I’ve been posting a series of sample Bible studies through the book of Exodus. The purpose of this post is to let you into the dark recesses of my mind, so you may know what I’m up to and why. Instead of explaining my intentions and assumptions in every post—those posts are long enough already—I’ll list those intentions and assumptions here and link back here each time for reference.
What I’m Doing
With these sample Bible studies in Exodus, I’d like to show you how I go about my Bible study. When I sit down to blog, I’ve probably been thinking about the passage generally, but I don’t yet know what I will conclude about the passage’s structure, main point, connection to Christ, or application. So as I write, I’m coming to the text fresh, and I’m doing my study “out loud” by writing the post. So please read these posts as simply my thought process in working through observation, interpretation, and application.
I will show you how I observe a text for the first time—almost always by collecting repeated words. Then moving on to names & titles, then grammar & structure. I’ll mention other components (genre, mood, comparison and contrast, etc.) as they pop out to me.
I will show you how I work through interpretation—taking my list of observations and being as curious as possible. Asking a few key “why” questions, with some “what” and “so what” questions where appropriate. But I’m always working to assimilate and pull things together. I want to follow the train of thought (how the author gets us from the first verse to the last verse).
I will guess at the passage’s main point, and then I will connect that main point to the good news of Jesus Christ. After I’ve figured this out, I go back and craft a title for the blog post that highlights what I think may be the passage’s main point. [NOTE: In my personal study, this is the point at which I finally crack open some commentaries to check my work. Before then, I want only the inspired text—within its context—to speak loudest.]
I will let you in on how I must change in light of this text’s message. I can’t promise I’ll always have brilliant ideas for every one of the 6 boxes in the application matrix, but I’ll vary which boxes I land in each time.
What I’m Not Doing
I don’t claim to offer the definitive analysis of each passage. I have not spent hours crafting my ideas for written presentation. I probably haven’t read any commentaries or study guides yet, and I’m not trying to enter the scholarly conversations on these texts. With each post, I am not crafting a sermon or small group discussion guide. I’m not covering every possible question or thorny issue that may arise from the passage, nor am I stating which questions or thorny issues are the right ones to pursue. I’m not suggesting that your journey through observation, interpretation, and application should look exactly like mine.
Many things in the previous paragraph are good and right things to do. I’m just not doing them with these posts.
My thoughts on application are usually much briefer than those on observation and interpretation. There are a few reasons for this:
- Application is really hard, and I’m happy to admit it is so.
- Application takes me longer than observation or interpretation, and I don’t have enough time to process it deeply every time I sit down to blog.
- There are many, many articles online that focus on applying the Bible to the various aspects of life. Just google whatever topic you’re interested in, and you’ll find a trove. But there are few articles that focus on how to properly observe and interpret the Bible. I’m trying to fill that niche here.
- Getting specific would require pages of context every time in order to prevent misunderstanding or over-generalizing (communicating that you need to change the same way I need to change). It’s much simpler to propose a few directions for potential application.
That said, I aim to make my application genuine each time. These paragraphs capture truly how the text impacts me, at my current stage of life, as I study it.
Why I’m Doing What I’m Doing
I find that most people don’t truly grasp OIA Bible study until they’ve been able to 1) see it done well, and 2) practice it themselves. I can’t do anything about the second point, but with these posts I’d like to help you with the first. I’ll do my best to do it well, but you’ll have to judge.
On this blog, we’ve written much about the principles of good Bible study, but those principles can still leave you wondering what it looks like to follow them in real-time. Hence, these posts on Exodus. Please let me know what would serve you as I let you into my head and walk you through my study of the book of Exodus.