II. Getting the Big Picture
The Overview is step 1 in the inductive process. It will give you the big picture and will help you establish the framework of the book. An overview of the book helps you
(a) see the message of the book as a whole,
(b) gain an understanding of the author’s purpose for writing
(c) identify the main theme(s) of the book;
(d) become aware of the structure of the book;
(e) understand the relationship of the verses and chapters to another and to the book as a whole;
(f) have sound basis for accurate interpretation and correct application
STEP ONE: Begin on your knees and pray for guidance and wisdom
STEP TWO: Read and Re-read the Book. The more you read the book the more familiar you become with it. Your goal is to handle God’s Word ACCURATELY. Re-reading a particular book helps you correlate verses that initially seem isolated.
STEP THREE: Identify the type of literature. Determining the type of literature is important. For example Historical books gives us a background on a event that happened or how God dealt with certain people—-however you do not build doctrine on historical events. Most of the doctrines can be found in the epistles.
Is it Historical? (Genesis / Kings / Judges)
Is it Biographical? (Luke / Matthew, Genealogy of Christ /Numbers )
Is it Poetic? (Psalms)
Is it Proverbial? (Proverbs) The book of Proverbs is considered wisdom literature and is not to be interpreted as prophecies of doctrines.
Is it Prophetic? ( Revelations / Zechariah / Isaiah)
Is it an Epistle? ( Timothy / Ephesians / Galatians)
Or is it a combination of both?
STEP FOUR: Deal with the text objectively. Once you objectively see what god is saying, you’ll know how that truth relates to you subjectively.
STEP FIVE: Use the 5 Ws and an H
STEP SIX: Discover facts about people and events. For example, if you are studying an epistle you will need to look and identify the facts about the author / recipients of the epistle and any other people mentioned. If you are studying a prophecy, the author may or may not be as prominent as events.
6.A Identify the Obvious Names
-Read through the text and mark in a distinctive way the mention of the author, recipients and other people. You can mark it is different ways: coloring each use of the same word; OR by drawing a diagram around the word
-As you mark the references ask the 5 Ws and an H. For example, Who is the author? Who are the recipients? What does this circumstance tell us about the author? What is the relationship of the author and recipient? Why is he writing this?
Asking the WHEN gives you a clue to the historical setting. Asking the WHY makes the purpose of the book more obvious. Asking the WHAT shows the repeated emphasis on the book with leads to the theme of the book.
6.B Identify the Obvious Events
STEP SEVEN: Mark Key Words. Key words are words that are vital to understanding the meaning of the text.It may be a descriptive word or an action work that plays a part in conveying the author’s message. Mark the words that are repeated.
The more a word is repeated the more obvious it becomes that the word represents a subject. The more that subject is repeated the more obvious it becomes that the subject represents a theme in the book.
Key Word -> Subject - > Theme
STEP EIGHT: Discern the main theme of the book. The main theme should be obvious.Discerning the main theme or summary statement should be an outgrowth of an objective evaluation of the repeated emphasis in the book. Once you discern the theme, look for a verse in the book that best covers or expresses the theme. That will become your KEY VERSE. Finally write out a summary statement of the book.
STEP NINE: Develop an At a Glance Chart. (Please see photo below)
STEP TEN: Discover the theme of each chapter. A chapter theme should fall within two parameters: (1) Is it the main subject dealt with in that chapter? (2) Does the theme relate to the overall book theme? If your choice of theme is truly the theme of the chapter, it will clearly relate to the book theme.
STEP ELEVEN: Identify Clearly defined segments. A segment decision is a major division in a book, or a group of verses or chapters that deal with the same subject, doctrine, person, place or event. A book may be divided according to dates; places; topics; doctrines; reigns of kings; major character; major events.
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