It is often assumed that Bible reading, and Bible study are the same thing. On the contrary, they are really very different. Bible reading goes through a number of verses or even chapters for a general sense of what the Scripture contains. Bible study requires one to pause and reflect on the text. A deeper level of engagement is required to understand what is going on in the passage.
Another difference is the requirement of resources apart from the Bible itself to help us understand the historical and cultural context related to the passage. I know some Christians who disagree with this. They make the claim that they rely only on the Spirit for understanding as they interact with the Word. Indeed, it is true that without the Spirit, we cannot understand the Word (Acts 16:14). However, the Spirit has also worked in the lives of many people who have dedicated their careers to develop expertise related to the Scriptures. As a result, they have produced all kinds of study Bibles, commentaries, concordances and Bible dictionaries to help us. We may not be able to get the same level of insight from a passage as someone who has spent decades working on it. It is my opinion that the Spirit can guide us through the expertise of others.
In Acts 8:26–40, the Spirit led Philip supernaturally to the Ethiopian Eunuch to guide him in understanding Isaiah 53:7–8. The Eunuch was mediating on this text probably for a very long time. He knew what it was saying, but he could not understand what it meant. Despite all the supernatural acts happening before and after this incident, the Holy Spirit still used the ordinary means of a human teacher to help the Eunuch. Philip himself, was someone who had previously been taught by the Apostles about the fulfillment of the Old Testament by Jesus our Lord (Luke 24:44–45; Acts 5:42). Therefore, we should not ignore the fact that God has given us teachers to equip us for the ministry and build up the church (Ephesians 4:11–12).
Are you studying the Bible today? Why not join the Sunday Bible Classes that start at 11:15am and begin to store up His word (Proverbs 2:1, NIV)? For “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:5, ESV)
Dn. Mervin Lin