How Do Protestants Study the Bible


How do Protestants study the bible?
What tools do you use for interpretation?
Do you look at historical context?
Does your particular denomination give guidance?
What emphasis is put in Old vs New Testaments?
Are you encouraged to read verses within Context?



I’ll do my best to answer from my own experience as a Lutheran.

How do Protestants study the bible?

If I am studying a particular passage, say from the lectionary for the coming Sunday, I usually read an the entire chapter that contains the text. If in doing so, I sense a need for more background, I may read a chapter before or after. Serious bible study always begins with prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide me to discern what God wants me to learn.

What tools do you use for interpretation?

I begin with a good study Bible – the Harper Collins Study Bible, the Jerusalem Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, the Navarre Bible, among others. You may note that I include Catholic study Bibles in my list. In addition, I consult a number of commentaries – Augsburg Fortress (Lutheran), Sacra Pagina (Catholic), and I search for resources online, particulary on For New Testament studies, I also may check out the Greek text, but my Greek is awfully rusty, so I may do little more than looking at an interlinear translation.

Do you look at historical context?

It really is essential to consider the historical context if one wants to understand why certain things were said or done. For example, Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well takes on an entirely different look if one is aware of the social mores of the time that governed the relationships between men and woman, particularly if they were no of the same family. In the story I mentioned Jesus, as a Jewish man, should not have had anything to do with a woman in public, even more so with a Samaritan.

Does your particular denomination give guidance?

There are a number of Lutheran commentaries. In addition, my Lutheran seminary studies provided substantial guidance.

What emphasis is put in Old vs New Testaments?

The Hebrew Bible is essential background for the study of the New Testament. The history of the people of Israel is inextricably tied into the time of Jesus and is the background for his ministry and mission. Of course, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the main message and it is the bottom line.

Are you encouraged to read verses within Context?

Definitely. If one takes verses out of context one can lose much of their meaning. And, of course, in theological discussions, throwing isolated verses at one another does little to enhance the understanding of scripture.

Those are a few quick thoughts.



First and foremost with the recognition that it is the Word of God.

Awareness of context and authorial intent is essential, some understanding of the language and an appreciation for the historical setting are useful.

Commentaries can be helpful if they are reliable.



The Old Testament is read through the lens of the New the latter being the revelation of Christ, the whole point of everything.




Lots of prayer. :slight_smile: If I need futher clarification I use commentaries of various sorts when I can get my hands on one.


Yes but not as much as I’d prefer.

The Old testament and the New are totally interrelated. The New Testament fulfills the promises of the Old.



From the begaining to the end

What tools do you use for interpretation?

We use commentaries, dictionaries, concordances, prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.

Do you look at historical context?

Yes, all your study is in the content of history.

Does your particular denomination give guidance?

We have a large library that is fully staffed forty hours a week with people that are also trained as Bible teachers to help those that need it

What emphasis is put in Old vs New Testaments?

See my first answer

Are you encouraged to read verses within Context?

That is the only way to study the Bible

proudly forever Baptist


I’ve wanted to ask this question for a while. Why go to the seminary if you believe in Sola Scriptura? Can seminary teach you something the Holy Spirit cannot?



Why is that a stupid question?


Because it shows that, no matter how many times you see Sola Scriptura properly exposed, you prefer to define it as Solo or Nuda Scriptura.

This latter would logically preclude seminary.

Sola Scriptura would not.


Okay. I’m still learning. I just thought Sola Scriptura means scripture alone. I didn’t know it is broken down into Solo and Nuda. Please forgive.


And I owe you an apology too.

I am currently involved in a discussion with someone who is driving me absolutely batty with their ignorance and I am afraid I let my reaction to them bleed over into my response to you.

Please forgive me.


No problem. Forgiven. My wife is Lutheran and I like to learn as much about her religion as mine by means of CAF.


Steadfast, I’ve never heard these distinctions before. What is the difference between Solo and Sola and what would Nuda Scripture be? In my limited understanding of languages I would have assumed that Solo and Sola were the same thing just with gender specific endings. Is there a real difference?

(Just to clarify, I am asking out of curiosity, not to bait you.)



I think everyone here covered your question acurately. I agree with all. I guess I could add that we also have bible studies as a group of women. I start mine on thursday:D and we will study Daniel through Beth Moore. I am so excited because I heard Daniel is an excellent book and precursor to the book of Revelation.:thumbsup:



Solo or Nuda Scriptura would be the heretical belief that every doctrine is explicitly and clearly stated in the Bible such that no interpretation or appeal to tradition or even context is necessary to understand and apply it.


Steadfast…What actually does Sola Scriptura mean?


From what I have been led to understand (and it is always good to keep in mind that there are so many different kinds of Protestants who define things different ways so that no definition can apply to them all) Sola Scriptura says that the Bible is the sole infallible authority from which we get Christian doctrine. At least, that is how I’ve seen others say it. Correct me if I’m wrong, Steadfast.

Of course, the Bible can’t really be infallible. It is impeccable, but it can’t be infallible since as an inanimate book it is incapable of actually teaching anything. It is not an active agent.


Everything we need to know and believe in order to be in right relationship with God can be found clearly presented within the pages of the Bible.

Nothing else is necessary.


Absolutely true. All of the information is there in the Bible. But as we can see from all of the disagreement about what various parts of the Bible actually mean… there is a need for an ouside authority to help us understand what the Bible says. :wink:


I said everything necessary is clearly presented in the Bible. There is no need for any outside interpreter for these things.

Not everything in the Bible is clear though, but the things that aren’t clear are things about which we have liberty to grow in knowledge and about which the guidance of the church is necessary.

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