As for sentence diagramming, we have come to what I would consider the final part as “seers” (observation) of the text. After the relationship of propositions have been made (Part 4), I follow up with marking connections, emphasis, and key words in a text. There are several things specifically I’m looking for here:

  • Things emphasized in the text
  • Things repeated in the text
  • Things related in the text (connections)
  • Things set in comparison or contrast in the text (like/unlike)
  • Things connected sequentially or in the flow of logic
Going back to our sample text in 1 John 1, here is how I marked up the text (note: I used an iPad app to do this digitally for blogging purposes, but I normally print out the sheet at step 4 and do step 5 with pen and highlighters).

As you can see, I tried to put some of the observations together below the line. As for the markings and the aforementioned bullet points….

  • Things emphasized – fellowship with God, Jesus as “life,” God as “light,” sin as darkness/deception
  • Things repeated – what was seen, heard, touched; light/darkness, sin/lying
  • Things related – the word of life-eternal life-that which was from the beginning; what was manifested to us-we proclaimed to you; light-truth; darkness-deception; confession-cleaning-communion
  • Things set in comparison/contrast – light v. darkness; truth v. deception; saying v. doing; cleansed from all sin v. saying have no sin; two ways to live (deception or repentance)
  • Things in sequence/logical flow – ears, ears, and hands leads to mouth (experience leads to proclamation); vertical fellowship with God is grounds of horizontal fellowship with others; fellowship with God is conditioned upon a life a repentance and faith, rather than performance-based self-righteousness; God is the standard, the means, and the goal of our fellowship with one another (triperspectivally speaking); his word in us will reveal our real self-knowledge as sinners which leads to a life of confession and repentance which leads to walking in the light which leads to blood-bought fellowship of redeemed sinners called to be saints

There’s more that I point out in my markings than what I just bulleted, and if you have some time, take a look at them. Perhaps you see some things I did not see in the text. I tried to use different colors and markings in order to separate the things I saw, along with lines to help show the connections in the thought flow.

Now that this has been done, where do we go from here? I’d like to do a few things: (1) I’d like to show how this can be worked out as a regularly rhythm of disciple-making by taking normal Bible intake disciplines and incorporating them here; (2) I’d like to show how helpful this level of engaging the text is for understanding the meaning of the text (biblical interpretation). As I said earlier, the better “seer” you are of the text, the better interpreter you will be. The goal is not to have a well-marked up text; the goal is to have a thoroughly transformed life by applying the truth of God’s Word to every facet of our existence. I don’t think that goal is possible with a superficial reading of Scripture. Sentence diagramming and thought flow examination gives us training wheels for better study of Scripture, employing other disciplines of Bible intake (meditation) and other means of grace (prayer, community, etc.) in the process.

In my next post, I will try to show how this process can become a normal pattern of Bible intake and can be done with others so that those you disciple can have a stronger grasp of Scripture.