What Grumbling Says About God

1 Peter 4:9

Few can endure being around grumblers. In this lab, Pastor John exhorts Christians not to be complainers.

Principle for Bible Reading

Searching in Concentric Circles

When seeking for answers concerning how a biblical author uses a word or phrase in a particular verse, it is often helpful to start by seeking answers in the immediate context and then moving outward. When wrestling with a text, 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.

In This Lab

Pastor John moves from 1 Peter to elsewhere in the New Testament, searching for what it means to do good works and shine as lights in the world.

For an example of searching in concentric circles.

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, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation.
  • Then the New Testament.
  • Then in the rest of the Bible.

Study Questions

  1. When was the last time you showed hospitality? Did you grumble while you did it?
  2. Read 1 Peter 4:9, Philippians 2:14–15, and Matthew 5:11–16. What do these passages say about grumbling and the Christian?
  3. What are you most prone to complain about? What might an angel think who watches you grumble from heaven?