In his second letter to Timothy, Paul encouraged him to: Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. -2 Timothy 2:15
Other translations say to be diligent or make every effort. They tell us to accurately handle the word or to teach the word correctly. Here are 4 great questions to ask when preparing to study or teach a passage of Scripture:
Ask: What did this passage mean to its original audience? Read the surrounding passages and then determine the literal meaning of the text. This helps us to learn the intended lesson and to accurately apply the word to our understanding and our lives.
Ask: How does this passage fit into the total teaching of the Bible?
Examine other passages that teach on the same subject to get a deeper understanding of the material. As Augustine said, let scripture comment on scripture.
Ask: Is there a spiritual or prophetic meaning of the text? Interpreting the spiritual, symbolic, or prophetic meaning of the text helps us to understand scripture on a deeper level. We should examine each passage to see how it points to Christ, how it fits in with redemptive history, ultimate justice/judgement and what spiritual principles are being taught.
Ask: How do we live out this teaching in our daily lives?
Develop a summary that includes an invitation or an activation that leads people to respond and calls for action. The response might be to correct unbiblical thinking on an important social issue, to help the poor, to share the gospel by carrying out the great commission, to repent from sins, to teach the Bible to your family, or many other things.
Paul provides valuable advice for public teaching by telling Timothy "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." -1 Timothy 4:13
Read the word of God, then carefully teach and explain what it means. Too many teachers gloss over Biblical accounts in their sermons without actually reading them first. Get your points from the text and teach it for all its worth. Give an exhortation, where you encourage a response and give application.
Be Blessed and Happy Studying.