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Bible Study–Look for Repetition

You can read the others in our series on hermeneutics here , here, here and here.

This last post on this section dealt with the necessity of reading the book of the Bible over and over again in order to get a feel for the thesis and basic argument of the book.  One of the things that has helped me in getting this understanding is to look for repetition.

Repetition can be a repeated word (for instance the word love in First John), a repeated phrase (works of law in Romans), or a repeated structure (for instance Jesus structure in the Sermon on the Mount of saying, “You have heard..but I say.”).  All of these help us to see the emphasis of the author.  Usually repeated words are important to what the author is trying to accomplish in the book.  In my mind to really understand the book means we must grapple with repeated words and phrases.

For my personal Bible Study, I highlight keywords.  This means that I highlight repeated words (I use the 64 pack of crayons, but we can discuss that at another time).  This allows me to see through a color-coded Bible how the author is developing a theme using that particular word of phrase.

So, get out your crayons (or other highlighting tools) and as you read through the text look for keywords and phrases and then make them.

Couple of Questions for you:

1. How do you mark keywords?
2. What other type of repetition do you look for when you read?

Thanks for reading.  If you are enjoying what you read then share the sites with others.  Also interact through the comments and help us all grow together.



  1. One of my favorite things to spot is an imperative/command followed by participles (-ing words). They are very helpful in applying Scripture to our daily lives. For example, Eph. 5:19 says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Okay, how exactly do I do that? The participles tell how to fulfill that command. By speakING to one another, singING, makING melody, givING thanks, beING subject to one another. When you recognize this structure, you will begin to see it everywhere. It is very helpful to see how we can specifically fulfill what may seem like a very generic command for godly living. Happy hunting!

  2. Sorry, it begins with Eph. 5:18 and continues through 5:21 *blush*

  3. Wesley

    November 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Thanks Rob. I’m going to deal with that at some point on the blog and in fact this weekend I’m leading a retreat with the theme “Be Filled,” with each lesson on one of the participles in that section.

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