Formatting The Text
During this part of the process, I usually copy and paste the text into a Word document so that I can begin to mark it up. I still have some folks in my church, believe it or not, that do not use a computer. As they were working through this process, they wrote the verse out on a separate sheet of paper.
When I copy and paste I usually format the the text to use double or triple spacing so that I have enough room to make any notations that are needed. I format custom margins so that the top and bottom are set to 0.5″ and the left and right margins are set to 2.0″. This gives me the necessary white space on the page to work with. I also Insert the chapter and verse in the header. Finally, I use the justify format so that my margins are even and the page looks crisp and clean.
Click here to see what a formatted page for this text would look like.
Keep in mind that there is no right way or wrong way to work through the text. This is a method that I use so that I can later put my work and research into a notebook for later reference.
If you are interested in keeping a record of your work, you can use a three hole punch and insert this material into a binder to keep for later use. I know there are some of you out there that would say that there are ways to store information online or in a digital format that is easier and perhaps more efficient. If there is a system that works best for you then that is what you should use. As for me, I find that I am able to process my work better if I can flip through it on paper.
Identify The Key Words And Phrases
Once you have done that go through and underline or highlight the words and phrases that seem to be important. You should underline any words that seem important to the reading of the passage; all words that you do not understand and need to look up in an English dictionary, all phrases that seem confusing; all phrases that add clarity or provoke more questions.
Your finished product should look something like this:
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” 16 They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17 And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.
– Mark 12:13-17
These are some of the key words that my bible study group selected as we walked through this passage of Scripture. Now that you have highlighted your key words and key phrases, you can:
Reference these words in a concordance to get a better idea of the meaning of each word in the original language.
Look up any words you do not understand in an English dictionary to get a better understanding of the word. When we were walking through this exercise, there were two people in the group that did not know the meaning of the word defer. Don’t be embarrassed about this. The reason we study is to gain more knowledge.
Look at the phrases you underlined and begin to explain what each one means in relationship to the text you are studying.
It may seem like this is a trivial exercise, but you can gain a lot of depth in your study when you begin to dig under the surface.
After you have walked through this exercise and answered the questions from a couple weeks ago, you are ready to start drawing some conclusions about the text. We will look at that more in depth over the next couple of weeks.