Category Archives: Exegesis

“Slow down, query, ponder and chew” by John Piper

“We will never think hard about Biblical truth until we are troubled by our faltering efforts to grasp its complexity.

We must form the habit of being systematically disturbed by things that at first glance don’t make sense. Or to put it a different way, we must relentlessly query the text.

One of the greatest honors I received while teaching Biblical studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was when the teaching assistants in the Bible department gave me a T-shirt which had the initials of Jonathan Edwards on the front and on the back the words: ‘Asking questions is the key to understanding.’

But several strong forces oppose our relentless and systematic interrogating of Biblical texts. One is that it consumes a great deal of time and energy on one small portion of Scripture.

We have been schooled (quite erroneously) that there is a direct correlation between reading a lot and gaining insight.

But, in fact, there is no positive correlation at all between the quantity of pages read and the quality of insight gained. Just the reverse for most of us. Insight diminishes as we try to read more and more.

Insight or understanding is the product of intensive, headache-producing meditation on two or three propositions and how they fit together. This kind of reflection and rumination is provoked by asking questions of the text.

And you cannot do it if you hurry. Therefore, we must resist the deceptive urge to carve notches in our bibliographic gun.

Take two hours to ask ten questions of Galatians 2:20, and you will gain one hundred times the insight you would have attained by quickly reading thirty pages of the New Testament or any other book.

Slow down. Query. Ponder. Chew.”

–John Piper, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry (Nashville: B&H, 2002), 74-75.

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“Beholding glory begs for lingering” by John Piper

“Beholding glory begs for lingering.

The modern, fast-paced world will tempt you to rush and skim. This kind of life will make you shallow. The world does not need more widely read, shallow people. It needs deep people.

I don’t mean complex. I don’t mean highly educated. I don’t mean you know big words. I don’t mean you know historical background.

I mean you have seen glory— the glory of God in his Word. You have pondered it and felt its relation to all the parts of your life. You have been steadied and satisfied by it.

You have come home. You are not frantic anymore. You are at peace in the presence of God. This is what I mean by deep. This is what the world needs.”

–John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 1991/2012), xviii.

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“Good Reading” by D.A. Carson

“’Exegesis’ is the word often used for careful reading. Exegesis answers the questions, What does this text actually say? and, What did the author mean by what he said? We discover this by applying sound principles of interpretation to the Bible.

Fundamental to reading the Bible well is good reading. Good readers pay careful attention to words and their meanings and to the ways sentences, paragraphs, and longer units are put together.

They observe that the Bible is a book that includes many different styles of literature—stories, laws, proverbs, poetry, prophecy, history, parables, letters, apocalyptic, and much more. Good readers follow the flow of texts.

For example, while it is always worth meditating on individual words and phrases, the most important factor in determining what a word means is how the author uses that word in a specific context.

One of the best signs of good exegesis is asking thoughtful questions that drive us to ‘listen’ attentively to what the Bible says.

As we read the text again and again, these questions are progressively honed, sharpened, corrected, or discarded.”

–D.A. Carson, “The Bible and Theology,” NIV Zondervan Study Bible (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 2015), 2633. 

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“Your life depends on the meaning of little words” by John Piper

“Your life depends on the meaning of little words. ‘Soldier get in your foxhole now!’ If you think ‘in’ means ‘out,’ you’re dead!

The stakes are even higher with ‘justified by faith.’ Or, ‘in this hope we were saved.’ Or, ‘created in Christ Jesus for good works.’ Or, ‘On account of these the wrath of God is coming.’

Beale’s Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek is dedicated to the conviction that crucial and glorious things in Scripture come into focus through rightly understanding the relationships signaled by these little words.”

–John Piper, as quoted in G.K. Beale, An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek: Analysis of Prepositions, Adverbs, Particles, Relative Pronouns, and Conjunctions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014), 1.

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“Biblical exegesis” by John Piper

“An evangelical believes that God humbled Himself not only in the incarnation of the Son, but also in the inspiration of the Scriptures. The manger and the cross were not sensational. Neither is grammar and syntax. But that is how God has chosen to reveal Himself.

A poor Jewish Peasant and a prepositional phrase have this in common, that they are both human and both ordinary. Therefore, if God humbled Himself to take on human flesh and to speak human language, woe to us if we arrogantly presume to ignore the humanity of Christ and the grammar of Scripture.”

–John Piper, Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Meaning of Scriptural Texts, as cited on http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/booklets/BTBX.pdf (accessed November 10, 2009).

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“Slow down, query, ponder and chew” by John Piper

“Several strong forces oppose our relentless and systematic interrogating of Biblical texts. One is that it consumes a great deal of time and energy on one small portion of Scripture. We have been schooled (quite erroneously) that there is a direct correlation between reading a lot and gaining insight.

But, in fact, there is no positive correlation at all between the quantity of pages read and the quality of insight gained. Just the reverse for most of us. Insight diminishes as we try to read more and more.

Insight or understanding is the product of intensive, headache producing meditation on two or three propositions and how they fit together. This kind of reflection and rumination is provoked by asking questions of the text. And you cannot do it if you hurry.

Therefore, we must resist the deceptive urge to carve notches in our bibliographic gun. Take two hours to ask ten questions of Galatians 2:20, and you will gain one hundred times the insight you would have attained by quickly reading thirty pages of the New Testament or any other book.

Slow down. Query. Ponder. Chew.”

–John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (Nashville: B&H, 2002), 75.

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“Exegesis is an act of sustained humility” by Eugene Peterson

“Exegesis does not mean mastering the text, it means submitting to it as it is given to us. Exegesis doesn’t take charge of the text and impose superior knowledge on it; it enters the world of the text and lets the text ‘read’ us. Exegesis is an act of sustained humility.”

–Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 57.

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