[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Finding the Key Words and the Text Outline is a very important part of studying a text. The process forces you see see comparisons and contrasts. It helps you see connections that you might normally miss. It brings a richness to study that will greatly enhance your spiritual life.
In this episode I walk you through that process. I discuss 8 Key Word Identifiers, 4 questions to help you organize the text, and many other practical applications of the Constructing Faith process.
Below are also show notes that reveal information and insights that I did not cover in the episode, including a 9th category of Key Words that I happened to have left out of the recording.
As always, I pray that you will be blessed by the study and application of God’s Word![/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][vc_single_image image=”57″ style=”vc_box_rounded” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”medium” title=”Key Words and Outline”][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]
Step1: Key Words
The last episode was a presentation intended for a large group. It almost didn’t fit as a podcast episode, but there it is. That can be found here.
In fact, the section of Mark 1:9-15 is discussed in all its steps in episodes 8 through 12. Please feel free to listen to them if you missed them. (And while I am sharing, Mark 1:1-8 is discussed in episodes 2 through 7.)
The first thing to do is read it several times. That’s prior to step one, or maybe a part of that step.
Learn to notice words and the relationship they have with other words. Dig in and find those important ideas and words.
Proverbs 2:1-9 teaches us a valuable lesson about what it takes to gain wisdom so we can grow spiritually. God can lead us to His word, but that does not mean we will accept it.
Finding Key Words
We are finding the words that are more important than others in the context. Then we start seeing the big picture of what is being transmitted and why it is.
Here are the 8 categories of key words listed in the Podcast, plus a BONUS category that I left out:
- Long words–complicated words. Even if you know the meaning, write them down. They are usually important. Large words are usually only used out of necessity. They are saying something that can only be said with several smaller words.
- Very short words— Not every short word, but the connecting words, prepositions, conjunctions, etc, that are important in the large ideas of the text.
- Repeated words— This is an important one. The more the word is used, the more important it is in the context (usually). (Now I’m not talking about repetitive words like “a” or “the” or “and”. Those are incidental words usually, and you would only write them down if they fit number 2 in this list.) The repetitive words I am talking about are usually nouns or verbs that are repeated.
- Comparison words— Words like “like” or “as”. Keep in mind that those words might not be used. The text might simply compare them without using those comparison words. In that case, anytime you see comparisons, note them by writing the whole phrase or a main word from it so you remember the phrases when you think about these words again.
- Contrast words— Words that show contrasts. Examples: “But,” “however”
- Synonyms— Words that have similar meanings or thoughts. This could also include phrases. The Bible, especially the poetry of the Bible, is full of these kind of words. These are different than comparison words.
- Strange words— That is, ironic, unexpected, even confusing words. This is not related necessarily to the words of the original languages of the Bible. But you might find these strange words simply by noticing what is stated. And using a good Bible translation is helpful for that. (You can also look at commentaries after this stage to see if they suggest other words that you might not have noticed because of their strangeness in the original language.) These words are often found just by looking at the passage word by word and asking whether or not the word fits. (Don’t worry, with just a little practice this gets much faster and easier.)
- Words you don’t understand— You can’t know if a word is important or not if you do not understand them. This includes words we read all the time but have never asked ourselves, “What does it mean?” Usually these are “church words” like propitiation, redemption, etc. It might be difficult to find these because we tend to create a meaning and then forget that we were the ones who developed that meaning without looking into it. We are smart enough to do that, but sometimes we miss important nuances of meaning that are in the words. So be sure you clearly understand every word.
Bonus: 9. Antonyms— These are words that have opposite meanings. (I missed this one in the episode.)
A great tool: e-Sword is powerful and free software. There are many free items here too, not just a Bible. There are free Bible translations (some require purchase at a reasonable price). There are free commentaries, dictionaries, maps, etc. There are also materials for purchase and the prices are very reasonable. I highly recommend this. It is a powerful tool for study. Here is a link to a page explaining its value: http://www.e-sword.net/training.html (Note, I get nothing from them for promoting this software. I just really like it.)
