SDA Sabbath School Lessons
February 4, 1996
#5 Understanding Types of Bible Literature
Read for this week's study:
Memory text: Ephesians 4:22-24
God has revealed Himself in the Bible through various kinds of
literature. In order to understand and to apply God's messages, we need to
know something about these kinds of literature.
Learning about Bible literature.
The sacred text contains many kinds of
material or types of writing. Sometimes the Bible gives us insight into the
history of God's people. At other times it presents commands and laws. Many
times, in the inspirational words of the Old Testament poets, God's
character comes to us in beautiful words of symbol and praise. At other
times the purpose of the Bible words is direct spiritual instruction.
Divine counsel may be prophetic in nature and may seem somewhat obscure or
hidden. At other times this counsel is in the form if letters to a
blossoming young church learning to face the challenges of spiritual growth
in the face of cultural pressures, doctrinal divisions, and the need to
prepare for the Lord's coming.
This week we will explore four types of literature in God's Word
and learn how better to understand and apply the text to our own
situations. We will look at parables, poetry, prophecy, and history.
- Sunday Jan. 28: Parables--Do you get the point? Luke 10:25-37
- Here are some rules for understanding parables:
- Often understanding the audience helps us to understand the parable.
- Read the parable aloud to get the full impact of the story. What
catches your attention first?
- Often parables answer a question or a problem. What is the question
Jesus is trying to answer in Luke 10:25-29.
- Parables teach a truth to the hearer. What is the truth in the
parable of the good Samaritan?
- Parables often confront us with our sinful self or clarify spiritual
truth for us.
- Monday Jan. 29: Poetry--Hearing God's grace. Psalm 19 & Psalm 86.
- What to remember when studying the psalms or poetic books of the Bible:
- Remember that these words are written as Hebrew poetry and addressed to
God from the heart, through the mind. See, for example,
Notice how the NIV has tried to help us see the parallels in this psalm by
capitalizing only the first line in each and using a semicolon between the
two lines. What is the poet's main point? The second line in Hebrew poetry
often parallels the first line in meaning
Sometimes the thought in the second line contrasts with the first
Proverbs 10:19, 15:1.
- Most of the psalms were poetry set to music.
- The vocabulary of a poem often has double meanings upon which we can
meditate. God's work is illustrated when the psalm discussing the Exodus
says that the mountains "skipped like rams"
- There are many types of poetry in the Bible. These types may be laments,
expressions of thanksgiving, appeals for help, or expressions of joy and
praise. When reading a psalm, clarify the type, and your understanding
- Tuesday Jan. 30: Prophecy--Learning God's plan. Revelation 3:14-21
- Some principles to remember when interpreting prophetic passages of the
- Ask three questions of the passage (1) Why was the prophecy given? (2)
What did it mean to those who heard it at the time it was written? (3) What
does it mean to us today? (What principles arise from the text that apply
to our situation? See Rev. 3:14-21.
- See whether the text explains itself. Often if we would just read
farther in the passage, we would find the interpretation to be self-evident.
(See Daniel 7:23-24.)
- Wednesday Jan. 31: The prophecy of Matthew 24. Matt 24:1-31.
- Now, let us apply the principles stated in Tuesday's lesson to Jesus'
prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem and the end of the world.
- Thursday Feb. 1: History, information, and insight. 2 Chronicles 27 & Mark 7
- Here are some principles of interpretation that are helpful in understanding
- Ask, What is the general historical situation facing the author and the
audience? Seek understanding of the political, economic, and social
- Identify the customs of the times. (See Mark 7 and word corban in
verse 11. How does an understanding of this expression help us to understand
- Is the passage giving us descriptive and prescriptive truth? Descriptive
truth tells us what happened and what God said. Prescriptive truth states
- Always seek God's guidance in understanding the history and in finding
spiritual applications then and now.
- Remember, God does not approve everything the Bible records. God
inspired the record of historical events, but He was not reponsible for the
bad things people did or the bad results from their actions.
- Friday Feb. 2: Review and further study.
- How can commands given by God to one people in one culture be translated
into our culture?
- Can we make direct application from all the incidents that the Bible
directly censures or approves?
- What do you think of this statement: "Express commands to individuals
are not always the will of God for us"? (For example, Abraham was told to
offer up his son.)
The Bibe was written in a number of literary forms. Four of these are
parables, poetry, prophecy, and history. Parables elucidate truth for
believers, poetry expresses eternal principles in beautiful language,
prophecy reveals thehand of God in history and at the end of time,
and history illustrates God's dealings with His people.
Since more thatn 40 percent of our Bible is historical, we are able to
consider the importance of biblical examples in our walk of faith.
Coded by Dave Albrecht.
Last updated on January 27, 1996.