An Example of Biblical Research
[II Corinthians 2: 17]
The first reaction of many believers when they hear the term 'biblical research' is that it is outside the scope of their ability. You may be entertaining a thought that is absolutely not true as the following teaching will clearly illustrate. Besides the desire to know God's Word and your willingness to STUDY, in order to get the job done, you must have the proper TOOLS in the form of RESEARCH BOOKS AND MATERIALS. Of course you should consult a King James Version of the Bible first and then you may inquire into other various translations [will be explained later]. Any Christian knows that you must have a research library of some sort if you ever going to be able to make the Word of God your own. Yes, you have time. God will see to it that you have more than enough time to get other things done when you keep Him first. And you will also find out that you have been wasting much time on second rate causes in your life that you really aren't interested in anyway! A good rule of thumb is: If you're too busy to study God's Word, you're too busy.
As we proceed in this study of II Corinthians 2: 17, you will see how some of these RESEARCH TOOLS help us to broaden our understanding of the Scriptures. Think of researching God's matchless Word as a treasure hunt -- the deeper you dig, the more valuable the treasure!!
The first step is to READ THE CONTEXT surrounding the verse you have chosen to research. You must be able to understand the subject matter of the verse. What is the context of the chapter that contains the research verse? You may want to read the chapter before and after the verse that you want to examine. MAKE SURE you understand the subject matter/context of the verse. A great deal of "private interpretation" or "guesswork" [see II Peter 1: 20], which is wrongly dividing the Word, comes about when the verse is pulled OUT OF CONTEXT. Many verses must be understood and interpreted IN LIGHT OF THE CONTEXT. Remember, there are 3 ways that God's Word interprets itself:
I. Right in the verse where it is written.
II. In the context.
III. Where it was used before.
The verse that we are going to study talks about people who were wrongly dividing the Word. Corinthians is a ‘reproof’ epistle and Paul was correcting the practical error that crept into the church at Corinth.
The second step is to READ THE SCRIPTURE several times that you have decided to research to have the best overall understanding of what is written. In this example, as mentioned previously, we are going to study and research II Corinthians 2: 17. Why should we use the King James Version of the Bible? This is possibly the only version of the Bible that puts words that are added by the translators IN ITALICS. When a word seemed to be missing in the translation, at times, they were added by the translators in an attempt to help in the grammatical structure and sense of the verse. These are not God's Words. At times, these words in italics do not take away from the sense of the verse and there are times when they are completely erroneous and result in apparent contradictions, mistranslations, and misinterpretations. It is good to know when and where they appear and that is why we use the King James Version of the Bible.
Before beginning your Biblical research, read and reread the verse you will be working. As an aid in understanding the verse, you may use another translation but BE CAREFUL. Although other translations may 'appear' to make the verse more easy to understand, often they can result in inaccurate translations by changing, eliminating or altering necessary words and/or phrases. In this example, we will first look at the New English Bible translation of II Corinthians 2: 17, but 99.9% of the time, we will use the King James Version of the Bible.
After completing the first two steps above, you are then ready to begin more detailed research. Using the 'best tools' available, we are then going to ‘dig deeper’. In this particular example of biblical research, we will use: 1) The King James Version of the Bible, 2) The New English Bible, 3) A Lexicon, 4) Young's Analytical Concordance, 5) Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, 6) God's Magnified Word and 7) A Dictionary. Let's begin our study of II Corinthians 2: 17.
I. Study the CONTEXT surrounding the verse: Beginning in Chapter 2 and reading, we see that Paul was grieved for the church at Corinth because they were beginning to practice erroneous doctrine. In verse 9, Paul is exhorting them to "be obedient in all things". What things? The things that were previously taught to them concerning God's Word. They were to remain obedient to the rightly divided Word of God -- not to man's interpretation of what man thinks the Word says. That's religion and even God can't stand it as stated in Isaiah 1: 13. The words "away with" mean "tolerate it". God is saying "I cannot tolerate it" referring to religion and religious traditions. [Did you look up the verse?]
In verse 11, Paul is warning these believers with the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, to get back on track.
II Corinthians 2: 11 -- Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
All the adversary is going to do is to steal, kill, or destroy -- that's his ministry. That's all he can do [See John 10: 10a]. When we veer away from the accuracy of God's perfect Word, he whispers lies in your ear and compounds the problem. Remember, the counterfeit is very close to the genuine. You must KNOW THE GENUINE to be able to recognize the counterfeit.
In verse 14, Paul talks about the blessings of walking on the true Word and is exhorting the brethren at Corinth not to continue doing what verse 17 says they were doing. Now, we are going to examine as closely as possible II Corinthians 2: 17.
