In our training session yesterday it was pointed out that the normal approach to learning is to ask questions, and have someone who knows give you answers. The context was that this isnt how learning usually works in school. Normally the teacher who holds the knowledge is the one asking the pupils all the questions.
A consequence of going through education with this rather odd approach to questions is that people often arent very good at asking them. You need to practice asking questions to discover which ones are good, which ones are useful, and which ones arent so important.
In my experience this is one of the major barriers in Bible study. Unless I read a passage and ask sensible questions about it, I will really struggle to grow in understanding. If the only thing I end up asking is what does that word mean, then I might become a walking dictionary but I wont ever understand a passage in context. If the only question I ask is what did that mean when it was written then I wont ever see what it means now and how to apply it.
Those two questions are both really good, but they are much better together, and even better along with other questions. Here are 10 questions I usually find myself asking when I study the Bible:
- Where is this in the Bible? (big context)
- Where is this in the Book? (little context)
- Do I understand all of the words? (basic comprehension)
- Do I understand all of the phrases? (more comprehension)
- Who was the author, and who was the recipient? (historical context)
- What was the original intention of this passage? (authors purpose)
- Where is Jesus in this passage? (you should always be able to answer this)
- What is the main idea in this passage? (this might not always be the same, depending on your current circumstances)
- What does this mean in my circumstances? (heading towards application)
- How can I live this passage out? (application!)
I dont always consciously go through these questions, but sometimes I will, especially if Im struggling with a passage. When you get into the habit of asking useful questions though it happens naturally as youre reading.