Before you REAP
In order to interpret the Bible accurately, you will want to find out some background information about the particular book of the Bible you are reading. Here are some recommended questions to answer using a study Bible or commentary resource:

  1. What genre is the book? (Narrative, Epistle, Poetry, Proverb, Apocalyptic, etc.)
  2. Who is the human author?
  3. Who is the original audience that the author was writing to?
  4. When was the book written?
  5. Are there historical circumstances or an occasion that is important to the writing of the book?
  6. Where does the book fit into the big storyline of the Bible?
  7. Are there major themes or purposes that the author is intending to communicate?
  8. What is the general outline of the book?

HOW TO REAP:
Read the scripture passage together.
Examine the text. 

Original Meaning (What did this text mean to the original audience?)
Choose 2 of these questions to help find the original meaning.

  • Who are the main characters in the passage you are reading? Who is speaking/listening?
  • What parts of the Old Testament are quoted, mentioned or alluded to in the passage?
  • Are there specific instructions or commands given to the reader (either implicitly or explicitly)? Are there consequences or blessings connected to those commands?
  • What does God, through the text, want the original audience to THINK?
  • What does God, through the text, want the original audience to FEEL?
  • What does God, through the text, want the original audience to DO?

Modern Meaning (What does this text mean to people reading it right now in 2016?)
Choose 2 of these questions to help find the modern meaning.

  • What does God, through the text, want you to THINK?
  • What does God, through the text, want you to FEEL?
  • What does God, through the text, want you to DO?
  • How could you sum up the meaning of the passage to yourself and the modern audience in your own words?

Apply the text. Choose 2-3 of these questions to help you apply the passage to your life.

  • Can you identify a sin or struggle in your life that this passage applies to?
  • In what ways might you hide or cover this sin or struggle? (This could include justifying or minimizing.)
  • Can you identify the heart idol that drives this sin or struggle?  (Some common heart idols are approval, control, reputation, success, security, knowledge, recognition, and respect.)
  • What lies are you believing? (These could be about God, yourself, others, or your circumstances.)
  • How does the gospel “deliver” in this area? How does believing truth glorify God in this area?
  • What do you want to believe or receive by faith going forward?

Pray together for one another and unbelievers.