II. READ THE SCRIPTURE you are researching several times: Although we will take a look at the New English Bible translation briefly, we will focus our research on the King James Version. You will be surprised at how much learning can result from one verse of scripture.
II Corinthians 2: 17 New English Bible translation -- At least we do not go hawking the word of God about, as so many do; when we declare the word we do it in sincerity, as from God and in God's sight, as members of Christ.
Although seemingly easy to understand, much is missing as compared to the King James Version. The King James Version gets us as close as possible to the original God-breathed Word written down by holy men of God as they were moved by Holy Spirit. Also, if this verse had a word or words in italics [added by the translators], you would not be able to point them out in the New English Translation. This verse happens not to have any added words. Also, most translations have a tendency to mask figures of speech. FIGURES OF SPEECH IN THE BIBLE ARE VERY IMPORTANT. It is the markings of the Holy Spirit as to what is IMPORTANT in the Word. By looking at the NEB translation, you CANNOT SEE the figure of speech in this verse. Almost 100% of our research will involve the King James Version of this verse.
II Corinthians 2: 17 King James Version -- For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Now, we get into the more specific areas of research. This is where we are going to use our BIBLE TOOLS. We want to put this verse under a microscope. We want to search for the hidden treasures of understanding by digging as deep as we can. Remember, God is a respecter of conditions and He states that if we seek, we shall find. Let's get started.
Now, because we studied the context of the chapter, we can understand what Paul was saying to the Corinthian believers. When you take away something from the Word and then add something to the Word, YOU NO LONGER HAVE GOD'S WORD. If the enemy could destroy the Word of God, he destroys the only thing that can defeat him. He's after the Word. If there was a theme verse for Absolute Bible Study, IT WOULD BE II CORINTHIANS 2: 17. It should also be a verse of utmost importance to every person who calls themselves a Christian or a student of the Bible. Why? Because of the main topic of the verse which we will now discuss and research taking as close a look as possible. The verse says that the Corinthians were CORRUPTING the Word of God. This is the MAIN SUBJECT MATTER of this verse. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
[The way to approach research is to take your time. It's almost always wrong to be in a hurry. God wants us to be anxious for nothing [Philippians 4: 6]. God gives you the greatest revelation when you are peaceful.]
WE WANT TO EXAMINE THE WORD "CORRUPT". How do we do this? A LEXICON AT THIS POINT BECOMES INVALUABLE. However, you may also use your 'center reference' in your Bible to aid in your understanding. [Remember, your center reference in not part of the God-breathed Word.] In this case, before the word 'corrupt', you will see a small number 4. If you look in the center margin of your Bible, you will see that the number 4 refers to: Or “deal deceitfully with”. A dictionary defines 'deceitful' as to "mislead or to deceive". When one teaches and practices the WRONGLY DIVIDED Word of God, that person misleads and deceives himself and others. That's why so many Christians lead defeated lives. They do not give God and His Word the place He rightfully deserves in their lives. They think they can go to church on Sunday and that makes them a good Christian. Most people never really study God's Word but they put on a good act. Why does this happen? Because people allow themselves to be deceived by the master of deception - the god of this present world. He was deceiving the church at Corinth and he is up to his same old tricks today. A believer's only enemy, in its least common denominator, is fear. The only thing that uproots fear from a believer's life is an ACCURATE knowledge of the Word. Sometimes you have to do what you fear and the fear seems to just disappear. Let's get back to the verse.
We are not yet done with the word "CORRUPT". Now let's go to our LEXICON. Remember, English words have a variety of different Greek meanings. The lexicon will guide us as to the appropriate Greek word for the word we are studying. At the page for 'corrupt', there are a number of Scriptures listed underneath the word with small numbers in front of the Scripture. The numbers tell you which Greek word applies. For example, in front of the Scripture II Corinthians 2: 17, there is a small no. 4. That tells me that the 4th Greek word above gives me the definition of "corrupt" in this verse. If you had a lexicon in front of you, you would see that this is easy to understand.
The Greek word for "corrupt" in this verse is kapeleuo and it means ADULTERATE or "water down". We are never to adulterate or water down the Word of God. A dictionary is a great help here. ADULTERATE is defined as "to make impure or inferior by adding extraneous or improper ingredients." When people GUESS AT WHAT THE WORD SAYS, and then teach guesswork, they teach something that is impure and inferior. That is why so many Christians lead defeated lives with little or no understanding of the greater realities of life. It's not God's fault. The thing that becomes impure and inferior is the erroneous doctrine that these so-called teachers propound. Then others follow them and before you know it, they start their own church or denomination -- ALL BASED ON GUESSWORK. You wonder why so many people will stay away from the Bible. They look at the example of so-called Christians and they decide that they are better off where they're at. All of the erroneous doctrine on earth is the result of WATERING DOWN OR ADULTERATING the Word of God. The "improper ingredients" mentioned in the dictionary could very well be man's opinion. The Bible interprets itself. Man's opinions and commentaries add "improper ingredients" to the Word of God to the point that you no longer have the Word.
