You sit down with your Bible, and you’re ready to study it. You pray and open the page to the right spot. Then…what? You see lots of ink and paper. You’ve heard these verses before.
You’d like to go deeper, and you don’t want to let familiarity get in the way. But what exactly can you do? What should you begin to observe?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- WORDS: Pay attention to the words. Count up how many times different words are repeated. Notice how different things are described or labeled.
- GRAMMAR: Identify the subject, verb, and object of a sentence. What are the main verbs? Who is doing what, and where and how are they doing it?
- STRUCTURE: How does the passage fit together? Break it into paragraphs. Pay attention to transitions.
- GENRE: Is this poetry or prose? A letter or a narrative? Who is the author? Who is the original audience?
- MOOD: What tone of “voice” is the author writing with? Does the passage inspire action, invoke emotion, or challenge assumptions?
Here’s an exercise for you to consider. Let’s just take one verse: John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).
Use the five categories above to help you get started, and try to write 50 observations on that one verse.
Mention one of your observations in the comments below, and let’s see how many we can come up with!