How to Read the Bible like a Seminary Professor

Part Four—Application

We have looked at the first two steps in how to study the Bible: observation, and interpretation.

Here we come to the third and final step in personal Bible study.


This is where we ask that all-important question: “How does it work?”

Application involves four steps: know, relate, meditate, and practice.

You know, many of us Christians are like poor photographs:

–overexposed and underdeveloped—

This is why the step of application is so vital: God wants His truth to transform your life!

So, let’s look into four keys to application:

1.  The first step in application is to Know the truth

Never forget, the application is always built on the interpretation

Therefore, if the interpretation is wrong — the application is wrong!

Also, never forgive the principle—there is one interpretation with many applications.

So, if that’s true, I want to make sure that my interpretation is “dead on” accurate.

Otherwise, I’m going to make an incorrect and sometimes even heretical application.

Let me give you an example: snake handling Pentecostals misinterpret Mark Chapter 16 and end up in heresy.

2.  The second key is to relate the truth to life.

We all know the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “therefore, if any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things are become new.”

So, I want to ask—how do I relate this truth to my marriage, to my family?

I had one Minister tell me he had completely stopped sinning!!

I wanted to say, “I’d sure like 5 minutes with your wife and kids.”

My friend, if your Christianity doesn’t work in your home—it doesn’t work!

That’s the ultimate testing place- where I can tell whether or not I have the real deal.

What about my work?

We probably spend more time at work than we do with our families.

Many times here, Christians are totally silent.

What they fail to understand is that your work is part of your ministry!

God wants us to be salt and light—invading the marketplace and effectively representing Jesus Christ.

How does this relate to my life in the church?

How does this relate to my own personal life?

But then don’t forget,  there is a third key:

you not only need to know the truth;

you not only need to relate the truth to your personal life, but,

3.  You also need to meditate on the truth.

That’s why our foundation verse in Joshua 1:8 was given:

Let’s read it again:

Joshua 1:8 King James Version (KJV)

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Do you want prosperity? 

Do you want significance? 

Do you want meaning and purpose in your life?

Joshua said that the key is mastery of the Word of God, and it comes by meditating on the Word of God.

Psalm 1:1-3 King James Version (KJV)

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the unGodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The Psalmist said:

Psalm 119:97 King James Version (KJV)

97 O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.

These passages are filled with the command to meditate on the word of God day and night.

( Oh, by the way, that’s one reason you want to memorize Scripture, so that you may have it readily available to you to think about and meditate on.)

When you need it in the time of crisis or in the time of temptation—it will be there for you–you’ve got it!

And let me remind you, that when massively tempted by the devil, Jesus said what?

“It is written.”

He went straight to the Word!

Where did every one of His statements come from?  From the Book of Deuteronomy.

Let me ask you something: if your spiritual life depended on your knowledge of the book of Deuteronomy—how well would you do?


4.  The last key and the most transforming one is practice the truth

Ask God to help you apply these truths today!

But like the old warning—don’t ask God for patience, unless you are prepared for what’s coming!  Because He’ll take you very seriously.

I sometimes have people ask me, “Why did this happen to me?”

And I’ll simply ask one question: “How are you praying?”

“Well, I prayed, Lord, use my life and everything in it.”

Well, that’s exactly what He’s doing and when He begins to work—we wonder what in the world He’s doing!

God will give you opportunities.  That’s why it’s so exciting to live in this day and age—

For never before in history has this world, our country needed what we have more.

We have innumerable opportunity’s to put to use what we’re learning in the society in which we live.

So, we’ve learned the importance of application and we’ve learned four keys—

  • We want to know the truth,
  • We want to relate the truth,
  • We want to meditate the truth, until
  • We begin to practice the truth.

Now with that as a backdrop—let me give you some important questions to ask that will help you in the process of application.

1.  Is there an example to follow?

Jot down 1 Corinthians 11:1—where Paul tells us, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”

The first time I saw that I thought “Yeah, right.”

“Nobody needs to follow my example.”

Folks, whether you know it or not, understand it or not, they are following you—your mate, your children, the people in your church, the people at your work, they are all watching your example.

