Long before I started my study and research, I was fascinated by Paul, the man. Here’s this guy who had actively persecuted Jesus’ followers ( Acts 8:1-3) then in Acts 9:1-17 he is enlisted by Jesus Himself-his mission:share the Gospel and minister to the Gentiles. I think that with the exception of the teachings of Christ Himself, Paul’s conversion was instrumental in my own salvation and the beginning of really STUDYING my Bible.
Over the many years since I first said “Yes” to Jesus I’ve been an avid explorer of Scripture. Yes, the teachings and stories are a great beginning. I used to carry a pocket NIV Bible (still have it too!) in my purse to read on breaks. I confess, in those early days, I barely truly understood all of it— and continued to read and listen to preachers and teachers. And then I heard about Paul’s encounter with the Bereans (Acts 17:11-12)
Nowadays my personal study has expanded to many areas including history, archeology, cultures and customs then and now, as well as Church history. In fact, right now I’m delving a bit into the Reformation. One of my favorite “side studies” is the languages our Bible was originally written in as well as how we got here from there! Truly, studying the Bible is a multi-faceted endeavor for anyone-and I LOVE IT! It’s keeps this senior brain from shriveling for sure!
There are many books written about how to study the Bible. One of the things I’ve learned is the importance of CONTEXT and I think this is especially true of the Epistle to the Romans. I’m not going to go into too much of the background this week. Obviously its a letter from Paul to all the believers in Rome (duh)! It is considered by many scholars and theologians to be his magnum opus and and goes pretty in depth on many doctrinal teachings and incidentally a huge influence on later Church fathers! Of all the highlighting done in my younger days, Romans has the most. It is simply chock full of teaching and more! For me, I like the practicality and ability to apply it to living today. ROMANS IS TIMELESS!
I use a number of digital tools in studying and many are downloadable for free!
1. Logos is my primary and stays open pretty much all the time. I started using it in the early 80s and over the years my library has grown immensely! While most added resources have a cost, Faithlife offers LOGOS BASIC . Each month they also offer a free resource to add to your library. Needless to say, if you really get into study like I do, it can get costly. What I love most is the ability to keep notes… and additionally I personally have my devotions journal. I hope you’ll check it out. It also has an app for your phone/device for “on the go” reading.
2. Another freebie is e-Sword and has a multitude of resources and also allows the purchase of many others. I don’t use it as much but the free resources are great!
3. Last but not least is YouVersion. This is always free all the time and has a huge selection of daily Bible reading plans. I don’t use it much for heavy duty study. It IS really good for reading and re-reading whatever I am studying. I keep it on my device because our message each week at Life.Church/Church Online generally has a reading plan associated with it and really is beneficial in keeping the teaching front and center for application! Note that this is my church where I serve Tuesday mornings at 9:30 AM USA EST.
Now that I’ve shared all that I do and the tools I use, I’m so hopeful and excited that some may come on the journey with me! I hope you’ll invite others as well!
YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT:
Read the entire book! That’s it! Well, sorta. First-read it like its written-a LETTER to real people! Just think, God is letting us freely read other peoples’ mail!!!
I suggest you read it through quite a few times (at least three). Also, use a few different translations/versions of the Bible. I confess, the first time I tried this, I was using the NASB translation and got lost because it is so deep. DO use your favorite for sure, but also consider a paraphrase or two and maybe consider using a commentary for the more difficult passages. e-Sword has quite a few in their “for free” collection. Keep in mind that most are public domain and written likely before you were born. I know there are also quite a few available online. Just search ( I use Google)on “Bible commentary” and I’m sure you’ll end up bookmarking many! I hope you’ll also explore some of the areas I have found so exciting! Culture and history especially as it helps to envision the recipients.
If you have any comments or questions about tools or other areas of study, or even my methods… comment below and I’ll get back to you soon as I can.
OK then… hope you’ll return next week as we take our first steps on this journey! I plan to post every Thursday by 5PM USA EST. Eventually, I’ll be moving everything over to the learning area of Abiding Ways and providing handouts but I’m also in the process of putting a new face on the main site. For the month of October tho… we’ll stay right here on the blog. And yes, we will take a break for the holidays. I know how busy it gets!