25 Questions to Ask the Text

To strengthen my eyes’ ability to see the text, here is a list of 25 questions I am in the habit of asking when I am preparing to preach.

  1. Who is speaking?
  2. To whom is this verse written?
  3. Is this verse a question, answer, sermon, description, story, etc?
  4. Where does this passage come in the book? Where does it come in the Bible?
  5. What ideas are being discussed in the verses just before this verse? Just after this verse?
  6. How many people are mentioned in the verse?
  7. What are the adjectives and adverbs?
  8. Grammatically, what is the subject of the sentences? What is the verb?
  9. What is the tense of the verbs?
  10. Are there any negatives? Are they universal or particular negatives?
  11. Are there any adjectives, adverbs, or other modifiers? What is being modified and how?
  12. Does this verse start with a conjunction? How is it linked to the previous verses?
  13. Who is doing the action?
  14. Is this a common verse and why or why not?
  15. What does this verse say?
  16. Does this verse teach any doctrine? If so, which ones?
  17. Does this verse have any key repeated words?
  18. Are there any difficult or disputed theological terms or concepts?
  19. Does this verse list results, consequences, reasons, attributes, or activities?
  20. Are there any contrasts or comparisons?
  21. Is this a controversial verse? Why?
  22. What does this verse teach about man?
  23. What does this verse teach about God?
  24. What does this verse teach about salvation?
  25. What is (are) the main word(s)? Why did the author choose them?

Extended time in observation is a must for an expositor. He must resist the temptation to plunge immediately into commentaries and other study helps. Nothing can replace firsthand observation.

John MacArthur

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