As part of the course, I developed a series of steps for digging deeper into a Bible passage. I wanted to develop it for people who didn't have theological degrees. So it needed to be weighty enough to get into the passage but simple enough so that the average person could use it. None of it is particularly new, but I reproduce it below in case it's helpful for someone whether for preaching or leading a Bible study or simply because they want to understand a passage more. Feedback is welcome.
Digging into a Bible passage
Ask God to speak to you through the Bible (and if you are doing this for preaching or for a Bible study) that you may be able to share that richness with others.
2) Read the Biblical text several times
Read it slowly. Much of the Bible was originally written to be spoken out loud, so make sure you read it at least once out loud. Allow the words to sink in.
3) Ask questions of the text/write down questions you have about the text
The world of the Bible and the world of today are very different. There may be people, places, ideas, things in the passage that don’t seem to make sense or you don’t know much about. Write down your questions. Feel free to write down any other observations you have or connections you are making that may or may not be there.
4) Note the context
Context is all the stuff surrounding something that helps us make sense of it.
a) Where does this book sit within the 6-act play?
The Bible as whole tells the story of God creating the universe, humanity falling and God seeking to save the world ultimately culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This can be helpfully understood as a 6-act play. Note where in the 6-act play (whereabouts in the story of the Bible) this book fits.
b) What happened before this text?
Is this a follow on from a conversation? Does the preceding passage give any hints that might help us understand our text?
c) What happened after this text?
Does what happened after this text help us to understand our text better?
5) Dig into the details of the text
This helps us get into the details of the text.
List all the people in the text
Who are the people in the text? Who is it about? What happens to them?
List all the places in the text
Where are the places mentioned? In what place or places is this text taking place? What happens in those places?
List the things in the passage
What are the things that are mentioned in this passage? What role do these objects play? What happens to those things?
List the action that takes place in the passage
What happens in this passage? What activity takes place? What are the action words?