How To Read the Bible – Exam

HTRB – Final Exam

A.  Match the Bible Study Tool with it’s definition:


      ____ Dictionary                              A.  Has Maps

      ____ Concordance                         B.  Explains Bible words

____ Encyclopedia                         C. Discusses Bible texts

____ Atlas                                      D.  Has Articles on topics

____ Commentary                          E.  Lists verses using certain words

B.    When studying the bible

  1. It is good to use more than one translation
  2. Pick one that is literal
  3. Pick one that is dynamic equivalent
  4. Pick one that has a cool cover
  5. Get a free one from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

C.   Narratives are

  1. Just stories
  2. Allegories with secret meanings
  3. Illustrations from history of biblical truth
  4. None of the above

D.  The Law is

  1. Completely binding on Christians
  2. Always instructive for Christians
  3. Totally binding on non-believers
  4. Usually informative for non-believers

E.  Prophecy

  1. Predicts the future
  2. Gives exact outlines of future history
  3. Expresses God’s will for us today
  4. Includes charts.

F.  The Psalms help us

  1. Explain the law of gravity
  2. Express ourselves to God
  3. Fall Asleep
  4. Think about God had his ways.

G.  Wisdom Literature is usually

  1. Poetic
  2. International
  3. Hard to understand
  4. Full of dumb ideas

H.  Which of these are Synoptic Gospels?

  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke
  4. John
  5. “The Passion of the Christ”

I.  The book of Acts is

  1. A biography of Peter and Paul.
  2. The history of the spread of the Gospel
  3. A manual for how to run a church
  4. The place to go to formulate your theology of the Holy Spirit
  5. A collection of one Act plays.

J.  Parables differ from Allegories in that

  1. “Parable” does not sound like “Al Gore”.
  2. Allegories usually have one main idea
  3. Everything means something in an Parable.
  4. Parables pack a “punch”

K.  When reading a Parable

  1. Look for “points of reference”.
  2. Look for deeper spiritual meanings.
  3. Remember the first listeners/readers.
  4. Remember that they come in “pairs”.

L.  Epistles usually begin with

  1. Who it is from.
  2. Who it is for
  3. Date
  4. Pretty letterhead

M.  Revelation draws on which of the following

      A. Epistle                     B. Prophecy

      C. History                    D. Gospel

      E. Poetry                      F. Apocalypse

N.  Match view of Revelation

      ___ Preterist                 A. Revelation is a drama showing spiritual realities

      ___ Futurist                  B. Revelation shows the panorama of church history.

      ___ Spiritual                 C.  Revelation depicts events from 70AD to 135 AD.

      ___ Historicist              D.  Revelation is mostly about events yet to occur.


Hey, post your answers!  Some have more than one possible answerl.  Scintilating essays and sharply worded comments are the most fun to read.


And a final parabolic comment:  This is not the final exam that should concern you most.

Fresh Read

John’s Gospel

The HTRB series is done, for now at least.  To review those click the HTRB side bar.  Now we think something new is due.  As we are in the week  before Christmas, it seems good to start with Jesus – and specifically as told by John’s gospel.

 Let’s start with John 1:1-5 (ESV)
    In the beginning was the Word,

 and the Word was with God,

 and the Word was God.

[2] He was in the beginning with God.

[3] All things were made through him,

and without him was not any thing made that was made.

[4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

[5] The light shines in the darkness,

 and the darkness has not overcome it.


Some things to think about:

1.  Genesis 1 is echoed here.  Many consider John to be very “Spiritual”, but Genesis 1 is about the origin of the world.  What might be the point?

2.  Word, in Greek is “logos” a very significant term in ancient philosophy and religion.  Why is “word” appropriate for Jesus?

3.  Note the time frame – When did the Word begin?  When did the World begin?  How is the Word related to God & Eternity?

4.  What do Light and Life signify?  Are they related to Genesis 1 & 2? (“let there be light…let the waters swarm with swarming creatures…and God breathed into his nostril the breath of life…)

5.  And for fun, though the Author (Moses) did not know quantum physics – if creation came from sound (God’s words), and both matter and energy are different forms of wave energy, does Genesis correlate with modern science on this point?

Revelation 12 continued…

So we start with what is clear:

The Dragon represents Satan (v. 9) and possibly his allies.

the Child must be Christ (see Psalm 2, Isaiah 9:6,7, etc)

The Woman is Israel, from whom the Messiah is born.

The Time frame must be from Christ’s birth (v.6), possibly to pre-history if the dragons tail sweeping the stars from the sky is related to the fallen angels (v. 4) and looks forward to the crushing times of persecution associated with the Great Tribulation (1260 days has to do with 3 1/2 years, which is tied to Daniel’s 70th week – Dan 9).  You will have to consult your theology of the End to work out that detail.

The Point?  Now that is a good question.  Is it so we can argue over what will happen when?  I don’t think so because so much of prophetic scripture is clear as to the big idea, but unclear as to the chronology.  Knowing when is not as important to God as that we know What and Who.  The point of this passage is that despite the irrational ragings and attacks of evil (and remember Revelation was written to people facing the ragings of the Roman empire in all of it’s awesome and brutal power) the Lord will prevail, and will preserve his people through all dangers.

In other words, don’t give up.  In the words of Sherlock Holmes, “the game is afoot…”  Hold your ground, look up to the Almighty and not across at raging enemy.

 Fresh Read

Revelation 12

We will be discussing the meaning of this passage – add your comments or questions below:

Rev. 12:1-17 (ESV)

    And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. [2] She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. [3] And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. [4] His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. [5] She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, [6] and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
    [7] Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, [8] but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [10] And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. [11] And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. [12] Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
    [13] And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. [14] But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. [15] The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. [16] But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. [17] Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

1.  Who are the major characters?

2.  What are they doing?

3.  When did this or will this happen?   

Reading the Book of Revelation



            Revelation combines the elements of three kinds of Biblical literature:  Apocalypse, Prophecy and Epistle.

            Apocalypse:  This was a literary form that had it’s run from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D.  There were a number of books that were written in this style.  Revelation is the only one in the Bible.

1.      The origin is in parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah and Isaiah.  These passages were born in times of persecution are related to the end of the world.

2.      Prophetic books are collections of sayings (oracles), but Apolyptic books are a literary form with an overall structure and theme.

3.      Most often the content is presented in the form of visions, dreams and symbolism.

4.      These symbols take the form of fantasy.  They are simple like comparing the gospel to salt (Matt 5:13).  They are complex, like a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev. 13:1).

5.      The contents are often organized in numbered sets.  (7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, etc).

6.      Revelation differs from other Apocalyptic books, because it is tied to a real author and to 7 real churches.

            Prophecy:  John calls the book prophecy (1:3; 22:18-19). 

1.      John wants to write a prophetic word to the church – it is not sealed away for the future, but it has relevance to its readers.  Note the powerful statements to the 7 churches.

2.      Revelation has elements of prediction of the future.

            Epistle:  Like all epistles, this was written on a certain occasion to a certain group of people.  So we need to understand the context of the first readers.

1.      Revelation is cast in the form of a letter – 1:4-7, 22:21

2.      It was written to the 7 churches.

Images: by nature symbolic images are difficult to interpret.  Here are some ideas to keep in mind

1.      The Old Testament provides many of the images in Revelation.

2.      Some images have a standard meaning: a beast out of the sea suggests a world empire.  Other images can change – the woman in chapter 12 is good, but the one in chapter 17 is evil.

3.      When John interprets an image, that should be a starting place for working out the meaning of the other images.  “Son of Man”  is Christ (1:17-18); Lamp stands are churches (1:20); seven stars are seven angels (1:20); The Dragon is Satan (12:9); seven heads (17:9) = seven hills and 7 kings; the Harlot is
Rome (17:9).

4.      Read each vision as a whole, and don’t get caught in working out all the details in the imagery – it is not allegory.

5.      The emphasis is not in developing a Chronology of events, but in the certainty of Victory.

A simple Outline (there are as many outlines as there are commentators)

IntroductionsChapter 1-3

            John 1:1-11

            Christ 1:12-20

            7 Churches 2:1-3:22

The Glory of God   Chapters 4-5 

            God Reigns – 4:1-11

            Christ as Lion and Lamb – 5:1-14

Judgment Unfolds    Chapters 6-7  

            7 Seals

(note pattern in seals, trumpets and bowls that #1-4 go together as a unit, #5 and #6 are an opposite pair, there is an interlude, #7 conclusion of sequence)

Content of Judgment  – Chapters 8-11  

            7 Trumpets

Theological Key    Chapter 12

            The story of Israel, Christ and the Church

God’s Wrath    Chapter 13-16 –

            7 Bowls

Tale of Two Cities   Chapters 17-22

            Destruction of “Babylon” – symbolic of opposition to God

            Glorification of “Jerusalem” – symbolic of the redeemed.

