Whether it is a narrative portion of Scripture or a grammatical argument which is being taught or preached, the teacher/preacher can . . . .
√ help the audience follow the flow of the passage
√ maintain their interest by using these kinds of phrases
√ generate some useful ideas on the passage
√ see and use some insights derived from the passage
√ keep the focus on what the Scriptures are saying
That last point may be the most important of the five. When I can do something rhetorically that causes God’s people to keep looking back down at the Scriptures, I feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile! It is something akin to the word “Behold” in the Scriptures — It draws their attention to what is going to follow.
The flow of the narrative or grammatical argument often centers around the conjunctions, prepositions, or prepositional phrases.*
“. . . . conjunctions are those small linking words that help show the author’s flow of thought. This is the main thing I am trying to get at here: when you start seeing connections, instead of just reading through from one phrase to the next to the next, I want you to stop and say, “Wait a minute. Okay, I have gone onto another phrase. What is its connection? How is it connected? How is it defining it? What is it defining? How does it relate to the preceding phrases or to the following phrases?” So, conjunctions help a lot on the author’s flow of thought.”
— Robert Mounce
Below is a list of sentences and phrases that can help the audience to focus on the passage as well as follow the Scripture’s flow of thought.
These are NOT the only phrases that you can use, but they exemplify the concept and may help you generate yet other sentences or phrases which pattern this rhetorical technique.
You can add more phrases and sentences to the list and even create a list which cites a particular passage, or a biblical situation or character which works with it.
In the list below I have thrown in the names of a few biblical characters to help begin that kind of list. I have also included a few examples.***
The whole aim is to help us call up this technique so that we continually think about pulling the audience back to the text and push them to feel the importance of what is being said in the passage.
To Get You Thinking:
- What would you have said / done after hearing those words?
- How would have you responded? Well, they were very much like most of us and they _____.
- How would have you responded? Well, they were very different than most of us and they ______, because _______.
- You would have thought that they would have been excited / glad / rejoicing / anticipating, but they are not. Look at the next word / words / verse.
- Now, (Paul / Peter / John) is going to give us the reason for that — notice the next word ______ (for / that / because).
- That is not the end of that thought. The next word is “and.”
- Who would have given that response?
- Who would have not responded the way he/she/they responded and as seen in the next verse / series of verses?
- Watch where this leads. (Ouch / Praise the Lord / Should not have said this – done this / And that is where it will lead)
- Watch where this leads. It is not where you might think
- Watch where this leads — It is exactly where you would think.
- (Paul / James / John) says that, and then goes off to talk about _______.
- (Pharoah) says the same thing he said before. Look at his words in verses ______
- Now what happens is just wrong — verse _____.
- The next verse tells us how right it is to______.
- (Moses / Joshua / Gideon) is not finished making this point. Notice what he goes on to say in verse / next.
- How do you get from here to there — from _____ to ______?
- I wish that verse _____ were not the Lord’s answer to that question.
- Now (the Lord) is going to make that clear with a story — but notice how unusual the story is in that it includes / lays out a situation / has two opposite individuals /
- I’m sort of glad that the next verse follows. It says _______
- I wish the next verse did not follow because it constrains me and the way I normally think.
- Now the reason given is _____
- Now the response that follows is _____
- Now the next steps we need to take follow — that in the passage.
- Notice the motivation — Why he/she/they did that had a reason behind it. It is stated.
- The motivation can be seen in verses ______.
- How does someone think this way in life? Look what he/she/they say.
- The Lord has included the conversation between, in detail, because He wants us to hear the reason / see the thinking / understand what is about to happen.
- If it was me, I think I would be saying / behaving — but that is not what happens.
- If it was me, I think I would be saying / behaving — and that is what they do as well.
- Would you have done this after (10 plaques), but (Pharaoh) does.
- AND AGAIN it says ______
- (Paul / Peter / Elisha) is going to identify the source of that _______
- Notice where it is found — “IN ________.”
