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How to Study the Bible

Workbook and Introduction to Biblical Interpretation



Jonesboro, Arkansas 
This study is an introduction to Biblical hermeneutics, or interpretation. In it, we will define and
discuss Biblical interpretation, including general principles, how to use academic resources, the
basics of word studies, and how to teach others moving forward.

We believe correct Biblical interpretation is vital to Biblical literacy. ​We feel it is our calling and
responsibility to share the truth we have learned from our personal experiences, the wisdom of
Godly teachers, and most importantly, from God’s Word. We want this to be a safe place to
learn, ask questions, and delve deep into the love of God that He wants to show us through the

Before beginning, we want to challenge you to think about your own experiences with the Bible.

● What is your background with the Church? Were you brought up around other believers?
Have you only recently come to hear about Jesus, God or the Holy Spirit?

● Do you have negative experiences related to Bible study, such as guilt or shame? What
programs, classes or devotions have you participated in in the past? How did you feel
about them?

● What have you had difficulty understanding in the past? What do you hope to gain from
this study?

We want you to enjoy this study, but also grow in your relationship and understanding of God
along the way. It will take intent, and you may get discouraged, but ​scripture calls us to
encourage one another ​(Hebrews 3:13)​, bear each other's’ burdens​ (Galatians 6:2)​, and build
one another up ​(1 Thessalonians 5:11)​.

God’s Word is always relevant. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to provide a place
where you can seek truth with others and really start to grasp God’s Word. You are an
intentional part of His plan, and we hope through this study you will gain better confidence in
understanding God’s Word and find a community of believers who have the same desire.

Erin & Whitney 
Quick References 
Apocrypha ​– Religious literature written during Biblical times but excluded from the Old or New
Testament canon. (e.g. parts of the Catholic Bible)

Canon​ – An authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture.

Commentary​ – A set of explanation and interpretations of a Biblical text; usually a book, and usually
discussing one book of the Bible.

Pastoral Commentary​ – A commentary based largely on a pastor or teacher’s own observations,

thoughts, and opinions of a Biblical text.​ ​Also known as a devotional commentary.

Technical Commentary​ – A commentary based on Biblical research with a focus on the text in the
original language.

Concordance​ – A study tool detailing all English words in the Bible, where each is found in scripture, and
containing an entry with information on the Greek or Hebrew word from which they were translated.

Dictionary of Old/New Testament Theology ​– A study tool that works in conjunction with a
concordance to further discuss the semantic range and the historical and literary context of Biblical words.

Dynamic Equivalence​ – A method of translation that focuses primarily on preserving the readability and
impact of the original text than grammatical and literary structure. Also known as thought for thought

Exegesis​ – an explanation or critical interpretation of a text through study and research.

Eisegesis​ – the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas.

Formal Equivalence​ – A method of translation that focuses primarily on the grammatical structure of the
original text than the readability and impact for modern readers. Also known as word for word translation.

Hermeneutics​ – the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).

Interlinear translation​ – A word for word translation of a Biblical text printed on the same page as the
text in the original language on alternating lines.

Paraphrase​ – A version of the Bible that is reworded from an English translation instead of translated
from the original Hebrew or Greek.

Pseudepigrapha​ – Religious literature written by an anonymous author, using the name of a famous
Biblical character or author to gain credibility. Pseudepigraphal books are not included in the Biblical
canon. (e.g. the Gospel of Thomas)

Semantic Range​ – The range of possible meanings of a particular word.

Septuagint (LXX)​ – A second century B.C. translation of the Old Testament into Greek. This translation
was familiar to New Testament authors and is quoted several times in the New Testament.

Word Study ​– A study of the semantic range, historical context, and theological implications of a Greek
or Hebrew word.
Grasping God’s Word​ – J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
​A basic overview of Biblical interpretation principles.

Women of the Word​ – Jen Wilkin

​A call to Biblical literacy and steps to studying the Bible with our hearts and minds.

