We've finished up most of the observation phase of our Bible study, and now we're headed into interpretation. Word studies are the bridge between observation and interpretation. Please remember that the more thorough your observation has been, the more reliable your interpretation will be.
Today I'm going to remind you how we accomplished word studies for a chapter analysis. I don't want to miss any important truths, but I also don't want to spend the time to chase down every word through the entire Bible like I do with a verse analysis. The way I accomplish that is skim-reading the Strong's definitions and then doing a word study on the key ideas in the chapter.
Drop all preconceived, 21st century ideas about what a word means. Most Bible words acquire a quasi-Christian "meaning" that is defined more by pop culture than biblical truth. Hope doesn't float and it's not a synonym for wish. God compares hope to an anchor, and the word is best defined as a "confident expectation". Grace is a current favorite that's been turned into a shadow of its true self.
Toggle your Bible software to show Strong's numbers. You should be able to see the Greek or Hebrew definition for each word by either hovering the cursor over the Strong's number and waiting for a tool tip to pop up or by right clicking. Take a few moments to skim through the Greek words. You probably won't find many big surprises, although you may find two identical English words are two different Greek words or vice versa.
If there are any words/phrases you couldn't explain to a child, meditate on the definitions until you can. In Colossians 3, Paul calls charity the "bond of perfectness". That's not a phrase I use in normal conversation, so I want to take a closer look. "bond" is literally "ligament" and "perfectness" has also been translated "completeness". I know that ligaments connect bone to bone and literally hold our physical bodies together. If a ligament is torn, that part of the body becomes useless until it's healed. I also know that ligaments take a long, long time to heal and are subject to infection. How does that information tie in with Christian love (charity) and completeness? Have I been thinking of love as a "skin" instead of ligaments? (answer: yes) How should this change my perception of love within my church and family?
Now look at the Greek word behind the major ideas in the passage. In Philippians 2, humility was a key concept, so I'll look up the Greek behind the words that referred to that idea. My goal is to understand the various facets of humility used by the author in this particular passage.
Look at how this same Greek word is used in other passages. Next, I'll use the Strong's number for each to look up how the author used it in other passages. In my Bible program this is done by right-clicking and choosing Quicksearch on [Strong's #] It automatically lists all the verses in the Bible that have the identical Greek word. How does the use of the word in these other passages enhance or change your understanding in the passage you're currently studying?
The goal in completing word studies is to give ourselves the best understanding possible of the passage as we transition from observation to interpretation.
Love you more than words can tell,
Inductive Bible Study, Part 1: Preparation
Inductive Bible Study, Part 2: Read
Inductive Bible Study, Part 3: Seeking the Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 4: Book Summary Key
Inductive Bible Study, Part 5: The Choice
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6a: Chapter Analysis
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6b: Identifying Key Words
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6C: Finding the 3C's
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6D: It's About Time
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6E: Keep Digging
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6F: Word Studies
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6G: Considering Context
Inductive Bible Study, Part 6H: Application Brings Transformation
Inductive Bible Study, Part 7: Wrap It Up!