READING EPISTLES AS INTENDED
Did you know that the epistles (Romans-Jude) are letters written by an apostle or religious leader sent to an early church community? Can you imagine how they read this letter when they first received it? I bet they didn’t pick their favorite verse and forget about the rest. Instead…
Welcome to Mini-Tip Monday. Give me three minutes of your week, and I’ll show you a quick and powerful Bible study hack to deepen your time in God’s Word. Is a complete tutorial too overwhelming? Or are you just hungry for more? Here is your bite-sized Bible tip to start off your week with Scripture confidence.
Nowadays, we actually don't receive many letters anymore. We get a few emails but mostly text messages and maybe some phone calls. So you may be able to relate to the excitement of receiving a letter from someone important. I will venture to say that if you receive a letter in the mail - from an actual friend, not an advertisement - you eagerly open that letter and read it through from beginning to end. It was similarly exciting for the early church to receive a letter from one of the apostles. Surely he had something important to say. I imagine the pastor sneaking a peek before reading the whole letter to be assembled church later in the day. Many of these letters were regarded as Scripture even back then (2 Peter 3:14-16), so we can assume the church studied this letter intently, but certainly not without first reading it front to back.
So why don't we read an epistle in one sitting anymore? Let’s look at some common objections and my little "mini-tip" for you…
- It may seem like a daunting task to read a whole book straight through from beginning to end. However, most of the epistles only take 10 or 20 minutes to read. You have that time, I just know it.
- As you read, you may be itching to pause and really internalize a verse or study something that you don't understand at first glance. You may see an issue addressed that’s been on your heart, and all you want to do is research it further. It's OK. It's great actually. Very soon you will be able to go back and study each of those passages, meditate on that verse, research that issue. But for now, just take today to read this letter in one sitting as it was originally read.
Why am I making such a big deal about this? Why does it warrant a Mini-Tip Monday? Here's how I think this 3-step study hack will improve your Bible study experience:
Step 1: Read the book in one sitting.
During your first read through, you will
- Get a general sense of what the book is about.
- See where the author is going with his line of thought.
- Learn about of the struggle of this particular church and the author’s commands or encouragement for them.
It will help you immensely as you study through the book step-by-step.
Step 2: Study the book passage by passage.
You know me well enough to know that I would never recommend just reading a book of the Bible once through and calling it done. The next day, start to go back and study step-by-step. Spend as many days in this book of the Bible as it takes. Don't know how to go about this step? Get the FREE ebook, "10 Steps to Approaching the Bible with Confidence" to get started.
Step 3: Read the book in one sitting again.
When you are done - it may be a few months later - I encourage you to once again read the epistle in one sitting, like a letter sent by someone you love. You will be amazed how much better you understand it now. That passage that sparked an interest in researching a topic, you now know more about. That verse that stuck out to you has already done wonders in your heart. Maybe you even memorized it. The phrases that once confused you are now clear as day. This second read-through is a celebration of God’s work in your life through His Word. Congratulations! That's what Scripture confidence feels like.
Now go read your first epistle straight through. Tell us about it below.
Have a Scripture-confident Monday.