Putting It Into Practice
Listing the key words:
- Fishermen and fishers of men –interesting play on words
- make–because Jesus will make them become fishers of men (implies a training process)
- left, followed, follow–relating to the disciples and what they did with Jesus.
- Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John
- immediately, as soon as (used 8 times in this section) (this is a stylistic idea from Mark, so it is important but not the most important–don’t assign too much meaning in the text simply because it is used so many times.)
- astonished, amazed –synonyms
- authority –repeated
- rebuked –unusual in context of who is rebuked (demon)
- demon –unusual
- spirit –unusual
- Simon’s mother in law –unexpected (we don’t read about relative usually)
- healed –unusual
- whole city –shows impact
- demon possessed –unusual (though not for this time period)
- allow–not allowing the demons to speak (unusual)
- because–showing the reason He would not allow them to speak
- solitary–shows contrast from previous verses
- prayed–important because of time it was done, and that Jesus did it
- searched–unusual because of its relation to the next part–that Jesus did not return to those seeking Him but left to go to other cities. Why not go to those searching for Him? Priority
- Galilee, Capernaum –places of reference
There many be more. Did I miss any?
Step 2: Organizing the Thoughts into an Outline
Once you find these key words, begin to organize them into separate thoughts. You are outlining it now.
You CAN look at the headings listed in the Bible, but I recommend that you do that only after thinking through it yourself. The headings were added by translators as an aid. You might not agree with every heading. You have every right to disagree with those headings because they are not part of the Bible’s text. But if you look at those headings and use them, you will not be thinking it through yourself.
(Of course, sometimes you might run into situation where you are just not getting anywhere and need that extra help from a different perspective. In that case, these headings can truly be helpful.)
Now we are comparing words, and putting them together in groups. As you start looking at the relationships of the words, thoughts begin to present themselves that you never considered before. This is a very exciting part of study!
You can stop here and create a good lesson based only on the key words. That’s OK to do, but we’re trying to dig in and find all that is here. So let’s treat this text as an onion. Dig into it layer by layer. This process we are going through will help you do that. (That is why I take several episodes to explain one section. Each step gets us deeper into the text.)
Four Considerations in Organizing the Text Points
There are at least four considerations when organizing the text.
1. Word/Idea Comparisons
Consider how words and ideas compare or contrast each other in the text. As you note these, you will start seeing powerful lessons and you will begin to see how the sections might be teaching different ideas.
[Now, it is possible that your text will only contain one point instead of several, but that is OK. Just don’t miss other important points by thinking that it is only talking about one point. Of course there is only one main point to the text, but to find it you must find all of the supporting points there. Then organize them based on importance. Personal judgment must be used, but thankfully that judgment improves over time with practice. No worries if you get some things wrong here by thinking one idea is more important that it is. This process tends to help correct those mistakes.]
For reference, here is how I saw some important comparisons in the text. You find these by paying attention to the Key Words you already found, and from THOSE you start to see comparisons. (Feel free to add key words if you realize that you missed some. This step often reveals some words that were missed.)
- This is a play on words
- It is important because it relates to purpose and their new course in life.
- There is no doubt in their minds about what they will be doing. This might be a key idea.
- This is not the first encounter with Jesus they had (John 1)
- They left things and followed Jesus
- What did they leave behind?
- That is a drastic change.
- They didn’t just leave a boat and nets.
- They left their JOBS, their livelihood.
- They left careers and the security of making a living.
- They left probably generations of work behind (because people trained their children to follow in their footsteps.)
- They left heritage.
- It MUST have been a difficult move.
- Words are synonyms
- Used to discuss two seemingly different things.
- “Astonished” was used about the teachings of Jesus.
- “Amazed” related to Jesus casting out the demon.
- When these words are used, they both were related to different events, but they both had one thing in common: Authority.
