Bible Study In An Orthodox Context
1. Knowledge of the Bible
a.) Knowledge of the Bible can be understood and perceived only by one whose heart is burning with hunger for the truth…as the Psalmist says: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Ps 118:03)”
- Commitment to Christ and a repentance precede formal instructions
2. Bible Study is a Personal Conversation
“Whenever you read the Gospel, Christ Himself is speaking to you. And while you read, you are praying and talking to Him.” (St. Tikhon)
3. The 4 keys to having an Orthodox View Towards Bible Study (Bishop Kallistos)
a.) Obedience – He who loves me keeps my commandments
- Waiting for the Lord
- Keeping a watchful heart
- Listening – the Virgin Mary
“15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you . . . 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him . . . 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 14:15-17, 21, 15:10-12)
b.) Ecclesial – in union with the Church
- The Church gave us the Scriptures
- The Church is the Guide to understanding
- The Mind of the Church
- Worships’ usage of Scriptures
- Patristic Commentaries
c.) Christ Centered – all things point to Christ (types)
d.) Personal – Christ is speaking to us (The Cannon of St. Andrew)
“He who is humble in his thoughts and engaged in spiritual work, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, will apply everything to himself and not to his neighbor (St. Mark the ascetic)”
II. A Prayerful Study of Scripture (Fr. Ted Stylianopoulos)
a.) Begin with morning prayers and continue with these prayers before reading.
A Lamp to My Feet
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways! You have commanded that Your precepts to be kept diligently. O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on Your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn Your righteous precepts. O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Ps 119:1-7, 97,105)
Prayer of Enlightenment
Having received this new day as a gift, I thank You Holy Trinity, for through Your goodness and patience You were not wrathful with me, an idler and sinner, neither have You cast me down in my sins. But You have shown Your love towards me and have guided me to keep my daily watch and to glorify Your power. Enlighten my mind to study Your word and open my heart to understand Your teachings in Scripture. Help me to apply what I learn and to praise You with all my heart and to glorify Your holy name, Father Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
Directions for Study
1. Choose one of the Gospels, an Epistle or the daily readings and resolve to read on a regular basis.
2. Read prayerfully and slowly. Concentrate on what you understand, not on what you do not understand. Insight will increase by God’s grace.
3. Keep a Prayer Journal in which you write down striking passages. Commit some to memory and recall them throughout the day.
4. Contemplate ho what your reading applies to your life’s circumstances and trials.
5. Pause to pray if you feel inspired to do so.
6. If important questions arise seek guidance from your priest or an informed Orthodox.
7. End with a prayer of Thanksgiving.
Psalm of Thanksgiving
I give You thanks, O Lord with my whole heart; before the angels I sing Your praise; I bow before Your holy presence and give thanks to Your name for Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness; For You have exalted above everything Your name and Your word. On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul You increased. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out your hand against the wrath of my adversaries, and Your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. (Psalm 138:1-3,7-8)
“For if the devil will not dare approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then your soul, sanctify your body, by having these ever in your heart, and on your tongue. . . it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. (St. John Chrysostom)”