A Plan for Word Study

  • What does it say?
    Slow down and read the passage carefully. Sometimes reading the words in reverse order (the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek) will help you notice things. Consider the various readings in the textural apparatus; why were these choices made?

  • What is the context?
    Both preceding and following the verse or phrase you are examining. Which book of the Bible and which part of that book? Knowing what the author was writing about will help you understand what the author’s words mean in context.

  • What is the cultural background?
    Knowing the culture will help you decide on the meaning of words within that culture (as opposed to within your current culture).

  • What does it mean?
    What was the meaning of the word or phrase under examination to the original hearers? What does the word denote and connote (implying another idea or emotion in addition to the primary meaning)?

  • What does it mean for today?
    What can you learn about God? How might it apply to your personal circumstances?

  • What are you going to do about it?
    Digging this deeply into God’s Word is not just an intellectual exercise.