Biblical Concept: Contextual Outlines

1) The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy how to handle God’s word in 2
    Timothy 2:15 - “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, as a
    workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the
    word of truth” (NASB).

    Conclusions:  1)   Study of the Scriptures takes diligent work (2:15a).  2)   Study of the Scriptures takes accurate handling (2:15b).  3) “Handling accurately” is the Koine Greek word orthotomeo, which literally means: “to cut straight.”  Study of the Scriptures requires “cutting them straight.”  4)   Compare 2 Peter 3:16b.  Here, Peter comments on the “untaught” and the “unstable” and how they “distort” the Scriptures.  “Distort” is the Koine Greek word: strebloo, which means, “twist, torture.”   5)   Study of the Scriptures requires “straight cutting” not “twisting.”

2) A careful context seeking reading of the Scriptures is a manner in which
    to “cut them straight.”  The following quotes concerning context are from
    Biblical  Words & their Meaning, An Introduction to Lexical Semantics, by
    Moises Silva:

        "The principle of contextual interpretation is, at least in theory, one
        of the few universally accepted hermeneutical guidelines, even though the
        consistent application of the principle is a notoriously difficult
        enterprise" (page 138).

        ". . . the context does not merely help us understand meaning--it virtually
        makes meaning" (page 139).

        "But now, what exactly do we mean by context?  This term must be
        interpreted in the broadest sense possible, from the smallest syntactical
        detail to 'the knowledge shared by speaker and hearer of all that has gone
        before'” (page 140).

3) The following is my contextual outline of the Book of  Romans, for an
    example of a contextual outline.  Principle: Knowing the contextual setting of
    any particular verse, “from the smallest syntactical detail to the knowledge
    shared by speaker and hearer of all that has gone before,” is the first step in
    determining meaning!

Romans: Contextual Outline

I. Personal greeting and Doctrinal Introduction, 1:1-17.

   1) Personal greeting, 1:1-7.
   2) Paul’s desire and prayer to see the Romans, 1:8-15.
   3) The Gospel, righteousness and faith; 1:16-17.

II. Righteousness needed, 1:18-3:20.

   4) The unrighteous and God consciousness, 1:18-32.
   5) Righteousness and judgement of hypocrisy, 2:1-16.
   6) Righteousness and Jewish religious hypocrisy, 2:17-3:8.
   7) Righteousness and all men, 3:9-20.

III. Righteousness provided (position), 3:21-5:21.

     8) Righteousness, salvation and faith; 3:21-31.
     9) Righteousness, salvation, faith, grace and the example of Abraham;
     10) Righteousness, salvation, faith, grace and all men; 5:1-21.

IV. Righteousness potential, 6:1-8:39.

     11) Righteousness, grace and death to sin; 6:1-23.
     12) The Law, sin and death; 7:1-25.
     13) Righteousness, life and the Holy Spirit, 8:1-30.
     14) Righteousness and victory, 8:31-39.

V. Righteousness failure: Israel, 9:1-11:36.

    15) Righteousness, Israel and faith; 9:1-10:21.
    16) Israel and rejection, 11:1-36.

VI. Righteousness practiced, 12:1-15:13.

     17) Acceptable Christian Way Of Life Righteousness, 12:1-2.
     18) Righteousness and one another, 12:3-15:13.

VII. Personal Closing, 15:14-16:27.

      19) Paul’s plan to see the Romans, 15:14-33.
      20) Paul’s personal greetings, 16:1-16.
      21) Discern dissensions, 16:17-20.
      22) Other greetings, 16:21-24.
      23) Final praise of God, 16:25-27.