- Where does that come FROM? The answer is stated for us.
- What does he / she / they do after they hear ______ (Peter) say that?
- What is the purpose — “unto ______”
- I was hoping that ______ worked — but the Lord says _______ .
- I know what I’m saying / doing ** in that situation — I’m ______.
- That is what we get, but we are also told where we get that from — vs.
- All that is designed to lead us somewhere. It isn’t that all this time taken unwrapping _____ has no practical value, and that is why the next verse is included — notice the word “Therefore.”
- It is more than that. If you stop there and don’t see that ______ goes on to say that it does not stop there you will only have a partial solution — so (John/Peter/Elijah) _____ says “and” ______ and again, and again — two more times.
- I know what some of God’s people might say/do if they heard/saw/heard _____, but that is not what ______ did! The response is far different in verse _____.
- God is going to let us in on what they are thinking — In the next verse, he/she/they are going to speak their mind so that there is no question as to what is motivating them / why they do what they are about to do (Jonah).
Here is Howard Hendricks using this technique in a message – Christ Life:
“Because God’s method is always to take a clean man, drop him in the midst of a corrupt society, to demonstrate the power of this greatness.
Nowwwww — I want you to look at verses five through nine.
I’m not going to have time to do all of the exposition that I would like — maybe that you would — but more importantly — I want to get you into this — because that’s what will change you — not my talking to you about.
Look at verse five “For this very reason” — what reason? — Because God has given you everything you need.”
Now. Don’t miss these final verses — we come to an end – “For” — here’s the explanation.
He says — if you possess these qualities — these seven — in increasing measure — in other words — they are growing — they are developing.
Your more loving than you were last week.
You were more persevering than you were last week.
You are more godly than you were last week.”
Another example by Bryan Loritts at several places during his message on Joshua . . . .
This is His point in verses 8–9. Look at it with me.
But it’s here where God flips the script and ends whatever thoughts of jubilation Israel may have had. Because God says go help them, and I will be with you. Yep. God is like,
It’s here where Joshua makes a crazy request in verses 12–14. Look at it with me. He says, “God, will you make the sun stand still?”
**It is probably much better to say – “I know what I’m saying if I were in that situation _________.” — RATHER THAN taking the approach of saying — “I imagine they are thinking or saying to themselves.”
Many times I have no idea what they are thinking or possibly saying to themselves unless that is provided in the passage, directly or indirectly by their words or actions. It is unwise to put words into their mouths or ideas into their minds when there are no grounds for it.
i.e. Now if I am Peter, I am thinking far differently from what the Lord is about to say. What Jesus says to Peter sounds very very very generous to me. Look what the Lord says in response to Peter’s question — 70 X 7. . . . . . . . However, the Lord is not going to leave it there — It is not going to end with just a corrective exhortation — but watch what the Lord does in verse 23 — Yes — Jesus is going to push the principle . . . . . . . And now notice how the Lord frames the debt — 10,000 talents — sounds like the 70 X 7 . . . . . And then no one is thinking the story is going to take this turn in verse 27 – forgave – oh not just the word for forgave — but see how the Lord frames it — “compassion” and “loosed”. . . . . . . .(Matthew 18:21)
i.e. Paul can’t leave it there. As soon as he says the word “grace” — look where he goes in his mind and thoughts — 2:8 & 9 . . . . . . . . And Paul won’t leave you there either — because it is a grace which sanctifies — and so no surprise that in verse 10 — he says . . . . . because this is the proper biblical balance. (Ephesians 2:7-10)
i.e. “But now notice that the Lord is going to bring the other character into His parable. He mentioned him earlier, however, it is not until now that we are finally introduced to him — the second son — which was mentioned in verse 1 — It is not until 25 verses into the Lord’s parable that Jesus begins to flesh out — for the purposes of his parable — this second son. Notice how this second son is going to be sketched in by the Lord. . . . (Luke 15).