Roger Severino


Here are 6 general principles that I think will help you in your study or reading of the Bible

Pray: First, begin your study with prayer and ask for guidance and understanding from the Holy Spirit. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to what He has to say to you. Come with a submissive spirit, submitting your own will to God’s will.

Consider the Author’s Intent: Before asking the question “What does this passage mean to me?” consider what the author (i.e. Paul or another biblical writer) was trying to communicate to his audience (i.e. one of the churches). A good Study Bible or commentary can help you here. Once you begin there, then you can consider how to apply these principles today.

Bombard the Text with Questions: When you read a portion of Scripture, ask all the “who, what, where when, why, and how” questions. Who is writing these words? To whom is this message addressed? What is the issue being discussed? Where does this occur? When does this take place relative to other significant events? Why does the speaker say what he does? How are the readers expected to respond, or what knowledge is most important to gain? Have a holy curiosity that will force you to dig deeper to really understand what is happening in the text.

Read the Bible in Community: Many heresies have begun by those who claim they have a special revelation from God about a portion of Scripture. This may sound super spiritual, but proceed with caution. The Bible is not primarily designed to be read by individuals coming up with their own private understanding apart from the community of faith. How do other godly people understand the Bible and Christian teaching, both those in my community and those who have lived throughout church history? We must guard against a spiritual arrogance that claims one person has insight into a truth that has eluded other godly men and women.

Consider the Context: Any passage of Scripture should be read in light of how it fits into the surrounding context – with the verses before and after, and with the book as a whole. Be careful of picking a verse out of context and building a whole teaching around it. Generally, it is better to study passages (or books) rather than just individual verses.

Scripture Interprets Scripture: Scripture is God’s entire revelation and therefore when we wrestle with interpreting a passage, we should consider what other parts of the Bible teach on this matter. Our understanding of any Christian teaching should be influenced by “the whole counsel of God.”

Now Practice

Many of us can quote Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This is a favorite verse of Christian athletes, and others looking for strength and power. That is not necessarily wrong, but let’s read this verse in its context: Philippians 4:10-20

  • What is Paul’s primary intent in this passage? What is he wanting to communicate?
  • What does Paul need Christ’s strength to do?
  • Can you think of any other Bible passages that address the issue of contentment?
  • How do you need Christ’s strength in your life today to help you seek contentment in Him, regardless of your circumstances?

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