Comparing Notes

The very idea of FRESH READ is that we each need to read the scriptures for ourselves. Does that indicate that comparing notes with others is cheating?

Let’s compare this to study groups. It is a popular idea in education that students do well to work in groups. Part of the reasoning is that in the workplace, most of us have to work with others.

If you come to a study group without having done your part, you are dead weight. You add nothing to the process of learning and discovery. However if you contribute your own analysis and thought, you are a benefit to the group.

So, we can benefit from comparing notes with others. This can come in several forms:

  • I am in a book group with other pastors, and we just decided to study the Abraham section of Genesis (Gen 12 -25). We will present our study of the text and our ideas for preaching to each other.
  • Bible Study groups can be like this, assuming the text is actually being studied. Watch out for sessions where we listen to the teacher only, or when we talk in ignorance of the text.
  • The authors of sermons, commentaries, articles and books can be viewed like this. If you only read their views without studying and forming your own ideas, then your read is STALE, not FRESH.
  • Sometimes authors from other centuries or distant cultures can teach us the most about our cultural blind-spots.
  • Footnotes in bibles should be read this way – not the last word, but as a study partner.

To switch to another analogy, others can prepare the meal, but I still have to eat it. It is not a FRESH READ if I only accept the work of others without taking it in with reflection.

Fresh Read

Read It!

The most important thing to do if you want to read and understand the Bible, is to read it.

The scriptures are made up of numerous books, authored over many centuries, written in three languages, and in a wide range of genre. To become a student of the scriptures involves starting to read from these texts. No one can grasp it all in a short time. It will take reading, thinking and connecting in your mind the events and ideas.
There are many methods. Let us suggest a few.

1. Shipwreck Plan – many people simply begin at the beginning, as you would a novel, and start reading. However, this ship usually flounders on the rocks of Temple ritual (Leviticus) or genealogies (Numbers).

2. Chronological Plan – there are places to look to find the scriptures listed Chronologically. The advantage is that you get a sense of the flow of Biblical history. However, if you start in January, it will take you until October to get to the new Testament. (The second link below has a chronological plan as an option.)

3. Pick a Book Plan – here you recognize that the Bible is a library. So select a book that is of interest to you, such as Genesis or John, and focus your reading on that book. This has the advantage of being able to concentrate on a smaller part of the whole. Don't just read through, but read the book several times, consider it's shape and outline. Think about it's major themes. Look up some of the parts you don't understand in a reference work.

4. This N That Plan – several bible reading plans will move you around the scriptures so you don't feel stuck. This might bounce you from book to book, or it might give you a few chapters from the OT, the NT and the Psalms (for devotional reading). If you own a study bible, you probably have a plan like this already. An excellent This N That Plan in book form is: "Search the Scriptures" available from InterVarsity Press. Go to IVPress

We suggest the Pick a Book plan. A good place to start is one of the Gospels – John is the easiest for many. If you prefer a through the bible plan here are some links:

Verse of the Day has 4 methods of reading through the Bible
Verse of the Day
That Bible Plan has 14 methods
Bible Plan

The Important thing, to repeat, is to pick a way that works for you, and to start reading. As with any subject, the more you read, the more you will understand. If the Bible is unfamiliar to you, do not feel discouraged. It will take time. Remember that it takes time to learn about anything: knitting, football, ancient history, how to keep Windows from crashing.


Blessings & Woes

Can we determine from reading this passage in Luke whether Jesus teaching is about economics, social justice, spirituality in general, or eternal life? Without looking at other opinions, try the colored pencil treatment on this passage. See second post in "Bible Reading 101" for "Colored Pencils".
Luke 6:20-26 – ESV

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

"Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

"Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

"Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

"Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

"Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Moses and Jesus: Our Answers

Jesus                                  Moses

Apostle                             (apostle)

High Priest                         Priest (Aaron High Priest)

Faithful                             Faithful

"builder"                             "house"

More Glory                         Some Glory

Son                                 Servant

Compare Jesus and Moses

At a recent study, we looked at a passage in the New Testament book of Hebrews, which makes a comparison between Jesus and Moses. Read the following passage, and list comparisons and contrasts between Jesus and Moses. I had five listed, but the group found another.

Post your results, and next week I will post what our group discovered.

Hebrews 3:1-6 – ESV
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, [2] who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. [3] For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. [4] (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) [5] Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, [6] but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.


Jesus –                                                  Moses –