Attempting to understand the Bible can be difficult. For many centuries, the Catholic Church taught that the Bible could only be understood by an ordained priest. In modern times, people like N.T. Wright and other well-credentialed theologians are often held up as having profound (even special or unique) insights into God’s word due to their advanced degrees and learning.
Others contend that in order to understand the Bible you need a working knowledge of the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and/or Greek (New Testament) language. Of late, the need to have an understanding of the culture of the day (1st century) has advanced…to the degree that some disregard portions of Scripture with the charge of “modern-day irrelevance.”
So what exactly is required to understand the Bible? Can any person, without a special degree or a library of “special” books, come to a knowledge of the truth revealed by God through His word?
How Scripture answers "What is required to understand the Bible?"
Understanding the Bible requires nothing more than the Bible itself1,3,6,9 and reading it11 with a diligent, open, seeking heart2,6,8,10. With our prayer to God for understanding4,7, He has promised that we will find (or, know) Him8,9,10. It is, in fact, the only way we can know His will for us1,7,9 and importantly, does not require any special talents or education12. God intended that the gospel message was simple14.
Of course, the word may travel by way of a teacher13 or preacher6 (false teachers beware!!13). There are some portions or topics that are more difficult5 than others, but Scripture’s promise3,10 is that we can grow in the truth9 with careful, diligent reading2,6,11.
Answer built on scripture-blocks below
Scripture is what is held up as the source for man’s “completeness” and equipping for any “good work”.
Coming into an accord (e.g. understanding) of God’s word requires seeking with a whole heart.
Earthly knowledge (“many books”) is put at odds with God’s word which, it’s concluded, is independently self-sufficient for man’s “whole duty”.
A prayer to God that He might grant an understanding of His word. (A thought repeated several more times in the 119th Psalm.)
Peter acknowledges that some of scripture, particularly what Paul wrote, is “hard to understand.” However, the very next verses confirm his audience had a “grasp of the truth” and his encouragement is to continue to grow [in the truth].
The Bereans were taught the word by the apostle Paul himself, but they still confirmed it with daily, careful examination of the scriptures.
Paul and his companions prayed for Christians to gain understanding of God’s word.
God will draw near to those who seek him with a desire and single-mindedness of heart.
Jesus promises that true disciples will “know the truth” by remaining or continuing to dwell in the word.
God promises us understanding if we seek Him.
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