What is this?

(Literary Genres Matter)


Rightly handling God's Word means interpreting it in context (Pastor Dylan)

Example of why context is important

______________ “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

______________ “Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah.”


Genre is describing the kind of literature that we are reading. It is one part of the context.

Reminder: The scriptures are to be rightly understood in the correct context (Context is King).


Two different Genres saying the same thing

What are the scriptures saying? What are the two different genres?

Exodus 14:21-25 (mainly 14:22)

Exodus 15:4-12 (mainly 15:8)


The story of God throughout history

Understanding the difference between Descriptive and Prescriptive Text

  • Descriptive: describing something that happened
  • Prescriptive: teaching that something should happen


OT Descriptive Example: David and Goliath (1 Sam 17)

  • Descriptive: The text is showing us the value of trusting in God
  • Prescriptive: We should take on our Goliath’s in our lives and beat them

NT Descriptive Example: Christians meeting in homes (Acts 2:46, 20:20; Romans 16:5)

  • Descriptive: it is describing that the early church met in homes
  • Prescriptive: it is saying that believers should only meet in homes

NT Prescriptive Example: Jesus’ words for us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20)

  • Descriptive: it is describing what Jesus said to his disciples at that time
  • Prescriptive: It is saying that all believers of all time should make disciples

Much of Acts is descriptive where much of the epistles is prescriptive. There are exceptions of course.

Look at Genesis 11:1-9

Question to ask to better understand Narrative Scripture

  1. What does this story tell us about God?
  2. What does the story tell us about us?
  3. What does the story tell us about the world?


Hebrew word tora is translated “law” and more specifically means “instruction” coming from God, not a local government.

  • Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:2-17
  • Israel’s choice “life and good, death and evil” – Deut. 30:11-20

Caution: The first 5 books of the bible are refereed to as the Tora, but not all the scriptures written in there are Law (instruction).  

The Law points people to the Gospel

  1. It is a Guardian – Galatians 3:21-26
  2. It is freedom from curse – Galatians 3:10 cited from Duet 27:26
  3. It is fulfilled by love – Galatians 5:14 (Leviticus 19:18)
    1. God makes it possible to love – 1 John 4:19-21

Look at Leviticus 24:10-16 about Blasphemy


Teach us the important lessons about all areas of life, including relationship with God and others.

Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes and portions of the psalms (1, 32, 34,37) and prophets (Is. 5:1-7)

Wisdom begins with believing God exists and having a fear of Him

  • Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  • Psalm 14:1 “The fools says in his heart, There is no God.”

Wisdom is knowledge in action

  • Matt. 7:24 Sermon on the Mount

Wisdom is more precious than jewels

  • Proverbs 3:15-17  “She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

Job: God allowing a good man to suffer and tested his faith through a challenge from Satan. It reveals God’s supremacy and divine wisdom over human wisdom.

Proverbs: Wisdom concerning morality and the knowledge of how to live properly. It contrasts the benefits of seeking wisdom and the pitfalls of loving fool’s life

Ecclesiastes: Contains the reflections of an old man “Preacher” who has lived a long time and has considers the meaning of life.

Cautions: Proverbs are not Promises

“A common mistake in biblical interpretation and application is to give a proverbial saying the weight or force of a moral absolute.” (R.C. Sproul)

  • Proverbs 22:6
  • Proverbs 22:29


“An oral, divine message mediated through an individual that is directed at a person or people group and intended to elicit a specific response.” Lexham Bible Dictionary

Categories of Prophesy

  1. Calling wayward people back to God
    1. Joel 2:12-14, Hosea 14, Zechariah 1:1-7
  2. Prediction, or foretelling the future events
    1. Ezekiel 36:26 God will put His Spirit within you
  3. Warning
    1. Ezekiel 13 Warning against False Prophets

Messianic Prophesy (Prophecy about Jesus)

  • Duet. 18:15, Hosea 11:1, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 53:5, Micah 5:2, 2 Sam. 7:14


Experiences, metaphors, and songs to communicate truth. Poetry writings makes up about 33% of the Bible.

Same but More Parallelism: thought or idea is expanded on (builds up).

  • Prov. 15:3, 4:23
  • Psalm 23:1

Same Repeated Parallelism: thought or idea is repeated in different terms.

  • Psalm 31:1
  • Psalm 24:1
  • Job 38:28

Opposed Parallelism: thoughts placed in opposition to one another.

  • Prov. 10:27-28, 12:1
  • Psalm 1:6

Acrostic Poetry: the initial letter of each line when read downward forms the alphabet

  • Psalm 119
  • Prov. 31:10-31


A short story that has a main point and teaches a moral or spiritual truth. It also can be thought of as a teaching aid. Parables make up 35% of Jesus’ recorded sayings. Jesus tells the parables to probe inside us to see if we really understand the gospel.

Example: Luke 18:9-14

Understanding the parables takes human effort and the help of the Holy Spirit

  • Disciples ask Jesus to understand (Mark 4:10)
  • Help of the Holy Spirit to understand the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11)

OT: 2 Sam 12:1-10 Nathan Rebukes David

NT: Mark 4:1-20 (Matthew 13, Luke 8) Parable of the Sower

Helpful Hints: Determine what is the moral/spiritual truth that is presented. “This is what the kingdom of heaven is like” (7 times in Matthew 13). Don’t add conclusions to the parable that are not there (only 4 types of soil Matt 13:1-9). Make sure the understanding of the parable doesn’t contradict other parts of scripture.


Four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that tell of the good news of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1)

Synoptic (see together) gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Same event recorded from different authors.

  • Prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Matt. 16:21-23, Mark 8:31-33, Luke 9:22)
  • Discipleship (Matt. 16:24-28, Mark 8:34-9:1, Luke 9:23-27)
  • Elijah coming (Matt. 17:9-13, Mark 9:9-13)

Why was the gospel of John written?

  • John 20:30-31


Letters written to churches or individuals making up 21 of the 27 books in the New Testament. 13 were written by the Apostle Paul.

Occasional Documents intended for a specific occasion

  • Correcting behavior
  • Doctrinal error
  • Encouragement
  • Giving instruction (Set up Elders – Titus 1:5)

Structured with gospel and then implications

  • Ephesians 1-3 gospel, 4-6 implications
  • Colossians 1:15-23 Christ, 2-4 implications
  • Romans 1-11 gospel, 12-16 implications


Scripture that reveals God’s action and coming judgement in symbolic language. It deals with “last things.” Scripture: Daniel 7-13, Revelation

Helpful Hints

  • Pay attention to the symbolism (highly symbolic)
  • Know the original audience
  • Don’t overanalyze the symbols
  • Think about the purpose of the scriptures
  • Use trusted resources

Daniel 8:3-8 (took place approximately 550 B.C.)

The Ram (8:3-4)

  • Represents the Medo-Persian Empire
  • The Persian ruler carried the gold head of a ram when he marched before the army
  • Two horns symbolizes the divisions in the empire (Media and Persia)
  • Ram is invincible to the west, it subdued Babylonia, Syria, Asia Minor
  • It controlled more territory than any other at this time

The Goat (8:5-8)

  • V.21 the goat is identified as a symbol of the Greek Empire
  • The prominent horn is representing Alexander the Great
  • Alexander conquered the world of his day “Crossing the whole earth”
  • V.6 “he ran at him in his powerful wrath” describes Alexander’s assault on the Persian Empire
  • V. 8 “the great horn was broken” represents Alexander’s death
  • “four prominent horns” represents four Greek military leaders who took over
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