- They were not astonished simply because Jesus spoke and taught.
- It was not that He was necessarily so amazing as a speaker, or that He revealed some truth so astounding.
- It related to the authority with which He taught–not as the scribes of the day.
- Scribes only taught by first quoting other scribes and rabbis
- They were amazed at Jesus casting out the demon.
- That seems like something to be amazed about.
- But the text indicates that it was a “doctrine” that He taught that amazed them here. And the underlying point about this “doctrine” was the authority with which Jesus cast out this demon.
- It would seem natural for someone to want to try to cast out the demon. The fact is, however, Jesus didn’t just try. By a simple word from Him, the demon had no choice but to leave. There’s authority that is unheard among humans. Something special is here.
- As noted earlier, the people were searching for Jesus.
- As Messiah, you would think He would want to be “found” by them, but He didn’t.
- It is not what you would expect from a person who is trying to gain a following. Perhaps, then, we must see His priority and purpose differently. There is a whole lesson in just this idea alone!
2. Look for meanings of words
Look at Definitions
This should have already been done to a degree, but here we are looking at context and seeing how our key words are used, to see if there are uses of the words that are different than normal.
At this stage, we begin to be more selective about the words we are looking at. We should begin to see that some words are coming to the forefront of our thoughts. We need to analyze them to see how the words are used and if they hold special nuances here. The only way to do this is to think about the definition of the words, and notice how they are used in the text.
Are they used according to the standard meaning?
If they are different, how are they different?
This is something that only comes with experience and learning. As you learn more about the Bible, you will begin to notice these differences. This is one reason that when you study a passage and then look at it again months later it can reveal new ideas you never saw before. That is what growth is all about! Don’t worry, you WILL get there if you just keep studying. There is no doubt at all about that.
Context is the ultimate authority of what a word means.
Textual Example: “Authority”
This word in the original language means “authority”, that is the main definition. But there are different kinds of authority. This word primarily relates to force and power, even privilege.
In this context it is about power and force, but not just those things. The power and force can certainly be seen in Jesus casting out the demon, but the word is also used to describe the authority of Jesus in His teaching. That is not suggesting He was a robust and powerful speaker. It is about the content of His message, but even more than that. It is about His demeanor. It is about HIM. It’s like one who didn’t need permission to do whatever He wanted, that fit with His own character.
He acted like a Prince. This implies confidence, and a little something more than forced people to admit there was something unique about this man.
He was an expression of authority that not only had force, but it had moral presence.
Look at Implications
For example, look at the word “left” in the idea that the disciples left all they had. This is not specifically stated, but it is implied. Tie in the word “make” when Jesus said He would make them to become fishers of men, and that brings more light to the idea. They were leaving everything so that Jesus could make them into something else.
If you see implications being repeated in a text, this is a clear sign that you need to pay attention to it.
3. Look for Order of Expression
[As far as I see it, this does not fit Mark 1:16-39, but it is an important notation.]
This might not often be existent, but when you find it, it is worth noting.
Here are some questions related to order:
- Is there an emphasis or an idea that is being conveyed by the order of the materials?
- Is the text introducing a priority to be noticed– an idea that is more important than others?
- Is there some richness of insight that the order of the text reveals?
- This is usually what happens when we find a significance to the order of a text.
- We might never see this unless we think to ask about it.
Most of the time (from my experience so far) order does not play a significant role in meaning. Especially in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the order seems to be recorded as it naturally happened. [BUT, for something to think about, it might be interesting to note that these four accounts of the Gospel are not all in chronological order and there may be some significance to that fact.]
While it may not be common, it is certainly something to consider. For example, there were many ways to record the crucifixion, but all four chose to do it chronologically. Is this significant? Maybe or maybe not. Would you know if you didn’t consider it?
[Another example is found in the book of Lamentation where the order of the text seems to have been intentionally manufactured to create a powerful central idea, which is found in Lamentations 3:22-26, one of my favorite passages.]
