Do You Use Arcing When You Study the Narrative Passages of the Bible?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio. For more information about arcing, see John Piper's answer to "What is 'arcing' and why is it important?"

Do you use the arcing method of Bible study for narrative passages? If so, how is it different than arcing Paul's writing, for instance?

I have, and I would if I found a narrative perplexing, and I had time to work it out.

A lot of people don't even know what we're talking about—arcing. In a nutshell, arcing is breaking a paragraph down into propositions: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power God unto salvation, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, for the wrath of God is revealed"—those are all propositions and they're related logically. So you draw a line at the top, you put an arc over each proposition, and you put a number under each arc. And you draw more arcs between them to note the logical relationships.

That's arcing, and it's very helpful. I love it, and I use it still.

If you have a narrative, then events have to be related to events. So, for example, why does God strike the Assyrians blind? Why do they leave? Why is there a camp full of food? Why do lepers go out and find it? Why do they then say, "We're doing wrong! People are eating their children in Jerusalem! They need to know there is bounty just a mile away"?

And so you'd put each of these events under an arc and just ask the why question of how they all relate to make the big narrative point.

So it's the same principle, but you're dealing in larger chunks, and you're asking narrative relationship questions rather than mere logic questions in an exposition of Paul.

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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