Once you have decided what text to preach, the next step is to determine the purpose of the passage. Years ago I heard someone say, “A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” In other words, the preacher’s job is to figure out what the author of Scripture intended when he wrote it. “A text can never mean today what it never meant then” MUST drive your thoughts and study as you work through the text.
So, how does the preacher go about figuring that out? Let me suggest you ask and answer each of the following 8 questions:
- Who wrote the book?
- Who did he write the book to?
- When did he write the book?
- Why did he write the book?
- What are the major themes of the book?
- What’s the feel and flow of the book?
- How does your passage fit into that?
- How does the passage reveal, point to, or flow from the Gospel?
There are tons of solid resources available that help you answer each of these questions. Let me recommend, however, a simple and easy investment that will save a lot of time AND money:
A Good Study Bible.
That’s right. If you invest in 2-3 good Study Bible’s, you will be able to get some solid perspectives on the point and purposes of each Bible book, giving you answers to the above questions.