We may never understand the significance of order, but that’s OK. We don’t have to learn everything.
4. Start asking every question you can think of.
Looking at the words, the ideas, the different groupings of the text, relationships, order, and anything else we can imagine, we need to ask all kinds of questions.
Here is where you creativity ought to come into the process. The difference between good and great study relates to the kinds of questions you think to ask of the text. This is also something that comes with experience and knowledge. The more you learn, the more you think to ask about a text.
Try to ask good questions and do your best to find the answers, even if that means seeking help from others or reading commentaries or other studies of that passage.
Recognize that you might never come up with some answers and learn to accept that fact. We’re not God, so we are not allowed access to some things. Some things are just beyond us.
[WARNING: Be ready to be challenged here. Don’t be afraid of truth, even if it requires change in your life. That’s the whole point of study anyway, isn’t it? Don’t worry. You’re only going where God has always been. If you find truth and it is something you know must be true, act on it and watch your faith grow before your eyes!]
When you go through these steps, you will start to see how these ideas relate to each other and how they can be separated or contrasted. Patterns should begin to emerge. Thankfully, our minds want to find patterns, so these things just happen. If you are not seeing patterns develop, that is a clear sign that you need to spend more time with the text, asking more and better questions. One obvious one should now be, “What patterns are here?”
When working through this text (Mark 1:16-39), I began to see patterns emerge based on the meanings and not simply because of paragraph indentions. I began to see why the different paragraphs were there.
- Jesus interacting with His new disciples.
- After asking questions, even more come up.
- In asking questions, I started noticing how this section differed from the others, and I began to notice how the text was pointing to one idea.
- Here are a few questions I asked about this part of the text to get you started:
- What did they leave?
- How important were those nets and boats?
- Why did Mark tell us they left these things?
- Looking at all that happened here, I see here attributes of leadership in Jesus. Yes, the focus is on the men leaving their things behind, the incredible sacrifice they made, but think about this word “immediately” and how it relates.
- Though we know that they knew Jesus to some degree already (John 1), we see the word “immediately” used.
- It emphasizes the decision they made. It shows a finality to the choice.
- And HOW did Jesus convince such men to walk away from everything like that? That is perhaps the greatest question in this section.
- There is no question to me that the point is to show the incredible charisma or that indescribable quality that Jesus had in leading others.
- Is it possible to learn something from this? That’s not the point of this exercise, but it is an inevitable question, and it reveals (perhaps) Marks’ purpose in revealing this information.
- Jesus was able to move them both literally and spiritually
- Here’s an interesting insight into His authority.
- In the Tabernacle
- Jesus amazed them. Scribes and rabbis would never dare teach the way Jesus did.
- Jesus just told them what the Bible meant. In fact, He later would contrast the things the rabbis taught with what God actually taught.
- It was common to discuss ideas and offer differing opinions, but it was not common to see someone state ideas as indisputable fact like this.
- He also exemplified His authority by casting out the demons.
- In all spiritual matters, Jesus knew what He was doing.
- He knew, taught, and practiced the truth of God.
- Who can do these things?
- These things were nothing for Him to do. Easy.
- In Peter’s and Andrew’s house.
- He healed many sick and demon-possessed.
- Another characteristic of Jesus is emphasized: Compassion
- The more authority we have, the more we tend to abuse it.
- It seems that this relates still to His authority/power. Part of His character in using that Authority was having compassion on others.
- Jesus is sought.
- They were looking for Him.
- Here is a contrast–He went off by Himself, contrast that with the previous parts where He is around crowds of people.
- We are seeing priorities.
- He already preached to them. He wants to go other places.
- His message was more important than healing everyone.
- This shows priority.
You can see how these individual pieces can be put together to come up with one central idea. And that is the next step in the process. And that is what we will be discussing in the next episode.
If you could put this into one sentence explaining what is going on, what would you say it is?
What is Mark trying to say in this section based on what we have studied so far? Comment below![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]