Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Studiousness

  Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Studiousness

 

Richard Hollerman

Although this term is not precisely found in the Bible, we know what it means.  It means that a person is willing and eager to study the Scriptures to please God and understand what He requires.  There are a massive number of passages that speak to this important topic.  How vital it is that we read the Scripture with understanding and apply its divine teachings to our life.

When the Ethiopian visitor to Jerusalem was returning to his country, Luke tells us that he was “sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah” (Acts 8:28).  He then invited Philip to sit with him and explain to him the way of the Lord (vv. 30-31).  When Paul went to the synagogue in Berea, he spoke to them about Jesus the Messiah.  Luke tells us that “these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (17:11).  These are significant words about a commendable people.  They “received” the message of Christ from Paul.  They had “great eagerness” in doing so.  They also “examined the Scriptures daily,” thus they were not superficial readers but real students of the Word.  A. T. Robertson says, “This is the Greek verb anakrino, to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes in the Scriptures for themselves.”[i]  F. F. Bruce adds this: “With commendable open-mindedness, they brought the claims made by Paul to the touchstone of Holy Writ instead of giving way to prejudice.”[ii]

Paul was a student of the Word and must have spent thousands of hours poring over the scrolls.  The fruit of his labors is reflected in Luke’s description of Paul’s teaching or preaching at Thessalonica.  “According to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3).  Wayne Jackson notes, “Paul ‘reasoned’ with the Jews regarding ‘the Christ.’ The verb suggests bringing together different reasons (Thayer, 139), sometimes with the idea of a resulting dispute (Arndt, 184).”[iii]  Robertson adds this: “Lit. ‘opening [the Scriptures] and setting forth alongside [the doctrine].’ Paul was expounding and propounding the Scriptures, all in the midst of heated discussion with the rabbis.”[iv]

Even shortly before his death, Paul was concerned with studying the Scriptures.  He urges Timothy to come to Rome and bring his cloak, “and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13).  “It seems most likely that the parchments would have been books of some kind, quite possibly a copy of the OT in Greek.  In any case, although Paul is expecting to die soon, he is still concerned about getting his ‘books [and] parchments,’ so that he can continue to work for the sake of the gospel.”[v]

Although copies of the Scriptures must have been rare because of their expense, we can imagine that those who did own either papyrus copies of New Testament documents or parchment copies of the Hebrew Scriptures did apply themselves to studying them.  We know that the New Testament letters and gospels were circulated immediately after their being received and they were to be read in public to the gathered saints (cf. Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; Revelation 1:3).  Paul tells us that all Scripture is inspired of God and profitable “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  These same uses of the Bible are for us today.

If we go to the Hebrew Scriptures, there are a great number of passages that praise the Word of God, exult the word, urge belief of the word, seek obedience to the Word, say to meditate on the word, and teach the Word of God.  Psalm 119 alone, with its 176 verses, refers to the Word of God (using different terminology) in nearly every one of those verses.  Read through this chapter slowly and see how important that Word is.  The writer says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (v. 18).  He says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (v. 105).  It can definitely be said that a study of the Scriptures is a virtue to be desired.

Jesus told His Jewish listeners, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” (John 5:39).  “The study of the Bible ought to result in genuine faith in Jesus, followed by obedient action and transformed lives, not merely acquisition of Bible knowledge.”[vi]  Paul writes to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).  Do we have this commitment to Scripture to “accurately handle” God’s Word?  This speaks of correct exegesis, correct interpretation, correct application, and correct impartation.  “Accurately handling” is “a figure of speech that literally means something like ‘cutting a straight road.’  In regard to the message of truth, it means ‘correctly handling’ or ‘imparting it without deviation.’”[vii]  Let us be studious or students of the Word of God so that we correctly understand it, apply it, and share it with others who desperately need to know God’s will.



[i] Word Pictures in the New Testament.

[ii] The Book of Acts, p. 347.

[iii] The Acts of the Apostles, p. 212.

[iv] Word Pictures, p. 312.

[v] ESV Study Bible note.

[vi] ESV Study Bible, note.

[vii] NET Bible, note.

 

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