And now we come to the step that most people try to jump to right away when reading and studying the Bible: application. This is where we take the interpretation we have found, the timeless principle from the passage, and apply it to our own lives for growth and transformation.
While interpreting a passage is focused on what the meaning is, application takes that meaning and puts it into action. Some questions to ask to determine application:
Who should I be?
How should I think?
What should I do?
Where should I go?
Whom should I teach?
Other questions that can be asked are:
Is there a sin to avoid?
Is there a promise to claim?
Is there a verse to memorize?
Is there a command to obey?
Is there a prayer to repeat?
Is there a condition to meet?
Is there a challenge to face?
To help with application, look at the timeless truth in the passage in the original situation. What are the key elements there – the people, the place, relationships and ideas? Then find the contemporary situation that would parallel the original: the key people, relationships and places. Take the timeless truth and relate it to the contemporary situation that would parallel the original.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that all Scripture is profitable for (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction, and (4) instruction in righteousness. How does this timeless principle from this passage provide us with these areas: doctrine – what to believe, reproof – behavior or belief that is sinful, correction – what needs to change to be made right, and instruction – how to live in light of God’s truth?
Application is meant to conform us to the Word of God and to make us more like Christ. How can the meaning of the passage – the timeless truth – do that in our lives? The best way to then learn the application and make it part of our lives is to teach it to others, helping them to learn and grow as well. Studying God’s Word is best done in community, sharing with others so that we can learn together and keep each other on track with what the Bible is saying.
*Source material for this blog series came from a variety of sources.
Living by the Book by Howard and William Hendricks
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins
Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days by Kay Arthur
Credo House Bible Boot Camp video series (link is broken, no longer posted)
Secret Church: How to Study the Bible series
How to Read the Bible by A.J. Conyers (out of print, but seemingly available used)
Previous Posts in this series:
Studying the Bible for Yourself: Introduction
Studying the Bible for Yourself: Genre and Context
Studying the Bible for Yourself: Observation
Studying the Bible for Yourself: Interpretation