Bible Study Guides – “He That Heareth the Word, and Understandeth It”

MEMORY VERSE: “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew13:23.

STUDY HELP: Testimonies, vol. 8, 299–304.

INTRODUCTION: “The word of God should be thoroughly studied. All other reading is inferior to this. A careful study of the Bible will not necessarily exclude all other reading of a religious nature; but if the word of God is studied prayerfully, all reading which will have a tendency to divert the mind from it will be excluded. If we study the word of God with an interest, and pray to understand it, new beauties will be seen in every line. God will reveal precious truth so clearly that the mind will derive sincere pleasure and have a continual feast as its comforting and sublime truths are unfolded.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 337, 338.

  1. How did Jesus describe the fate of those who hear God’s Word but do not understand it? Matthew 13:19.

NOTE: “The seed sown by the wayside represents the word of God as it falls upon the heart of an inattentive hearer. Like the hard-beaten path, trodden down by the feet of men and beasts, is the heart that becomes a highway for the world’s traffic, its pleasures and sins. Absorbed in selfish aims and sinful indulgences, the soul is ‘hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.’ Hebrews 3:13. The spiritual faculties are paralysed. Men hear the word, but understand it not. They do not discern that it applies to themselves. They do not realize their need or their danger.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 44.

  1. What prayer should be ours whenever we read God’s Word? Psalm 119:169.

NOTE: “In the experience of Philip and the Ethiopian is presented the work to which the Lord calls His people. The Ethiopian represents a large class who need missionaries like Philip, missionaries who will hear the voice of God and go where He sends them. There are those in the world who are reading the Scriptures, but who cannot understand their import. The men and women who have a knowledge of God are needed to explain the word to these souls.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 58.

“Many think that they must consult commentaries on the Scriptures in order to understand the meaning of the word of God, and we would not take the position that commentaries should not be studied; but it will take much discernment to discover the truth of God under the mass of the words of men. How little has been done by the church as a body professing to believe the Bible, to gather up the scattered jewels of God’s word into one perfect chain of truth? The jewels of truth do not lie upon the surface, as many suppose. The mastermind in the confederacy of evil is ever at work to keep the truth out of sight and to bring into full view the opinions of great men. The enemy is doing all in his power to obscure heaven’s light through educational processes; for he does not mean that men shall hear the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’Isaiah 30:21.” Christian Education, 85.

  1. How do the following verses illustrate some of the techniques of the Bible’s poetry?

  • Psalm 34:3, Isaiah 55:8. The second line echoes the thought of the first in different words.
  • Psalm 34:4, Psalm 23:1. The first line gives a statement and the second gives the result or consequence arising from it.
  • Psalm 34:10, Isaiah 40:8. The second line contrasts with the first.
  • Psalm 43:5, Psalm 42:11. The first line poses a question and the second gives the response.

NOTE: Bishop Lowth, in 1741, first used the term “parallelism” for this poetic style. He pointed out that, because it is based on meaning, it survives translation into other languages with little or no loss, unlike poetry that depends mainly on complex patterns of rhyme, rhythm, word patterns or vocabulary. Some Bible poetry does, sometimes, use such patterns. For example, in Psalm 119, in each section, all eight verses begin with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Other psalms also begin each verse with a different letter of the alphabet in sequence. In the book of Lamentations, each of chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 contain 22 verses which begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order. Chapter 3, in contrast, has 66 verses that are grouped in threes, each group beginning with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. These are called acrostics. The fact that such poetic patterns do not easily translate does not, however, significantly detract from the poetry of these passages.


“As an educating power, the Bible is of more value than the writings of all the philosophers of all ages. In its wide range of style and subjects, there is something to interest and instruct every mind, to ennoble every interest. The light of revelation shines undimmed into the distant past, where human annals cast not a ray of light. There is poetry which has called forth the wonder and admiration of the world. In glowing beauty, in sublime and solemn majesty, in touching pathos, it is unequalled by the most brilliant productions of human genius.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, 428, 429.

