After a brief overview of the Bible, discussing its core message and value for us, we want to grow more familiar with how to study the Bible and how various translations and resource tools make the experience more exciting and fulfilling. We want to open our minds to new ideas.
Collect several Bibles in various versions, several different commentaries, handbooks, and dictionaries. (You can probably find these in your church library or your pastor or another church member may supply them, if asked.) In addition to what you have at home or in the church library, if you type into your browser the word “Bible,” many of these resources will become available. “Bible Gateway” is of particular benefit, because you can type in a passage of Scripture and view it in scores of translations. Also consider one or more of the online commentaries. You might also want to download the EGW Writings app, if you have an iPhone or an Android phone, where you can view Ellen White’s comments.
Look up an interesting passage of Scripture in several translations and compare the varying nuances presented. For example, consider Colossians 4:6, where The New English Bible translates it: “Let your conversation be always gracious, and never insipid; study how best to talk with each person you meet.” Compare this with The J. B. Phillips Translation, which reads: “Speak pleasantly to [non-Christians], but never sentimentally, and learn to give a proper answer to every questioner.” Then look at The Message Bible, which paraphrases: “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.”
Ask yourself a series of questions:
- Is God really placing the lives of other human beings in our hands, in that He is asking us to speak with them in ways that are relevant and compelling—using language that makes sense to them?
- Why is God so concerned that we speak with others in a careful, gracious manner that takes into account what they bring to the conversation?
- In what ways would avoiding “being insipid” make our conversation more compelling?
- How do phrases like “make the most of every opportunity” and “study how to talk with each person” signal a responsibility for us to think hard about what we say to others and to prepare to be effective communicators?*
* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.