When I study Scripture, I do my best to apply some rules and follow some patterns so that I may "correctly divide the word of truth". Most of these are things I've picked up through life from other teachers, and although I don't believe there's any specific verses that directly affirm any of the methodologies, I still find them to be logically sound and correct.

Prayer

Getting the obvious one out of the way, any study or reading should always be accompanied with prayer. I don't necessarily think every time you read the Bible you have to "formally" ask the Spirit to reveal things to you, as a Christian I think this is just what He does for us (super)naturally in our walk with Him. However, I do think it is important to actively loop the Lord in when you do, asking questions or talking out loud, and just generally acknowledging the fact that even if you applied all the other study tools perfectly, at the end of the day, any spiritual revelation and understanding ultimately comes from Him.

As humans we can easily pride ourselves in our ability to study and comprehend texts on our own, only to fall into a rabbit hole of human logic and wisdom, far from the truths of God. The Pharisees fell into this trap, and then began adding more to what their own Scriptures even had at the time. True wisdom only comes from Him.

Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him or give thanks to Him as God, but became futile in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. They turned the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

🚨 That being said, when it comes to teachers of the Word, do take precautions. Beautiful prayers mean nothing if the heart behind it is not in the right place. Let's not forget the important words of Christ:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Note that these speakers were doing wonders in God's name, actual miracles, and yet, that wasn't proof of their hearts being where it should. A good speaker may move the masses with their words or wonders, but a true teacher is not judged by his prayers or miracles. He is judged by the doctrine he teaches.

Although if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than the one we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so I say now again: If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than the one you have received, let him be accursed. For such are false apostles and deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Context

I've covered the topic of exegesis in the first post of my Hell series, but I think it bears repeating. A common saying for exegesis is "let Scripture speak for Scripture", that is to say, that we should allow the texts of Scripture to speak for themselves, and see what conclusions we can draw from there. This is exegesis: leading out (a conclusion) from the text. This is in stark contrast to eisegesis, where you begin to derive conclusions from stuff you have literally injected yourself or based off your own presumptions. A correct exegetical reading of a portion of Scripture should adhere to some form of the following guidelines:

Establish the context

If the verse is taken completely out of its context, perhaps because of some juicy "keyword" that fits the narrative of the speaker, this is not exegesis, it's usually proof texting. Proper contextual reading should look at the verse, then surrounding verses or whole chapter, and then the book as a whole.

Carefully analyze

Look at the verse and what it actually says, busting out the interlinear if necessary (and sometimes it is), rereading what comes before and after as contextual guides in case something isn't understood.

Understand

Once you've grasped what the verse is saying directly, you can then check for the possibility (it will not always be the case, especially with historical records or geneologies) of anything that may be implied or symbolical. Parables, for example, are literally read as a straight-forward story, with characters and elements, but always have a spiritual truth that it tries to facilitate comprehension of. That is simply the nature of a parable.

🚨 In all of this, another fair rule of thumb is to allow clear verses to define what is not clear. You will often find that false doctrines are dependent on vague or ambiguous verses, usually taken in isolation of their context. Creating a doctrine on the foundation of a verse like this, perhaps with a specific word or verse that also has multiple meanings or interpretations (which the false teacher disregards in favor of the single possibility that supports their doctrine), is a very dangerous thing to do.

Word Study

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). As such, our English translations occasionally don't relay the wording of a verse as well as it could. This isn't an issue of fallibility, mind you, especially since the texts have been preserved unlike any other book in history! Rather, these difficulties simply may give an incomplete understanding of the text.

As an example,