It is our second week of Community Groups. This week, we practiced some Bible study skills as we looked through the passage that Andy preached about on Sunday. Andy kicked off our new series, The Big Picture: A Walk Through the Bible.
These are the questions we discussed as we read Luke 10:25-37 – The Good Samaritan:
- What happens before and after this passage? What is the context?
- What is a parable?
- Who are the main characters?
- Can someone retell the story in their own words?
- Where do you see yourself?
- Where do we see Jesus or God?
- What might this passage be trying to tell us?
- What should we do now?
- (Bonus) What other Bible passages does this remind us of?
Let’s talk briefly about some of these questions. First, if you don’t know the answer to something, reach out! Reach out to your community group leader, the elders, someone on the preaching and teaching team, of just a friend you trust. The Bible is not easy to read
What happens before and after this passage? What is the context?
The writers of the Bible are intentional with how they order their writing. This means that what happens before a passage is important to understanding the passage that you are studying. If you need some guidance, ask your community group leader or someone to recommend a good commentary. One of my favorites that I always recommend is N.T. Wright’s For Everyone series. These commentaries are accessible and give not just the book your studying’s context, but also some of the cultural context.
What is a parable?
Not every passage is a parable, but as you’re reading the Bible, it is helpful to know what genre or type of passage you are reading. A parable is interpreted differently than poetry which is interpreted differently than history or letters, etc, etc.
Who are the main characters?
Spending a moment identifying the characters in a passage gives you time to consider each of their roles in the passage.
Retell the story/passage in your own words
Paraphrasing a passage can give you insights into meaning you might have missed. It helps you remember the passage more and frames the passage in a way that may be more direct for how you think or read. If you can, make time to actually write it out and save it for reference in the future. Maybe next time you read this passage, you’ll have a different perspective and would change how you paraphrased it. On the other hand, maybe you’ll reread it and recall something that you’ve forgotten.
Where do you see yourself?
This question isn’t answerable in every type of genre in the Bible. But, if its a parable or a larger narrative, you can think about your current phase of life and how you identify with the characters or the lesson being taught.
Where do you see Jesus or God?
The Bible is the story of God’s love for His creation. The writers of the Bible are sharing God’s response to the human condition. We can learn about Him and understand Him more by continually meditating on the scriptures we have (Psalm 1). Identifying where Jesus or God is in a passage or a parable or a poem gives us insight into His great love for us and how we should respond.
What might this passage be trying to tell us?
After that, now we can ask – so what? Why does this matter? What is this saying? In some passages, like historical narrative passages, it might be a part of a larger arch. In others, like parables, there might be a direct application to your life. When we see ourselves and when we see God in the passage, we can identify the thing we need to do to respond to God’s love. Some passages may be way more difficult than others, but remember, you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, most of what the Bible is telling us is meant to be understood and acted on in community with one another.
What should I/we do now?
Now that we’ve thought about what the passage is trying to tell us, how will we respond? Knowing the Bible isn’t enough, if we just know the Bible, we just know the Bible and it does nothing for the world around us. How can you go into your neighborhood and live differently? What can you change at work? What conversation do you need to have with someone? This doesn’t have to be solving world hunger (unless you are in a position to do that, in that case, you should solve world hunger). There is a phrase “do for one what you wish you could do for all” (that’s Andy Stanley and probably others). After understanding a passage, what will you do about it?
What other passages does this remind you of?
This was a bonus question in our community group meeting discussions. It takes a little more work, maybe a concordance or more in depth commentary, but on nearly every page, in nearly every passage of the Bible, there is a reference to another book in the Bible.
For instance, the verse Luke 10:27 from our discussion
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Is a direct reference to Deuteronomy 6 (and others), while Israel is making their way to the promised land and God is giving them the law through Moses. What can this tell us about the lawyer in the passage?
These aren’t the only questions to ask while studying the Bible. And this isn’t the only way to study the Bible. But if you’re new to studying the Bible, this is a good place to start.
Please reach out to your community group leader or Andy on the preaching and teaching team with any questions or more guidance.