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Shape & Sharpen Guide to Interpretation

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1. What does it say?

What observations can you see in the text?
What is the historical context?
Who is writing?
Who is he writing to?
Why did he write this book?
What issues is he writing to address?
What is the immediate context?
What is his train of thought?
What did he say immediately before and after, and how is it all connected?
What is the main point he is trying to make?
What words / phrases don’t you understand? Look them up
What problems do you see (apparent contradictions, things you don’t understand? Check references
What connecting words does he use, and why? (eg. therefore, for/because, so that, etc)
What contrasting words does he use, and why? (eg. but, rather, instead, etc)
What commands does he give?
What repetitions or emphasis does he use?
What scriptures does he quote? How does he expand on it?

2. Who is God?

What does it tell us about God’s character?
What does it tell us about what God is doing?
What does it tell us about God’s will?

3. Who are we?

What does it say about what we were created to be / how we should live?
What does it say about what we do? (what specific sins are mentioned?)
What does it say about our fallen condition? (our heart desires, idols, weakness, habits, failures, etc)
What does it say about creation’s fallen condition? (suffering, hardship, disaster, etc)

4. What has God done?

What actions do we see God taking?
What things should we praise and thank God for?
What promises do we see God making?
What truths and promises do we see?
What truths do we see God teaching?
What
What solutions do we see God giving? (retrace answers to step 3)

5. What must we do?

What should I praise and thank God for?
What do I need to confess? (see answers to step 3)
What do I need to believe?
What do I need to do?
How does God want to shape my desires and affections?
How should I relate to God because of what He has taught me?
How should I relate to others because of what God has taught me?
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