of that region.

My point is that the Bible often assumes a certain knowledge of life things that are stated or indicated but not explained.

The parables and illustrations of Jesus have more impact if you learn about the culture they were spoken to.

#17 ASongOfDegrees

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:56 PM

But I am not talking about commentaries. Commentaries have been discussed over and over.
I am talking about history books which describe the cultures of the day. Farming books which explain methods of farming.
Even books which explain the eastern method of farming sheep, which is entirely different to that which is done where I live.
Looking at sheep from a modern western perspective gives you a very different view than that which one gets if you study the methods of that region.

My point is that the Bible often assumes a certain knowledge of life things that are stated or indicated but not explained.

The parables and illustrations of Jesus have more impact if you learn about the culture they were spoken to.

I agree and I've been blasted for saying this in the past. You need to know the who, what, where, when and why of a passage or text of scripture.  Place yourself in the group being addressed in the age they lived with the knowledge of the word of God they may have had. The bible didn't drop out of heaven all at one time to people living in the 20th century holding a completed bible.

 

Edersheim's "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah" and J.I.Packers "Manners and Customs of the Bible" are good reads here, IMO.



#18 EKSmith

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:32 PM

Brother Dave I'm one whom has stated at times I use the Bible only and when I do I am rejecting the use of of someones use of certain books written by man and the topic of the context of the passage of scripture being used. it is be extremely dangerous using another man's work/opinion to try and interpret God's Word or to establish ones beliefs upon, there are many whom will use the bible and man written books to create false doctrines convincing others to follow after their deceptions and when I see the use of such I will reject to it and refer to the use of the bible only in my response.

 

There are a lot of books that have written by godly men that are good but one has to be careful how they may use and understand what they are reading and should have their bible in hand to know if it is line with the Word of God.

I agree that history and culture are very important to study, and Christian videos of biblical artifacts are good as well.  

 

as John said, the bible should be the beginning and ending point of our study.

 

God bless   


Edited by EKSmith, 07 April 2014 - 08:29 PM.


#19 DaveW

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:51 PM

Yep - that is exactly my point - not men's opinions, but historical fact.
Yet this is still extra biblical information.

There is a difference between extra- biblical information and unbiblical information.

Using information from outside the Bible, where that information is factual, is not only not wrong, but it is profitable for Biblical understanding.

As with all information, it needs to be handled wisely.

#20 DaveW

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:59 PM

In my studies of Eph 6 and the armour of God, one source that piqued my curiosity was in fact a childhood comic book series.
They had descriptions of Roman soldiers and their armour - done of course in a humourous way.
Many years later, after I was saved, when I read in the Bible about the armour of God it occurred to me that it must have been Roman armour. I had always assumed the comic was just made up silliness, but in fact the comic book was very accurate in this respect - but with a funny twist.

When I investigated, I discovered some amazing things about the passage.
None of it changes the passage, but it strengthens the passage unbelievably.
Years later when I preached the book of Ephesians we had an ethnic Roman attending. Because of his heritage, he had made a study of Roman history. He came to me afterwards and confirmed that what I had said about the armour was historically correct.

It is a wonderful study to do.




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