Reinventing Jesus ​– J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace

​An in depth look at the history of the New Testament, the formation of the New Testament canon,
and text criticism. This book seeks to answer whether the New Testament can be trusted.

Study Tools
The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance​ – Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III
​A study tool detailing all English words in the Bible, where each is found in scripture, and
containing an entry with information on the Greek or Hebrew word from which they were

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology​ – Verlyn D. Verbrugge, editor
A study tool that works in conjunction with a concordance to further discuss the semantic range
and the historical and literary context of Biblical words.

The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis

– ​Willem A. VanGemeren, editor
​A study tool that works in conjunction with a concordance to further discuss the semantic range
and the historical and literary context of Biblical words.

Zondervan Dictionary of Bible and Theology Words ​- Matthew S. DeMoss and J. Edward Miller
​A quick reference containing concise definitions for more than 1,700 common Biblical and
Theological terms.

Teach the Text Commentary Series​ - Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton, general editors
​An easy to understand and user friendly commentary series based on Biblical research and
study, particularly helpful with providing teaching points and illustrations.

The NIV Application Commentary Series​ - Terry Muck, general editor

​An easy to understand and user-friendly commentary series based on Biblical research and
study, particularly focused on how a Biblical text can be applied and lived out in the contemporary

Tyndale Commentary Series​ - D.J. Wiseman, OT editor; Canon Leon Morris, NT editor
​Concise commentaries based on research, providing much insight into historical, cultural
and literary context.
Week 1  
Why do we need to interpret the Bible? 

Everyone views the Bible through their own lens,

whether we realize it or not, no one is truly neutral.

We all view the Bible through our own lens, or perspective. This perspective makes a huge
difference in the way we relate to and interpret what we are reading in the Bible. Here are some
common examples:
● Jonah in the Fish – We picture him as standing up, walking around, but we get that
image from Pinnochio, or illustrations we have seen as children.
● Ethiopian Christmas Story – We often picture Mary and Joseph alone in the barn or
stable. Other cultures picture a large group of family members accompanying them
to Bethlehem.
● List examples you have experienced:

Organizations like ​Biblical Families​, (which promotes polygamy), and other organizations with
unbiblical beliefs, prove this lens perspective to be true. They believe they are interpreting
rightly the Word of God. Humanly, we like to make the Bible support what we want it to say ...
and we like to ignore the things that don’t.
Example: A.J. Jacobs in, "The Year of Living Biblically," followed all of the Bible's
commands literally for one year. His experiment proves that while we may say we don't
"cherry pick" scripture, we do.
So, are we interpreting scripture based on sound Biblical interpretation, or based on tradition
and our own preferences (our lens)?
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all "pick and choose" what we are going to pay attention
to in the Bible. Examples:
● “​Do not wear clothes made of both wool and linen.” ​Deut. 22:11
● “​Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.”
Eph. 5:25
● “Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head.
But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her
head.” ​1 Cor. 11:4-5
● “Do not murder.” ​Ex. 20:13

● “Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and
your frequent illnesses.” ​1 Tim. 5:23
● “You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.” ​Lev. 18:22
● “I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be
silent.” ​1 Tim. 2:12
● “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ​Matt. 5:43
Which of these do we follow literally today? Are each of those equally inspired? Yes. Do we
follow them all literally today? No. So how do we determine what to follow literally? What we
need to learn is how to study the Bible. What to take literally, what to see as general instruction,
and what to see clearly as a specific command for a specific time.

Have you ever thought about those who penned the Bible? We know the Bible wasn’t dropped
from the sky, but have you ever wondered how God communicated His Word to its writers? Or
how their interpretation differs from ours today? We can only truly understand the original
meaning when we know to whom the Bible was written, who wrote it, when it was written, etc.
That doesn't mean we have to have the most knowledge, or that we have to use outside
sources, it just necessitates that we truly study the Bible, and be open to what it has to say.

