Identify the Main Theme
Scripture is not a collection of random thoughts and ideas but has principal themes and structures, which ultimately come from the author’s intent.
Effective Bible study interprets the whole in light of the details, and the details in light of the whole. By splitting a passage up into smaller chunks and analysing their detail it is easier to discern what the author is saying. Then by joining the smaller blocks together, a larger overall meaning can be derived from the passage and even the entire book.
Try to ‘stand back’ from the passage/book and identify the main theme from the author. What big thing do all of the little things add up to? Remember that scripture is like a fine art painting: study the detail but also stand back to take everything in!
Take the below example from Romans 1, what would you say is the main theme of the passage? How would you summarize it?
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”Romans 1:18 20
I would summarise it as follows:
- God has made himself clearly known in creation
- Mankind has suppressed the truth of God
- God will justly reveal his wrath because of this