So, when you come to a passage-ask yourself—is this an example for me—positive or negative?

There’s a second one:

2.  Is there a sin to avoid?

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells me to love my wife as Christ loved the church.  Every single day I have to ask, “am I doing that?”

See, this word, all of it, needs to be the primary motivation of my life.

3.  Is there a promise to claim?

See the thrill in following the lord is that what he promises—he provides!

  • “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”
  • “I can do all things through Christ”
  • “My God shall supply all my needs”

As we claim these promises—God proves himself faithful.

4.  Is there a prayer to repeat?

I’m not talking here about “vain repetition”—but taking the prayers of Scripture and making them yours.

Much as we did with the disciple’s prayer in Matthew 6.

The other I like is the true Lord’s Prayer which is found in John 17. 

Another prayer many have prayed—the Prayer of Jabez in I Chronicles 4:10.

In each of these cases, I am learning what he tells me to pray, but also, listening to Christ as he prays to the Father.

What an opportunity!

5.  Fifthly, Is there a command to obey?

The Bible is full of commands and when you come to the application sections in the word, such as Romans 12-16, and Galatians 5-6, Ephesians 4-6, or Colossians3-4?

Study those! Take your pen and underline each command given to you.

6. The sixth question is this—Is there a condition to meet?

For example, in John 15:7 it says:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

That word “if” is so important.  God has a condition, doesn’t He?

Then you have to ask yourself, what does it mean to abide?—it simply means to obey!

7.  Number 7 – –Is there a condition to meet?

Is there a passage to memorize?  We all know Acts 2: 38, but what about Joshua 1: 8?  What about Psalm 1, or Isaiah 53, or John 14?

I have to tell you, having been in Church all my life and a Christian for 25 years now, one of my deepest regrets is that I haven’t memorized more Scripture.

Some of the greatest victories in your life will come from Scripture you have memorized.

When the crisis comes, it will be those passages that carry you through.

They become working capital exactly because you have them memorized.

But, we can’t use them if they aren’t there; if we haven’t memorized them.

I’ll also tell you, do it now!


Drill this into your kids.

Not only will it carry them through life, but, as we get older, it becomes harder.

Things you learn leak out faster than before.

8. And the last question I want to give you, as regards Application is this: Is there a challenge to follow?

Let’s look at a challenge.

Ezra 7:10 King James Version (KJV)

10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

Let’s begin by getting the big picture of Ezra.

It falls into two divisions: Ezra 1-6 and Ezra 7-11.

In between is a 58-year time gap. What happened?

Well, what was happening were some of the most important events in Greek history; the Battle of Salamis, the Battle of Thermopylae that determined the entire future of the Greek Empire.

All of this is passed over in silence in Ezra. Why?

Why is it missing?

Because the most important thing happening during those 58 years was that God was preparing a man—that man was Ezra!

Ezra became one of the most important men in the history of Israel!

In the first 6 chapters, we have the re-building of the Temple under Zerubbabel.

But, in Chapters 7-11 we have the re-building of the people, and it took a real man of God with clear-cut objectives to pull that off.

This is why Ezra 7:10 begins with the little connective “For.”

“For Ezra had prepared his heart”—this is the explanation. This is the secret of his success.

But, what does it mean to “prepare” one’s heart?

I’m sure many of you have been asked—particularly if you are in the ministry—“Are you prepared for this?”

And, many would say: “Well, I went to Bible college.”

“I read a book. I was mentored by someone.”

Whatever it may be.

But, let’s look at the preparation God gave to Ezra—which I believe He wants to give to us.

Ezra 7:10 King James Version (KJV)

10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments

If you look in the text, you’ll find that there are three main verbs: Seek, Do, and Teach.

Let’s put those together.

First, Ezra prepared his heart to Seek the Law, that is to study the Scriptures.  See, that was his preparation.

He’s doing what we are talking about in this series—he’s studying the Scriptures.

All he had was a portion of the Old Testament—but, what he had, he studied!

We must always keep in mind: You cannot impart what you do not possess. If you don’t have it, you can’t give it!

