3. Analysis

We are now launched,we will say, down the great, broad stream of divine truth, with abundance to engage mind and heart and to absorb all the time that we can give to it. We will suppose that our readers have it settled in their minds, and are, with purpose of heart, reading through the New and Old Testaments regularly and systematically in such a way that there is an increasing degree of familiarity with them. We also hope that they are daily committing a verse or two to memory. Abundance of material is thus at hand, and the work of analysis and arrangement must therefore be begun. We approach this subject, too, from the standpoint of simplicity.

First of all, analysis will require more minute and careful study, much more attention to details, and therefore more time than the ordinary. careful reading of which we have already spoken. It can very profitably be connected with memorizing. Let us suppose, for instance, that we have begun to memorize Ephesians. Now is the time to endeavor to thoroughly analyze the epistle. For instance,we have learned the first verse and can repeat it without an error. We now take up each phrase and word and seek to get its meaning and relation to the rest of the sentence.

"Paul," the one who was once a bitter enemy, who when converted had the revelation of Christ in glory and the intimation of His people's identification with Himself ("Why persecutest thou Me?") which forms the theme of this epistle. Much else, of course, is at once suggested by the name. We confine our attention to that which is characteristically associated with our epistle.

He is "an apostle of Jesus Christ." The very One whom he once persecuted sends him as His special messenger, to whom the dispensation of the mystery is committed. He is an apostle. What does this word suggest? Compare the twelve apostles of the Gospels with Paul, the one apostle of the Church. The twelve, as their number probably suggests, have a governmental place connected, we might say, with the earth; while Paul, as one born out of due time, is the chosen vessel of that mystery which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

Note next, this apostleship is "by the will of God," suggesting that Paul's ministry was received directly from a divine source. He was an apostle "not of men, nor by man" (Gal. 1:1).

We have thus in the first half of the verse, the source, the will of God; the Person represented, our Lord Jesus Christ; the instrument, Paul. The second half of the verse shows to whom the epistle is addressed, "the saints." Note how completely assured the people of God are as to their position before Him, already "sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints" (1 Cor. 1:2). These "are at Ephesus," which suggests the special locality where gathered, but reminds us of that unity which pervades the whole Church of God which is one body, and therefore the local assembly but furnishes the special occasion for that which not only meets their individual need, but is for the Church of God in every place and time.

"And to the faithful in Christ Jesus." Note "saints" first of all; then, because of it, "faithful." It does not necessarily mean that some are saints who are not faithful. God's word presumes that we answer to our position; it does, however, furnish a word for our conscience that if we are to go on in the knowledge of the truth of God, it must be as those who have obtained grace to be faithful. This faithfulness, however, is not the result of mere individual condition, but is "in Christ Jesus." We are linked with Him not merely for the grace that has saved us, but for that which produces the fruits of the divine life.

We have now, as we might say, dissected the verse and found that it contains the following subjects:
Paul — saints
apostle — Ephesus
of Jesus Christ — faithful
the will of God — in Christ Jesus.

These eight subjects naturally fall into two groups:
1st, those which are associated with the sender of the epistle;
2nd, those associated with its receivers.
The first links Paul with our Lord Jesus Christ and the will of God in his apostleship.
The second links the saints with their local gathering and their place and condition in Christ Jesus.

Two questions for further study would be noted:
1st. What is the thought in the New Testament of an apostle, and in what sense were the twelve and Paul apostles par excellence? See, for instance, Acts 14:4, where Barnabas is associated with Paul as an apostle, and yet we all instinctively feel that there was a difference. This topic may be marked for further study.
The second question would be as to the expression "in Ephesus." Note the manuscript authority for and against the insertion of these words. If possible, read a summary of views on this point.

This will furnish an illustration of what we mean by analysis. It consists largely in disengaging each phrase and word from its immediate setting and seeking to ascertain its place and importance in the sentence. As will be noted, this will prove a most valuable help in memorizing; and conversely, memorizing will enable us to meditate upon such details. After each verse is thus analyzed, we can endeavor- to put it together in somewhat the way that has been suggested above. We go on thus, verse by verse, and find that each one can be, not only analyzed, but that it forms a part of a group or paragraph. Thus, for instance, the first two verses of Ephesians stand together as a salutation; in like manner, verses 3 to 8 form a group in which the fulness of our spiritual blessings in Christ is unfolded.

