How to Study the Bible, by Watchman Nee


The Bible speaks of all kinds of minerals and stones. All of them have significances, and we should spend time to study them. This does not mean that these things contain any revelation in themselves. But when God gives us revelation, He speaks to us through these materials. We must have these biblical facts in our deposit before we can put them to use at a critical juncture.

Gold signifies God’s glory. Anything that is entirely of God is signified by gold. Silver signifies the Lord’s redemption. The Bible does not say that we should buy anything with gold, but with silver. Silver signifies redemption. In other words, gold signifies God’s person, while silver signifies His work. Gold signifies His glory, while silver signifies His redemption. Bronze signifies judgment, iron signifies human authority, and lead signifies sin. The foundation of the New Jerusalem is built with all kinds of precious stones, one of which in green in color. Green is a basic color, the color of life on earth. Hence, it refers particularly to the work of the Holy Spirit. In studying the minerals, we have to find their nature and color. Red and scarlet are two different colors. Red refers to the blood, while scarlet refers to sin. Other colors such as white, black, and purple all have particular meanings. We have to classify them and find their meaning.


The Bible contains many nations, cities, mountains, rivers, wells, etc. Everything has significance. There are the nations of Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Persia. There are the cities of Samaria, the city of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Sodom, Gomorrah, Babel, Ur, Shechem, Bethel, Mahanaim, Gilgal, etc. All of them have significance. Some derive their significance from the meaning of the word, while others derive it from the history associated with it. Shechem means shoulder and can signify burden, responsibility, or the act of shouldering something. This is indicated by the meaning of the word itself. In the division of the land at Joshua’s time, there were many city names. All of them have spiritual meaning, and we have to find their meaning. Of course, with many biblical names we have to look in a Hebrew lexicon to find their meaning. But there are many words whose meaning is provided by the Bible itself, and even those who do not understand Hebrew can know the meaning of these names.

Under the category of mountains we have Mount Sinai, Horeb, Lebanon, Pisgah, the Mount of Olives, etc. All of them have meaning. Mount Horeb is the same as Mount Sinai. But why does the Bible say Mount Horeb sometimes and Mount Sinai at other times? We have to find out the reason for this. Then there are the valleys, such as the valley of the son of Hinnom, the valley of Jehoshaphat, etc.

There are the great river of Euphrates, the river of Egypt, the river Jordan, etc.

Many things are included under the category of geography. We have to study all the crucial items of it. However, we do not have to spend too much time on them; three or four months will be enough.

All geographical names derive their meaning from one of two sources. Either they are derived from the meaning of the words themselves, or they are derived from the history associated with them. Names like Jerusalem, Bethel, and Mahanaim derive their meaning from the words themselves. Golgotha derives its meaning partly from the word and partly from its history. Golgotha means the place of the skull. It also signifies the cross. The great river Euphrates derives its significance from the meaning of the word as well as from its history. History tells us that all attacks on Jerusalem come from the direction of the Euphrates. Even Revelation tells us this. Hence, the name signifies rebellious rule and rebellious power. Philistia signifies the devilish power of darkness. It derives its meaning from history, not from the meaning of the word. Another important name is Shiloh, because the subject of the church is very much related to Shiloh. If we would spend time to study these things, they will be useful to us in the future.

(How to Study the Bible, Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)