Syntax is the way that words or terms are combined to form clauses, phrases, or sentences. Word order
plays a significant role in determining the meaning of any passage.
Example: The meaning of John 3:16 "For God
so loved the world…" would change drastically with a simple change in word order, "For the world so loved God…"
Because of the logical presentation of thought through syntax, this provides an excellent means to study any
passage in the Bible. The concept is simple: 1) consider the literary genre or style, 2) look for natural divisions
of the text, 3) identify the connecting words (conjunctions), and 4) identify the development of the author's theme
and observe how the passage fits within context. With this method, you can better understand the words, their context
that the author meant, and easily summarize the author’s ideas.
Example: Psalm 19:7-8.
The Law of the LORD is perfect,
(Law of the Lord = Jewish reference to the 5 books of Moses: Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut.)
(perfect = flawless)
restoring the soul.
(restore = resuscitate, reinvigor) (soul = spiritual nature)
The testimony of the LORD is sure
(testimony = public formal or written evidence, declaration of truth) (sure = reliable, worthy of
trust, without any doubt)
making wise the simple.
(make = to cause) (wise = discernment for what is right, true, and lasting) (simple = humble,
The precepts of the LORD are right,
(precepts = principle defining a standard) (right = conforming to law, being with accord with
truth, most beneficial)
rejoicing the heart.
(rejoicing = to delight) (heart = vital center of one’s being, emotions, and sensibilities)
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
(commandment = direct order, rule) (pure = without deceit, righteous)
enlightening the eyes.
(enlightening = illumination, enlighten, a way of looking at or considering a matter)
The Law of the LORD is synonymous with testimony, precepts, and commandment of
The Law of the LORD is perfect, sure, right, and pure.
The results are restoring the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart,
and enlightening the eyes.
TIP: the quality of Bible study is directly proportional to the quantity of time spent in
The Hebrew and Greek manuscripts from which the Bible was translated from was all text; there were no punctuation
marks, paragraph indentations, or verse numbers. Some words even lacked spacing; thus literal translations may read,
"GOD IS NOWHERE" when the writer was saying, "GOD IS NOW HERE." Imagine trying to comprehend, let alone translate
that! We have the fortune of knowing God through translations that allow us to break the syntax down to better
understand the writer. Take advantage of that!
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