The So-What? Principle of Bible Interpretation

What is the purpose of Bible study? What is it supposed to do? Are we after small groups of walking Bible encyclopedias? Or do we believe and study the Bible because it changes lives?

I must confess that I am often diverted from what God is teaching me as I study to lead a small group because I tend to start my study looking for things my group needs. Instead, I must always start preparing a passage for small group by asking what do I need from this passage. I must always let God apply His Word to my life before I can even begin to prepare to help others be open to what God wants them to learn from the passage. As Parker Palmer has said, “Leader is the lesson.” I must be ready to apply the passage to my life to even be qualified to lead my small group.

Many years ago a pastor I greatly loved taught me to ask some questions about every Bible passage I read.  As I read and study a passage, is there  . . .

  • A sin to confess?
  • A promise to claim?
  • An attitude to change?
  • A command to obey?
  • An example to follow?
  • A word to share with others?

As you prepare for your next small group Bible study, let God work the passage deep into your heart. Start early in the week and give God your time so He can teach you. Determine the “So-What?” in the passage for your life and others will see it and build the “So-What?” into their lives.

Reflection: Read Hebrews 4:12. What is the power of God’s Word in your life?

Dig Deeper: Read How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee.

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