Verses 9 to 12 form another group, showing God's eternal purpose to head up all things in Christ, while verses 13 and 14 speak of the present seal of the Holy Spirit as the witness of our blessings, who abides with us until the day of redemption. The remainder of the chapter evidently falls into another group or division in which we find the apostle's prayer for the saints.

Analyzing this prayer, we find that it is composed of three parts: 1st, his desire that we might know the hope of God's calling (ver. 18)

2nd, the riches of His inheritance (ver. 18), and 3rd, the greatness of the power which has wrought in us.

This wondrous power he further enlarges upon, showing it to be none other than that which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. It is then traced on until we see our Lord seated on high, Head over all things, and His Church linked with Him as the body to the Head.

We have thus supposedly dissected each verse and phrase of our chapter and re-arranged it into certain well-defined groups or divisions. We perhaps are not yet ready to see the exact proportion existing between these various groups or divisions, but at least have a fair measure of apprehension of the contents of the chapter and the relation of its various parts. As a result of perhaps a week's study, we will have memorized and analyzed our chapter and can proceed with the next.

When a whole epistle has thus been gone over, verse by verse and group by group, we will be in a position to arrange these groups in more definite proportion and to see what are the main divisions, and under these, the sub-divisions of the epistle.

The effect of study like this is most helpful in every way. It enables us to meditate in detail upon each portion, and to reduce it down to those elements which can be most readily assimilated into our own spiritual being, and at the same time furnishes us with the key to the special object or objects for which the epistle was written, and enables us to follow the method which the Holy Spirit has used in inspiring the apostle as he wrote. We will find, as has been said, the main divisions of the epistle.

It is suggested that each one study for himself in somewhat the manner indicated, instead of following the results of the study of others. Our own analysis will qualify us the more to appreciate what others have learned, and give us that individuality of knowledge which is so essential in the word of God. We are not blindly to follow others, though we may thankfully use results of their work.

When we have thus gone through the epistle and noted its contents, we are prepared to make the final outline and arrangement in which it will be fastened permanently in our minds. Here will come in helps from other sources, and we will be gratified to see how far our own analysis has corresponded with that of students who have gone before us, and at the same time be enabled to appreciate the added light which we get through their labors.

We have now, let us say, gone throughout the entire epistle to the Ephesians, having analyzed each verse and committed it to memory, and gained a fairly clear knowledge of its contents and the current of its thought as set forth in its outline. In a similar way, we could next take up the other epistles, devoting a portion of time daily and regularly, no matter though it be but a few minutes, to this branch of our work.

After having outlined a few of the epistles and having gone on with our regular reading of the entire Scriptures, we will be in a position to complete this analysis of the entire New Testament. Being fairly familiar with its contents, we will have a more or less distinct idea of the general purport of each book or group of books. Of course, we will not have analyzed the entire New Testament as thoroughly as we have the epistle to the Ephesians, but the very habit which we have formed in the study of that book will have led us to apply similar methods even to our ordinary reading, and many facts and thoughts which would otherwise have escaped us will have become clear in our daily reading. We will, therefore, begin our analysis and grouping of all the books of the New Testament.

Perhaps it would be as well to continue with the Epistles for our first attempt. Thus we would naturally pass from Ephesians to Colossians, which it greatly resembles, and gather, if we can, the prominent features in that epistle. While we find much that is similar to Ephesians, the pre-eminence of our Lord Jesus Christ in both His person and work, as displacing all that would dispute His supremacy, will be found to be the theme. We might say that Ephesians gives us the Church "in Christ." In Colossians, we have Christ in the Church. Thus, in Ephesians, we are seen as linked to Him by the Holy Spirit as well as quickened and raised with Him and seated in Him in the heavenly places. In Colossians, Christ as the glorious Head and all-sufficient object of His people is presented; and the saints are looked upon as quickened, but still upon earth; and as "risen with Christ" are to seek the things where He is, mortifying all that is inconsistent with this, and applying this position and association to the various relationships in the daily life.

But let us retrace our steps a moment, and indicate what might be the manner in which the reader would gather these and other truths in Colossians. We will make a list of some of the prominent thoughts of each chapter as it is read. Thus:

Chapter 1.

1. The salutation.

2. A prayer for the saints.

3. Thanksgiving for present possessions, including:

(a) Meetness for heaven.

(b) Deliverance from the power of darkness.

(c) Redemption.

4. The glorious Person of our Lord:

(a) As divine.

(b) As Head over all creation.

(c) The Creator of all things.

