There is a difference between following the flow the argument, which is supported by theological truth(s) and focusing on the theology within a passage.
If one were teaching systematic theology, there are a number of passages one would cite to support a particular doctrine, truth, principle, or precept which is taught in the Scriptures. “Theology” taught in a systematic way typically outlines various doctrines, and under that doctrine is a list of a number of Old and New Testament passages which one can examine to support the truth of that teaching.
While the Bible does contain doctrine — “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” ( II Timothy 3:16), it is not written as a book of systematic theology. There is a flow to the narratives and the grammatical arguments which are being made by the various authors.
However, as you preach the argument(s) of the passage, you can and should teach the doctrines and truths of the passage. Warren Wiersbe does that repeatedly when it comes to understanding the Gospels
Dr. Wiersbe explains the general theme of the four Gospels: Matthew is about Jesus the King. Mark is about Jesus the Servant. Luke Is About Jesus as the Son of Man. John is about Jesus who is God. Anyone who has listened to Dr. Wiersbe has heard this delineation and understanding of the Gospel — sometimes extensively and at other times quickly in passing. At times this understanding of the Gospel is explained and supported by multiple passages from both the Old Testament and events and details within that particular Gospel.
This is what Wiersbe does in his message title — “He Works With Us” — which can be heard on YouTube. Here is an excerpt from that message.
Gospel of Mark is the gospel of the servant you know that each of the Gospels has its own emphasis
Matthew’s the gospel of the King — That’s why his Commission reads all authority in heaven and in earth is given unto me.” — That’s the King speaking.
Mark is the gospel of the servant
The key thought in the Gospel of Mark is service.
In fact the key verse in the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 verse 45 “for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many.”
This is the gospel of the servant.
The one word that is repeated over and over again some forty-five times.
Here’s the busy Jesus the busy servant.
When you open Matthew you find a genealogy. You’ve got to be sure where a king came from.
When you open Mark you don’t find a genealogy — who cares where a servant came from but this servant came to serve.
He was born as a servant and He lived as a servant and He died as a servant. The Gospel of Mark is closely related to those chapters back in Isaiah where the Prophet talks about the servant. Isaiah 53 is in that passage. Mark is the gospel of the servant here we have the Lord Jesus working the Son of man came not to be served and He could have done that He could have said I am the sovereign God of heaven — you serve Me — instead He came as the humble servant.
Wiersbe didn’t have to include this information about Matthew’s or Mark’s purpose* in order to make the point that we need to be heralding the Gospel wherever the Lord has placed us.
A Passage Of Scripture Is Not A Repository Of Biblical Doctrine:
There are other doctrines and truths that are worthy of mention as you preach, but you should separate the teaching of doctrine from the argument of the passage . . .
- in your mind,
- in your message, and
- for your audience’s long-term benefit and discernment.
The purpose of the passage is not to offer up a variety of biblical doctrines to weave together into some kind of message. While the passage may well contain various truths, the truths are designed to support the point, the argument the writer is making. Were the author listening would he say . . . .
- “Yes, that is the point I am making!”
- “Yes, the passage also assumes and/or includes that doctrinal truth.”
or will he say . . . .
- “Is this a class on systematic theology? Are you going to point out how that truth supports and/or points to what I am aiming to say to God’s people?”
Your audience should be taught to separate the doctrines taught in a passage from the argument of the passage otherwise they will think that the Bible is a designed to be a repository of doctrines and not realize that it is an ever-progressing movement of connected thought to establish biblical principles about life and living.
- By the way, the doctrine of the Trinity is taught here as well. Did you notice that?
- We should notice that there is an implicit biblical truth which is present in this passage about the deity of Christ.
- Not only does this passage teach the faithfulness of God’s promises during times of great distress & doubt, but it also reminds us of the truth that Jesus is returning one day for His people in what is called the rapture.
- Mark this verse. Someday you may be asked, “Why do you believe in the personhood of the Holy Spirit?” Some believe that the Holy Spirit is just a “force” and not a person. Well, in this passage we find that the Spirit can be grieved. While Paul is addressing godly living, he states a truth about the Holy Spirit.
- As an aside, notice that . . . .
- This passage also teaches that . . . . in the midst of the point which is being made about . . . .
- “All Scripture is given for doctrine . . . . well here is one of the many passages which support the doctrine of “the church” or “ecclesiology.”
- Already in the Old Testament, we get hints concerning the doctrine of the Trinity as we are being taught about the image of God in Creation.
- While the book of Job is teaching us about suffering, we are also learning that the Old Testament saints believed in the resurrection. They didn’t have as much light as we do, but they knew this — there is coming a day when we shall stand again on this earth in the resurrection.
*At many other times Dr. Weirsbe goes through all four Gospel purposes and/or themes and expands on each even further.
i.e. Warren Wiersbe on John 1
The writers of the four gospels have given us “snapshots” of our Lord’s life on earth, for no complete biography could ever be written (John 21:25). Matthew wrote with his fellow Jews in mind and emphasized that Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. Mark wrote for the busy Romans. Whereas Matthew emphasized the King, Mark presented the Servant, ministering to needy people. Luke wrote his gospel for the Greeks and introduced them to the sympathetic Son of Man.
But it was given to John, the beloved disciple, to write a book for both Jews and Gentiles, presenting Jesus as the Son of God. We know that John had Gentiles in mind as well as Jews, because he often “interpreted” Jewish words or customs for his readers (John 1:38, 41-42; 5:2; 9:7; 19:13, 17; 20:16). His emphasis to the Jews was that Jesus not only fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies but also fulfilled the types. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) and the Ladder from heaven to earth (John 1:51; and see Gen. 28). He is the New Temple (John 2:19-21), and He gives a new birth (John 3:4ff.). He is the serpent lifted up (John 3:14) and the Bread of God that came down from heaven (John 6:35ff.).
Whereas the first three gospels major on describing events in the life of Christ, John emphasized the meaning of these events. For example, all four gospels record the feeding of the five thousand, but only John records Jesus’ sermon on “The Bread of Life,” which followed that miracle when He interpreted it for the people.
But there is one major theme that runs throughout John’s gospel: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and if you commit yourself to Him, He will give you eternal life (John 20:31). In this first chapter, John recorded seven names and titles of Jesus that identify Him as eternal God.