Approaching the Scriptures (Part 1)

“How do I balance devotional time with God with more intentional studying of God’s word?” I’m no expert, but this is the most frequent question  people ask me. Let me make my point clear right out of the gate: reading is not the same as studying. Studying nearly always involves reading, but reading doesn’t always involve studying. Scripture describes and prescribes we do both. You can take a quick look at the book of Ezra and Nehemiah to see this in action (Ezra 7, Nehemiah 8).

Before we look at things more closely, let’s get some basic definitions of the terms. Merriam-Webster defines reading as “receiving or taking in the sense of (as letters or symbols) especially by sight or touch.” Studying is defined as the “application of the mental faculties to the acquisition of knowledge” and “careful or extended consideration.” In layman’s terms, reading is a preliminary “taking in.” Studying is a meditative, examined or “careful” taking in. From this, it’s easy to see it’s possible to read the Word, but not study it.

Now, to be fair, this is a very simplistic view of the matter. If reading is taking in and studying is meditative and careful taking in, there are countless variations of the two. You can be only reading and not studying. You can be reading and slightly studying. You can be reading and heavily studying. The list could be drawn out countless ways. However, I think it’s important to see this distinction between the two so we are more aware of what we need more of personally.

What are you personally bent towards? Reading? Studying?

All of this inevitably leads us back to the main question: “If I’m to read and study the Scripture, how do I figure out how much time to devote to each?” Stay tuned for Part 2.

Caleb Gallifant


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