Sunday, August 12, 2018

Exegesis—Studying and Understanding the Word

by Laura Springer, Th.M., Ph.D.

This year we have seen that the Bible is God's written revelation of himself (revelation), co-written with his apostles and prophets, such that the words they wrote were exactly what he intended to say (inspiration). We have seen that it is true and not false (inerrancy) and has an authority that has been discerned by the people of God (canonicity).  We have seen that the Spirit illuminates our minds and the Scripture (illumination) as we work to understand the meaning of God's Word and its call upon our lives (interpretation). Exegesis is the process by which we uncover that God-intended meaning.

Biblical exegesis asks three questions.

What does it say?
   Understand the big picture of the whole text by reading it at least a dozen times, each time in a single sitting.
   Read the text again, looking for clues about the author, original readers, and circumstances.
   Create an outline of the text by reading while looking for the text’s main divisions.
   Study the text sentence by sentence within paragraphs, understanding the words and grammar.

What did it mean? (and What does it mean?)
   Summarize the text by writing one sentence that states the subject of the paragraph and what the paragraph says about that subject.
   Review your findings and list the main themes expressed in the text.

How should I/we respond?
   Spend time thinking and praying about the text and your findings until the meaning of the text has sunk deeply into your soul.
   Consider the significance of the meaning of the text for your life and the life of those in your community by comparing your culture and circumstances with the culture and circumstances of the original readers.
   Remember, what it meant for them it means for you. The significance in your life will always align with that meaning.

We save the most important point for last: The God-intended meaning of a text is not an end in itself. Rather, understanding the meaning of Scripture is the beginning of living out our worship of him in everything we do, think, and feel.

Go Deeper

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