How words relate
Everyone knows relationships prove essential. Family provides encouragement. Friends, a listening ear. Foes, strengthen our character. Without relationships, life becomes meaningless.
When interpreting the meaning of Scripture, it’s important to understand the relationship between words. Adverbs strengthen verbs. Adjectives enhance nouns. Prepositions show where the actions takes place. Words, when grouped together in a sentence, are like family members…they all play an important part.
Without differentiating the role of each word in a sentence, your interpretation of Scripture may get messy. Just like a team at the office, clarification of roles between members increases accuracy and efficiency. And in Bible interpretation, understanding how words relate increases accuracy and ultimately correct application of God’s Word in your life.
Here’s a list of word relationships to identify when reading Scripture:
- Subject: Who or what is doing the action?
- Verb: Although there may be multiple verbs in a sentence, look for the main one. See if the action is in the past, present, or future tense.
- Object: Find the recipient of the subject’s action. Locate who or what is receiving the force of the verb.
- Prepositions: These words explain where the action is happening.
- Conjunctions: Words such as “but,” “and,” and “therefore” connect or contrast words and phrases.
- Articles: Words such as “a” or “the” explain whether an object is indefinite or definite. They are important. (e.g. Jesus is not “a” God but “the” second person of the Godhead!)
- Conditions: Words such as “if” or “when” can portray a conditional statement.
So how does this work?
Let’s take Genesis 1:1, which says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The subject of this sentence is God, the verb is created, and the objects are the heavens and earth. Notice the order here. God is the one creating, not the other way around.
Pantheism, however, claims God is in everything. But how can God be in everything if He was the one who created everything? Pantheism does not work! So when you read God’s Word, take time to identify the subject, verb, and object, which will help you accurately interpret Scripture.