I. This outline will focus on the general principles of interpreting a sentence in Scripture within itself and also in light of other surrounding sentences.
II. Opening principle: Every word is in Scripture for a reason
a. Not only is every word important, but even the details of the letters are important
i. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen,will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)
III. The Application of the Historical-Grammatical Hermeneutic
a. To properly interpret the Bible one must be faithful to Scripture historically and grammatically.
IV. Principle One: Know the meaning of every word in the text
a. This must be the case whether one does a light devotion or a heavy exegetical study.
i. If you are doing devotion, you might just want to make sure you know what every word means.
ii. Or if you are doing a heavy study, you might define in your own words every single word of the passage, consult references such as theological dictionaries, original language lexicons, etc.
V. Principle Two: Identity any relationship that a word has to other words
a. Are there any words that share some sort of grammatical relationship?
i. If so, which words?
ii. What are their relationships?
b. Common types of this are adverbs and adjectives.
VI. Principle Three: Identify the purpose of each word in the sentence.
a. Identify the following types of words (not an exhaustive list):
1. What kind of nouns?
2. Plural or Singular?
1. What tense is it?
2. Active or Passive?
VII. Principle Four: Identify the main words in the Sentence
a. These main words are the ‘skeleton’ of the sentence so to speak.
b. If you know how and when it is possible, diagram the sentence
c. Every sentence has a subject, main verb.
Can you identify them?
d. Some sentence might have conjunctions (and, but), direct object, indirect object.
i. Can you identify them?
VIII. Principle Five: Apply Principles One through Four with the surrounding verses as well
IX. Principle Six: Determine the relationship with the verse with other verses in its context
a. Questions to ask
i. Is the verse qualifying the previous verse?
ii. Is the verse providing more details for the previous verse?
iii. Is the verse the beginning of a new topic for the following verses?
iv. Is the verse part of the argument that was developing in the previous verses?
v. Is the verse the beginning of an argument that continues for the following verses?
vi. Is the verses the conclusion of an argument in previous verses?
b. Look for words or phrases that might connect the verse with the verses around it.
i. The purpose of this is to find how the verse relates to the other verses.
1. Words include examples such as: And, if, but, since, therefore, in conclusion, because, hence, etc
a. These words show us how the verses relate to other words.
b. By understanding this, we gain more truths and insight into the meaning of a particular verse.
c. Logic serves as the governing ‘grammatical’ rule in how verses relate to one another
i. The relationship between a particular verse with its surrounding verses can be described as logical.
ii. All throughout Scripture, the Bible observes logical laws such as the law of non-contradiction and marshal valid arguments in the structure of Modus Tollens, etc.
iii. It is important that a Christian be logical to properly see how the verses relate to one another.
X. Reminder: It is not all going to be easy, but you will be blessed
a. All the above is not easy and can be quite a task
i. But the fruit of it, God will bless you with understanding and insight!
b. If its too difficult, pray and keep on practicing
i. Ask God for help, for wisdom in studying
ii. Keep on practicing by His grace, knowing that His Word is clear and the Spirit enables.