The Bible is not ​about​ us, but it is ​for​ us.

We often make the mistake of reading the Bible as if it were about us. But the Bible is actually
all about Jesus. He is present in creation, the fall, the ark, the exodus, the tabernacle, Levitical
laws, Israel's rebellion, the prophets, the cross and the new creation. This is why we study
Scripture, to see Jesus, and to see God's redemptive plan. Then we can understand what it has
to say about us in light of Jesus.

In the coming weeks we'll learn more about:
● ​How to consistently interpret the Bible
● ​Interpretive principles
● ​How to use commentaries, concordances, dictionaries of NT/OT theology
● ​How to do a word study
● The differences in Bible translations
● ​How to teach the Bible
The most important thing we want to emphasize throughout this study is to stay open to
studying the Bible for what it truly says, not for what we want it to say. We will never truly be
neutral in how we read the Bible, but we can ask God to help us see the Bible through the lens
in which it was written.

"To simply impose my theology on every new text without sincerely letting that text have an
impact on that theology is the epitome of eisegesis and a recipe for stagnation. Because we
must be open to new truth that God may reveal to us through His word, our theological
conclusions must always be tentative and subject to change." — Doug Moo

As a final note:

The purpose for studying the Bible is to know and love 

God​ more, not to know and love the ​Bible​ more. 

Week 1 — Examples from James  
Read James 5:1-6
● What are your immediate impressions after reading this passage?

● To whom do you think James is talking?

Most people, while reading this text, either assume that James is urging rich Christians in this
congregation to make a change, or they assume he is prophesying that rich and oppressive
non-Christians will pay the penalty for their actions. While scholars generally hold the second
option, the fact that we already have an assumption when we read this text proves we always
come to the Bible with opinions and ideas already in our minds.
● What are the implications from this passage if James is addressing rich Christians?

● What are the implications if he is addressing rich non-Christians?

Read James 3:1

James says that teachers will receive a stricter judgement.
● From whom, according to your immediate impression, will teachers receive this stricter

This is another instance where we can see we come to the Bible with preconceived notions.
Many assume this stricter judgement is from God, but some point out it could refer to teachers
being judged and criticized by those they teach.
● What are the implications from this verse if James is referring to God?

● What are the implications if he is referring to a teacher’s congregation?

Week 2
Basic Principles and the Interpretive Journey 
​Exegesis​ — an explanation or critical interpretation of a text through study and research.
​Eisegesis​ — the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas.
​Hermeneutics​ — the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).

Basic Principles:
● The Bible does not contradict itself.
● If the Bible ​seems​ to contradict itself, the clearer passage should interpret the less clear.
● The Bible cannot mean now what it never meant.

The Interpretive Journey  
(From, ​Grasping God's Word​ by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays)

Step 1 
What did it mean to the original audience? (Their Town)
● Look at the context of the book as a whole.
○ Who wrote it?
○ To whom was it written?
● Research the culture and history of the time.
○ What general message was the writer communicating?

Step 2  
What are the differences between the Biblical audience and us? (River of Differences)
● Old Testament or New Testament (OT, take it to the cross)
● Cultural differences
● Demographic differences
● Language
● Situation, circumstance

Step 3
What is the general principle of this passage? (Principlizing Bridge)

● ​With the original audience and the differences in mind, what can we safely say is the
timeless​ message of this passage?​ ​Remember, the Bible cannot mean now what it
never meant.

Step 4  
What does it mean to the contemporary Audience? (Our Town)
● ​How can we apply this principle in our circumstances today?

Week 2 — Examples from James  
Read James 1:2-4
Walk through the Interpretive Journey

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Week 3  

Biblical genres and common pitfalls 

This week we’re discussing Biblical genres. A genre is a type or category of art or literature,
and, just as we listen to many different types of music, and have read different categories of
books, the books of the Bible can also be categorized. Understanding Biblical genres helps
rightly align our lens to interpret the text and see the redemptive arc throughout the Bible.

