For their final exam, my students had to translate selected verses from 1 John 1:5-2:14. We could only go so deep in class, so now's the time to chew on every word. For example, let's take one part of 1 John 2:1:
If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, one who is righteous.
Note a couple of details:
1. "If anyone." John didn't specify new Christian versus old Christian or educated Christian versus uneducated Christian, etc. Anyone!
2. John says, "If anyone sins." He didn't say sin in word or deed, or sin in attitude or action, or whether it's a sin of omission or commission. He just said "sins"!
3. "We have an advocate with the Father," that is, someone who pleads on our behalf. Where is he? In the intimate presence of (pros) the Father. Who is he? He is "Jesus" (his human name), and because he is a man, in him we have a Great High Priest who is not able not to sympathize with us! He is also "Christ," emphasizing his kingly authority and power to accomplish whatever he desires. Finally, he is "one who is righteous." He doesn't need an advocate of his own!
Here's your teaching outline:
- The breath of the promise.
- The scope of the sin.
- The greatness of the provision.
There is no limit to the amount of detail an observant reader of Scripture can uncover. And we can practice these skills on any type of biblical material -- a verse, a paragraph, a section, or even an entire book.
There's probably no tool of exegesis more powerful than observation. You must not only learn how to read Greek, you must learn what to look for.