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EXEGESIS & MINISTRY

Drew Dixon Intro to Exegesis November 17, 2010

Introduction
One may liken it to the exploration of a new land, the first shovel in the ground of an archeological dig, or the miner's picking away at stone. It could be compared with the surgeon's incision, the photographer's lens, or the gardener's trowel. Exegesis is a grand exploration. What all of these pictures have in common is that none of them create anything new, they seek only to uncover and bring further clarity to what already is. This is how exegesis functions.

Overview of Exegesis
Exegesis is specifically the exploration of texts; often, more specifically, the exploration of Biblical texts. It is a process in which one reads the text, researches its context (both historical and literary), explores its form, draws interpretive conclusions from these things, and also seeks out other interpretations of the text. This process all aims to arrive at a greater understanding of the text in question. The process of exegesis does not manipulate a text, but rather seeks to uncover fuller meaning of it. The exegete should be like a photographer with a macro lens, taking up-close snapshots of the text to show it to the world.

Vision for Ministry


Ministry is not primarily an occupation. It can be, but ministry is first a lifestyle. Ministry is loving others with the same love that Jesus has loved us. All followers of Jesus are called to this, yet there are also some called to live out ministry vocationally. I began walking down the road toward vocational ministry since my freshman year of high school. Since then I have been dreaming of ministry and have developed vision for it and after six years of dreaming I've arrived at this simple statement: I love Jesus. I love people. And I really love bringing people to Jesus. I believe that this is the essence of ministry. The chief aim of all ministry is to draw people toward Jesus Christ. Loving people is the

method, but not the end goal. Jesus Christ is the end goal. Not church attendance; not brilliant teaching; not mass baptisms; all of these are peripheral. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is central. Paul modeled this in his ministry to the Corinthians when he wrote, I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). The job of a minister is to lift up Jesus in all things so that people will be drawn to him (John 12:32).

A Biblical View of the Bible


There seems to be a common assumption that using the Bible in ministry is important and good. However, I am not sure if many ministers know why it is essential. Without a proper view of the Biblical text, a minister is likely to err in one of two extremes. The first extreme is to ignore the Bible, and the second is to idolize it. Jesus corrects both of these views when he gives a balanced answer to the Pharisees who fall into the second category. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5:39-40). By saying this, Jesus directly combats the second error. The Pharisees believed that they would be saved by knowing the Scriptures, yet this is idolatry. However, Jesus does not tell the Pharisees to abandon the Scripture; instead he declares that the Scriptures bear witness about him which implies that they ought to search them in order to find him. Ignorance and idolatry are not acceptable approaches to the Bible. Scripture, instead, should be seen as a window to the divine. Windows are valuable for one reason: they allow a person to see the outside. By ignoring a window, one will never see what is outside, and by idolizing a window, one will never see past the pane of glass. The Bible is valuable because it allows people to see Jesus. The job of a minister is to bring people to the window and help them to look through it so that they can see Jesus.

Exegesis in Ministry
Since the goal of ministry is to draw people to Jesus and the Bible works as a window allowing people to see Jesus, it is clear that using the Bible is unquestionably necessary in ministry. However, it is not at all that simple. For, though the Bible is a window, it is not always a clear window. The only way to look through the text to as to most clearly see Jesus is to read the text deeply and understand it fully. Exegesis, as discussed earlier, is the method for this. One way in which I hope ministry to be expressed in my life is through preaching and teaching. The one with the responsibility of teaching carries a heavy burden and must know the scriptures deeply! No one would trust a surgeon who did not know anatomy. In the same way, a teacher must know the scriptures inside and out in order to be trusted with teaching them. Without the analysis that the exegesis process involves a person may undertake teaching, but end up with an inaccurate picture of Jesus because of a faulty reading of a difficult text. Exegesis prevents this and provides a clear picture of who Jesus is for those being taught. I also hope for ministry to be expressed in my life through pastoring and counseling. This kind of ministry may be even more influential than preaching and teaching because of how upclose and personal it is. Counseling is where teaching is applied. The contextual analysis involved in exegesis allows a counselor to contextualize the scriptures and apply them more accurately to life.

Conclusion
Exegesis is a grand exploration. It is peering through a window and showing others what is seen. Exegesis is necessary to develop a clear understanding of what the Biblical text contains. The Bible is necessary to see Jesus clearly. The goal of ministry is to draw others to Jesus. Therefore, exegesis will always play a vital role in all ministry that flows from my life.