(d) His Headship to the Church in resurrection.

5. All fulness dwelling in Him.

6. Reconciliation by His death.

(a) Of things in heaven and earth.

(b) Of persons once alienated.

7. These blessings only for genuine faith, not profession.

8. Paul, a minister of the gospel.

9. Also a minister of the Church, the mystery.

Endeavoring to group these thoughts together, we might say the general theme of the first chapter was. Christ in the perfection of His person and work the source of every blessing, present and future, for all creation, and particularly for His Church — the ministry of all this entrusted to the apostle.

Chapter 2.

By a similar process we would collect the prominent thoughts in the next chapter, and as a result state its general theme:

Christ embodying all-sufficiency for His people and displacing for them both philosophy and legalism. A prominent thought is "Dead with Christ.

Chapter 3.

"Risen with Christ" is the theme here, and the walk of the new man; the old having been laid aside with his deeds. The theme of the chapter might be stated, "' Risen with Christ ' and the walk according to the new creation."

Chapter 4.

continues the side of the practical walk and closes the epistle with various greetings and salutations which have a beautiful and consistent place. The general theme might be given, "Practical responsibilities and the outgoings of love."

It will be noted that we have made no attempt at what may be called a final outline of the epistle. That will come later, but sufficient will have been gathered each day in the reading of the chapter to enable one to make some such outline as is indicated above, with the result that the main theme of the entire epistle will be more or less clearly apprehended.

We turn next to the epistle to the Galatians, and applying similar methods as with Colossians, reach its general theme: the believer delivered from the law, both for justification and as a rule of life, in order that he may walk in the power of the Spirit.

Philippians has a place all its own, showing how occupation with the precious truths presented in the other epistles will result in the experimental knowledge of Christ as the one portion for our souls. This, we might state as the theme of the epistle, and its four chapters evidently suggest a four-fold view of our blessed Lord:

1. As the life, and source of all blessing.

2. As the example of His people.

3. The object in heaven toward which we press.

4. As the supply for our every need here.

Let us now survey what we have gone over. We will suppose that the epistle to the Ephesians has been studied in detail, occupying possibly three months, during which we have also at odd times been able to memorize it. Another month will have given time for the less minute study of Colossians, Galatians, and Philippians, enabling us to go through the epistle to the Romans as minutely as that to the Ephesians, perhaps without memorizing more than chapters 3 to 8, giving, as the result of our year's work, a fairly thorough outline of these epistles with their contents and their relation to each other. We might then probably appreciate the grouping which has been made of these epistles in an order which illustrates the perfection of divine inspiration and which pervades the entire word of God.*

{* For this, see "The Numerical Structure of Scripture," or From Genesis to Revelation".}

1. Romans — Justification by faith, the true foundation.

2. Galatians — Deliverance from law, a necessary result.

3. Ephesians — "In Christ," and union with Him.

4. Colossians — Christ's person and position, our delivering Object.

5. Philippians — Christ known experimentally in the soul.

But we hear some of our readers say: "We have no time for such study as this; it is too difficult, and impossible for us in a year's time to get such a knowledge. Life is too busy; the days are too short. There is no use of our ever attempting anything like this."

But, courage. Do not dwell upon the difficulties. Begin today with ten minutes of your time, even if the results are so small that you cannot see them, and go on regularly, devoting that much time daily and systematically. If you have not been able to accomplish in the year what we have outlined, possibly you have done but a third as much, and surely if at the end of three years, we have gathered for ourselves from these great epistles their meaning to a certain extent, our work has not been in vain. The trouble with many is that after they have left school, and probably even when there, they have never accustomed themselves to habits of systematic work. The outcome of such a study as we have indicated would be most beneficial in securing more system and better results throughout the entire day.

When once a mastering purpose has taken possession of the heart, even though we may not be able to give very much time to it, we will be jealous of everything which will encroach upon that time. Occupation with needless things, frittering of time away in reading trashy literature, or unprofitable conversation, will be eliminated, not from a legal sense of duty merely, but rather in the spirit of Nehemiah: "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down."

We leave, however, this part of our subject to further pursue that which is now before us, the analysis of Scripture. Our reason for taking up Paul's epistles first is that these form, we might say, the centre of doctrinal truth about which all other truth is grouped. It is understood that during this time, whether one or three years in which we have been making our outline of this group of Paul's epistles, we have also been reading steadily one or more chapters daily of the entire Bible. We will find also that our facility for catching the thought of a verse or chapter has greatly increased, and we are able to write down concisely what we are learning. We will, therefore, be able to continue our work of analysis and grouping, taking in, next, the entire New Testament, in which we will find certain clearly marked groups of books.

