Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth (Part 6)

Contextual Study Techniques

Here’s a quick review of what we looked at in our last study.

1. Pray that God will guide your mind and heart as you study His Word.

2. Start at the beginning.

3. Look at each word in every sentence, carefully.

4. Write down all your observations before trying to interpret what you’re reading.

Now, to the interpretation of what you’ve read using Romans 1:1-4 as an example.

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

5. Ask insightful questions for interpretation. Careful observation of Romans 1:1-4 should raise many questions. Here are some interpretive questions from verse 1.

Who is Paul?

What language did he use to write this letter?

Why did he start his letter with just his name? Did he have a last name?

Didn’t I read somewhere else that Paul’s name was Saul? Why did he use Paul instead of Saul in this letter?

Was that the usual way people opened their personal letters centuries ago?

Did Paul do that in his other letters? If not, why not?

Is there anything significant about his using just his first name to start the letter?

What does the word “bondservant” mean in the language Paul used to write this letter?

Is there anything special about Paul using that word instead of other words that are translated “bondservant?” If so, what’s special about it?

What was a bondservant’s relationship to the people they served?

What does it mean to be a “bondservant” of Jesus Christ?

Is being a bondservant of Christ a good thing?

Does Jesus want everyone to be a bondservant or just Paul?

Did Paul always begin his letters by identifying himself as a bondservant? If so, why? If not, why not?

Why did Paul use both of the Lord’s names at the beginning of the letter – Jesus Christ? Why not use just one of them?

What does the word “called” mean in the language Paul used to write his letter?

Is there anything special about Paul using that word instead of other words that are translated “called?”

Did the word hold any special meaning for people who received Paul’s letter?

What does the word “apostle” mean in the language Paul used to write his letter?

Is there anything special about Paul using that word instead of other words that are translated “apostle?”

Did the word hold any special meaning for the people who received Paul’s letter?

If so, what was the meaning?

When did Paul become an apostle?

Did Paul always begin his letters by identifying himself as an apostle?

If so, what’s significant about that?

Was Paul the only apostle mentioned in the Bible?

If not, is there anything different about Paul’s apostleship compared to other apostles?

What does the word “separated” mean in the language Paul used to write his letter?

Is there anything special about Paul using that word instead of other words that are translated “separated?”

Did the word hold any special meaning for the people who received Paul’s letter?

What does the word “gospel” mean in the language Paul used to write his letter?

Is there anything special about Paul using that word instead of other words that are translated “gospel?”

Did the word hold any special meaning for the people who received Paul’s letter?

If so, what was the meaning?

What is the “gospel of God?”

Is that gospel different than other gospels in the Bible?

What does it mean to be “separated to the gospel of God?”

We could ask many more questions from Romans 1:1, but these give us a good place to begin in our interpretation. In our next study, we will take the next step in “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

Also, read the companion apologetics study – Can I Trust the Bible?

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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