● Law​ – The law was given to the theocratic community of Israel. It was not written to
everyone, everywhere. We can see Jesus allegorically in the Levitical sacrifices and
the blood that had to be shed for the Israelites’ sin.
● History/Narrative​ – In the OT, Israel was constantly in the
rebellion>punishment>repentance cycle. History books are a reminder that the law
leaves us rebellious and hopeless. Symbols of Jesus in these books include
Rahab's scarlet cord, the relationship between Boaz and Ruth, and King David. In
the NT, Acts is the history of the early church. The Holy Spirit working through
people to continue Jesus’ ministry of restoration.
● Poetry​ – This genre includes songs and poems such as Psalms.
● Proverbs/Wisdom​ – Proverbs are general truths and statements about life. These
should not be read as commandments.
● Prophecy​ – In the OT, prophets were sent to address Israel's sin and foretell a new
covenant through Jesus’ coming. In the NT, Revelation is a prophetic book
foretelling Jesus’ second coming.
● Gospels​ – The gospels are individual accounts of Jesus' life, ministry, death and
● Epistles​ – Epistles, or letters, are from a specific writer to a specific audience,
whether one person or a group. Epistles are reminders of Jesus' life, explanations of
His profound work, and practical guidance for the audience.

"I do not call the Law an 'Old Testament' if I understand it in the Spirit. The Law becomes an
'Old Testament' only for those who wish to understand it carnally, but for those who understand
it and apply it in the Spirit and in the Gospel sense, the Law is ever new and the two
Testaments are a new Testament for us, not because of their date in time but because of the
newness of the meaning. For those who do not respect the covenant of love, even the Gospels
are 'old.'"

— Origen of Alexandria

General Pitfalls 
There are many common pitfalls that can easily skew our understanding of scripture. If we read
the Bible letting these trap us, we can become easily frustrated, misunderstand the text,
become discouraged or read without letting God’s Word change our hearts.

● Allegorizing: searching for too much hidden meaning or “secrets” in the Bible
● Humanity: forgetting we are reading a translation, and that the theology of
translators must be considered
● Context: not paying attention to cultural, historical and literary context

— Context Determines Meaning

● Self-centeredness: reading the Bible as though it is about us

● Pride: reading the Bible and relating to other people as if we know it all
● Academia: getting so caught up in the process and outside resources that we forget
this is the inspired, holy Word of God

Week 3 — Examples from James  
Read James 1:22-25; 2:8-9, 14-26; 4:4-6; 5:12

In many ways, James serves as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments. James is
written to a Jewish audience, and addresses Jewish law, which they live by. However, he also
presents the Gospel and Jesus’ teaching, and the importance of a working Faith. He
successfully measures out both, and presents them as functioning together. The main point of
the epistle of James is that faith works.

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

— James 2:26

James is an interesting book when it comes to the question of genre. While it is an epistle, it has
elements of other Biblical genres sprinkled throughout. Read the following passages and
identify what other Biblical genres the book of James incorporates.

● What other Biblical genre are the following verses similar to? How can you tell?

○ 1:9-11

○ 5:1-6

● What other Biblical genre are the following verses similar to? How can you tell?

○ 2:8-11

○ 4:4-6

● What other Biblical genre are the following verses similar to? How can you tell?

○ 3:13-18

● What other Biblical genre are the following verses similar to? How can you tell?

○ James 1:22-25, 5:12

Week 4   

The Bible in English & Biblical Translations 

It's quite amazing how good English translations of the Bible are. Top scholars have worked and
studied and wrestled with how to accurately translate Scripture into our language for hundreds
of years. Translating the Bible from the ancient languages to English took sacrifice and tireless
efforts by many martyrs of the faith.

There is value in studying the Biblical languages — Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic — but anyone
who says that is the only way to ​really​ ​study​ Scripture, is incorrect.

