THE COMMA METHOD
How do you move from text to life when reading the Bible? We recommend the COMMA reading method.
When you’re reading a passage from the Bible, you need to understand what it meant to its original audience. What was their context? There are at least two contexts that should be considered for every Bible passage.
Historical setting: Who wrote this book? Who were they writing to? What problem were they addressing in the lives of his readers? When did the action in this book take place? What was going on in the world at the time?
Literary setting: There are different kinds (or genres) of literature in the Bible, and different rules for interpreting each one.
Here are four things to keep your eyes open for as you read. If it helps, you can use the acronym TRTS (“treats”) to remember them:
T - Theme: What word(s) or phrase summarizes what this passage is all about? Hint: Look at passage’s headings in your Bible.
R - Repeating Words or Ideas: What comes up multiple times in the passage?
T - Truths about God: What does this passage tell you about God (Father, Son, or Spirit) and the nature of humanity?
S - Something Striking: Anything jump out at you?
From your observations, ask, “What message or life lesson might I draw from this today?” Try to sum it up in one, simple sentence.
A tool to help you find the principle behind one of your observations is the acronym SPECS. Ask yourself, if you see one of the following in this passage:
S: Statements about God
P: Promises to hope in
E: Expected response of humans
C: Common truths between then and now
S: Summary of a timeless message
At this point, you pause to pray. Talk with God about the message he wants you to get out of this observation. Read it to each other out loud. Practice silence after reflecting on the passage. Ponder the observation from different angles, and listen to see if God’s Spirit brings anything else to mind.
This is where the rubber meets the road. How can you put this principle into practice in your own life? Here are some tips for applying the message of a passage to your life.
⦁ Make it personal and specific.
⦁ Confess inwardly or outwardly to God.
⦁ Write it down.
⦁ Ask the Spirit to impress particular Scripture upon you.
This is a process that you can do on your own, with friends or family, or in a community group.