Homiletics is simply the art of preparing and preaching a sermon. While this term is used largely for
pastors, the method can aid a personal Bible study. This technique, in the field of Homiletics, involves
the careful outline of a passage in Scripture.
There are 6 steps to this technique:
||4) Subject Sentence
Prayer is a necessary step before any Bible study. The Holy Spirit is needed to show
you new insights and understanding of the Word.
Read the passage of Scripture several times to get a reasonable understanding of what
is taking place. Read more than one translation. Ask yourself questions like: who are the main characters,
what is happening, when is this occurring, where is this taking place, why is this event present?
On a sheet of paper, list the verses’ numbers for this study and begin to write down
a short phrase or a single word from each verse that will remind you what is happening in that verse.
You may do each verse individually or you may combine verses together if they have the same thought or
event. For example:
1-3) Jesus tells Nicodemus, be born again
4) Nicodemus questions how?
5-8) be born of Spirit
9) Nicodemus questions again
10-15) Son of Man to be lifted up to bring life
16) belief in Christ brings eternal life
17-18) those who believe are saved
19-21) seek truth to find light of God
22) Jesus goes to Judea to baptize
23-26) John’s disciples confused
27-30) John knows he must diminish
31-33) The one from above knows all
34) He speaks the truth from God
35) God loves Son, given everything to Him
36) whoever believes in Him has eternal life
Look at your worksheet and group the verses together into several main thoughts. Each
thought becomes a division. Each division may be a single paragraph or it may include several paragraphs.
Look at your Bible to see if it has divisions or paragraphs which may help you.
For each division, write a short, but complete sentence describing the key action
and character in that division. Keep your sentence factual as opposed to spiritual. For example:
I) v. 1-15 Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again.
II) v. 16-21 God loves us so much He gave His son for our eternal life.
III) v. 22-36 John testifies that Jesus is from above and speaks God’s truth.
4) Subject Sentence
From your divisions, combine the central thoughts into a subject sentence of 10
words or less. This must be a complete sentence with a subject and verb. A good way to work towards
this sentence is to ask yourself, "What is this chapter really about?" Look at who the
main character is and what is he / she saying or doing? Just as with the division sentences, keep
the subject sentence factual, not spiritual.
The goal of the subject sentence is that if you were to read it to a person who
is familiar with the book you are studying, that person should be able to identify the passage from
your subject sentence. Remember, no more than 10 words. For example:
John 3 Subject Sentence
Nicodemus learns of spiritual rebirth while John confirms Jesus’ message.
At this point, you begin to find the compelling motive of this passage that would cause
you to change your life. A good way to determine your aim is to ask yourself the question, "What
action should I take in response to this passage of Scripture?" Or finish this sentence, "Cause
me to…" Use an action verb, not a passive verb if possible. Think of the main action that you
need to take as a result of your Bible study. Keep your aim short and definite. For example:
John 3 Aim
Cause me to: believe in Jesus Christ to receive the gift of eternal life and avoid
the wrath of God.
Go back and look at your divisions. Generally, you should try to write at least one
application for each of your divisions. These should be applications to everyday life. What does the
passage say about your business life, your home life, or how do I apply this to other situations? If
one of your divisions deals with prayer, an example application might be, "How
much time do I spend daily in prayer?" Or, "how much time should I be spending daily in
Write your applications in the form of a question. Also, whenever possible, use words
like how or what or when to ask a question that can no be answered with a simple yes or no. You want
to challenge yourself to think about your answer and not just pass it off lightly. Strive for clarity,
brevity, and simplicity. Jesus was very clear. He was usually quite brief and He was amazingly simple.
And He had all the answers! For example:
John 3 Application
Have I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord?
What must I do to have eternal life?
Does my current lifestyle bear witness that I am walking in the light,
or are there areas of my life that needs to change?
In whom or in what am I trusting for complete joy?
Charles Hammond's personal note: I was born and
raised in Kirkland, WA, where my family attended a liberal, protestant church on a semi-regular basis.
This church taught a social gospel filled with references about loving others, but never talked about sin
or salvation. We were taught that if you lived an honest life trying to help others, you would go to Heaven.
I was 19 and a Sophomore at Oregon State University when two young men asked if they could join me at my
table in the campus cafeteria. They quickly brought the conversation around to God and asked me if I had
a personal relationship with God. Although I believed there was a God, I knew I didn't have a personal
relationship. They proceeded to tell me that as a sinner (I knew I had sinned!) my relationship with God
was broken. They explained how Jesus Christ had shed his blood and died on the cross so that all who ask
Him might be forgiven and receive eternal life. I knew immediately that I wanted this forgiveness and I
wanted to know for sure that I had eternal life. I prayed with these men right in the middle of the cafeteria
and asked Jesus Christ to come into my life, to forgive my sins, and to give me the gift of eternal life.
Jesus became my Savior and Lord at that very moment! My life will never again be the same.
I encourage all who read this to ask themselves if they truly know Jesus Christ as their Savior and
Lord. You can receive Him just as I received Him by a
simple prayer. If you have never done this, please take a moment and pray. Invite Jesus to enter
your life, forgive your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. It will be the greatest decision you
have ever made.
Charles Hammond was born and raised in Kirkland, WA. He attended Oregon
State University and received a BS degree in Business Administration. He has worked in the Seattle area
since 1971. Since 1987, he has been a financial advisor and a partner in Cornerstone Advisors, Inc. in
Bellevue. He served as a Teaching Leader in Bible Study Fellowship for 10 years, and has been an Elder
at Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, WA since 1988. He also sings in the United Voices of Antioch choir
and leads a men's Bible Study group in his home.