Timeline of the English Bible 

● The Bible’s original manuscripts are written by the Biblical authors
● Copies of the manuscripts are painstakingly re-created
● Religious councils formed the Biblical Canon according to three rules: the books must
have been written by an apostle or eyewitness, the canon must be agreed upon by the
church, there must be continuity with the rest of the Bible
● Scholars and translators continually compare the small number of textual variants in
recent manuscripts for greater accuracy in the translations
● There have now been hundreds of years of translations into English and other

English Translations 
There are many translations of the English Bible. Commonly, the translations are abbreviated
such as ESV (English Standard Version), NLT (New Living Translation), and KJV (King James

The two broad categories of biblical translations are Dynamic Equivalence (thought for thought)
and Formal Equivalence (word for word). You can think of these categories as two ends of a
spectrum that all translations fall between.

● Formal Examples: NASB, ESV, NRSV
● Middle Examples: HCSB, NIV
● Dynamic Examples: NLT, MSG

Which translation to choose will depend on what you're looking to accomplish. If you are looking
to get the best idea of the original impact, it's good to read and ​study​ a variety of translations.
General things to look for in English:

● ​Read surrounding chapters and verses, know the theme of the book as a whole
● ​Look for correlating themes in the passage you are studying
● ​Repeated words
● ​Rhetorical questions
● ​Conjunctions
● ​Chiastic structure

How do these contribute to the overall principle of the passage?

Week 4 — Examples from James 
Read James 1:12 and the translations below. Mark the biggest differences you seen between
these five translations of James 1:12. Where would you put each of these translations on the
spectrum of formal vs. dynamic equivalence? Why?

Greek (literal translation):​ No one being tempted let him say, "by God I am being tempted."
Indeed God not able to be tempted is by evils; tempts moreover He himself no one.

ESV:​ ​Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be
tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

NIV:​ ​When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by
evil, nor does he tempt anyone.

NLT: ​And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is
never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

MSG:​ Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is
impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way.

Week 5 

There are many excellent resources we have access to, to aid in the study of the Bible.
Commentaries are scholarly explanations and interpretations of Biblical text. These scholars
have spent years painstakingly digging through histories, ancient texts and cultural information
to provide the best possible contexts so we may better understand the scriptures.

There are two main types of commentaries, technical and pastoral:

Technical Commentaries:
● focus heavily on questions of authorship, date written, etc.
● focus heavily on Biblical languages, grammar and book structure
● provide information for scholarly research of the Bible as a work of ​literature
● provide the author's own translation of the text

Pastoral Commentaries:
● provide some background information on authorship, date, etc.
● sometimes include a ​study​ on the Biblical languages
● provide thoughts on how to teach the text to congregations and different audiences
● provide insights into personal, practical application
● are devotional over academic

What commonalities do most commentaries share?

Commentary Examples:  

Baker Teach the Text

NIV Application Commentary

Tyndale New Testament Commentary

Pillar New Testament Commentary

New International Commentary on the New Testament

New International Biblical Commentary

New American Commentary

Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Word Biblical Commentary

Week 5 — Examples from James
Pick a Scripture passage of about five verses from the book of James. Pick two or three
commentaries of varying types (e.g. NIV Application Commentary, Tyndale New Testament
Commentary, Word Biblical Commentary), then list things you learned about the literary, cultural
and historical context from each of the different commentaries.

Literary Content
● What is the genre?

● What are the major grammatical elements?

● Who is the passage by/to?

● What was the time/place?

● Who is the audience?

● What was being addressed?

● What was the church dealing with at the time?

● What was the time period?

● Where was the audience, where was the author?

● What was going on it history that would help the passage make sense?

● What was about to happen?

● What previously happened?

Week 6

How to use concordances and the Dictionary of OT/NT Theology

Other helpful resources we can use to better understand scripture are concordances and the
Dictionary of Old and New Testament Theology. Have you ever heard a pastor or teacher
comment on “the original Greek or Hebrew” of a word in the Bible? The way they came to know
this is by using these resources. This week, we will explain what these resources are and how
to use them.