Thus, the four Gospels stand by themselves as presenting to us the life of all lives, the Person of our beloved Lord.

The Acts similarly give us the history of the Spirit's work in establishing the Church in the true liberty of the gospel, separating it from the Jewish swaddling clothes in which it had been bound at the beginning.

Paul's epistles, as we have already seen, furnish the great doctrinal centre around which all revelation is grouped; while the so-called general epistles of Peter, James, John and Jude afford that which is so needful for our earthly walk.

The Revelation concluding the whole is the great book of New Testament prophecy.

We have hitherto been occupied simply with the New Testament, and it is essential that we should have this book first in our minds, or we will be lacking the light so necessary to understand the Old. Without going into further details,which would carry us too far from our more immediate subject, we find that a similar treatment, not so minute as that suggested for the epistle to the Ephesians, would enable us to put the Old Testament books into their main groupings.

Thus, the Pentateuch would stand by itself; the Historical Books would follow. Then the Poetical Books, and finally the Prophets. As we proceeded further, we would modify this order according to the valuable suggestions given to us in the books already referred to, and thus have a framework of the Old Testament which could be gradually filled in as time enabled. As the years went on, more and more clearly would God's wondrous Word spread out its riches before us, not in a confused mass in which we scarcely knew which to take up and enjoy, but rather in that order which is the characteristic of all God's work, and which pervades His written Word no less perfectly than it does the order of the heavens above us or the creation which lies around our feet.

In connection with the work of analysis, we might mention that form of it which Dr. Doddridge followed in his "Expositor," an old book probably difficult to find now, and too much out of date to find a place on many book-shelves. In it he gives what we might call a running exposition of the Scripture in which the exact language is woven into an accompanying paraphrase. The inspired words are all underscored so that they can be read separately without any difficulty. We will attempt a brief illustration of this method, with the suggestion that possibly some of our readers might devote a special notebook to this kind of work, a few minutes out of those devoted to analysis being given to it.

Col. 1:1-2. Paul, formerly a bitter persecutor but now an apostle (a specially inspired messenger with authority to establish Churches and to make full provision for their instruction and government) of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, Creator and Upholder of all things, who became incarnate and by His atoning death made provision for the redemption of all mankind, and who, as risen from the dead and ascended on high, has sent forth the Holy Spirit to form His Church and to unite them to Himself as Head, and who is coming again to receive them and all His people to Himself; by the will of God, and therefore not subject to human authority, nor going at his own charges or of his own volition; and Timotheus, as present at the time of writing and identified, not in authority, but fellowship with the epistle; our brother, not indeed according to the flesh, but in those divine ties which are eternal.

To the saints, not indeed such by nature or attainment, nor yet that the flesh, the old nature, does not still remain in them, but "sanctified in Christ Jesus," "sanctified, justified in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God," sanctified too by the blood of Christ; thus, set apart to God, both by the work of the Spirit in them and the work of Christ for them, whose walk too will in greater or less degree show the fruit of this life; and faithful brethren, believing not merely with the mind, but with the heart, and therefore loyal brethren, members of the one family of God, and more specifically of "the Church of first-born ones whose names are written in heaven"; in Christ, partakers of His life, by the Holy Spirit born again and eternally united to their living Head in heaven by the baptism of the Spirit; which are at Colosse, but not excluding "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours," for all saints have not only a local connection, but are members one of another. Grace, the full favor of God, unmerited by us and secured by no works of righteousness which we have done, but the free gift of God, including all present and eternal blessings, be unto you; not to some special class of saints, but all, from the least to the greatest; and peace, the enjoyment of a relationship which has been already established by our Lord from God our Father, who has chosen us in Christ and is the Source of all things, and the Lord Jesus, the once lowly Man but now exalted to be Christ.

