There’s a sweater at the back of my closet. It’s there because it’s nearly unwearable, but also because I can’t bear to throw it out. It’s a sweater I got for Christmas from my in-laws three years ago, and it has always been one of my favorites. I wore it to my first speaking engagement, to friends’ birthday parties, on lazy Sunday afternoons as we munched on our Sabbath cheese board, and on anniversary dates with Austin – it seems to have seen some of the best moments of my life since it arrived on the scene.
But one day I did something terrible. There was a pesky little thread hanging out the side. It kept catching the underside of my arm and was driving me up a wall, and in a moment of impatience, I yanked on it. In my mind, this was going to be a smooth, strong tug that would free me from the menacing little thing, but I was so wrong. I pulled and pulled and pulled until I realized: the whole sweater was unraveling on my person.
I learned two valuable lessons that day. One: You should not lose patience with the clothing on your body or you will look ridiculous. And two: Well-made things have threads woven seamlessly throughout the garment; pull on one thread and you’ll find it attached somewhere else.
I was recently sitting under a gifted Bible teacher and she reminded me of something I seem to have forgotten: the Bible is one great, big story. While I love studying each book of the Bible verse-by-verse (that’s the vision for these exegetical studies), identifying the original context of the story and the genre of each book, she reminded me that if the Bible were to have one overarching genre, it would be narrative. If we were to sum up the Bible as a whole, we would have to say the the genre is a story, and that the original context is God Himself.
Just like the best literary stories, this story has a setting, crisis, climax, and resolution. The setting comes at creation, the crisis is the fall, the climax is the resurrection, and the resolution is yet to come in the new creation. For shorthand, we’ll mark this story with four chapters: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.
Throughout this study we’re going to be looking at twenty Hebrew and Greek words throughout the Old and New Testaments. We’re going to sit and savor them, study them in their context, and learn what they teach us about God. And then we’re going to find their place in the overarching context of the story of redemption. We’re going to pull on that thread, as it were, and see where else these themes arise in the whole of the narrative. Each day there will be a bit more independent work for you than usual, and a bit less daily commentary that will make room for week-end summaries about where we are in the story. But don’t worry – you got this.
Before the study begins I want to encourage you to grab a notebook and a pen and get ready to jot a few things down. Each day I’m going to encourage you to copy the Hebrew and Greek words onto your paper, and I really want to push you not to skip this step! It doesn’t have to look perfect, but it will get your feet wet and make the languages feel more approachable when you see them in your own writing.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.