Guide for Full Exegesis

Part I

Ascertain the patterns of the work through our guide for full exegesis.

The term “exegesis” refers to the historical investigation into the meaning of the Biblical text. Exegesis, therefore, answers the question, what did the biblical author mean?

It has to do both with what he said (content itself) and why he said it at any given point (literary context).

Exegesis is primarily concerned with intentionality: What did the author intend his original readers to understand?

Historically, the broader term for the science of interpretation, which included exegesis, was hermeneutics.

But since hermeneutics has come to focus more on meaning as an existential reality, that is, what these ancient sacred texts mean for us, I have chosen to limit any use of the term to this more restricted sense of “application”.

We are concerned with the exegetical process itself. Thus our goal is to understand the Biblical text.

Exegetical sermons are usually as dry as dust, informative perhaps, but seldom prophetic or inspirational.

Therefore, the ultimate aim of the Biblical student is to apply one’s exegetical understanding of the text to the contemporary church and world.

The process of doing exegesis and writing an exegesis paper is determined in part by the reason(s) one comes to a particular text.

Basically there are three such reasons:

  1. A Methodical working on one’s way through an entire Biblical Book.
  2. An attempt to resolve the difficulties in a well-known crux, or problem passage (I Cor. &:14; 15:29; ect. )
  3. Preparation for next Sunday’s sermon, or lesson, or other related pastoral concerns.

Guide for Full Exegesis

The key to good exegesis is the ability to ask the right questions of the text in order to get at the author’s intended meaning.

Good exegetical QUESTIONS FALL INTO TWO BASIC CATEGORIES: questions of content (what is said) and of context (why it is said).

The contextual questions are of two kinds: historical and literary.

Historical context has to do both with the general historical setting of a document (e.g., the city of Corinth, its geography, people, religions, economy) and with the specific occasion of the document (i.e., why it was written).

Literary context has to do with why a given thing was said at a given point in the argument or narrative.

The questions on content are basically of four kinds:

  • textual criticism (the determination of the actual wording of the author,),
  • lexical data (the meanings of words), grammatical data (the relationship of words to one another),
  • and historical-cultural background (the relationship of words
  • and ideas to the background and culture of the author and his readers).

Good exegesis, therefore, is the happy combination---or careful integration---of all these data into readable presentation.

The aim of such a presentation is not originality or uniqueness, but a clear understanding of the author’s original intention.

Information from:

New Testament Exegesis

by Gordon D. Fee



THE EXEGETICAL TASK

Step1. Reading the larger context.

Step 2. The Context: John 3:1-21


KJV John 3:1

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The Text: John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Step 3. Reading the passage repeatedly.

Step 4. Making your own translation.

God, with a special love of His own, had great compassion for His world, that He sent His only Son, that every one who believes Him should not die the second death, but live forever.

Step 5. Compile a list of alternatives. (translations)

ASV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

RSV John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

NRS John 3:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

NKJ John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

VUL John 3:16 sic enim dilexit Deus mundum ut Filium suum unigenitum daret ut omnis qui credit in eum non pereat sed habeat vitam aeternam

GNS John 3:16 Ou[tw ga.r hvga,phsen o` Qeo.j to.n ko,smon( w[ste to.n ui`o.n auvtou/ to.n monogenh/ e;dwken( i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avllV e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nionÅ

GNT John 3:16 Ou[twj ga.r hvga,phsen o` qeo.j to.n ko,smon( w[ste to.n ui`o.n to.n monogenh/ e;dwken( i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avllV e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nionÅ

Step 6. Analyze the structure.

Step 7. Start a sermon use list.


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