How to do Interpretation in Small Group Bible Studies

You are a Small Group
Don't get thrown for a loop
Believe when I say
The Bible's for today

Tell me why
Ain't nothing but a theory
Tell me why
Ain't nothing to take lightly
Tell me why
I never want to hear you say
The Bible's just cliche

[Enter boy band]

Quality Small Group interpretation aims to bring to the surface the meaning of a passage: to the original readers and to us today.  Small Group interpretation should build on the observation phase.  Folks in the Small Group should build and test theories as to the meaning of the text.

Here're some question categories Small Group leaders can use when leading the Interpretation phase of a Small Group exploration of a biblical passage:

What does it mean?
  • What do the words mean?
  • How do these measurements translate?
  • What rhythms, puns, jokes are there in the text?
  • Answer questions raised by the Observation phase
Why is it in here?
  • Why did the author include this?
  • How does this piece of the passage connect with the rest of the passage?
  • How does this piece of the passage (or the whole passage) connect with the rest of Scripture?
What are the implications?
  • What if this idea were actually false?
  • What if we didn't know this?
  • If this was all the Bible we had, how would we view God?
How can we connect with the text?
  • What would it feel like to hear this for the first time?
  • How would it feel to be there?
  • What would you do if you were there?
  • How would you tell the story?
Try asking the questions.  Build and test theories.  Stay in the particular passage (don't go skipping all over the place).  Discuss and debate using the data presented in the text.  Discover the meaning.  Grow your Small Group.

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