And it takes time—it takes work—it takes discipline!

And that’s what the Spirit of God is teaching us, is that Ezra was a man willing to pay the price.

See, it’s not available in a bargain basement sale.

It will cost you if you really want a ministry that has impact.

But, notice, he doesn’t stop with simply knowing something.

Because the second verse tells us he not only prepared his heart to see the Word of God—But also to DO the Word of God.

His PREPARATION is followed by his PRACTICE.

Many Christians, oftentimes, know a great deal about the Bible.

So what?

That’s all well and good.

But, the real question is: do you live it? Do you practice it?

Because you and I live in a day where people are not so much asking: “is this true?” but rather, “Does this work?”

“What difference does this make in your life?”

“I hear what you’re saying—it sounds good—but, does it work?”

And that’s why Scripture was given—not to satisfy our intellect—but, to transform our lives!

But, don’t miss the next verb—That’s why many of you are listening –you’ve got that passion.

Ezra prepared his heart—not only to SEEK the Law of God—not only to DO the Law of God—but, also to TEACH the Law of God.

His Preparation was clear!

His Practice was consistent!

But, his Passion was to communicate that truth to others!

After all, if you know the Word of God and it is transforming your life, it’s too good to keep; you want to share it with every person you know so that they too can enjoy these fabulous truths.

So! Put these three together and you get the whole picture.

You show me someone who knows the Word and who is doing the Word and I’ll show you a person imminently capable of communicating the Word of God to others.

The ultimate test of your communication is not simply the impartation of facts but, rather the transformation of lives.

So, we apply it to ourselves first and then to others!

Implementing Personal Bible Study

The final question we want to ask in this series on Personal Bible study is:

“Now what?” or “Where do we go from here?”

I’m sure at this stage you have a lot of good intentions, a lot of hopes; but, ultimately, it all boils down to this: “What are you going to do about it?”

So, I want to leave you with three practical steps to help you implement what we have learned together in these sessions.

#1—First of all, make a quality decision to establish a regular program of personal Bible study.

I made that decision in my second year of Bible College.

Dr. Donald Vestal, Founder of the Bible College of which I am part told me—“Don’t study for a course, a paper or a message—study for a lifetime of ministry.”

I have never recovered from that admonition.

You have to make a quality decision! It’s a choice! Because

Your objective always determines your outcomes.

You achieve that for which you aim.

What you have got to do is set aside some time specifically dedicated to study—and keep it!

Oh, and by the way—don’t bite off more than you can chew! Take a small bite until you are capable of handling more.

Start small—I ask new believers this:

“Will you give me just 15 minutes every morning to study the Word and to pray?”

See, they’ve never done this before. They need to start small.

I know a lot of people who get motivated to study the Bible—so they come up with this grand program: “I’m going to study the Bible an hour a day!” and after two days—it’s gone!

An hour a day of Bible study is easy, and hardly enough—but, you don’t start there—start small with what you can handle and build up over time.

#2—Another suggestion I would like to make to you is this: Make a personal plan.

If you have decided to spend, say, 30 minutes a day with the Lord—how are you going to spend it?

I would suggest that you spend the first 20 minutes in Bible reading and study and the final 10 minutes in prayer.

And, do it regularly!

It’s better to have a shorter program of Bible study and be consistent with it.

If you miss it, you don’t get all stressed out—you haven’t lost your salvation!

Did you miss a day? It’s simply, “Sorry Lord, I’ll be back tomorrow,” And, you do it! Stay consistent.

Eventually, you come to a point where to miss out on your time with God is its own penalty—too much a penalty to pay!

You’ll miss it too much!

Your salvation doesn’t depend on it, but, your anointing and sanctification sure do!

You absolutely must have regular, dedicated time in the Word and in Prayer.

It’s a choice you make!

If it’s a question of discipline? The answer is simple: if you do it once, you can do it twice.

If you can do it twice, you can do it three times.

If you can do it three times, you can do it all week, and if you can do it a week—you can make it a habit.

Once you form a habit, it becomes permanent –something that will stay with you the rest of your life—it becomes a lifestyle.

