Studying Biblical Words

WORD STUDIES

Words are units of thought that should be studied etymologically, comparatively, historically and in
terms of the equivalence in the original languages. Things to look for in the study of a word from an
exhaustive concordance or from words searches in computer Bible programs:

1. Total number of times the word appears in the Bible
2. Period in which there is the highest concentration
3. Any limited context that exhibits an extraordinary number of usages—this might well be where the
largest teaching block about the word is located
4. Contexts that illustrate a word’s usage prior to the selected text that is being exegeted
5. The less a word is used in Scripture, the more valuable a study of its history becomes
6. The frequency of the word in the Bible, book, section, or paragraph
7. Illegitimate totality transfer is to be avoided; meanings change with time
8. The original context must not be forgotten; it ultimately controls the meaning
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words is an excellent tool since it allows all readers to dig into
meanings of words used by the original biblical authors. The computer Bible programs have excellent
lexicons, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

CROSS REFERENCES

Cross references may be identified as verbal, conceptual or parallel. The Thompson Chain-Reference
Bible, New Scofield Bible, NIV Study Bible, and NKJV Study Bible have excellent cross reference
systems. An indispensable tool is The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Revell), which contains over
500,000 references and parallel passages. For MAC and PC computer users, there is a 600,000 cross
reference system in The Online Bible. Naves Topical Index is another excellent tool for word and topic
studies and most Bible programs have it.

PRINCIPLES TO OBSERVE

PROGRESSIVE MENTION PRINCIPLE by which God makes the revelation of any given truth
increasingly clear, as the Word proceeds to its consummation.

AGREEMENT PRINCIPLE under which the truthfulness of God becomes the guarantee that He will
not set forth any passage in His Word that contradicts any other passage. There are no contradictions in
Scripture; there is organic unity.

DIRECT STATEMENT PRINCIPLE under which God says what He means, and means what He says.

DISCRIMINATION PRINCIPLE by which we should divide the Word of Truth, so as to make a
distinction where God makes a difference, e.g., all men are created in the image of God (Genesis 9:6),
but all men are not children of God (John 1:12).

APPLICATION PRINCIPLE by which an application of truth may be made only after the correct
interpretation has been learned.

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