Another Way Of Contextualizing . . . .


A Different Way To Think About Laying Out The Context or Background Information


Stephen Davey exemplifies another way of laying out helpful contextual information for an audience.  Rather than merely stating . . . .

“Let’s look at some of the events in Peter’s life before we get into the book of I Peter.”


Davey is preaching a series from the book of I Peter.   In the first message, Davey sets up a different structure or model by which to plug in the events which summarize the life of the author of this book,  Simon Peter.

First of all, he consciously establishes the mental imagery of a photographer or a photo album.   The audience is purposefully inspired to see Peter through this “photo-motif.”

Second, he places a single word under that picture.  The word is designed to capture the “verbal snapshot,” he is about to lay out and describe.

photo album

(Link To Full Message — Stephen Davey- Profiling Christians, “Introducing An Old Fisherman.”

(brief audio clip — Begins at 21:30 minute mark of full message)


What I want to do with the time remaining, is watch some of it happen, in fast motion. I want to drop into several scenes – and we’ll take a quick photograph – sort of like a quick Instagram, and then we’ll move on.


I’ll give you a caption to write underneath each photograph. You’re going to have to turn quickly, because we have a lot to uncover.



After setting up the basic approach — calling up the imagery of a photo album,  Davey moves through each of the five pictures historically and chronologically, identifying each “snapshot” with a single word which captures the “snapshots” which he will be describing.


“The first snapshot is found in Luke 9 – and the caption is the word, Nonsense.


Another snapshot is in Matthew 16 where you can write the caption, Insightful, underneath this scene.


It is little surprise that you can then turn to John 13 and write underneath that snapshot the words Self-confidence.


But that isn’t the end of the snapshots, is it? In John 20, we’re given a life-changing photograph – you can write underneath it the caption, Eyewitness.


The next snapshot is on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts chapter 2, where Jerusalem has swelled into millions of Jews from all around the world. Peter is the main spokesman of the day and you could write underneath his public sermon the word, Courage.


There are other snapshots and other captions to write . . . But the last snapshot I want to show you is this first letter from Peter.

It’s been more than 30 years since he’d come face to face with a man who had the audacity and authority to change his name.  And this man, the God-man, had changed so much more than Peter’s name. Here’s this old church fisherman – this old church-statesman – a fisherman turned shepherd – he reaches for his quill . . . and you can write underneath this snapshot the caption, Grace.



One can use this approach as a rhetorical template for laying out the context of any particular biblical character or event — Old or New Testament.

i.e. — “There are pictures we ought to be familiar with from the Old Testament photo album labeled –  “Elijah.”  This album has only four picture groups, and before each picture group is a title page with a single word place on that introductory page — Early Ministry / Mountaintop Experiences / Down in the Valley / Passing the Batton.”



A Painting:  This painting has various elements included on the canvas.  In the center of the painting is Mary in a stable.  However, in the background are three other women, which can be faintly seen — A women holding a staff and wearing a ring (Tamar), a woman who is letting down a crimson rope above a city wall (Rahab), and a woman gleaning in a field of grain (Ruth).

Book Chapters: His life could be captured in four chapters.  Each chapter has its own unique title and marks a period in the life of Moses.

Song Stanzas:  There are six main stanzas which cover the life of Esther & Mordecai.

Academic Volumes:  “Outlines of History” by H. G. Wells is made up of four volumes.  Each volume covers a broad span of time.  We could lay out the life of Daniel with a four-part series of “Outlines of Potentates” since Daniel’s life spanned four world powers and four world potentates.

Musical Compositions — Movements:  Some musical compositions are composed of various “movements.”  A movement is “a principal division of a longer musical work, self-sufficient in terms of key, tempo, and structure.”  The life and ministry of Jesus, in the four Gospels, are four self-sufficient accounts (link to audio clip).

A Vacation:  Going on a vacation has three basic steps to it — Plan, Experience, Return.  The Life of Joseph can be seen through those three steps — The Lord was planning for Joseph to one day be Prince of Egypt.  Then, the actual experience began, and finally, he was reunited with his family.


Other Mind Generating Possibilities:

  • A Wedding Album — “Five” Basic Picture Groups
  • 3-D Stereoscope  — ____ will stand out in the picture
  • Art Museum — rooms or classic to modern
  • Museum of Natural History
  • A Botanical Garden
  • A Play — Three Acts
  • A Play — One Act, Three Scenes
  • A Mountain Climb — “three” stages to the top
  • A Voyage / Cruise — Embark – Cruise – disembark
  • Ship — Main Deck & Below
  • A Football Game – Four Quarters
  • A Basketball Game – Two Halves
  • etc.


Such varied divisions are just other ways to frame and visualize the contextual information which you are presenting.

“Think of it this way . . . .”



Another Twist:

“Have you see those pictures which are posted, and then individuals are asked to create an appropriate subtitle for it.  Sometimes the subtitle completely changes how one thinks about the picture.  Well, let me post five pictures of Moses with a subtitle which changes the way you see the picture.   First . . . .

The Picture: Moses, burying an Egyptian in the desert sands.

The Unexpected Caption:  God’s People Missed The Opportunity!

The Caption Supported: Acts 7:25 — For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.”

“The New Testament interpretation of this event is that it was the people who misunderstood.  It is not Moses who was rash, but the people of God who ALWAYS RESISTED (Acts 7:51).  That is the message of Stephen’s message — from Joseph to Solomon they were stiff-necked — This Moses, whom ye refused!”




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