To strengthen my eyes’ ability to see the text, here is a list of 25 questions I am in the habit of asking when I am preparing to preach.
- Who is speaking?
- To whom is this verse written?
- Is this verse a question, answer, sermon, description, story, etc?
- Where does this passage come in the book? Where does it come in the Bible?
- What ideas are being discussed in the verses just before this verse? Just after this verse?
- How many people are mentioned in the verse?
- What are the adjectives and adverbs?
- Grammatically, what is the subject of the sentences? What is the verb?
- What is the tense of the verbs?
- Are there any negatives? Are they universal or particular negatives?
- Are there any adjectives, adverbs, or other modifiers? What is being modified and how?
- Does this verse start with a conjunction? How is it linked to the previous verses?
- Who is doing the action?
- Is this a common verse and why or why not?
- What does this verse say?
- Does this verse teach any doctrine? If so, which ones?
- Does this verse have any key repeated words?
- Are there any difficult or disputed theological terms or concepts?
- Does this verse list results, consequences, reasons, attributes, or activities?
- Are there any contrasts or comparisons?
- Is this a controversial verse? Why?
- What does this verse teach about man?
- What does this verse teach about God?
- What does this verse teach about salvation?
- What is (are) the main word(s)? Why did the author choose them?
Extended time in observation is a must for an expositor. He must resist the temptation to plunge immediately into commentaries and other study helps. Nothing can replace firsthand observation.