  1. How did God teach those who lived before Christ the plan of salvation? Hebrews 8:5; 10:1.

NOTE: “Through the teachings of the sacrificial service, Christ was to be uplifted before all nations, and all who would look to Him should live. Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption.” Acts of the Apostles, 14.


“The power of Christ, the crucified Saviour, to give eternal life, should be presented to the people. We should show them that the Old Testament is as verily the gospel in types and shadows as the New Testament is in its unfolding power. The New Testament does not present a new religion; the Old Testament does not present a religion to be superseded by the New. The New Testament is only the advancement and unfolding of the Old.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 392.

  1. How did Paul explain the significance of some of the feasts of the Lord? 1 Corinthians 5:7–8; 15:20–23.

NOTE: “The Passover was followed by the seven days’ feast of unleavened bread. On the second day of the feast, the first fruits of the year’s harvest, a sheaf of barley, was presented before the Lord. All the ceremonies of the feast were types of the work of Christ. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was an object lesson of redemption, which the Passover was intended to keep in memory. The slain lamb, the unleavened bread, the sheaf of first fruits, represented the Saviour.” Desire of Ages, 77.

  1. Besides the sanctuary service, what Old Testament stories are presented as types of future events and experiences? 1 Corinthians 10:1–13.

NOTE: “The smitten rock was a figure of Christ, and through this symbol the most precious spiritual truths are taught. As the life-giving waters flowed from the smitten rock, so from Christ, ‘smitten of God,’ ‘wounded for our transgressions,’ ‘bruised for our iniquities’ (Isaiah 53:4, 5), the stream of salvation flows for a lost race. As the rock had been once smitten, so Christ was to be ‘once offered to bear the sins of many.’ Hebrews 9:28. Our Saviour was not to be sacrificed a second time; and it is only necessary for those who seek the blessings of His grace to ask in the name of Jesus, pouring forth the heart’s desire in penitential prayer. Such prayer will bring before the Lord of hosts the wounds of Jesus, and then will flow forth afresh the life-giving blood, symbolized by the flowing of the living water for Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 411.

  1. What Old Testament figure was selected to be a type of the prophetic message to prepare people for the coming of the Lord? Matthew 11:12–14, (compare Malachi 4:5).

NOTE: “The prophet Malachi declares: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.’ Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the Second Coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 62.

  1. What do some of the things connected with the tabernacle symbolize?

  • The lamb. Exodus 12:3–5. Compare John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7.
  • The table of shewbread. Numbers 4:7. Compare John 6:35; 6:51.
  • The candlestick. Exodus 25:31–35. Compare John 1:9; 8:12.

NOTE: “Everything in the Jewish service had been misinterpreted and misapplied. The purpose of the sacrifice offerings had been perverted. They were to symbolize Christ and His mission, that when He should come in the flesh, the world might recognize God in Him, and accept Him as the world’s Redeemer. But their lack of true heart service for God had blinded the Jews to a knowledge of God.” Signs of the Times, July 14, 1898.

“In patriarchal times the sacrificial offerings connected with divine worship constituted a perpetual reminder of the coming of a Saviour, and thus it was with the entire ritual of the sanctuary services throughout Israel’s history. In the ministration of the tabernacle, and of the temple that afterward took its place, the people were taught each day, by means of types and shadows, the great truths relative to the advent of Christ as Redeemer, Priest, and King; and once each year their minds were carried forward to the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners. The sacrifices and offerings of the Mosaic ritual were ever pointing toward a better service, even a heavenly. The earthly sanctuary was ‘a figure for the time then present,’ in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices; its two holy places were ‘patterns of things in the heavens;’ for Christ, our great High Priest, is today ‘a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.’ Hebrews 9:9, 23; 8:2.” Prophets and Kings, 684, 685.

