How to Begin the Study of Your Next Book

Tuesday is for Preaching

When you are finishing one book and beginning your preparation for the next book that you are going to exposit, where do you begin?

A Tree in a Drop of Water

I like to get a good, broad familiarity to the whole book. I do this by reading the book multiple times in multiple translations (my preferred translations are the NASB 1995 the Update, the ESV and the NIV, but I also use the NRSV, and the HCSB.

This first step always turns up a list of questions that I will want to study more in depth as various messages fall out in the weeks ahead. I also set out to complete a couple of small research projects to find some of the themes of a book.

One of my favorite preliminary “projects” during this phase of my study is to make a chart of how God is referred to in the book. Monday, I started working that process on the book of Colossians.  Here are two links that are a part of that process here and here.  [Sorry, these links are currently broke. Working to get them restored.]

The whole process is to begin to sense the whole “forest” of the text before I begin to study any particular groves (the paragraphs) or individual trees (the words). The thing to remember is to begin the process with a real sense of dependence on the Holy Spirit and a submitted heart to go where the Scripture teaches, even if it means overturning some of your most precious beliefs.

Doing your hard work in the text will help you avoid the problem that one church planter had two years into his church plant. He called me saying, “Marty, how do you stay fresh in the pulpit?” 

  1. Work hard in the text
  2. Work hard in prayer.
  3. Work ahead. 

Currently working this process with the gospel of Matthew. (2-13-17)

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