The Bible is written on a middle school reading level. What? Seriously! Yep. You read that right. It ranges, but on average the King James Version of the Bible falls somewhere between a 5th and an 8th grade reading level. So why do so many people have a hard time studying and understanding it? Typically the lack of understanding comes from a lack of knowledge. Therefore, generally as knowledge grows understanding grows. There are other reasons for the lack of understanding, which I won’t go into in this post, instead let’s discuss tips about how to grow in knowledge and understand the Bible as we study it.
From this point forward, I’ll be discussing tips on how to understand the Bible with specific examples from the King James Version (KJV).
Tip No. 1 – Synonyms are your friend. For instance, in John 19:38, besought is the word. Asked is the synonym. Another example is John 19:24, vesture is the word. The synonym is clothing. For a free printable list of more helpful synonyms click here.
Tip No. 2 – Remember the chapters and verses were added later. For example, II Timothy is one long letter (also referred to as an epistle by some) broken into 4 chapters. It was penned by Paul to Timothy while Paul was prisoned in Rome. Many of the chapters start with transitional phrases like “Thou therefore” at the beginning of chapter 2 or “This know also” at the beginning of chapter 3. What is the significance? Well it means to understand what Paul is about to say, first we must read what he said previously.
Tip No. 3 – Determine which words are names and which words are places. Take II Timothy 4:9-13 for instance, at first glance the passage appears complicated. However, once the names are sorted from the places, it is much easier to understand. Here are the people vs. the places: Demus (person) went to Thesalonica (place) abandoning Paul and the ministry; Crescens (person) went to Galatia (place); Titus (person) went to Dalmatia (place). Only Luke (person) stayed in Rome (place) with Paul (person). The missionary team has fallen apart due to the tremendous persecution of Christians in Rome. Now, Paul is asking Timothy to come visit him, but first Paul wants Timothy to go Troas (place) to fetch his cloak, books, and parchments from Carpus (person). Finally, Paul wants Timothy to bring Mark (person) with him on the journey because Mark will be helpful to the ministry in Rome.