  1. By what method did Christ seek to fix eternal truths in the minds of His listeners? Matthew 13:34.

NOTE: “Parable teaching was popular, and commanded the respect and attention, not only of the Jews, but of the people of other nations. No more effective method of instruction could He have employed. If His hearers had desired a knowledge of divine things, they might have understood His words; for He was always willing to explain them to the honest inquirer. Again, Christ had truths to present which the people were unprepared to accept or even to understand. For this reason also He taught them in parables. By connecting His teaching with the scenes of life, experience, or nature, He secured their attention and impressed their hearts. Afterward, as they looked upon the objects that illustrated His lessons, they recalled the words of the divine Teacher. To minds that were open to the Holy Spirit, the significance of the Saviour’s teaching unfolded more and more. Mysteries grew clear, and that which had been hard to grasp became evident. Jesus sought an avenue to every heart. By using a variety of illustrations, He not only presented truth in its different phases, but appealed to the different hearers. Their interest was aroused by figures drawn from the surroundings of their daily life. None who listened to the Saviour could feel that they were neglected or forgotten. The humblest, the most sinful, heard in His teaching a voice that spoke to them in sympathy and tenderness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 21.

  1. What reply did Jesus give when His disciples asked Him why He taught in parables? Matthew 13:10–17.

NOTE: “And He had another reason for teaching in parables. Among the multitudes that gathered about Him, there were priests and rabbis, scribes and elders, Herodians and rulers, world-loving, bigoted, ambitious men, who desired above all things to find some accusation against Him. Their spies followed His steps day after day, to catch from His lips something that would cause His condemnation, and forever silence the One who seemed to draw the world after Him. The Saviour understood the character of these men, and He presented truth in such a way that they could find nothing by which to bring His case before the Sanhedrin. In parables He rebuked the hypocrisy and wicked works of those who occupied high positions, and in figurative language clothed truth of so cutting a character that had it been spoken in direct denunciation, they would not have listened to His words, and would speedily have put an end to His ministry. But while He evaded the spies, He made truth so clear that error was manifested, and the honest in heart were profited by His lessons. Divine wisdom, infinite grace, were made plain by the things of God’s creation. Through nature and the experiences of life, men were taught of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 22.

  1. Why are the stories of Bible times recorded for us? 1 Corinthians 10:1–11.

NOTE: “A blessing or a curse is now before the people of God, a blessing if they come out from the world and are separate, and walk in the path of humble obedience; and a curse if they unite with the idolatrous, who trample upon the high claims of heaven. The sins and iniquities of rebellious Israel are recorded and the picture presented before us as a warning that if we imitate their example of transgression and depart from God we shall fall as surely as did they. ‘Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 1, 609.

“We have evidence in God’s word of the liability of His people to be greatly deceived. There are many instances where what may seem to be a sincere zeal for the honour of God has its origin in leaving the soul unguarded for the enemy to tempt and to impress the mind with a perverted sense of the real state of things. And we may expect just such things in these last days, for Satan is just as busy now as he was in the congregation of Israel. The cruelty and strength of prejudice are not understood.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 353.

  1. Against what specific danger do these stories warn us? 1 Corinthians 10:12.

NOTE: “Satan well knows the material with which he has to deal in the human heart. He knows, for he has studied with fiendish intensity for thousands of years, the points most easily assailed in every character; and through successive generations he has wrought to overthrow the strongest men, princes in Israel, by the same temptations that were so successful at Baalpeor. All along through the ages there are strewn wrecks of character that have been stranded upon the rocks of sensual indulgence. As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul. It is not the ignorant and uncultured merely that need to be guarded; he will prepare his temptations for those in the highest positions, in the most holy office; if he can lead them to pollute their souls, he can through them destroy many. And he employs the same agents now as he employed three thousand years ago. By worldly friendships, by the charms of beauty, by pleasure seeking, mirth, feasting, or the wine cup, he tempts to the violation of the seventh commandment.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 458.