Hit the Books, And Give Me 20!January 13, 2009
A simple but astonishingly helpful ‘exercise’ I use during initial passage study is what I call 20 observations. The idea is simple. Take one verse of the text at a time and force yourself to make at least 20 observations of each verse, soley from the text.
The beginning observations might be easy enough. Eg:
1) ‘Paul’ wrote this letter.
2) Paul is ‘an apostle’: a commissioned representative/messenger
3) Paul is specifically an ‘apostle of Christ Jesus‘ .
Usually, however, the last 5 or so observations really force you to look at every possible aspect of the wording in the various translations. For example, this morning in my study of 1 Timothy 1:1 I made the following observation
18. The reference to “our Saviour” and “our hope” now draws Timothy in. Paul may be an apostle. Timothy does not have that authority. Yet Paul says, ‘Timothy, we are no different in this way: God is our Saviour and Christ Jesus is our hope.’ Paul and Timothy share a common author of salvation, and a common hope in the culmination of that salvation through Christ. (Possible Application: – You may not feel that you share in the same opportunities or the same giftedness as others within the church. But you share in the same Saviour. You have the same hope in Christ Jesus. That’s something we all have in common!)
Of course, if your passage is rather sizeable, you may need to limit yourself to maybe 5 observations per verse, or whatever number is appropriate. If you’re preaching a large narrative, however, you might still want to look for 15 to 20 observations from several key verses within the text.
So, why not give this a whirl next time you seriously study Scripture?
And let me know how you get on…