Good bible study begins with a good foundation of knowing how to correctly study the Bible. Below you will find a modified guideline list on how to begin biblical exegesis. Please check back frequently as we will be adding more information, resources, and tools that can be used to during bible study.
GUIDELINES TO BIBLICAL EXEGESIS & THEOLOGY
Exegesis and eisegesis are two very different approaches in Bible study. Exegesis is interpreting a text by drawing meaning out of it, analyzing what the author intended to communicate. The word exegesis means "to lead out of." In essence, through exegesis the interpreter is led to conclusions by simply following the text.
The opposite approach to interpreting scripture exegetically is interpreting scripture eisegetically. Generally, eisegesis involves interpreting a text by reading meaning into the text. Eisegetical interpretations are based on subjective, non-analytical principles. The word eisegesis means “to lead into.” When using this method the interpreter injects their own ideas into the text, making it mean whatever they want it to mean. This is improper and illustrates very poor hermeneutics (interpretive processes).
Here are a few guidelines to assist with proper exegetical study:
1. Select the appropriate translation: Begin with a solid translation of the Bible. I recommend avoiding the use paraphrase translations in exegetical studying. Focus more on using Word-for-Word translations. Paraphrase translations are not all bad; however, they are not ideal for breaking down the text. See the diagram below for more insight on Bible translations.
After reading the text in your selected translation, begin comparing different translations. After reading the text in your selected translation, begin comparing different translations. In comparing translations you want to note the differences found: words, phrases, passage arrangement, etc.
2. Literary aspects: Since the Bible is a literary work, during exegesis one must consider the structure of its language, definition of terms, and the functions of the various parts of speech. It is also very important to examine the semantics (the meaning of key words), and syntax (arrangement of words into sentences and of sentences into paragraphs). Examine what type of literature is it: prose or poetry, history or allegory, apocalyptic, literal or symbolic, lament or hymn, law or diary? All of these will help you to better understand the intended meaning and message behind the text.
3. Examine the literal meaning of the text. Look for the single meaning of a text. In some cases there may be more than one meaning, but do not make that assumption about every passage examined. Avoid allegorizing and over-spiritualizing the text. Look for the message the author intended, not what you think it should say. Most importantly, do not try to add meaning to the text. Additionally, this step should be connected to the previous step. The genre or type of literature the book is will impact how we are to interpret that book. Prose is interpreted differently than prophecy.
4. Examine the context of the passage. Consider the specific passage within its larger contexts: the whole Bible, the division of which it is a part, the whole book and the immediate surrounding material. Remember that Scripture interprets itself. Also, Scripture does not contradict itself so if you find passages to be contradictory, which is probably a good indicator that you need to further examine the text to understand how it all fits together.
5. Historical context: The Bible must also be studied in relation to its historical and geographical context. As time passes, culture changes, points of view change, language changes. We must consistently guard against interpreting scripture according to how our culture views things today. Scripture must be interpreted in its historical context to fully grasp the meaning or message being conveyed.
7. Biblical Theology: We must understand that the Bible in its entirety was written to illustrate the redemptive work of God. Correctly studying and understanding the Bible is essential to developing solid biblical theology. Remember that all parts of the Bible fit together to form a larger picture. Therefore, when exegeting scripture we should consider what the passage says about God, humanity, and their relationship should be a primary consideration of an exegesis. All in all, the content of the passage must also be considered in the light of the broader message of the entire Bible.
8. Historical Theology: It is important to survey how other exegetes and theologians have understood the Bible and theology. Historical theology is generally the study of the development and formation of essential Christian doctrine. It is wise to study take at look at how Christians from varying time periods have theologically understood different subjects or topics.
9. Systematic Theology: As we study, it is important to discern how a particular passage fits together systematically with the whole counsel of God's Word. During this process we typically ask questions to probe how the passage at hand fits into the whole theological picture of the Bible. The general categories of systematic theology are:
10. Practical Theology (Life Application): The Bible is designed to engage each Christians existentially. We should examine how a passage of Scripture applies personally, to the church and to the world. In concluding your critical study of scripture, it is good to answer the following questions: What does this passage say to our present life situation? What meaning does it have for us today? What is God saying to the Church, the world, and me personally?