#3—Here’s a third suggestion I’d like to give you.,

Human beings are social creatures—we crave companionship.

We meet for coffee.

We talk on the phone, chat, text, you name it.

Why not form a Bible study group?

Why not gather with your husband or wife or fellow brothers or sisters, people who share a similar passion for God and begin to meet together—once a week, once a month, whatever, for Bible study.

See, when you meet together as a team of two or three or more—you motivate each other and keep each other accountable.

God will meet you there and show you wondrous things out of His Word.

One of the greatest weaknesses in many Christian lives is an absolute lack of accountability. No one they are submitted to; No one that loves them enough to ask them the hard questions.

I remember mentors in the past, who would corner me and say: “What are you studying? Are you in the Word?” and I would be forced to admit “No I am not.” or “Not nearly enough.”  And I was ashamed to admit that!

Some would often say, “Why don’t we meet together and we can help each other stay on track.” A group or a buddy system really helps make a difference.

Those who have college experience already know the power and benefits of a study group!

Finally, one of the things you need to do occasionally is evaluate the process.

Three things I like to ask in any evaluation is:

  • What are the strengths in what I am doing?
  • What are the weaknesses? And
  • What do I need to change?

Don’t forget Church! Be there every time the doors are open.

Maybe with your spouse.

A small group of friends.

A fellow minister.

Whatever the constituency of your group—you have a small group of people who share a passion for the things of God and who are seeking to be changed by the Word.

I cannot think of anything I would encourage you more than this: Don’t just get in the Word—Let the Word get into you!

And get ready to watch the transformation of your life through that Word by the power of the Spirit!

How to Read the Bible like a Seminary Professor Part 3–Interpretation

In our last session, we looked at the first step of Bible study: observation.  In this session, we will investigate the second step which is interpretation.

This is where we ask and answer the question:

What does it mean?

In Acts chapter eight Phillips is told to go to the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch.

When he arrived, he found the man reading from the book of Isaiah.

Phillip asked a simple and reasonable question: “Do you understand what you are reading?”

The eunuch made a very significant statement as it regards Bible study: “How can I unless someone should guide me?”

So, I want to give you some guidance that you can use and pass on to others as to how to interpret Scripture.

As a basis for that, I want to give you five keys to help you understand Scripture.

There are five keys to interpretation.  They are:

  1. Content –observe the details of the passage (we noted that carefully in our last session)
  2. Context—know what comes before and after the passage
  3. Comparison—compare the passage to other related passages
  4. Culture—note the cultural context of the passage
  5. Consultation—consult what others have said about the passage only after forming your own conclusions.



  1. The first key to a proper Biblical interpretation is Content

Content is always the fruit of your observation which we looked at previously.

The more time you devote to observation, the less you will have to spend on interpretation and more accurate than interpretation will be.

The less time you spend in observation—them more time you’ll have to spend on interpretation and the least accurate your interpretation will be.

So, this is not a secondary issue.  It is absolutely vital to a proper understanding in Bible study.

The first key to a proper interpretation is to examine the content through proper observation.

Constantly looking at and defining words, recognizing any repetition, cause/effect, contrast, questions and answers, people, places, things. The 6 W’s and the H.

In other words, you just drench your mind with that passage and mine it for every detail.

One of the greatest Bible teachers of the last century made a statement I will never forget.  He said, “When I read this passage for the one 100th time understanding came.”

Wow!  What a challenge and what an indictment.  I thought as a kid when I first read his book if I read it five times t would border on the miraculous.

It was then I learned the importance of continued reading and perceptive meditation.  I attribute my success in nursing school and seminary to that man’s insight.

These two put together, will determine the impact the content will have on your interpretation: continued reading and perceptive meditation.


  1. But there’s a second key to interpretation—we call it the principle of context.

The easiest way to understand this is—What goes before and what follows it?

You know, I was privileged to spend a lot of time in Bible Conferences.  And we always had a question and answer session.

I cannot tell you how many questions I could have saved if only I had read what came before and what came after.

