Someone once said that a journalist has five friends: the questions of Who? What? When? Where? and Why?. These questions not only help journalists get the story, they can also help us "get" a passage of Scripture. When reading God's Word, it is essential that we pay close attention to the broader ideas and themes at work in a particular chapter or verse.
Who?: Getting the Characters. Who are the characters in the story? What roles do they play? Do they experience transformation or do they remain stagnant? How do they demonstrate the plot line of creation, fall, redemption, restoration? How is God divinely at work in these lives? What does this passage teach us about Christ?
What?: Getting the Point. What is the big idea of the passage? How does the passage develop this idea?
When? and Where?: Getting the Setting. Where is it set geographically? When did it occur? Does the timeline provide any context? Where does this text take place in light of the canon of Scripture? Where in the plot line of creation, fall, redemption, restoration does this passage fit? How does this passage relate to the grand narrative of Scripture?
Why?: Getting the Point for Life (Application). What does the passage teach us about God and his glory? What does the passage teach us about Christ? What does this passage teach us about serving others? What does it teach us about the gospel? Based on this passage, is there anything that I am doing that would turn others off to the gospel? What does the passage reveal about me, my thinking, my values, my beliefs, and my actions? What should I change?
All of these questions boil down to paying attention. As we read Scripture, we must pay close attention to the big picture, the triune God, and the power of Christ to transform us to his likeness.
This article is adapted from Welcome to the Story by Stephen Nichols.
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