“Back in the day” (slightly before the invention of fire, according to my grandkids)… my training taught me to analyze a New Testament passage thus:
- Identify the text passage in a cohesive way
- Identify the key verse, and (as far as possible) the key Word or Words that give meaning and significance to the passage as it speaks on this occasion.
- Go to the Greek and identify those key words.
- Use Young’s and/or Strong’s to find each and every use of those words in the New Testament.
- Categorize those verses into clusters according to their connotations or “flavors”, their shades of meaning.
- Prayerfully consider, and determine which category or flavor is right for the verse under study, and how the verse speaks into the meaning of the passage.
AFTER getting a sense of what God means by the text guided by the Holy Spirit and Scripture alone, first… THEN we may choose to consult commentaries or other expert systems on their opinions of interpretation.
There are many who go straight from English text (perhaps in several translations and versions), directly to commentaries… without involving any Greek. Dealing with a language so alien even in alphabet to our typical schooling, can be a bit 0ff-putting even for the most diligent student.
It takes considerable time, using paper, pen, and textbooks… to create the lists of every verse using a particular word in all its forms, and categorizing those meanings. I’ll not say it is “wasted” time, by any means, for different nuances of the word of God are flowing through the mind in the process. But there’s no denying that it is incredibly time-consuming.
I’ve been delighted to see the development of such wonderful tools for biblical scholars as have developed on the Internet. I have gravitated strongly towards Bible Gateway (at http://www.biblegateway.com) for its breadth of versions, flexibility of search, and tools and aids ready to hand. But earlier this year I was absolutely flabbergasted to find that with only a few clicks, I could do my word studies to my heart’s content… nearly a dream come true! When one can search out all the shades and nuances of a word in minutes rather than hours, it becomes vastly more joyful to spend that time in prayer and meditation over what the Lord is SAYING there, rather than slavishly scribing lists to sort and categorize. The secret lies in combining Bible Gateway with Teknia.com.
Finding that others are as delighted as I to find this process, I want to set it out here, in hope that it may bless you as well.
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1. Look up your text in whatever versions you like (let’s say we are interested in John 10:14-18), and when you settle on your critical verse or passage…
2. Pull up “Mounce Interlinear New Testament” in the “Full Chapter” mode on the page (don’t put it up as parallel, or this won’t work).
3. Go to the “critical word” in the Greek, and Left-Click on it (which should highlight that Greek word throughout the chapter). (In this example, the Greek word “entole” (“command”) in verse 18.)
4. Now, scroll your screen up and look carefully at the right hand side of the page, the sidebar there… You’ll see the click-able link that says, “See everywhere entolē appears in the New Testament via teknia.com.”
5. Teknia (clicking on the link) will give you statistics on the word, its forms, and will list out all the uses of the word, in all its forms, with every verse (in full) and links to the passages.
6. Below the statistics will be a list of every instance of the word (in this case, all 67 instances of the Greek word “entole”) in the New Testament. AND… it will be the full verse, not the fragment seen in Young’s or Strong’s!
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So that’s all there is to it. I have no idea if this will be as terrific of news for you as it was for me, but I use this process all the time, and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Back in the day, I had to be “very motivated” to invest the time and detailed focus it takes to do this kind of painstaking comparison. Now, all my excuses are gone, and I can pursue even the fleeting wonder about flavor and context of the words chosen by Jesus in a given setting.
May this be helpful to you in your studies! Grace to thee! — The Little Monk