Study “… to learn about a subject by reading and researching …” Microsoft Encarta World English Dictionary
In order for a Bible study to be valid we have to overcome the idea that what we hold in our belief system is the final and absolute word on the subject at hand, while not discarding it unless it proves false. That’s hard to do, but if we’re unable to do this, each verse considered becomes a proof text for our preconceived belief: The result is a closed mind. A closed mind effectively hinders the learning of new Truths by insulating false doctrine.
A legitimate Bible study does not assert absolutes at the outset: Further, a genuine Bible study isn’t a scientific experiment where you first come up with a theory and then go about using standardized methodology to prove it.
In a real Bible study we begin with the Bible and all objective and trustworthy resources reasonably available on the subject, then study that material in the proper context while utilizing helps such as dictionaries, thesauruses and lexicons; asking the Holy Spirit to open our eyes.
We must be careful to separate the wheat from the chaff, however. Almost all resources and helps are tainted by the doctrine of man. Most Bible editions reflect, to some degree, the belief system of the editor.
Recognizing that the Old Testament (Tanakh) is the most reliable portion of the Bible, as witnessed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, historical documents, archaeological discoveries and other evidences, and understanding that most Bible versions and editions differ mainly in the New Testament, one must always depend on the Old to verify anything found in the New.
Finally, as we intelligently and objectively consider all of the material while comparing Scripture against Scripture, we must seek the leading of the Holy Spirit to open our understanding.
Using this approach we find that each subject will lend itself to only one interpretation. In fact, we’re told that: “… No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
2 Peter 1:20