Study Bibles for the most part can be a huge blessing. However as a young Bible worker back in the 1990’s I found them to be very challenging. Numerous times I would begin Bible studies with someone who knew very little about the Bible. They would run out to a bookstore in the community and buy a Study Bible, which they would be very proud to show me at our next Bible study. I would hide my disappointment and act happy for them. But almost always, later when the notes in their study Bible would contradict a Bible principle I was teaching, I would need to remind them that the study notes are not inspired. Of course a more seasoned Bible student would realize that more readily than a new Bible student who was looking for something to cling to. Of course when I disagreed with the study notes, both the Bible student and I realized I was not inspired either. So we would have to keep comparing Scripture with Scripture to get our final conclusions.
Even as Adventists we must understand we learn truth by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and not by comparing Scripture with our favorite authors or preachers. Our Adventist pioneers came out of various Protestant churches and sat down together to study out different doctrines in the Bible. Even though their group Bible studies led to the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, our Adventist pioneers studied these things out for themselves. They did not study the Bible for us. It is still up to us to compare Scripture with Scripture just as they did so we too can know what is truth. The counsel given to Timothy is for all of us.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
Paul did not study for Timothy. Timothy had to study the Scriptures for himself. Likewise our Adventist pioneers did not study the Scriptures for you. You must study them for yourself.
Likewise commentaries like Study Bibles can be helpful, but it’s important to keep in mind that they are not inspired. In 1953 a group of dedicated people put together the 7-volume Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. As scholarly and Spirit-led as they were, even they recognized their human limitations and fallibility. For example:
For such errors as may appear in these volumes we plead not only the indulgence of the reader but also his [or her] cooperation, so that future printings may come ever near to perfection. -Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1 Page 17.
This commentary is published with no thought of presenting a creed or determining for all time the denominational interpretation of any passage of Scripture. Neither the contributors nor the editors possess either the power or the desire to do so. Let this fact be clearly understood at the outset. -Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 1 Page 18.
Let me make myself clear that I am not telling anyone to throw away their study notes or commentaries. What I am asking is to remember that study notes and commentaries are not on the same level as Scripture. Scripture is inspired and infallible. Notes in study Bibles and commentaries are not infallible.
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