Get the big picture! Before we can analyze a specific passage in a given section of a Bible book or letter, we must first get some kind of grasp of the overall message. If we don’t understand the purpose of a book or letter, we will struggle to understand the specifics. This is a part of keeping things in context (something we are often guilty of violating). The best way to get the big picture (or overview) of a letter or book is to read it straight through several times. As you do so, here are some things in your Bible that you need to ignore as best you can:
- Titles of the letters or books: the books of the Bible were not originally titled.
- Chapter breaks: are not original and often are poorly located; but they affect reading.
- Verses: also are not original; their only purpose is to help us locate parts of the text.
- Paragraph markings: these are put in by publishers, based on their own judgment.
- Subheadings: are also put in by publishers; they can be helpful, but also misleading.
- Marginal references: again, included by publishers; sometimes, these are worthless.
- Personal notes or markings: these affect our reading of and thinking about the text.