Slow Down

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If you take a preaching class, one of the first things you’ll start with is something called Exegesis.  Exegesis is all about how we read the meaning out of (Ex) the text. This is contrasted with eisegesis, reading our own meaning and ideas into (eis) the text.  The risk when preaching is that we will have our ideas about what is important and needs saying then we’ll either find a Bible passage(s) that seems to say it or worse still we will try to force fit our views onto the chosen reading for the day. Good exegesis helps prevent this.

In your exegesis class you will be given lots of tools to help you draw out the meaning of the text but it is helpful to know that the first and best thing they can do is to get us slow down as we read the passage. Over familiarity can cause us to speed read, assuming we know the passage but making assumptions and missing crucial detail.

So, today I wanted to help you think about how you study the Bible. We are going to begin introducing some of the tools to help you in your own Bible study and meditation.  And it’s all going to be about how we learn to slow down so that we don’t end up missing anything. 

The first thing we can do is to think carefully about the Bible translation we use.  If you have been using a Bible passage over a period of time, why not considering reading the passage in a couple of versions you are not used to.  You can even chose a version in a modern foreign language that you are learning and this is one good reason for learning Hebrew and Greek. Makes sure that you are not speed reading but you are taking your time to take in all the detail.  Let’s have a look at an example.  Here is Romans 1:1-7 in a few different translations. Why not try

  1. Reading through slowly and reflectively
  2. Print out or cut and paste into word and then highlighting words or phrases that stand out
  3. Jotting down things that strike you in the passage (at this stage not application to you or how you feel about them, just what stands out)
  4. Pray the words of the passage as praise and petition

NLT

This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be[a] the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.[b] He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege[c] and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.

And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

NRSV

 Paul, a servant[a] of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit[b] of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

CSB

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle[a] and set apart for the gospel of God— which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures— concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David[b] according to the flesh and was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness[c] by the resurrection of the dead. Through him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about[d] the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles,[e] including you who are also called by Jesus Christ.

To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

ESV

 Paul, a servant[a] of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David[b] according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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