These 3 questions will help you correctly interpret a Bible text whether you're doing a Bible study on your own or listening to someone else teach a passage

3 Questions to Correctly Interpret a Bible Text (Part 2)

After a brief hiatus, yesterday we looked at how to figure out the subject of a Bible passage. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here to read that post.

As a refresher, these are the 3 questions we need to ask to interpret a Bible passage:

  • What is the Subject of the passage?
  • What does the passage say about the subject? (Complement)
  • What is the main point of the passage? (Big Idea)

Why those three? Well, I’m sure there’s a great explanation somewhere, but basically, it’s the method I learned in college and have been using for seven years, and it really does work.

Today’s post is short and sweet, so let’s dig in!

What does the passage say about the subject?

Once you figure out what the subject of the passage is, the next question is pretty straightforward. Simply turn the subject into a question. The answer to the question is what we’ll call the Complement.

Using this two-step process makes it really easy to get to the Big Idea, which is where we want to land in our interpretative work. These 3 questions will help you correctly interpret a Bible text whether you're doing a Bible study on your own or listening to someone else teach a passage

So, using the passages above as examples, here we go:

  • Judges 13:1-25
    • S: Who God chose to deliver His people from the Philistines (question: Who did God choose to deliver His people from the Philistines?)
    • C: Samson, the son of a barren woman, delivered God’s people from the Philistines.
  • Psalm 46:1-11
    • S: Why God’s people could trust Him to take care of them (question: Why could God’s people trust Him to take care of them?)
    • C: God controls both natural disasters and international turmoil, and He is the final Victor.
  • John 15:4
    • S: How disciples could bear the fruit of repentence (question: How could disciples bear the fruit of repentence?)
    • C: By remaining connected to the vine, that is Jesus

This is where things get fun. All of the hard work you’ve been doing in the observation stage is finally paying off. Isn’t this so cool? (Call me a geek, but this gives me an adrenaline rush.)

You ready?

Your Turn

  1. Begin in prayer, asking the Lord to open your heart and mind to know and love Him more.
  2. Read John 13 (or whichever chapter you’re on right now). Pick a smaller portion of the text and re-read it several times.
  3. In your notebook, write down 5-10 observations about that passage.
  4. Using the method discussed yesterday, determine the Subject of the passage.
  5. Turn the Subject into a question, and answer that question to get the Complement.
  6. End in prayer, continuing to ask for a heart that is open to the Holy Spirit’s work in you.

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