Updated: Sep 13
The Bible is a daunting book to read. Not only was it written over thousands of years by multiple authors, it was also written about ancient people, cultures and places whose traditions are very strange to us. So we need help navigating not just the scary prophecies in the book of Revelation but also the meaning of marital rites and agricultural laws in Leviticus and Numbers.
And we don’t have to do it alone.
Studying the Bible alongside commentaries is a helpful way to get through and understand the difficult, chunky parts. This is because many of the writers of these commentaries know the Biblical languages and have a deep knowledge of the history of Ancient Israel and other ancient civilizations. They are thus able to draw on this knowledge to explain seemingly complicated parts of the Biblical text.
For example, have you ever wondered what Apostle Paul meant by this:
“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:7-8
Aren’t “righteous” and “good” supposed to be synonymous? Well, Paul doesn’t seem to think so. Because in the above text, someone might not die for a righteous person, but they might die for a good person. So what does this mean?
According to Adam Clarke - a British Methodist theologian and Biblical scholar - the Jews divide men into four moral classes:
Those who say, “What is mine, is my own; and what is thine, is thy own” are just/righteous
Those who say, “What is mine, is thine; and what is thine, is mine” are accommodating
Those who say, “What is mine, is thine; and what is thine, let it be thine” are pious/good; who give up all for the benefit of their neighbour
Those who say “What is mine, is mine; and what is thine, shall be mine” are impious; who take all and give nothing.
Given this breakdown, we can see why it is important to read Commentaries. They give us insights into Biblical text that we might otherwise not have.
Listening to sermons on the topic you’re currently studying also helps to shed light on it. It is as though you have a Bible Study Teacher right there with you walking you through the text. Below is a short list of Bible teachers who handle the Word of God with fear and whom you can learn from:
Mark and Onesimus - A Tale of Two Runaways by John MacArthur
A Study in 1 & 2 Samuel by Alistair Begg
The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
How To Understand The Old Testament Law by Mike Winger