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

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.

Don’t Get it?

We had a lively discussion in class about the parables in Matthew 13.  We threw out some ideas about the Sower and the Mustard Seed, and then had to go back and check the passage.  We heard some of the ideas we had heard before, and again had to check those out.  We did not come out with the final answer, but we will have to go back and check the text.


I wonder if “Final Answers” only really work on game shows, but we have to keep coming back to the text.

Let’s not get frustrated.  This is what the Bible is supposed to do.

The Book of Acts



What was said of O.T. Narratives holds true for the book of Acts.


  1. They do not usually teach a doctrine.
  2. They usually illustrate a doctrine taught clearly elsewhere in the Bible
  3. They record what happened, not necessarily what should have happened.
  4. What people did in the Bible is not necessarily an example to follow.
  5. The people in the Bible are less than perfect
  6. They do not always interpret themselves; we are expected to be able to judge what happened on the basis of Biblical teaching.
  7. Narratives are selective in what is included; don’t obsess over what is not said.
  8. They are not written to answer every theological question
  9. They can teach explicitly, by clearly stating something, or implicitly, but showing without saying.
  10. In the final analysis, God is the hero in all the biblical narratives.

Acts Divisions and Purpose:

            If Acts was a biography of certain leaders, it would have included more details about them.

            If it was a manual on church practices, such as baptism, church government, frequency of church meetings, the gift of tongues, etc. it would have been made made more clear by giving clear teaching on those points.

            Luke gives us summary statements at 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20).  The book is organized around the Movement of the Gospel of Jesus into the World. 


1:1-6:7 – The Church inJerusalem –

            The earliest Christians were Jews who came to believe that Jesus is the Christ    (Messiah.).  The action in these chapters centers around Jerusalem.

6:8 to 9:30 – The Church in Judea and Samaria –

            Here the message comes to Jewish people who are dispersed away from       

9:32 to 12:24 – The First Expansion to the Gentiles

            The Gospel comes to the family of Cornelius, and a church develops in

12:15 to 16:5 – The First Geographic Expansion into the Roman World

            The mixed church in Antioch sent Paul on his first Missionary Journey, with Barnabas.  The Jerusalem Council decides that Gentiles can come to faith in  Christ without having to convert to Judaism.

16:6-19:20 – Further Westward Expansion

            The Church is becoming increasingly Gentile.

19:21 to 28:31 – Paul goes to Rome.

            Paul is brought before Governors and Kings.

Major Lessons from Acts:

            The Main interest of Acts is that the Gospel is taken to many people – Acts 1:8.  God does not play favorites with any culture or language, but wants all people to learn the Good News of Jesus.

            The Gospel Messages seem to vary in their approach, depending on the audience.  The message of Salvation by Faith in Christ is the same, but it is presented differently to Jewish scholars (16:10-12) than to Gentile Intellectuals (17:16-34).  We learn that our methods need to be flexible.

            Specific issues of worship style, length of meetings, communion, baptism, selecting church leaders, and other practices are not solved in Acts. It appears we are to accept the Gospel into our Culture and use appropriate cultural forms.  For example, the same church office is called “elder” among Jewish people and “overseer” among Gentiles – even though these leaders did the same things such as prayer, teaching and leading.  “Elder” was a preexisting concept in one culture as “Overseer” was in the other.

Assignment:  Study the Conversion of Cornelius, Acts 10.

 What are some lessons that apply today?

The Parables

      The Parables of Jesus are part of the Gospels so what was said about the Gospels holds true for the parables.  Yet there are several reasons we need to treat them separately.

The Parables have a long history of misinterpretation.  Fee & Stewart suggest this comes from a misunderstanding of such passages as Mark 4:10-12

“And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. [11] And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of thekingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, [12] so that “they may indeed see but not perceive,and may indeed hear but not understand,lest they should turn and be forgiven. 

      Because the meaning seemed to be mysterious, many chose to interpret the parables in a symbolic or allegorical way.  They looked for a secret or hidden meaning.  For example
St. Augustine suggested a special meaning for every part of the story of the Good Samaritan:  The man who was beat up represents Adam; the thieves are the devil and his angels; his nakedness was his loss of immortality: and so forth for at least 17 elements.

