“A text can never mean today what it never meant then.” The preacher’s job is to determine what the author meant when he was inspired by the Spirit to write what he wrote. Once the broad meaning of the text is determined, the next step is to get into specifics of the passage being prepared to preach. In other words, when you have figured out why the passage you are studying is there (broad meaning) – you need to get into the weeds for specifics. This will help you begin to see how the form of the sermon might look.
Ask and answer these questions:
1. What is going on immediately before and immediately after the passage?
2. What are some key words that might need digging into?
3. Are there any Old/New Testament connections?
4. Has the author said something similar in another place?
5. What are similarities/differences from other translations?
6. How do the verses and phrases fit into the broad meaning of the passage?
7. What elements of the Gospel are present that need to be highlighted?
There are tons and tons and tons of resources available to help any student of the Bible answer these questions. Five sets of commentaries I recommend are: