For most of my life, I despised grammar.
I could use it to write properly, but I couldn’t explain it or diagram a sentence to save my life.
Then, my sophomore year of college, a wonderful English professor unlocked the world of grammar for me, and neither I nor my Bible study have been the same since. Seriously.
Here’s why: Have you ever read a chapter in Romans or Galatians only to get lost in Paul’s train of thought? Sometimes I’ll try to start all over again at the beginning of the sentence only to discover that the same sentence has been trailing on for nine verses! No wonder I was lost!
Some Bible passages can seem disjointed and confusing, but visually diagramming Bible verses helps clarify the relationship between ideas and illuminate the main point of the passage.
I first tried this technique in my college grammar class, and since then I’ve been using
Visual learners rejoice! Over the next few days we’ll look at Bible study methods we can use to engage with Scripture in a way that makes the visual learner’s heart flutter. We’ll start with a more linear approach and end with a creative, more artsy method.
First up, grammar-lovers who wish they were back in English 101:
Some people like to diagram Scripture grammatically, like in the picture below. If that’s your thing, then by all means, go for it. You might find this book helpful (and if you homeschool, it’s a great way to teach kids grammar and Scripture at the same time).
For the rest of us, there’s conceptual diagramming. No grammar needed.
Basically, you’ll look for connector words and then arrange ideas on the page so that their relationship is clear.
Here are some connector words (also known as conjunctions) and their relationships:
- opposed ideas: but, nor, however, or (either/or)
- similar ideas: and (both/and), neither/nor, not only/but also, whether/or
- explaining ideas: as, because, for, yet, therefore, so, after, if, since, unless, when
Basically, when you divide the sentence into concepts, you can see what the main point is and how the rest of the sentence develops that point.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
The great thing about diagramming Bible verses is that it illuminates the relationships between ideas. All of the sudden, you understand why every part of the sentence is important, and how it comes together to form a beautiful whole.
- Pray before you begin your study.
- Read John 6.
- Pick out the key sentence (or short paragraph) for this passage and circle the connector words.
- Diagram the key sentence in your journal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try your best.
- Study the diagram for a minute to see the connection between ideas. How does one idea connect to another? Are they opposed, similar, or explaining each other (see list above)? Write your thoughts in your journal.
- Respond to God with worship and adoration. How is His Big Story revealed in this key verse? Has the Holy Spirit convicted you of sin in your life? Is there something you’re especially grateful for after doing this study? Talk with God about it all.