Those Difficult Passages

Those Difficult Passages
Beth K. Vogt

You’re preparing your Bible study, and there it is: a difficult passage. You read and reread, grappling with the question: What exactly is this passage saying? And if you are wrestling with a passage, the other small-group members are sure to be, too.

What do you do when a passage’s meaning remains elusive? And if you’re a group leader, how do you help those you lead to overcome their fear of difficult passages and to decipher them appropriately?

* Pray. Ask God to show you wonderful things in His Word.

* Cross-reference. Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Find other passages that speak to this issue. What clarification do they offer?

* Examine the context. The surrounding verses help determine the meaning of a passage. Search them for clues to the difficult verse’s meaning.

* Check commentaries. Be selective and knowledgeable about available reference materials. Your pastor can recommend solid commentaries that will help you. Be willing to examine all sides of a controversial passage.

One resource I have found helpful when dealing with difficult passages is Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer (Zondervan). Categorized by books of the Bible, it includes a section called “Recommended Procedures in Dealing with Bible Difficulties.”

* Depend on the Holy Spirit. He is your teacher and the Spirit of truth (see Luke 12:12; John 15:26).

* Use your time wisely. Don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on a troublesome verse or two. You’ll miss the clear teaching in the rest of the study. Some Scriptures may remain a mystery this side of heaven. Acknowledge that and move on.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

This article “Those Difficult Passages” by Beth K. Vogt was excerpted from Small-Group Ideas P. 41; Naypress, 2001. It may be used for study & research purposes only.