  • Parables come in kinds.  True Parable or Story (Good Samaritan); Similitude or Illustration (Leaven in the Meal); Metaphor (Salt of the Earth); Epigram (“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes…”).  It is not possible to make one rule for explaining all parables.  Yet it should be noted that no parable is an Allegory.
  • The Function of a Parable is to call for a response from the hearer.  Sometimes explaining a parable is like explaining a joke – we understand the parts but loose the “punch”.  Our interpretations should recapture this call to decision quality of the original telling.
  • Find the points of reference.  In Luke 7:40-42 the points of reference are the two debtors and the moneylender, which correspond to Simon, the woman who washed Jesus feet and God.  Unlike an allegory, not every element is a point of reference. Luke 7:40-42

    And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”     [41] “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  

  • Identify the audience.  Fee & Steward suggest that we should try hearing the parable as the first audience would have heard it.  In the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) Jesus is trying to get the Pharisee to see that he can not limit God’s command for him to love by trying to limit the category of “neighbor.”
  • Parables of the  Kingdom of God.  When we read, “The Kingdom of God is like” we should understand that the whole parable is in view.  “The

    Kingdom of
    God is alike a mustard seed, which….”   So we discover what aspect of the mustard seed is like the Kingdom.  These parables are not just informational; they also call for a response.  E.g. the Sower – Mark 4:3-10.  Our response to the Gospel message is what is important.

  • To teach a parable with the intended “punch” we might try to bring the same story into our context.  What if the Good Samaritan was about an automobile accident, and the pastor and then the leader of the Boy Scout troop passed by, but the local and vocal atheist stopped to help.  Could the Atheist be the good neighbor?


            Read Matthew 13 and for each parable in this chapter, answer these questions

  1. What is the situation?
  2. Who is Jesus’ audience?
  3. What are the main reference points?
  4. What is Jesus point?
  5. How could I retell this story with “punch”?


The Sower                               The Mustard Seed                                The Weeds

The Gospels


            The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are their own category of literature.  They contain teaching sections (“discourses”) and historical sections (“narratives”).  They are not the same as a biography (as they focus on the ministry of Jesus, not his complete life) and they are not the same as a history (as they focus on the overall message, rather than on chronology and events only).

            They are four witnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus, to present him as the Savior to be received by faith.


                            —————————————->>>> Gospel


    They are divided into two groups. 

  • The Synoptic Gospels (the word means “see together”) share many of the same events and words.  There is a long standing debate about which gospel preceded which and what other sources were used.  Luke speaks of using sources (Luke 1:1-4). 

  • The Fourth Gospel, John, is an independent witness containing much that is not in the other three. 

                        Matthew, Mark and Luke             =   the Synoptic Gospels

                        John                                                = the Fourth Gospel 


 Each gospel gives an account of the historical Jesus, and yet each is addressed to different readers.  This is how Fee and Stewart summarize the theme of each Gospel.

  •             Matthew – Jesus is the King

                        Key Verses: Matthew 1:1, 28:18-20

                        Jewish emphasis

  •             Mark – Jesus is the Servant

                        Key Verses – Mark 1:1, 8:29, 10:45

                        Roman emphasis

  •             Luke – Jesus as the Son of Man

                        Key Verse – Luke 19:10

                        Gentile emphasis

  •             John – Jesus is the Son of God

                        Key Verses:  John 20:30-31

                        World emphasis

            The writing of the Gospels was a process.  Jesus lived on the earth.  Witnesses and “ministers of the word” told his story by word of mouth.  About 30 years later the first Gospel was written.  The remaining three Gospels were recorded later.  The later authors may have had access to the former writers.

Is it a problem that the wording varies from Gospel to Gospel?

            The actual wording of the Gospels, even when they record Jesus’ teachings will vary.  There are two reasons:

  •  They are summaries.  Any reporter will have to record a summary of the main points of a speech or an event.  They can not record every detail.  So there will be differences in what is selected to be included.

  • They are translations from Aramaic, the language of Jesus, to Greek, the language of the first churches.  There is often more than one way to translate from one language to another. (e.g.  “Forgive us our sins”.   The word “sins” can be accurately translated by the words “sins”, “debts” or “trespasses”.  The may reflect different Aramaic or Greek words used for sin.)

Is it a problem that the Gospels are not strictly chronological?    

            In reading you may discover that events are arranged in a different order in one gospel than in another.  For example the material in Matthew 10 is gathered into one location, but the same content is spread throughout Luke.

            The Gospels are not meant to be Chronologies.  The emphasis is on the message.  The Gospel writers felt free to arrange teaching and events to highlight the points they are making.  Gospels are not histories or biographies, written by modern standards.  They are presentations of the life and teaching of Jesus.

            Also, sometimes a translation will use a word like “then” or “later” which may not accurately reflect the Greek text, which may simply be a word like “and”.

What is the best way to read the Gospels?

            Side by Side.  Many people like to read through the life of Jesus by comparing the Gospel accounts side by side.  You can find books and computer programs that lay out the four books in this format.  The comparison helps us draw out all the details and to develop a chronology of the Life of Jesus.

            Each Gospel as a Unit.  Since each Gospel is a literary unit, and has its own emphasis, it is important to read each gospel alone.  If you only read side by side, you will miss some of the themes of particular authors.  For example, Mark depicts Jesus’ actions (often with the most narrative detail), while Matthew is structured around the teachings of Jesus  Luke pays attention to Jesus’ humanity and issues of wealth and poverty, while John presents Jesus divinity with an emphasis on eternal life.

