The following are a few guidelines that I hope will help in your reading, interpreting and understanding the Bible:
1) Christ is the central figure of the Bible
Luke 24:27: .. beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me
2) When reading the Bible, determine first what it SAYS, then what it MEANS
Don’t rush into interpreting a passage; Think through first exactly what is written; Draw out the meaning from what is there; Be careful to not read your own preconceptions into the biblical text.
3) Recognize the type of literature you’re reading
The Bible has historical narratives, genealogies, poetry and teaching among its genre or type of literature that you’re reading.
There are also instances of statements of fact (indicatives); Upon reflection of those facts, we are led to commands to take action (imperatives) on those statements of fact.
4) Read in context
We often encounter the Bible in one or two verse segments; We must be careful to note the context of the surrounding verses to properly understand what is being read;
A portion of Psalm 14:1 ( “There is no God”) could be used to support atheism if not taken in context.
The surrounding verses state:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.
5) Remember that the Bible is written to you and for you
The Bible is more than an ancient manuscript written centuries ago. They are the very inspired words of God written by human authors. They were not only written to their original audience but to us and for us as well:
In Matthew 22:31, we find Jesus correcting members of a religious group in Israel, the Sadducees, who believed that the only real Scripture we have is the first five books of the Bible. They also did not believe in a future resurrection of the dead. Using a passage from Exodus 3:15
“God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’”
The Lord Jesus makes the point, from a book of Scripture that the Sadducees would accept as Scripture, that their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who died centuries earlier, are referred to in the present tense.
The Lord Jesus said: And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:
1 Corinthians 10:1-6 – Paul makes reference to the Old Testament people of Israel. What they did (good and bad) serves as examples for us. We find the account of those examples in Scripture.
Thus, the Bible is written to us and for us. It is indeed what God has said.