What does it say?
Author & Audience
Welcome to the journey of Inductive Bible Study. Our first goal is to find out what our passage meant to the original audience. We'll use Philemon (in the New testament) as the passage to study. On our journey, we first meet the author...then we can get to know his audience.
In order to find the intended meaning of the original author we need to get to know him – and to whom he was writing. Here’s some questions to think about:
Let's Try It:
History & Culture
The audience then leads us into a better understanding of life in their world. We get to know their culture and history as well. Remember, our goal is to understand the intended meaning of the author to the audience.
Understanding what the culture of the time of writing and recent historical events will make the passage come alive. Here’s some questions:
let's try It:
context of the book
We'll need a few tools on our journey if we are understand the meaning of the author. The first tool is the book that our passage is found in. Since we're studying a short letter, we'll read the whole thing.
Knowing the context that the passage fits into is HUGE! Read the whole book or letter to understand how your passage fits into the whole.
context of the bible
The second tool in our toolbox is a timeline because we want to find out where this passage fits into the Bible as a whole.
This may be surprising, but not every part of the Bible was written to us. Actually, most of it wasn’t. Much of the Bible was written to Israel when God dealt with His people differently. For example, God promised material blessings (land, crops, etc) to Israel if they obeyed His commands as a nation. These promises don’t apply directly to us. Therefore, its important to recognize where your passage fits within the context of the Bible.
let's try it:
The last tool in our box is a dictionary. This will help use learn more about keywords on our passage.
Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew (parts of Daniel are Aramaic). The New Testament was written in Greek. Identify key words that need some definition in your passage. Look them up using a good dictionary.