            The answer is to do both.  I prefer to study the Gospels individually before comparing them.  But as long as you remember the literary quality of the text when you compare them side by side, you are doing well.

What is a pericope?

            The Gospels were told before they were written.  Each event in Jesus life and each section of teaching forms a section, sometimes called a “pericope”.  This Greek word refers to each literary unit.  The importance is that the immediate context for interpreting a verse is the story or event in which that verse is found.  John 3:16 is found in the section John 3:1-21 and it should be read together with its pericope.


            Compare these Discourses:   Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-23

            Compare these Events:  Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26         

Wisdom Literature

             The term “Wisdom Literature” refers to the biblical books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and some add The Song of Solomon.  Some parts of the Psalms are also included.

            The LAW is the expression of God’s covenant with his people.  The PROPHETS call God’s people back to faithfulness to God.  The HISTORICAL Books recorded how God’s people did when they obeyed or disobeyed God’s commands.

Wisdom Literature

  • Makes much use of poetic language.  Expect to see parallelism, vivid words, examples from life, metaphors, comparisons and contrasts.  In addition, Hebrew is a language given to “word play”, which may not always translate into English.

  • Uses international language and examples.  The prophets were primarily focused on calling the people of God back to the ways of God, which the people already knew.  Wisdom literature calls all people to come to see the Wisdom of God and of his ways. 

  •  Wisdom Literature, especially the Proverbs, borrows from the sayings and literature of other nations and cultures.  This is not a problem, because it shows that all people can find at least part of the Wisdom by which God created the Universe – Proverbs 3:19-20, Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:10.  The difference is that the Bible places wisdom in the context of faith in God – Proverbs 1:7

  • Wisdom can de defined as the ability to make good choices in life.  It is not about intelligence so much as willingness to seek out God’s ways and follow them.

Guidelines for reading Proverbs:    

  1. They are parabolic – using figurative language to point beyond themselves.

  2. They are more practical than theoretical

  3. They are worded to be memorable rather than technically accurate.

  4. They should not be used to support selfish behavior.

  5. Proverbs that come from another culture may need to be translated with care into our culture.

  6. They are not absolute guarantees, but guidelines for good behavior.

  7. They may use literary techniques, including exaggeration to make a point.

  8. They are not exhaustive in their coverage of a topic.

  9. Wrongly used, they can be used to justify a materialistic lifestyle.  Rightly used, they will provide practical advice based on faith in God.

                                    See: Proverbs 22:26-27; 29:12; 15:25

Summary of Wisdom Books:

            Ecclesiastes is a puzzling book that must be read as a whole.  It is a wisdom monologue by “The Teacher”.  Most of the book, except for the final few verses, presents a picture of what life would be like if there were no God, and if there is no life after death.  The advice of 12:3 points the reader to the rest of Scripture.

            Job contains false advice!  If you do not read the book as a whole, you will not get the point that much of the advice of Job’s friends is flawed.  This is a not a denial of the truth of the Bible.  It truthfully contains the false wisdom of the world, and then presents a contrast.  It is false to say that bad things happen only to bad people.  There is mystery in the universe (to us, not to God) and we need to trust in God.

          Proverbs is a collection of sayings.  What Proverbs does say is that, all things being equal, there are basic attitudes and patters of behavior that will help a person grow into responsible adulthood.  Watch for contrasts (good vs. evil) and reoccurring characters (the fool, the simpleton, etc). Proverbs 1:7 should be kept in mind when reading any of the book.

            Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs) is a lengthy love song.  It is best not to read it as an allegory (though many do) but as a celebration of physical love in a committed marriage relationship.  It affirms the goodness of sexuality, but also affirms its proper context.   


            Here is a listing of some topics covered in Proverbs and some of the verses on that subject.  Read one category of proverbs, and then write your own proverb.

            Anger: 6:34; 14:17; 15:1; 15:18; 16:14:19:11; 29:8-11

            Discipline:3:11,12; 12:1; 13:18; 15:10; 15:31-32; 19:20; 19:27; 29:1

            The Fool: 1:7; 1:32; 8:5,6; 10:10; 10:18; 16:22; 17:12; 17:28; 26:1-12

            The Heart: 2:2; 3:1-3; 4:20-23; 6:16-19; 12:20; 14:13,14; 15:17;17:3

            Kindness: 3:3,4; 14:22; 16:6; 31:26

            Laziness: 6:6-11; 10:26; 12:24; 13:4; 15:19; 20:4; 22:13; 24:30-34

            The Poor: 3:24; 1015; 14:31; 16:19; 17:5; 19:1; 19:17; 21:17; 22:2

            Wealth: 3:9,10; 3:13-16; 10:2; 11:28; 13:11; 13:21,22; 14:23,24; 20:14; 23:4,5

            My Proverb: