When Reading Scripture Ask: “Do I Understand This Passage?”

     Have you ever been caught off guard? “Taken by surprise, caught when vulnerable, careless, or inattentive?”1

     I have. Once when on a short-term mission trip in Mexico I was one of two people pulled from the group to attend an evening church service in another location. We would each give our testimony and speak to the congregation with the help of a translator.

     A second occurrence was the night my husband, Terry, was ordained as a pastor. I was invited onto the stage where the pastor’s prayed over Terry and then I was asked to say a few words. I had no idea I would be asked to speak.

     The Holy Spirit gave me the words, and I managed a fair presentation in both instances.

However, in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Paul calls us to a much more important readiness, the application of God’s Word.

2 Tim 4:1-2

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” NIV

     “Paul’s charge is addressed to Timothy, but it is applicable to every person called to an evangelistic or pastoral ministry, even to all Christian people,” writes John Stott.2

     The readiness we are called to through this passage of Scripture is to be standing by, available, to preach the word whether it is convenient or not.3 It is of urgent importance.

     We are not only to be prepared to know the Scriptures that apply to the situations we encounter, but to deliver them correctly.

     Stott states that the use of Scripture to correct, rebuke and encourage suggests different approaches to teaching. We take into consideration the differences in situations as well as the people we are addressing. Correction suggests an intellectual perspective, a rebuke would pertain to moral teaching, and encouragement addresses emotional issues.

     Yet whatever approach is necessary we are to instruct carefully with great patience. Stott writes: “However solemn our commission and urgent our message, there can be no justification for a tactless or impatient manner.”

     When I read the Bible, I often must stop and dig deeper to practice it correctly. Depending on which version read, this passage could result in some harsh intercession. Reading the verse from several versions is one way to gain greater understanding. Bible software and apps now make it easier to accomplish this task without having a stack of Bibles next to your chair as you study.

     Also helpful, is to look up the words in koine Greek, the common language when the New Testament was penned. Commentaries provide depth as well like the one I used to write this piece.

     I like the question Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah. “Do you understand what you are reading?” [Acts : 26-31]

     The eunuch answered, “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?

     I have this same attitude when I study God’s Word and I hope you do too. It’s always a good idea to ask ourselves… “Do I understand what I am reading?

Let’s Talk:

1-What Scripture has stumped you? What have you done to uncover its meaning and application? Share in the comment section below!

2-What are some of your favorite Bible study tools?


1-The Free Dictionary by Farlex. “Caught off guard” found at idioms.thefreedictionary.com.

2-Reading Timothy and Titus with John Stott by John Stott with Dale & Sandy Larsen. Published by InterVarsity Press.

3-The Complete Word Study Dictionary –New Testament edited by Spiros Zodhiates Th.D. Published by AMG Publishers.

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