When I read the passage “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” I remember thinking, “wait a minute, I thought I was saved by grace—through faith.”

I really struggled with that passage and it was months before someone said to me, “why don’t you read the next verse.”

What it actually says it has, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”—Phil 2:12

See you can take any verse of Scripture—Old or New Testament—rip it out of its context and create great heresy.

Context is vital to the meaning of the passage.

Just as we saw in  the passage in Mark chapter 5, it was the teaching that came before, that gave the context to the testing the disciples were about to experience on the Sea of Galilee and the lesson of faith they would learn which would come in later verses.

In every section of the passage the subject is faith—different kinds of faith—different kinds of people under different circumstances.

So, I’ve got to look at the context, so I can make sure that I can tell the differences that the Holy Spirit means to communicate.

Early in the chapter, what do we see? There were men, there were women, there was a demon-possessed/mentally disturbed man, there is a woman who had a serious illness for 12 years, and yet, in every one of these cases faith becomes the focus of what the Holy Spirit is teaching.

Interpretation is a key to effective personal Bible study and context is a key to interpretation. 

We’ve looked at the first two steps to effective interpretation: Content and Context, now let’s go on to look at the final three: Comparison, Culture, and Consultation.



III. The concept of comparison underscores the importance of having a good concordance.

I know it’s the 21st Century and no one uses a concordance anymore, but, there simply is no substitute.

I know most of us have a limited concordance in the back of our Bibles, but, I encourage you to invest in a good comprehensive Analytical Concordance—such as Young’s or Strong’s.

These will allow you to locate quickly every word in the Bible.

You need to spend a lot of time with a good concordance.

The great Bible teacher G.  Campbell Morgan, one of the finest examples of Biblical expositors of the previous generation, was well known for having only two books in his early library—a well-thumbed Bible and a well-used concordance.

It is that critical to the process and you’ll learn for yourself just how indispensable one can be.

As you study, you will find that there are other Scriptures and passages that will add to your understanding of the passage before you.

This will give real meaning and a deeper understanding of what you’re studying.

This is why when you study the dost you want to see what Matthew had to say and compare it to Mark, Luke, and John, even making note of what they did not say.

For example—if the miracle or parable is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke—I want to compare those so that, I not only study them separately but,  compositely—I want to put them together to get the big picture.



  1. The fourth step is also one of the most fascinating.

We’re in the 21st century and the Internet has exploded our understanding of different cultures.

American truly is a melting pot of different cultures.

The cultures are different—not right and wrong—just different.

We can learn from different cultures—I regularly minister to a lot of Christians in different countries–India, Africa, Pakistan, and the Philippines for example—places with vastly different cultures than ours.

What amazes me is they often have a better understanding of Scripture than we do!

Why is that?

One reason is that their culture is closer to that of the New Testament than ours and they can relate better to what is going on, on the page.

So, this is the understanding that life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in a culture, the understanding of which will teach us how they do, what they do and why they do it.

You also need a comprehensive Bible dictionary, where you can look up details about what you are reading.

What does the washing of feet mean? Why did they do that?

What is a covenant?

What was Passover?  When was it celebrated? Why was it celebrated?




  1. The fifth step and one heavy with significance is consultation with other sources.

We have a wealth of information today! More so than at any other time in history! And what’s really great is:

All of this information is available readily at our fingertips.

Let me give you just a few examples:

First of all, you need a good Bible Atlas.  This is simply a book that contains maps.

So when you want to trace a journey like Paul’s or the Israelites in the wilderness you can do it using the maps.

You want to see what Nineveh looked like, Jericho, Jerusalem?  It’s all there.

Do you want to know what the tabernacle looked like?  Just turn to it and there it is!

All of this is found in a good Bible atlas.

Next, you need a good Bible Dictionary.  Here you can look up names, places, dates, obscure words.

A massive amount of learning can take place in a very short time

You want a good Commentary!

Why?  Because I don’t trust myself all that much.  My best ideas aren’t worth much.

The fact that God is teaching me about his Word—that does not exclude the fact that he has taught others; many of them far smarter than me.