There are four main Schools of Interpretation 

  • Historicist – Revelation is seen as a pre-written history of the church from the time of the Apostles to the end of the world.
  • Preterist – Revelation is already fulfilled.  The events in Revelation were played out from the time of Christ to the Destruction of the
    Temple (70 AD) and the Dispersion of the Jewish people (135 AD).  Some reserve the final chapters for the future.
  • Futurist – the majority of the book awaits a future fulfillment.  From Chapter 4 to the end of the Book is yet future.  Dispensationalism is one type of Futurist teaching – where most hold that the church is raptured at 4:1 (“come up here”) and the Great Tribulation begins with the church in heaven with Christ.
  • Spiritual (or Idealist or Symbolic) – This approach takes Revelation as a drama that depicts ongoing spiritual realities – such as the conflict between Christ and Satan, between saints and anti-Christian world power.  Some in this school see Revelation as a 7 act drama, with each act having 7 scenes.


Read Revelation 12. 

·        Who are the main players? 

·        What seems to be happening?

Final Exam!

We are close to the end of the HTRB series.  So naturally, FRESH READ is pondering an online final examination.  Now it is too bad we don’t have access to ScanTron – the fill in the dots with a #2 pencil method.  It will need to be more verbal. 

First comes Epistles, then Revelation.  If there are lots of questions to delay the teacher, it will only put off the inevitable. 

 Oh, come one!  It is a learning Experience!

New Testamament Epistles

  • The Epistles are 1/3 of the New Testament.

  • There are 21.

  • Paul wrote 13.

An epistle is a letter written between two people or groups.  Just as we have customary forms to our letters, the NT Epistles have a typical shape based on ancient letter writing customs.

  • From: (“Paul, and Apostle…)
  • To: (The church inRome…)

  • Greeting: (“Grace and Peace to you…)

  • Discussion: (“First of all….)

  • Closing: (“Now unto Him who…)

Paul’s Letters fall into several categories:

  • I and II Thessalonians – the earliest and concerned with the Return of Jesus.
  • Romans, Galatians, I and II Corinthians – care concerned with explaining the message of Jesus.

  • Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon – were all written when Paul was in prison.  They mix teaching with practical advice.

  • I and II Timothy and Titus – these are Pastoral, in that they give instructions to other pastors on leading the churches. 

Other Writers: 

  • Anonymous – We are not sure who wrote Hebrews.  It was written to Jewish Christians who were scattered around the Roman world. 

  • James was written by the half-brother of Jesus, who was a leader in
    Jerusalem.  It is a practical book, like Proverbs.

  • Peter wrote I and II Peter, these mix teaching on God and practical advice for living in confusing and hard times.

  • John wrote I, II and III John.  These books should a lot like the Gospel of John, and emphasize life in Christ, Love for God and others. 

  • Jude wrote Jude. He is the younger half brother of Jesus.  He warns about False Teachers.

Some Guidelines for Epistles:

  • It is worthwhile comparing the Epistles to the Book of Acts, for that is where we read about Peter, Paul and the Churches.   Knowing some of the situation helps to understand the letters. 


  • Letters are usually written because of a specific situation.  They tend to mix doctrinal teaching with personal comments. 


  • In general, we need to keep in the mind the original listeners.  The more our context is like theirs, the more the epistles will “apply” to our lives.  The more they are different, the more we will have to draw principles.  (e.g.  Instructions to Slaves; Women’s hair styles; Living in a Pagan world) 
  • Usually the Epistles move from Teaching to Application.  For example, Romans 1-11 is mostly teaching about Sin and Salvation, and 12-16 is about the Christian life 
  • Noticing the structure of the book can be key in understanding it.  For example, it is best to read I Corinthians as Paul answering questions put to him by the Corinthian church.  The statement “Everything is permissible to me” (I Cor 6:12) is placed in quotes in the NIV to show that Paul is interacting with a slogan popular among the people.  We should not make that an absolute rule!
  • Fee and Stewart emphasize that Epistles should be read Paragraph by Paragraph. Most translations suggest paragraph divisions.  These were not in the original, but were added to make sense to us.  But it is best to interpret a verse in the context of its thought unit.


  1. Read I Corinthians 3:10-15.  This has been often used to teach that each individual believer will be judged for how he built his personal life in Christ.  Is that the intended meaning?
  1. Compare Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:15-17 and see what they do and do not say about what should be part of a Worship Service.