the weblog of Alan Knox

Questions about studying Scripture

Posted by on Nov 5, 2007 in discipleship, scripture | 7 comments

Recently, I’ve had some good conversations about studying Scripture and teaching (including preaching). These conversations have led me to ask some questions of myself concerning study and teaching of Scripture. I thought I would ask you, my readers, the same questions.

If you are studying Scripture in order to teach others, do you study differently than if you are studying for yourself only? If so, then how is your study different when you are planning to teach others, and how is your study different when you are studying for yourself?

Finally, if you study differently when you are planning to teach others, why?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-5-2007

    Question #1: No

    Question #2: N/A

    These are good questions, though. I’ve notice the same thing previously in myself and in others (and viewed it as an inconsistency). I’m looking forward to what others say.

  2. 11-5-2007

    My hope is that when I teach others from Scripture, it’s something that I’ve learned myself. I believe that God wants us to impart more than He wants us to regurgitate.

    That said, when I am called on to teach, I do try to prepare so I can communicate methodically. Which actually helps me solidify my thoughts for myself. So it all gets mixed up.

    But I hope I don’t try to teach things that I don’t intend to carry out in my own life.

  3. 11-5-2007


    1. Yes,when I was a young man. To my shame, and partly because of what I was taught, I tried to impress my listeners with unnecessary information.
    2. Some ten years or so later I realised the utter stupidity and inconsistency of this self centered attitude. Until I became unwell and retired, apart from simple background and context, I sought to teach what the Scriptures taught, and as simply as I needed it for myself.
    3. I came to realize that the tools of learning were to help me express the truth more simply, not to enable me to impress those with whom I was entrusted by my language skills or great knowledge of history.

  4. 11-5-2007

    Hmm. This is a good question, and I think I must admit that I am guilty of spending more time and using more resources to teach. But, now that you’ve asked the question “why?”, I don’t know that there is a really good reason. The main reason is time. I’m not saying it’s a good excuse, but it is what it is. However, I don’t see studying to preach/teach as entirely different than studying for yourself. I certainly reap the benefits of the studying.

    That being said, what is the solution? I certainly don’t currently have time to study as much in my personal time as I do in my time for teaching, but I don’t think it is the wise thing to reduce teaching preparation time for only that purpose. Good question, Alan. Thanks for asking it of everybody.

  5. 11-5-2007


    Thanks for taking part. You said that you noticed “the same thing previously in [yourself] and others (and viewed it as an inconsistencey).” I was wondering if you would explain what you saw in yourself, how you view this as an inconsistency, and how you changed.


    Thanks for the comment. What do you mean by “communicate methodically” and if it helps you “solidfy [your] thoughts for [yourself]”, why do you not do this same type of preparation when studying for yourself?

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for stepping us through part of the process you went through. Do you think there could be reasons (other than wanting to impress listeners) for studying differently when you plan to teach others?


    Thanks for being honest. As you said, “It is what it is.” One of the reasons that I asked these questions is that I don’t hear many people asking them, and because I’ve only begun thinking about them in the last year or so. Hopefully, by asking, I can help others beging asking the same questions for themselves.


  6. 11-7-2007

    Hi Alan,

    Great question. BTW I’ve been wanting to comment on your Revelation series but haven’t had time, so I’ll just say that it’s a very thought-provoking series.

    As for studying scriptures for personal study and for teaching others, to me it’s all intertwined. I generally cannot separate the two. I teach what I’ve already studied, and if I’m in a position in which I’m going to be teaching on something that I don’t know much about, then my Bible study is still both personal and for the purpose of teaching.

    It’s kind of like many other things in the Christian life. One example would be “giving.” I never give because I’m “supposed” to give. If I’m giving, then I’m giving because it’s simply a part of who I am, and at the same time I’m giving for the benefit of someone else. It’s two separate things, but yet it’s all one.

    I study the Bible, not as a spiritual discipline or anything like that, but simply because doing it is a natural part of who I am. What I “get” out of Bible study helps both me and others at the same time.

  7. 11-7-2007


    This is what I’ve been learning over the last year or so also. Thanks for sharing with us.