What is a Bible scholar?

A scholar is one who has distinguished himself in a particular field of study. So, a Bible scholar is one who has studied the Bible in some sort of advanced, presumably academic sense, doing research to better understand its deeper meanings and contexts. There are many opportunities for any person to study the Bible, and as a believer in Christ, we should all be students of the Word of God (Acts 17:11).

A pastor's primary job is to lead a church congregation, while a theologian studies with the purpose of developing a doctrinal system. In contrast, a Bible scholar studies for the more singular purpose of clarifying what the Bible says. Many seminaries have separate departments for each of these positions: a "Pastoral Studies" department, a "Theological Studies" department, and a "Biblical Studies" department. Though there are distinctions between these three roles, that doesn't mean they are mutually exclusive. Pastors and theologians may be Bible scholars; they most certainly need to know what the Bible says and how to apply it. In fact, every Christian should take it upon himself to study the Word of God. Similarly, knowing what the Bible says is pointless unless one puts that knowledge to use; Bible scholars, and all Christians, should be able to apply their biblical knowledge to life and ministry.

There is not a conclusive set of requirements that determine whether or not someone is a Bible scholar. There are many scholarly resources that any person may take advantage of that will help in studying the Bible. A person does not necessarily need a seminary degree in order to be a Bible scholar. On the other hand, in the modern era, sometimes we need to distinguish just what type of "Bible scholar" we are talking about. Unfortunately, there are Bible scholars who are skeptical of the Bible or seek to manipulate it to say what they want or what would be popular. Often such scholars place their own judgment on the Bible when, in actuality, the Bible is what provides a measure or judgment by which we should live. A good Bible scholar searches out the meanings within the Bible for the purpose of edifying the church and bringing glory to God.

When we study the Bible, it helps us to live close to the Lord and make wise decisions. Psalm 119:11 says: "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Obvious ways to become a student of God's Word include taking a class, or even being a part of a Bible study group. Other ideas include consistent reading of the Bible; personal study using tools such as concordances; memorizing Scripture; meditating on the Bible (Joshua 1:8); utilizing online, book, or audio resources such as commentaries or writings that help explain the Bible and biblical topics; and attending a church where God's Word is taught.

All Scripture is valuable to us in our walk with Christ and the more we study it the better (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Matthew 4:4), but it is not enough to just study the Bible. The most important part of studying the Bible is that we allow it to transform us more into the image of God (James 1:22–25). The Bible helps us to know God by showing us who He is and what He has done: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). The point of becoming a scholar of God's Word is not to acquire academic knowledge, but to know God more. It is He who is our Creator and our Savior. The Bible does not give us that which is truly life, but it points us to the One who does—Jesus (John 1:4; 10:10). It's hard to know God and true life in Him if we do not study His Word.

Related Truth:

What principles are used in biblical exegesis?

What are some good Bible study methods?

How can doing a word study be helpful in understanding the Bible?

Are study Bibles helpful? What is a study Bible?

What is a Bible concordance and how can it be used?

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