When you come up with an interpretation of the passage and you want to know, “Is it reliable?” you can quickly see what others are saying.  Test some of the well-known dependable sources.

A few cautions here:

Get your own interpretation first!  This is vital to learning!

Next, if nobody else sees what you’re seeing, the probability is you need to go back to the study board to find out what you’re missing and where you’re off base.

Thirdly, most commentaries are written from a particular viewpoint.

What does that mean?

To be careful and always check with your pastor before you get too far out in left field.

Stick to the basics and you’ll be fine!


All right, let’s do a quick exercise and see this process in action.

Let’s look at  the book of Romans chapter 12 verses one and two.

Let’s examine these verses with our five-step process.

  1. First, we want to examine the content.

The first step is to relate a passage to the rest of the book.  The book of Romans has the theme of The Righteousness of God.

It breaks down into three logical divisions:

Chapters 1-8 are theological, they are doctrinal. It’s straight forward teaching

Chapters 9,10, and 11 are dispensational—that is, they ask the crucial question, “How does this relate to the Jewish people.”

And beginning at chapter 12 and going through 16 we have the practical application part.  How do I relate all of this truth to the life I now live.

But what has always intrigued me is how this practical section begin and it begins with these two verses:

Romans 12:1-2 King James Version (KJV)

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It begins with the words, “I beseech thee…” why does he use that phrase?  What does it mean?

It means, “I urge you.” Why doesn’t he use the word, “command”?  After all, he is an Apostle.

But see he has a concern—compassion—you can feel his heart in what he says—the urgency of it—it’s not optional, it’s essential!

He then gives the interesting word “present.”

Well, if you look it up in a concordance, you will find that Mary and Joseph in Luke chapter two-“presented” the infant child Jesus in the temple-dedicating him.

In Romans 6:15 Paul says don’t “present” your bodies to sin but present them to God because you are alive in Christ Jesus

And what does he want you to present?  Your bodies!

That embraces your whole being.  It’s your instrument.

It’s the only thing you have that you can present to God.

So be careful what you do with it; how you treat your body.

Paul calls it a “living” sacrifice!

If it’s a sacrifice, how can it be living?

It’s a very simple distinction—and so glad you asked.

See you not presenting a dead animal—you’re presenting a living person—and we have a way of crawling off the altar.


  1. What about context?

Well, notice that it begins with “therefore”.

Many have heard me say this—but every time you see a “therefore” ask what it’s “there” for.

It is your connection—“by the mercies of God.”

That’s it—the whole first 11 chapters become the basis for what he says here.

  1. What about comparison?

Well, notice right in verse two there’s a negative and positive:

“Be not conformed” but “be ye transformed.”

Why does he say, “be not conformed to this world!  Because if you go back to Romans Chapter 8 we are told that we have been pre-destined to be “conformed” (same word) to the image of Christ.

You will either be conformed to Christ or else you’ll be conformed to the world—there are no other options—and they are diametrically opposed.

How does that play out?

The positive side!

Transformed is the same word from which we get “metamorphosis.”

By the renewing of your mind.  It’s the caterpillar to butterfly.

Total transformation!


  1. Culture?

Not as prominent here, but you’ll want to have a basic understanding of animal sacrifices.

Now, he’s using this as a metaphor—just as in the Old Testament they presented an animal—Paul says we are to present our bodies/ourselves.

And finally there is:


  1. Consultation

This is where you go to the library and check out a book on Romans, grab a commentary, or go online and check what others have said, only after, that is, you have formed your own conclusions.

All of this is why, if you’re going to be a Minister or Bible student, you want to build the very best library you possibly can—either physical or electronic.

Buy books.  Buy the software and whatever it takes to learn as best you can.

We are blessed people—we stand on the shoulders of the giants of the past and have access to all they have written.

There is simply no excuse for us as Bible students not to make every effort to learn.

The key is in the order—first the text—then the secondary material!


I have seen students work with a commentary without even having the text open in front of them!

Sad!  But true!

Don’t ever let it be said of us!

We need as apostolic disciples of Christ to do all we can to master the book and see to it that the book masters us.