Living by the Book
Reading Well: Purposefully
â€œ2 Timothy 3:16-17â€¦says that all Scripture is given by divine inspiration and is â€˜profitable.â€™ In other words, it serves a purpose â€“ four purposes, as a matter of fact: teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteous living.â€ â€“ Howard Hendricks, Living by the Book.
â€œPurposeful reading looks for the aim of the author. Your challenge as a reader is do discern that meaning. [On of the ways to do so] is to look for structure.â€
I. Grammatical Structure
â€œâ€¦grammar is determinative for doctrineâ€¦â€
â€œTheyâ€™re the action words that tell us who is doing what.â€
Example: Ephesians 5:18. Paul writes â€œbe filledâ€, which is passive as opposed to â€œfill yourself.â€ Thus we see that the filling of the Holy Spirit is not something we accomplish.
(B) Subject and Object
â€œThe subject of a sentence does the acting, and the object is acted upon.â€
Example: Philippians 2:3 â€“ â€œLet each of you regard one another as more important than himself.â€
Verb: Regard. Subject: Each of you. Object: One another.
â€œThey enlarge the meaning of the words they modify.â€ (Adjectives and Adverbs)
(D) Prepositional Phrases
â€œ[These] tell you where the action is taking place [such as] in, on, upon, through, to, and so on.
These link individual thoughts together sometimes in support or relation and other times in contrast.
Examples: Psalm 37:4 â€“ â€œDelight yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart.â€
James 4:8 â€“ â€œDraw near to God and He will draw near to you.â€
II. Literary Structure
Note: Becomes more important as we move in to the interpretation stage of Biblical study.
(A) Biographical Structure
â€œâ€¦biographical structure builds on the key persons in the story.â€
Example: Judges (â€œ[Which] structures itself around the leaders of Israel in the period between Joshua and the nationâ€™s first king Saul.
(B) Historical Structure
â€œKey events are the basis of historical structure.â€
Example: Joshua, in the Old Testament. In the New Testament John â€œpresents seven key miracles that promote on central purpose: [faith in Christ].â€
(C) Chronological Structure
â€œ[The] author organizes material around key times.â€
Example: â€œ1 and 2 Samuel use biographical structureâ€¦but they also employ chronological structure.â€
Look for words and phrases like â€œThenâ€¦â€ and â€œAfter these thingsâ€¦â€
(D) Ideological Structure
â€œ[These writings] are structured around ideas and concepts.â€
Examples: Most of Paulâ€™s writings, including Romans and Galatians as well as the book of Hebrews.
â€œIdeological structure makes it easy to outline a book. Once you understand the central theme and purpose, you can determine what each part contributes to the understanding of that theme and purpose.â€
â€œThe books of the Bible are filled with statements that express the purpose of the writers. John 20:30-31 is one of the most straightforward. Others are less obvious. But an observant reader can usually find them. Here are a number of purpose statements. Read each one carefully, then skim the rest of the book in which it is found. See how the writer accomplishes his purpose in the way he presents his material.
Â· Deuteronomy 1:1; 4:1, 32:44-47
Â· Proverbs 1:1-6
Â· Ecclesiastes 1:1-2; 12:13-14
Â· Isaiah 6:9-13
Â· Malachi 4:4-6
Â· Luke 1:1-4
Â· 2 Corinthians 1:8; 13:1-10
Â· Titus 1:5; 2:15
Â· 2 Peter 3:1-2
Â· 1 John 5:13