Let’s lay out some ground work.
There are four areas of importance within the observation branch of Inductive study which when understood are able to lay out a framework that provides a platform from which a foundation can be established.
- Literary Form
Start with terms. A term is a word defined by its context. For example, the word ‘board’ can mean many different things. It can represent a leadership segment within a company or a church. It can refer to a piece of wood used to build something. It can mean a skateboard, surfboard, snowboard; and then there’s the whole idea of ‘boarding’ which can refer to a sport or to the interrogation of terrorists. Terms are defined by the context in which they are found. There are different kinds of terms you should be aware of.
- Routine Terms – which are basically terms whose meaning aren’t of incredible significance. You are aware of what they mean; they are just used like umpires to control what is going on around them without bringing to much attention to themselves. This brings up the whole idea that there are words in the Bible that aren’t THAT significant. That might be hard to swallow at first, but it is true. For instance, the article ‘a’ is pretty routine, you understands what it means. It is important, but really not something you want to write a thesis on. It might not be something you look up in a strong’s concordance. You might not spend a lot of time studying the Greek and Hebrew behind it. Don’t laugh! Its actually important to learn to distinguish between terms. The majority of our rabbit trails in Bible Study are because we don’t know the difference. This is not to say that the Bible is full of redundancy This becomes important later when you are looking at structure. A word might repeat a number of times and it is your job to figure out if it is routine or non routine.
- Non-Routine Terms – So, these are basically words that have a greater significance to the understanding of the passage. The significance can be minor or it can be crucial, It is your task to figure that out. Again this will be important later when you are looking at grammatical structure within a paragraph, like repetition and continuity. For instance in the later parts of the book of Romans terms like ‘servant,’ ‘fellow helper,’ ‘labourer,’ ‘worked,’ and the like, are found everywhere. It might be wise to study those words. Those terms might be very important, and again it will be your job to figure it out.