I’ve been leading a small group Bible study this summer through the book “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. In addition to reading and discussing the book, we’re learning and practicing inductive bible study methods through the book of Jude. I’m publishing my study notes and lesson plans for my own reference, but also to provide ideas for anyone else who is interested in studying or leading a group discussion of the book or Jude. If you find this helpful, please let me know! Some of my discussion questions are taken or adapted from here.
Study with Purpose
1. At the bottom of page 50 Jen defines the purpose behind Bible study. What is it? ( telling us about the rule and reign of God, purpose must be to look for that Big Story each time we go to the Scriptures.) How might our personal purpose in studying differ from the Bible’s intended purpose for our study? What questions should we ask about a particular portion of Scripture? (How does this story or passage contribute to the overall plan of salvation and God’s redemption?)
2. Based on what you learned in chapter 3, define the Big Story of the Bible in your own words.
3. Which genre of the Bible (Narrative, Law, Poetry, Wisdom Literature, or Prophecy) have you found especially difficult to study in the past? How might the concept of metanarrative help you study this genre in the future?
4. Which genre of the Bible (Narrative, Law, Poetry, Wisdom Literature, or Prophecy) have you found easily accessible? How might the concept of metanarrative change or deepen the way you study this genre in the future?
5. P. 57: “These stories point us to Christ. They point us to the Big Story of God’s reign and rule, inviting us to see ourselves in relation to him.”
The Big Story of the Bible Activity
In small groups discuss how the story you’re assigned fits into the “big story” of the Bible and contains elements or “shadows” of the redemption story.
(Note: when asking these questions we are never seeking to add to or extract from the passage something that isn’t there; rather, we are asking how the story helps contribute to God’s overall plan of salvation as outlined from Genesis to Revelation, and how the story might point us to the ultimate work of Jesus as the long-promised and fulfilled Savior. This isn’t necessarily the “meaning” of the text, but rather questions we can ask of it that help us understand its role in the bigger story and point to the rule and reign of God.)
Creation: Does this show God as the Creator, the One who brings about something from nothing and/or order from chaos? Does it contribute to the truth that to God belongs all rightful rule and reign?
Fall: Does this show the break in relationship between God and man, as a result of man’s sin? Does it demonstrate or reveal man’s need for a Savior? Does it show the effects of sin on the world?
Redemption: Does this show that a Redeemer/Savior is needed, will be provided, or has been provided? Does it demonstrate God’s undeserved grace on mankind?
Restoration: Does this show God restoring the world, man’s relationship with God, and/or setting everything back in it’s rightful place under God’s authority and rule?
How does this passage point me to Jesus?
Samson: In the big picture of the Bible, his story is set when the Israelites are continuously falling captive to their enemies because of their disobedience and sin. Points to the coming of and need for a perfect, final deliverer and judge for the children of Israel.
Creation: set apart by God for a purpose, from birth, in covenant with God, as a deliverer for God’s people who are overcome with sin; Israelites were birthed by God as His own special people, set apart for his purposes and in fellowship with Him
Fall: overcome with sin, unable to keep his end of the covenant, is fallen into sin, weakness, and bondage because of his disobedience, and separated (physically) from God’s people in bondage to the Philistines, as well as “God left him”; Israelites are in bondage to their enemies all around them because of their disobedience to God
Redemption: Samson was divinely appointed as a deliverer for God’s people, but as an imperfect one, a greater than him is needed! his hair to began to grow again, he called upon God to remember him; and for him to fulfil God’s original purpose and intent for him as a warrior of Israel, despite his shortcomings;
Restoration: God used him to defeat the Philistines, he is listed in the “hall of faith”; Jesus connection: Jesus is the true deliverer and judge; the new covenant is based on what Jesus has done for us, not our ability or inability to keep a covenant with God;
Jonah: In the big picture of the Bible, shows the reach of God to the fallen world, who need repentance and redemption, setting the stage for Jesus to come
Creation: shows the heart of God to reach the wicked and depraved city of Ninevah, as he was called by God to bring the message of repentance to them. God sending His light into a dark and fallen city that HE had created and pitied
Fall: Jonah rebels against God’s plan, ultimately ending up cast into the stormy sea; Ninevah receiveds a message of judgment for their sins
Redemption: God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah! He is spit out onto dry land, alive! God relented from the judgement to Ninevah; God brought a vine to cover Jonah in his self-inflicted pity party; Jonah’s experience was a sign to the Ninevites just as Jesus’ death was a sign to the world
Restoration: Jonah completes his ministry and it is met with acceptance and success, however, true restoration doesn’t come to him apart from Jesus
Jesus connection: like Jonah, Jesus was sent with a message of repentance to the lost throughout the world, and spent 3 days and nights in the tomb, to emerge alive and victorious, through whose message one receives mercy and grace and pardon from God’s judgment; however, unlike Jonah, Jesus was full of compassion and mercy and truth, and willingly offered himself to not only declare the good news, but purchase sinners back from God’s wrath and judgment. Unlike Jonah, Jesus will bring perfect restoration to those he saves. (Luke 11:29-32)
***These aren’t necessarily the MEANING of the texts, and we need to be careful to ascribe such to our observations. However, Jesus said that “in the volume of the book it is written of me to do your will, O God” Heb 10 – The law is but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities”…tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly things (Heb 9)
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
Chapter 4 – Study with Perspective
One of the first rules of Biblical interpretation is CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT.
P. 62-63: How could this concept change the way we view and practice Bible study?
Knowing the historical context of a book is essential to understanding it. Because the Bible was written long ago, we must learn how to occupy “a modern space while maintaining an ancient perspective” (p. 61). Chapter 4 equips us to dig in to what is relevant about the history behind a book of the Bible so that we can learn how to properly apply it in our modern setting. By exploring some basic questions about a text (Who wrote it? When was it written? To whom was it written? In what style was it written? Why was it written?), we can significantly increase our understanding about what the text was intended to say to its original audience, giving us a much better chance of rightly understanding how it should instruct us today.
1. What does it mean for you to have a sense of your own “small space” in history? How do we cultivate this sense? How does this perspective help us when studying Scripture?
3. Jen says, “The message of the Bible transcends its original audience, but it cannot be severed from its original audience” (p. 67). What does this mean? “Before we can ask, “what does this text say to me?” we must fist ask, “What did this text say to its original audience?”
4. Which genre (pp. 68–70) does the cultural context affect the most, making it the most difficult for us, in our very different culture, to understand? (Law —how can the concept of metanarrative help us despite our cultural differences?)
5. What is the pitfall to be found in the misapplication of Wisdom Literature (p. 69)? Have you ever found disillusionment this way? How does understanding the rules of the genre help you apply a proverb?
5. What are the questions we should ask before diving into the study of a book of the Bible? Where can we find the answers? How might this change the way we read devotionally?
Note any repeated words, phrases, and ideas…read in two other translations as well and note clarifications or differences in wording.
Introduce new assignment: SWITCHING WITH NEXT WEEK!!! Look up and define key terms and words you don’t understand and write a definition or synonymn. Look for transition words, such as if/then, therefore, likewise, but, however, because, or in the same way (draw an arrow to connect thoughts).
Contrast: but, however, nevertheless
Comparison: like, as, in the same way,
Conclusion and result: therefore, for, so that, for this reason, since, now