"Our ambition...is to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9)
James White, Director
Richard Pierce, President
Sean Hahn, Vice President
Monday - Friday
10:00AM - 5:00PM
dividing the Word of Truth”
By James White
I. Background of the
Main theme of the book?
B. Author’s purposes?
C. Author’s background?
D. Historical setting?
E. What kind of literature is this? Parable, poetry,
F. Reader’s Understanding/Context - To Whom Written?
G. Usage of Other Scriptural Concepts - Quotations?
II. Immediate Context
A. Read passage in at
least three different translations.
B. What immediately precedes and follows the passage?
C. Are any definitions provided by the immediate context?
D. What is the main argument of the entire chapter?
E. What is the main point of the passage itself?
F. What is the consistent understanding of the passage in
III. Broad Context
A. Does my interpretation
make this passage contradictory with
1. the author himself?
2. other Biblical passages?
3. common sense?
B. What other passages in
Scripture bear directly on the issues raised in this
The above steps are
normally sufficient for most purposes of interpretation.
However, should further study be needed, the following steps
I. Identification of Key
A. List the “key” words
in the passage.
B. Are their meanings clear? How do the translations differ
at this point?
C. Consult a concordance for the meaning of the words in the
D. Examine the usage of the word (in original language) by
the author, then in other books.
E. If a NT passage, see how terms were used in OT. If OT,
see how concept is picked up by NT.
F. Determine if the phrase is an idiom of the language.
A. Consult linguistic
dictionary on usage of term in Scripture/secular literature.
B. Study occurrence of each word in context each time it is
used in Scripture.
C. Study possible cognate terms (Greek->
Hebrew/Hebrew->Greek) and relationships.
D. Examine the grammatical form of the word in the context,
and determine syntactical relationships.
III. Textual Studies
A. Consult a critical
text of the passage in the original languages.
B. Examine any textual variants that effect meaning.
C. Determine possible effect of acceptance of various
There are numerous
resources available for the performance of all of the above
steps - the
trick is finding them and learning how to use them. An
exhaustive concordance is a must, a good Bible dictionary is
very helpful. Always try to work through the passage on your
own before turning to the commentaries. Many good commentaries
are available, but they are never infallible. They are meant
as aids only. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible
itself, particularly the Bible as it was originally written.
If Greek and Hebrew are unavailable to you, invest in at least
three different translations for comparative purposes.