If you caught my last post, we started to talk about what is Biblical Theology. We talked all about the story of the Bible, because these 66 books tell one big story! And today we’re going to learn how to trace a theme through this story. Now let’s talk how to get started with Biblical Theology.
First, pick a theme.
There are PLENTY to choose from! You can pick ANY theme! Light and Dark, missions, marriage, trees, take your pick. This is sort of like what you do when starting a word for word study or a topical study. When you read the Bible, what are some themes that stick out to you? What would you want to learn more about? Pick something that is important to you.
Second, brainstorm words or phrases that relate to your theme.
If you choose “light and dark,” you’ll want to write down “light” and “dark” as well as words like sun, stars, night, and others. If you want to trace the theme of missions, you won’t find the word “mission” very often, but you will find words like nation, peoples, and gentiles.
This might feel like something you did in High School English class. Don’t let that stop you! Knowing God’s word does take some effort, but it is worth it to know the Lord. We are going to the Bible and see where your theme shows up.
You’ll take this list of words and look up where they occur through the Bible. Not every passage will relate to your theme, but many will. If you only look for passages with these words, you might miss an important passage or two. What I’m saying is that you won’t be perfect. Each time you do this, you’ll get better.
Third, trace the theme through the story of Scripture.
Take a look at every passage that you found related to your theme. Do you notice any patterns yet?
We want to arrange these passages into the divisions of redemptive history: creation, rebellion, redemption, and glorification. Our tendency will be to only put passages from Genesis 1-2 into the creation category and only passages from Revelation under glorification. We want to think a little more deeply.
Remember that the books of the Bible are not in chronological order so as we find references to our theme, we want to put them in order of redemptive history. For example, a passage from Job would come before a passage in Kings because it occurred first in history, even though we find the book of Job after Kings in our current Bibles.
We want to notice which passages through the Old and New Testaments point back to creation or rebellion, which passages note the good design of creation, and which illustrate the fallen nature of the world we live in. We’ll also recognize which point toward our redemption in Christ and which ones point to the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises and our glorification.
Finally, write what you have discovered.
What do you notice? How does the theme begin? How is this theme fulfilled? Write how you see this theme develop throughout the storyline of Scripture. It amazes the me that God has perfectly woven so many themes through the Bible. How does this theme help you understand better what Christ has done for you? How does it make you long for heaven?
So what do you think about getting started with Biblical Theology? Do you have any other questions? Are you ready to pick your own topic?
I want to hear all about it!
If you’re ready to learn more, Nancy Guthrie has a couple of great resources. Her book Even Better Than Eden traces 10 different themes through the framework we just covered. She will also have workshops around the country this year where you and your friends can learn more!
Megan Dickerson wants to share the truths of God’s Word with winsome clarity. She blogs at TheWinsomeHome.com where she shares about everyday theology and Bible study. Megan is married to Drew and they are both graduates of Southern Seminary and students at Southeastern Seminary. Together, they have 2 sons and 2 daughters.