4. MacArthur, John, and Richard Mayhue. Biblical doctrine: a systematic summary of Bible truth. Wheaton: Crossway, 2017.
5. Naselli, Andrew David. How to understand and apply the New Testament: twelve steps from exegesis to theology. Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2017.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR BIBLICAL EXEGESIS
Logos Bible Study Software (https://www.logos.com/) - I recommend at a minimum the "bronze" package.
Blue Letter Bible (https://www.blueletterbible.org/)
Bible Gateway (https://www.biblegateway.com/)
Bible Study Tools (http://www.biblestudytools.com/)
Best Bible Commentaries (http://bestcommentaries.com/)
An essential component in communing with God is spending time in prayer. Jesus gave these instructions on prayer in Matthew 6:5-13:
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [d]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
We also recommend reading Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney as well as Habits of Grace by David Mathis.
If you would like to submit specific prayer requests so that someone from our team can pray with you, please complete the form below.
Here at SSBC, we value community; not just an online community, but locally as well! Our organization is designed to be a supplement, and not a replacement for local fellowship. If you are not currently connected with a local church, we encourage you to get connected! If you are looking for a place of corporate worship and fellowship in your area, you can start by checking the following databases:
9 Marks Church Search Database
Please note that a church’s appearance in either of the aforementioned databases should not be viewed as an endorsement by SSBC. Please be prayerful and discerning when visiting any church.
As you seek out a place to fellowship, here are 9 important principles that you can utilize as a guideline to find a solid church. This list is not exhaustive, but it can certainly be helpful in guiding you to a healthy, biblical church.
Expositional preaching (otherwise known as expository preaching) is the investigation of a particular passage of Scripture whereby the pastor carefully explains the meaning of a passage and then applies it to the members of the congregation. The point of a sermon, then, takes the point of a particular passage. This is in opposition to the topical preaching showcased in the majority of evangelical churches, where Bible passages are woven together to support a pre-existing point.
This emphasizes not only how we are taught but also what we are taught. In a sense this should follow naturally from expository preaching because the careful exposition of a passage should lead to sound theology. The majority of poor theology arises from a lack of careful Biblical exposition. Where there is poor exposition, we should expect to eventually find poor theology.
There needs to be a proper understanding and necessary emphasis on the full gospel. Where many contemporary churches teach that Jesus wants to meet our felt needs and give us a healthier self-image, that is not the gospel. The gospel message is that we are sinners who have rebelled against our Creator. But Jesus took the curse that was rightfully ours and all that remains is for us to have faith in Him so God may credit Christ’s righteousness to our account. When we de-emphasize sin and damnation to make the presentation more friendly and less offensive we cease declaring the full gospel.
When we have a Biblical understanding of the gospel, we must then also have a proper understanding of conversion. Conversion is a new birth from death to life and is a work of God. It is not merely a change of attitude or a change of affection, but a change of nature. Conversion does not need to be an exciting, emotional experience, but does need to produce fruit to be judged a true conversion.
The way we evangelize speaks volumes about how we understand conversion (and further, what we understand about the good news). If we believe that people are essentially good and are seeking Jesus, we evangelize using half truths and tend to elicit false conversions. When we present a watered-down gospel, we end up with a watered-down church. We need to be faithful to present the full gospel, the good news with the bad, and leave the results to God.
Church membership is a privilege and a responsibility and needs to be regarded as such. People should only be members if they are dedicated to the church – in attendance, prayer, service and giving. To allow people to become and remain members for sentimental or other unbiblical reasons makes light of membership and may even be dangerous.
Discipline guides church membership. The church has the responsibility to judge the life and teaching of the membership since they can negatively impact the church’s witness of the gospel. Leadership need to be firm in discipline as this is an expression of love to the congregation.
We need to recover true discipleship – discipleship that causes Christians to live lives of increasing holiness. The emphasis on growth needs to be directed at holiness rather than membership. True discipleship producing strong, committed Christians will present a clear witness to the world.
Until recent times, almost all Protestants agreed that in church government there should be a plurality of elders (which means that there should be an office of elder and not merely one or more pastors in positions of leadership). This is a Biblical and practical model that has fallen out of favor in modern times.
Do you love good, theologically sound books? We certainly do! Check out these awesome recommended books: