Paraphrasing Paul

6th August, 2013 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

One of the best ways to find out if you understand the content of a biblical passage is to paraphrase it in your own words. You must grasp the meaning of the verses in order to rewrite what you have read in simple and ordinary, yet accurate, words.

This past week I wrote the first of the chapters on the epistles for God’s Great Covenant: New Testament 2. My task was to figure out how to briefly capture the gist of Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Thessalonians. This is what I decided to do.  First I summarized the context and content of the epistle. Then in five or six short paragraphs I paraphrased Paul’s words as though he were writing a letter to the student. Of course, it’s impossible in a few paragraphs to include every idea in the epistle, but I picked out the unique highlights of each epistle that would be important for the student to know.

The thought came to me that this would be an effective technique for teachers and parents to use as well. Assign a passage for the student to read. Then ask them to paraphrase the verses in their own words being careful to preserve the accuracy of what the passage means.  I think this would be particularly useful when studying the epistles since they are rich with theology that is not always easily understood.

Paraphrasing was helpful for me as I had to make decisions as to what key concepts the student should remember about each of the epistles.  It also helped me as a student of scripture because now if someone asks me, “What is 2 Thessalonians all about?” I can tell them in a few words.


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