Concordance​ –​ A study tool detailing all English words in the Bible, where each is found in
Scripture, and containing an entry with information on the Greek or Hebrew word from which
they were translated.
Dictionary of Old/New Testament Theology​ – A study tool that works in conjunction with
a concordance to further discuss the semantic range and the historical and literary
context of Biblical words.

Steps to use a Concordance 

Step 1
Identify a word (in English) you would like to study. Keep in mind the word will need to match
the translation of the concordance you are using (e.g. NIV for an NIV concordance, etc.)

Step 2
Find this English word occurrence in the first section of your concordance. Words are listed in
alphabetical order.

Step 3
Look through the list of the occurrence of this word in scripture until you find the corresponding
reference (book/chapter/verse). Keep in mind, there may be several different Greek words for
the same English word (or vice versa).

Step 4
Find the number that corresponds to that word and reference.

Step 5
Look up this number in the back of your concordance. ​IMPORTANT:​ There are ​two​ sections in
the back of the concordance, a Hebrew section and a Greek section. Look up words from the
Old Testament in the Hebrew section and words from the New Testament in the Greek section.
A mix up on this step will severely throw off your word study!

Step 6​ - The words listed in the entry are ways this Hebrew or Greek word is translated into
English elsewhere in the Bible. Looking over these will give you the word's ​semantic range​.

Optional Step: To see where this word is used elsewhere in the Bible, choose one of the English
words listed in the entry in the index of the concordance. Look up this word in the front section of
your concordance. Look through the list of word occurrences until you find one or more matching the
number of the original word you looked up. Look up the scripture reference(s) in the Bible.

How to use a Dictionary of Old/New Testament Theology
Use the number for the word from your concordance. Look up the number in the Dictionary (which is
in numerical order). The entry will describe the Greek or Hebrew word's history and formation, its
context in Biblical times, and its occurrences elsewhere in the Bible.

Note: Only certain words can be found in the abridged versions of the Dictionary of Old or New
Testament Theology. If you can't find the particular word you are looking for, look for another form or
tense of the word (e.g. a noun form instead of a verb form, a present tense verb form instead of a
past tense verb form).

Week 6 — Examples from James 
From the passage that you chose last week, pick two to three words and practice finding them
in both the concordance and the Dictionary of NT Theology.

● _________________

● _________________

● _________________

Week 7   

Practice with Word Studies 

Word Study​ – A study of the semantic range, historical context, and theological
implications of a Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic word.

What is the point of a word ​study​?

● to find the general semantic range of a word

● to learn in what other contexts it is used in scripture
● to get a clear idea of what the word would have meant to the original audience
● to see how we might translate it

What's a good word for a word ​study​?

● a word that is repeated several times within the passage, chapter or book
● a word on which the passage hinges


● allowing too much room in the semantic range (e.g. English word "sack")
● compound words (e.g. butterfly is not the same as butter + fly)
● anachronism (applying modern day ideas to ancient text, e.g. "dynamite")
● English only (we are not trying to find the meaning of the English word, but the word in
the original language)

Week 7 – Examples from James   

Choose two to three words from your passage that would be good for a word ​study​ based on
the criteria we learned. Practice a word study by asking yourself:

● What is the semantic range of this word?

● Is there a word that would better translate this?

● Does this change how we should think about the passage?

Week 8 

Practice with resources & the Interpretive Journey 

Walk through the Interpretive Journey with the passage you have been studying.

What did it mean to the original audience?

● Look through commentaries, especially introductions, to find the situation of the original

● Look at word studies and determine if some words would have a different meaning to
them than they do to you.

● Summarize what this text meant to the original audience.

What are the differences?

● List the differences between you and the Biblical audience (personal, situational,
relational, etc.):

● List the major differences between you, your church and the Biblical audience:

What is the general, timeless principle?