Col. 1:15-18. Who, as now incarnate, but the ever existent God, is the image or exact likeness in every attribute and moral character of the invisible God "who dwelleth in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can see," but who has been declared, made known, by the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father; the Firstborn, not in point of time, but of priority, establishing His headship of every creature, or of all creation, being thus its Master and its Head; for, the reason why this is the case is that by Him, in His power, the Author and Agent, were all things as hereafter stated, created, not formed out of pre-existent matter, but called into being from absolute nothingness, that are in heaven, the vast universe above and about us, and that are in earth, the sea, the land, all things, vegetable and animal, in various families and orders, with their characteristics and possibilities of further development, in fact every possible and conceivable existence outside of Deity itself; visible, the material creation; and invisible, the world of spirit; whether they be thrones, highest official dignitaries; or dominions, rulers over parts of God's vast universe; or principalities, lesser authorities; or powers, every angelic being exulting in strength, fallen and unfallen, though all as created by Him were unfallen, intelligent, responsible, superhuman, immortal spirits: all things as thus characterized, without a single exception were created by Him, who thus proves Himself to be absolute Deity, one with the Father, in essence, power and glory; and for Him as the expression of His attributes of power, wisdom, skill, of His divine mind with its infinite and glorious conceptions — that vast plan in which His entire universe is to set forth His glories, and those more blessed ones of righteousness, holiness, goodness and love; and He is before all things, nothing can compare with Him in importance; no subject can engage our thoughts equal with Himself; He rises above all the affairs of this world and of the universe; even as He existed before them, so now He is infinitely superior to them; and by Him, by His wisdom, and the power of that word which called all things out of nothing into being, not by anything inherent in themselves, all things consist, are held fast together, the stars in their immeasurable orbits above us, the tiny drops of water that sparkle upon a blade of grass, all are held fast by the same omnipotent power of the eternal Son of God; and He is the Head, supreme Master and sovereign Lord, not only in an administrative way, but vitally the controlling power of the body, composed of all believers since Pentecost, being united to Him by the baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no longer a Jewish nation or an earthly people, but Me Church, the truth as to which forms the mystery spoken of in this epistle, and made known by special revelation to Paul; who is the beginning, the Author and Head of the new creation which rests not upon fallen man, but upon the Son of God incarnate, who is the Firstborn from the dead, victorious over that death and judgment under which His people lay, He the first-fruits and the Forerunner of all His redeemed; that in all things, in every department of existence, wherever the thought can reach or wherever the Spirit of God can lead to still higher and ever higher conceptions of the breadth and length, the depth and height of those domains which have no boundaries, to all, with every family in heaven and earth, angelic, human, infernal, He might have the pre-eminence, Head over all things, Lord of all, to whom yet every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

These illustrations will suffice to open up a boundless field of activity. We might study greater conciseness, so far as is consistent with including every thought which occurs to us, as suggested by the word or phrase, and endeavor to weave all together, so that it can be read smoothly.

A verse, for instance, like John 3:16, could be given to intelligent members of a Sunday-school class for paraphrase after this manner. It would probably give views of its wondrous depths of which they had never thought before. If separate notebooks are kept for this paraphrase work, we would gradually, in the course of years, accumulate quite a number of outlines of different books. Here, too, probably, it is better to go on verse by verse, rather than to select special portions.

While we are upon this part of the subject,the writer has found it quite interesting to have a notebook as a companion in his daily reading, in which each chapter as it was read was roughly outlined under headings somewhat after the manner of the headings to the chapters in our Bibles, only more fully and with reference to dispensational accuracy. Thus, Matthew 3 as it is read in the course might be divided up somewhat as follows:

The preaching of repentance by John the Baptist (vers. 1, 2); in fulfilment of prophecy (ver. 3); John described (ver. 4); the effect of his preaching (vers. 5, 6); his warning to the Pharisees and Sadducees (vers. 7-9); judgment upon unfruitfulness (ver. 10); the coming of our Lord predicted (vers. 11, 12); the baptism of Christ (vers. 13-15); the descent of the Holy Spirit (vers. 16, 17).

And so, as each chapter is read, it could be roughly hewed out in this way, which would pave the way for the more complete treatment that we get in our thorough analysis.

Again, let us take courage. We do not expect persons to reach absolutely satisfactory results at the outset. No doubt, at first, one would find even so bald an outline as that given above, rather difficult; but a little practice will help, and with the blessing of our Lord we will soon begin to ask ourselves what each chapter contains and note it down. Every piece of such outline work lets fresh light into our understanding of the Bible as a whole, and makes it less and less an unknown country. Roadways will have been opened up through it in various directions and we will have the general "lay of the land." Often as we go along our road to an other destination, we may cast longing glances into some field which attracts us with its richness of flower and fruit, at which we only can glance in passing on, but with the promise to ourselves of returning there for a special examination.