Bible study is not simply reading a few verses as an inspiration or motivation to get your day started. It isn't reading a passage and picking out a favorite verse.
It means careful observing what the verses really mean. Reading them in context ... not only within the paragraph in which they appear. In the chapter. In the book. In the Bible. In history.
And sometimes it becomes a study of language.
Like it or not, sometimes when we skim the surface of verses we can miss important nuances in meaning or even fact! If you've grown up as a Christian there can even big things ingrained by our Western Christian culture that aren't actually truth.
Take the story of Daniel in the lions' den. Picture Daniel for me. Perhaps, like he always has in my mind, your Daniel really looks a lot like young David. Ruddy, boyish, or perhaps a young man just beginning to enter manhood. Strong. Courageous. Perhaps even a bit defiant.
What if I tell you he was actually at least in his late sixties, possibly around 80? Instead of Luke, you've got Obi-wan Kenobi. Defiance is an understatement. His got that been there, done that, what-can-YOU-do-to-me rebellion underneath a supernaturally calm demeanor. I was around before you and I'll likely outlast you; do you know how many kings I've served under? Bring it. God's plan trumps your's every. Single. Time. Whatever hair he has is probably gray. Perhaps he has some kind of walking stick.
That doesn't change the facts of the case, just the image in your mind. Perhaps he was a little more vulnerable among hangry lions, though I don't think we'd give much of any body a big chance in that den. Sure David killed them with his sling, and Samson ripped one apart with his bare hands ... but it was just one.
Tim and I had a discussion this week about a verse. I had read it in the NASB, but his NIV Bible had translated one little word very differently than mine. A brief cursory reading would not have revealed the difference, but a little digging revealed a very different picture in our minds.
Exelkomenos. That was the original Greek of the word in question. "To draw out."
My NASB translation of "carried away and enticed" lends a certain picture. I'm sure you've heard the term to get carried away with something. It doesn't usually mean you were literally picked up and carted off: usually it means you yourself went to far with something.
But Tim's NIV translation gave a much different picture that he was having trouble swallowing before we really dug down into the truth:
Dragged away, for us, produced a picture of someone unwilling to go being physically taken from where they want to be and trapped by this awful thing they never wanted to do. "The devil made me do it!"
In the end we determined that the spirit of the verse, contextually and in the original Greek, is that you see something you want to do. But shouldn't. But you keep being enticed and let it lure you, like the aroma of a fresh baked delicacy on the wind, almost effortlessly toward it. Like the chocolate you didn't really want to eat but when you kept thinking about it, well, what's one little taste going to hurt? And you get carried away and next think you know you wake up several months later and several pounds heavier. Not where you wanted to go. But deep down you had that desire to start with and allowed it to get the better of you. The bag of Ghirdelli in the pantry has never jumped out and grabbed me by the nose, held my mouth open, and poured itself inside.
STUDY your Bible. We have a plethora of free resources. I can look at multiple translations in seconds with the YouVersion app, and with Bible Hub's website I, who never studied Greek or Hebrew, can have an interlinear Bible at my fingertips. You don't have to be a theologian, academian, or master ancient languages in order to study the Bible.