Bible Study Hacks - Substantiations

In 2006 Rod Thompson introduced me to the Structural Laws Bible study method. He had picked up this Inductive Bible Study method while on the mission field in Eastern Europe and had refined the method for the Bible classes he taught. Rod Thompson

As soon as he walked me through the method I knew I had found a useful tool. Up until this point I had been using the Dan Frinfrock's OIA (or OICA as I learned in Bible College). But this new Structural Laws method harnessed a different set of observations and it was well suited to the way my brain works.

One of the things you are supposed to look for when making observations in the text with the Structural Laws method are Substantiations. A substantiation is a cause and effect in reverse oder. The effect is given and then the cause follows. A truth statement is made, and then the supporting evidence is provided.

The flag words that most often indicates a substantiation is being used are the words "for" or "because". When the word "for" is found at the beginning of a sentence it is often linking the preceding thought with a follow up truth that supports it. Paul does this in Romans 1:10-11 when he says "making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.  11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—"

The truth statement found in verse 10 is that he is making a request of God that he would be permitted to come to the Romans. At the beginning of verse 11 we have the flag word "for" and the supporting statement that explains why Paul is making this prayer request. Paul longed to see the church in Rome. This was the reason for his prayer in verse ten. And this is a perfect example of a substantiation.

The statement that comes after the flag word "for" or "because" provides an answer to why the initial statement was made.

Some times the Bible interpreter will find multiple substantiations stacked one on top of another. This is done in the text when a logical progression is being given. But again, the substantiation works in reverse order from effect to cause. This means that a stack of substantiations will work from a major statement into a funnel shaped progression that leads to less important details.

Next time you have a chance to do some Bible study, print out the chapter you are studying and highlight the flag words "for" and "because". Then ask the question: What is the statement? and What is the substantiation or clarification? You should end up with some nice logical points coming right out of the text.

If you want to read some more about Structural Laws Method you can check out Methodical Bible Study by Robert Traina