Now we are beginning to see the verse unfold. The church at Corinth was watering down the Word of God and Paul was to get them back in alignment and harmony with God. God always sends His leaders to an area where they are needed. Notice how this agrees with the overall context of the chapter. In the original God-breathed Word, there were no contradictions. Since God is perfect, His Word must be perfect. We will come back to the Lexicon, but now we are going to do some research on how God marks important points in His Word by using FIGURES OF SPEECH.
Although you won't see it in the New English Translation, if you look closely you will see a common figure of speech in the King James Version. Here it is:
"....but AS of sincerity, but AS of God........" This a figure of speech referred to as a SIMILE or RESEMBLANCE. After working Figures of Speech Used In The Bible by Bullinger for approximately 18 months, I succeeded in marking almost every Figure of Speech used in God's Word in my Bible. Much of the Word that I never fully understood finally became clear to me. A great deal of misunderstanding results when a person tries to take a statement literally when God is referring to that subject or idea by using a figure of speech.
The double usage of the word "as" illustrates the figure of speech called a SIMILE. [A figure of speech is designed to grab our attention and make us stop and think.] It points out a RESEMBLANCE between words and things, not a representation, implication, or association as other figures of speech, but a RESEMBLANCE. Bullinger says that the words "but as of sincerity, but as of God" literally means "we speak really and truly sincere, pure, and Divine words". When we speak the accuracy of God's Word, we do speak pure, sincere and Divine words. Now whose words are they? They are God's Words. HE SPOKE THEM TO US AND NOW WE SPEAK THEM TO OTHERS. By doing this we IMITATE or RESEMBLE God. People should be able to see the God in Christ in us. We become more LIKE Christ as we renew our mind. God worked closely with Jesus Christ and He does with us if we adhere to His Word. We should become more and more like Jesus Christ and therefore there should be a RESEMBLANCE. Look at:
Ephesians 5: 1 -- Be ye therefore followers [imitators] of God, as dear children;
The Lexicon defines 'followers' as IMITATORS. When we do not water down the Word of God, but walk and teach it's accuracy, we IMITATE God and Jesus Christ and therefore, it can be said that there is a RESEMBLANCE. This is what the Figure of Speech in this verse is pointing out. God wanted to stress the importance of this point, so He added a figure of speech to arrest our attention. It's a little involved, but not that difficult. Figures of speech are a major area of study in the Bible. A great deal of the Word will open up to you once you are able to recognize and understand figures of speech. It does take effort and time and of course, you must have the right tools. Didn't the figure in this one verse greatly expand your understanding of the verse? It is an honor and a privilege just to be able to study God's Word.
Now we are ready to go back to our Lexicon as the final step in completing our research example of II Corinthians 2: 17. Watch how the Lexicon opens up the meaning of the word "sincerity" in this verse and how everything fits together perfectly. Looking at the verse II Corinthians 2: 17, in the Lexicon, the word 'sincerity' here coincides with definition no. 1. "SINCERITY" here means clearness, pureness, or GENUINENESS. We are to handle the GENUINE Word of God, not an inferior, watered down, tradition-oriented, counterfeit version. It is to be clear and pure without any additives. Isn't that something? All the words in the verse fit together and work together in harmony. It's exciting studying the only perfect thing on earth.
Finally, let's take a closer look at the word "sight" ["in the sight of God"]. The Lexicon simply states that the word ‘sight’ means "IN THE VERY PRESENCE OF". We are to always remember that we are "in the very presence of God" when we hold forth God's Word or at any time. Practicing the presence of God is a very important renewed mind principle along with studying the Word and living love. Take one last look at the little number before the word "IN" ["speak we IN Christ"] in the verse. It is the number 6 and it is referring you to the center margin for a note. No. 6 says: Or “of”. ......."in the sight [in the very presence of] of God, speak we in [of] Christ. [emphasis added]
You're probably very surprised at how much we can learn from just one verse of Scripture. We can never run out of things to study -- that's for sure. That's also a relief. Remember to do your best and God will do the rest. I spent many years being taught the Word before I finally worked it on my own. I found out that there is nothing more rewarding overall than studying God's Word and walking by the Spirit of God. There's a surprise around every corner.
II Corinthians 2: 17 -- For we are not as many, which corrupt [water down -- adulterate] the word of God: but as of sincerity [clearness, pureness, genuineness], but as of God, in the sight [in the very presence of] of God speak we in [of] Christ.