● Look through commentaries, especially the part that deals with the body of the text, to
find timeless truths:

● Think through how the church throughout history has lived out its faith. Are there any
truths that have been observed globally?

● In one sentence, summarize the general principle of this passage (this should be true for
all people, in all cultures, at all times):

What is the practical application?

● Look through the application portion of the commentaries. What are the commentators
practical applications?

● Think about the specific situation of you or your audience. How could the timeless
principle be lived out in your particular situation?

● What are a few takeaways — practical ways to apply the general principle of this

Week 9  

General Teaching of the text & how to prepare  

● ​Pray, pray, pray

– to truly understand the text, because God wants you to.

– to see how this fits into the greater narrative of the Gospel.
– to be able to clearly communicate it to people, with few hindrances.
● ​Read the passage in context, read passages before and after, noticing themes.
● ​Read the text many times, emphasizing different words, points of view, etc.
● ​Figure out how the passage fits into the greater narrative of the Gospel.
● ​Note grammatical/rhetorical devices in English.
● ​Read a commentary or two or a book that deals with the topic or theme.
● ​Pick a few words and perform word studies.
● ​Break the passage down into understandable pieces.
● ​Think about your audience and anything you might say or do that would alienate
your audience or hinder them from understanding the message.

Week 9 – Examples from James 

Using the passage from James you have been studying, work on how to teach this passage.

Week 10 

Illustrations, activities, application 

Think about your group:

● size
● age
● general temperament
● preferences

Think about different ways to learn:

● kinesthetic
● visual
● conversational
● aural
● Don't assume how you learn is how everyone else learns.
● Try to mix up different ways of learning.

Think about different themes in the passage (e.g. James 4:1-10):

● jealousy
● humility
● God's grace
● friendship & allegiances

Illustrations can come from:

● personal life (as a way of relating, not bragging)

● pop culture
● history
● current events
● books, movies, music, TV

Where to find these:

● brainstorm/collaborate with someone else

● commentaries
● and other websites

Activities could be:

● ​Bible storying
● ​games
● ​crafts
● ​discussion
● ​pictures/videos/songs that relate
● ​pictures or objects that show an object from the Biblical text

Week 10 - Examples from James 
It can be very easy to slip into a works mentality when academically studying the Bible. It should
be emphasized (even over-emphasized) that practical application is only possible through what
Jesus has done and the Holy Spirit working in us.

No one should leave with the feeling that they now have a Spiritual to-do list.

Work through the interpretive process. Think about the specific situations that your audience
may find themselves in, and how the general principle from this passage can relate to their
situation. It is crucial to know your audience and be willing to meet them where they are.

Think of a group to which you might find yourself teaching the Bible. This could be a class in the
children's ministry, your Gospel Community, or your own family. Using the passage from James
you have been studying, think through these questions and respond with how you might teach
your passage to that specific group.

● What are the themes in this passage?

● What are some possible illustrations you could use to teach this passage?
● What are some possible activities you could use to teach this passage?
● Thinking through the Interpretive Journey, what are some possible applications that are
appropriate to the group?


1 ​James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the

Dispersion: Greetings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, ​for you know that

the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4​ ​And let steadfastness have its full

effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 ​
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without

reproach, and it will be given him. 6​ ​But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one

who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7​ ​For that

person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8​ ​he is a

double-minded man,​ ​unstable in all his ways.

9 ​
​ ​and the rich in his humiliation,
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10

​ ​For the sun rises with its

because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11

scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also

will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 ​
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the

test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be

​ ​But each person is tempted when he

tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14
​ ​Then desire when it has conceived gives birth
is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15

to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 ​
​ ​Every good gift and every perfect gift is
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17

from above, coming down from the Father of lights ​with whom there is no variation or

​ ​Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that
shadow due to change. 18

we should be a kind of​ ​firstfruits of his creatures.

