Reading the Bible for All It’s Worth!

Here are three keys to understanding any Biblical text, written by our very own Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Donald Grafton.

1. Contexts 

I have a coffee mug on my desk with the sarcastic adage, “I can do all things through a verse taken out of context,” which highlights the way so many people misuse Philippians 4:13. None of us like our words being twisted and taken out of context; neither does God. Context matters.

2. Contents 

Contents matter too. What specific words did the biblical authors use? What literary devices such as contrasts, comparisons, lists, or repetition did they choose to communicate the Word of God?

3. Form 

“Once upon a time…and they lived happily ever after.” We would read that type of writing differently than “Five ways to improve your leadership…” In the same way, the many different genres of writing in the Bible have unique formal features: The lines within Proverbs rhyme meaning, the Epistles are carefully crafted letters that address specific situations, and the emotive images of Psalms reach the hearts of God’s people teaching us to pray and worship rightly. 

In Exegetical Practicum 1 and 2, students learn to analyze Contexts, Contents, and Form in a five-step interpretive process that ensures that they apply and explain the Word of God accurately. This is a hands-on practicum class taught by Dr. Grafton.

One of the ways our students can put this into practice on an everyday basis is through their SOAP devotions. Students write down a Scripture, their Observations (including notes on the contexts, contents, and form), a personal Application, and a Prayer. Check out this devotional written by one of our on-campus seniors, Olivia Wrede! We hope this SOAP devotional will bless you today.

Scripture: 

“Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them.” Galatians 4:16-17 NIV

Observation: 

Paul speaks to the church in Galatia and his concerns about how they follow Christ. They tended to focus too much on the law and were starting to miss the promises of God. They were turning to their old ways and turning away from Jesus. Paul writes this letter to warn them against their old ways and to not slip back into old habits. He needs to tell them the truth and correct them on the right path to help them grow. Those who try to persuade them on the wrong path are those who want to isolate them against God’s promises in their life. 

Application: 

Paul in this verse shows what must be done to help correct the church in Galatia. He gives the truth even if it makes him look like he is against them. He did it for their good and not his own self-preservation. I am reminded from this verse that honesty always wins and the hard truth is something we all must learn how to speak into other’s lives. Speaking truth and life helps us to grow closer to Christ. We need to keep speaking truth to help others in their calling. I hope and pray for people in my own life to do the same thing for me.

Prayer: 

Lord help me be bold in your truth, discerning when to speak, and the wisdom to listen to when being corrected. Grow my faith in your truth and understanding. 

Be encouraged to know that there are so many brothers and sisters in the faith who are willing to help you grow closer to Christ and help you grow closer to your goals! We all are in this together! We can bring joy, light, and truth with our words and actions. 

I’m praying you all have a great week!

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