Key Study Technique
One of the best ways to learn from Scripture, no matter what part you’re reading, is by looking for repeated words and phrases. In fact, noticing such patterns while reading the Bible is a key study technique.
Repetition exists at verse, chapter and book levels. Some also connect through all of Scripture too.
There’s always a significant reason for the existence of repetition in the Bible. In fact, it has a great deal to teach us. Whenever we see a repeated word, phrase, activity, behavior, etc. know that there’s something we need to notice.
Learning from Others
Repetition in Scripture often helps us see patterns of behavior. We may not right away realize why a pattern exists, but studying them in the lives of those who went before us almost always leads to significant revelations we can apply to our own lives.
For example, two overarching themes in the book of Judges shown through repeated or similar phrasing teach us a couple of significant lessons.
“Israel did evil in the Lord’s sight.” (Judges 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; & 13:1)
Israel cried out to the Lord for help, and God raised up a judge to lead them. (Judges 3:9, 13; 4:3-4; 6:6-7; 10:10; & Ch. 13)
“There was peace.” (Judges 3:11; 4:30; & 5:31)
This pattern is found at least 5 times in Judges. The repetition shows us that…
- Disobedience ALWAYS brings judgment.
- God is ALWAYS faithful.
Judges also uses repetition to show the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament as experienced in the lives of Othniel, Gideon, Jepthah and Sampson.
The repeated words and phrases we see in Judges, a book filled with drama and intrigue, exemplifies the impact of repetition throughout Scripture. But, we can easily expand our look beyond the book and see repetition used throughout Scripture.
Consider these examples of repetition in the Bible:
- Wisdom references found throughout Proverbs.
- “Blessed are…” and other repeated phrases in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7)
- Stories found in each of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)
Studying these patterns in Scriptures can amplify your understanding of what God desires for his people. It can also help you better understand God’s character.
Pay Attention to the Repetition
Repetition exists in Scripture for emphasis. Often, it emphasize a lesson or application God wants us to learn and apply as in the examples given above. It is also sometimes equivalent to why we bold and italicize text today. For example…
“Holy, holy, holy.” (Isaiah 6:30 & Revelation 4:8)
Whatever the specific reason, repetition in the Bible always means pay attention. Make a habit of marking them in your Bible. Not only will you get better at noticing them as you establish the habit, but you’ll also be enriched by discovering why each one exists.