19 ​
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, ​slow to speak,

​ ​for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21
slow to anger; 20 ​

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness

the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 ​
​ ​For if
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23

anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his

​ ​For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets

natural face in a mirror. 24

​ ​But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and
what he was like. 25

perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his


26 ​
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his

​ ​Religion that is pure and undefiled before

heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27

God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep

oneself unstained from the world.

2 ​My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the

Lord of glory. 2​ ​For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your

assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3​ ​and if you pay attention

to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you

say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4​ ​have you not

then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5​

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be

rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, ​which he has promised to those who love him? 6​

But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and

the ones who drag you into court? 7​ ​Are they not the ones who blaspheme the

honorable name by which you were called?

8 ​
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, i​ ​“You shall love your

neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9​ ​But if you ​show partiality, you are committing

​ ​For whoever keeps the whole law

sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10

but fails in one point ​has become accountable for all of it. 11
​ ​For he who said, “Do not

commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do

​ ​So speak and so act as those

murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12

​ ​For judgment
who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 is without mercy to one

who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

14 ​
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have

​ ​If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in

works? Can that faith save him? 15

​ ​and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without
daily food, 16

​ ​So also faith by itself, if

giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17

it does not have works, is dead.

18 ​
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart

​ ​You believe that God is

from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19

​ ​Do you want to be shown,

one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20

​ ​Was not Abraham our

you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21

​ ​You see that

father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22

faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed ​by his works; 23
​ ​and the

Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as

​ ​You see that a person is justified

righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24

​ ​And in the same way was not also Rahab the

by works and not by faith alone. 25

prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by

​ ​For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from
another way? 26

works is dead.

3 ​Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who

teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2​ ​For we all stumble in many ways. And if

anyone does not stumble in what he says, ​he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his
whole body. 3​ ​If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide

their whole bodies as well. 4​ ​Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are

driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the

pilot directs. 5​ ​So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6​ ​And the tongue is a fire, a

world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole

body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7​ ​For every kind of

beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by

mankind, 8​ ​but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly

poison. 9​ ​With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are

​ ​From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My

made in the likeness of God. 10

​ ​Does a spring pour forth from the same

brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11

​ ​Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a

opening both fresh and saltwater? 12

grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

13 ​
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his

​ ​But if you have bitter ​jealousy and selfish ambition

works in the meekness of wisdom. 14

​ ​This is not the wisdom that

in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15

​ ​For where jealousy and

comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16

​ ​But the wisdom

selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17

from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good
​ ​And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those
fruits, impartial and sincere. 18

who make peace.

4 ​What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your

passions are at war within you? 2​ ​You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet

and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3​

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4​

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with

God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of

God. 5​ ​Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns

jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6​ ​But he gives more grace.

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7​ ​Submit

yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8​ ​Draw near to

God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and ​purify your

hearts, you double-minded. 9​ ​Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be

​ ​Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he

turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10

will exalt you.

11 ​
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a

brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you

​ ​There is only one lawgiver

judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12
and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your


13 ​
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town

​ ​yet you do not know what

and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14

tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For ​you are a mist that appears for a little time

​ ​Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this
and then vanishes. 15

​ ​As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17
or that.” 16 ​ ​So whoever

knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

5 ​Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2​

Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3​ ​Your gold and silver have

corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like

fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4​ ​Behold, the wages of the laborers who

mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the

cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5​ ​You have lived on

the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of

slaughter. 6​ ​You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not

resist you.

7 ​
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer

waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early

and the late rains. 8​ ​You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the
Lord is at hand. 9​ ​Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be

​ ​As an example of suffering and

judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10

​ ​Behold, we
patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11

consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness

of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and


12 ​
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any

other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under


13 ​
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing

​ ​Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let
praise. 14

​ ​And the prayer of

them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15

faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has

​ ​Therefore, confess your sins to one another and

committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16

pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has

​ ​Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed

great power as it is working. 17

fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the

​ ​Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
earth. 18

19 ​
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him

​ ​let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his
back, 20

soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.