(This was based on a lecture notes written by Rev. Mark Vander Hart of Mid-America Reformed Seminary)
1. Pray, honestly determining before God to present the message of that text fully and faithfully.
2. Carefully define the limits of the text paragraph/pericope.
3. Read and re-read the text paragraph/pericope in the larger context, both literally (paragraph, chapter, book, testament) and historically (especially the various covenants – Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic – and events – Creation, Fall, Flood, Exodus, Kingdom, Divided Kingdom, Exile). How does the context color the message of the text paragraph/pericope? View the text from the perspective of the whole of the Scripture. View the whole Scripture from the perspective of that text.
4. Interpret the text in its original setting:
a. If you know Hebrew or Aramaic, translate the passage from the original language. Use lexicons, if needed, such as Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius, Koehler-Baumgartner, Holladay, etc. If you don’t know the original language, rely on the English translations of the Bible such as KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, RSV, NRSV, NIV, NLT, CEB, etc.
b. Study carefully key words or phrases: how does the author (or the Bible itself) use these words or phrases? Use concordances: Englishman’s Hebrew is one of the best; also Young’s, Strong’s, etc.
c. Pause to evaluate and meditate on your comprehension of the message of the passage. Attempt to formulate an initial statement of the ‘big idea’ or theme of the passage.
d. Compare the text with other Old Testament parallel passages (the closer to home, the better). Always check marginal references (study Bibles and chain references are useful here).
e. Check Old testament Introductions:
Gleason Archer, Dillard & Longman,
R. K. Harrison, Wm. LaSor, David Hubbard, & F. Bush,
Horace Hummel, E.J. Young,
Peter Craige, … and many others
f. Check Bible dictionaries, theological dictionaries:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE)
Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (ZPEB)
New Bible Dictionary
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
Dictionary of Biblical Theology
Hasting’s Bible Dictionary
g. Check Old Testament histories:
John Bright, Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Eugene Merril,
Leon Wood, Roland de Vaux, … and many others
h. Check exegetical commentaries:
Keil & Delitzsch, New International Commentary of the Old Testament (NICOT),
Tyndale Series, Word Biblical Commentary (WBC, especially if you know Hebrew),
… and many more
i. Memorize the passage.
5. Seek the literary connection into the New Testament:
a. Read the Septuagint (LXX, Greek translation of the Old Testament), using Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon and Hatch and Redpath’s Concordance.
b. Pick key Greek words from the OT passage, then check Moulton and Geden, Englishman’s Greek Concordance, Young’s or Strong’s.
c. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament by Gleason Archer and G. Chirichidno (Moody Press) is an excellent tool.
6. Consider the theological connection into the New Testament.
7. Pause to re-evaluate your preliminary statement of the text’s ‘big idea’ or theme. Fine-tune the statement.
8. Consult various biblical theologies (Geerhardus Vos, Brevard Childs, Eichrodt, etc.).
9. Consult systematic theologies, after determining the major theme(s) of the passage.
10. Consult homiletical commentaries.
John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon
S.G. De Graaf’s Promise & Deliverance … and many others
11. Now, BRAINSTORM. Saturate yourself with notes and thoughts. Pray. Organize your notes and thoughts. Make an outline of the passage. Then write your discoveries. Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. Document all the materials and authors you quote or allude to.