Bible Study Basics: Identify to Clarify [What You Don’t Know]

Step 5 Identify Continued: Things We Need To Know To Understand A Text

Digging Deeper in Mark 1:1-8

I once took an evening folk guitar class at a community college. There were about 25 people in the class with a wide range of experience. Some had never played a note. Others were intermediate players and some were good enough to teach the class. The instructor showed us beginners how to play two basic chords. He showed the intermediate players how to play bar chords. I’m not sure what he taught the advanced players but it was new to them. We all worked on our own for a few minutes then he had us all play together. It was really cool. I was strumming clumsily singing “Hang down your head, Tom Dooley!” Everyone else was playing, too. Because some had previous experience it sounded great!

Guitar - identify and clarify what you don't understand

When we study the Bible we come to it with our own background and experience. If you are a new Christian or haven’t studied the Bible much you have a lot to learn. That’s okay because there is a lot for everyone to learn in the Bible. We are just at different stages in our understanding of the Bible. I have been studying the Bible for over 40 years and learned something today that I didn’t know before!

One of the challenges in doing Bible study is to understand what the text means. Everyone wants to know what the text “means to me” but you can’t know that until you know what it means.

As we turn our attention back to Mark 1:1-8 let’s ask a question. What do we need to understand in these verses to know what they mean? What people, places, events or concepts do we need to identify so we can understand this passage like the people who first read it? Here is a complete list of things that we need to identify and clarify in this passage.

27 Terms from Mark 1:1-8 To Identify and Clarify

  1. gospel
  2. Jesus
  3. Christ
  4. Son of God
  5. Isaiah
  6. prophet
  7. messenger
  8. prepare your/the way
  9. voice of one crying
  10. wilderness
  11. Lord
  12. make . . . straight
  13. paths
  14. John
  15. baptizing, baptism
  16. repentance
  17. forgiveness
  18. sins
  19. Judea
  20. Jerusalem
  21. river Jordan
  22. confessing
  23. clothed with camel’s hair and leather belt
  24. ate locusts and wild honey
  25. preached
  26. baptized with water
  27. baptize with the Holy Spirit

How many of the words on this list did you identify that are unclear to you? It will vary, depending upon how long you have been reading the Bible or going to church. For some of you there may be only a few terms you don’t understand. For others it may be most of the items listed. We can’t understand what it means unless we have a basic understanding of each of these terms.

I had planned to identify and clarify for you all of the important terms in this passage. If I were to do that this would become a very long post. Instead I’m going to give you the weekend to do some research on your own. Look over this list and look up any words you don’t know. In my next post I’ll share some insight from my research.

I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or question below.