So you’ve opened the Bible and chosen verses to read. Good. Now go ahead and read the passage you chose ... at least twice. After you’ve read, grab some paper and a pen so we can summarize the passage. Now summaries may seem simple, but they are one of the most powerful tools you can use to understand God’s Word. Summarization is one of the most important tools for reading the Bible. In fact, if you cannot summarize, you will never understand the passage you just read.
But what exactly is a summary? A summary is a rough sketch; a smaller, abridged version of a larger story. A summary is kind of like a map. For example, New York City is full of parks, buildings and stores. A map of of New York would not try to enumerate every single building or park. Similarly, a good summary zooms out above the city to show you the landscape or a map of the story. A summary should NOT try to repeat the whole story word for word. Instead, summaries strive to hide some details, while shining light on others.
God The Master Summarizer
You’ll be happy to know that God Is The Master Summarizer. The Bible is itself a summary as John 21:25 implies. The book of Proverbs and all prophecies are also summaries. The most famous summary ever, ever, is found in Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”
You see there. God Just Summarized The Entire Bible, everything, past, present and future in a single Glorious Sentence. Let us look more closely to see how God Folds all of time into a single sentence. Notice that He Doesn’t Tell you how it’s going to happen. He Doesn’t Mention specific details like Peter denying Christ. He Just Tells you what is happening and what will happen. He Focuses on only a few details while Leaving out so so many others. And yet, everything that happens in life falls into the two categories God Mentions. For example, Peter denying Christ: this is an example of the serpent bruising the heel of Jesus Christ. But Peter preaching at Pentecost is an example of Jesus Christ crushing the serpent’s head.
Good Summary, Bad Summary
But now you’ll say, “I’m not God. What if my summary leaves out something important? What if my summary has too many details?”
Good question. A summary, like a map, can be good or bad. A good summary strives to glorify the storyteller and honor the story. A bad summary scorns the storyteller and abuses the story. A bad map of NYC, for example, would be positively insulting if, somehow, the cartographer made the city look like Chicago. A bad summary of Pride and Prejudice, might, for example, introduce zombies as the main character.
So when it comes to summarizing a Bible passage, don’t worry right now about too many or too little details. Instead, set your heart to glorify God, The Storyteller, and honor The Bible, His Story. God Will Help you choose the details.
Through the window of time
So let’s go back to Matthew 7:24-29. Ask God to help you honor Him and then summarize what happened in the passage. The best way to start summarizing is to look at the passage through the window of time. We can do this by answering the following questions about the passage you just read:
Here is what your summary might sound like: First Jesus Told the people that if they listened to Him and did what He Said, they are building their house on solid rock. Then He Told them that if they listen to Him and didn’t do what He Said, they are building their house on sand. Finally, the people were in awe of Him Because He Taught with authority.
We’ll get more detailed in future steps but, for now, just remember that you have to summarize the passages you read in The Bible. Your summaries should strive to glorify God, The StoryTeller and honor His Story, The Bible. Practice summarization by asking yourself: