A Bible Study Method for Leaders

Philippians 2:25–30


Sustained joy in God does not come because we went to God’s word yesterday, but because we worked hard to find him in the word today. In this lab, John Piper introduces another helpful way for us to study the Bible.

Some questions to ask as you read and study Philippians 2:25–30:

  1. Is there a difference between reading the Bible and studying it? If so, how would you describe the difference?
  2. Watch the lab. John Piper introduced the concept of leveling. What does this tool help us see?
  3. Have you ever used a method like leveling before to help you see the big picture? How does seeing the highest point of a text help you lead your people?

Watch this video offline by downloading it from Vimeo or subscribing to the Look at the Book video podcast via iTunes or RSS.


Principle for Bible Reading

Search in Concentric Circles

When seeking for answers concerning how a biblical author uses a word or phrase in a verse, it is often helpful to start by seeking answers in the immediate context and then moving outward. Good Bible reading, like a stone dropped in a pond, starts at the word or phrase in question and ripples out to other places in the Bible to get help for understanding. Starting your search in the immediate verse and moving outward is often called searching in concentric circles.

After searching in the immediate verse, it is key to look for the author’s meaning in:

  • The paragraph which contains the verse
  • Then the chapter
  • Then its book as a whole
  • Then other books written by the same author
  • Then the same Testament (New or Old) as a whole
  • Then the whole Bible

Note: This order may be rearranged depending on the verse. If you are dealing with the meaning of a verse cited from the Old Testament, for example, going to the Old Testament would move up in priority.

An Example

If you were wondering what it means to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), you might begin by looking for clues in:

  • The immediate verse: 1 John 1:7.
  • Then the paragraph which contains the verse: 1 John 1:5–10.
  • Then the chapter: 1 John 1.
  • Then the book of the Bible: 1 John.
  • Then other books of the Bible written by the same author: John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation.
  • Then the New Testament.
  • Then the rest of the Bible.