The word “FOCUS” is an acronym for one type of Bible study method in which each

The word “FOCUS” is an acronym for one type of Bible study method in which each letter stands for a step in the Bible study process. In addition to some of the important interpretative issues we’ve covered in this class so far, these are five steps for deeper investigation into Scripture that combine academic study with personal application. In your FOCUS paper use Turabian/Chicago style (or another approved style) and use these steps as the subheadings:
F Find what’s there.
O Observations & questions
C Consider key words and phrases.
U Understand the insights.
S So what?
You may choose between the following two passages for this FOCUS paper:
Isaiah 36:11–22 Acts 7:54–8:3
Assyria Threatens Jerusalem Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church
Step One: Find What’s There
Discovering what is actually in the text
First, read your passage several times to become familiar with it. Then, begin your investigation by seeking out the purpose of the passage. Is it a story? A hymn of worship? Instruction to live by? Describe what is happening. Is there action and reaction? Is dialogue present between two or more people? What response does the writer expect from the reader/hearer?
Write. For your paper, (a) state the passage you have chosen; (b) state what kind of passage (worship, instructions, etc.), and (c) what version of the Bible you used.
Step Two: Observations & Questions
Examining the facts “behind the text” to understand its original meaning better
Next, make observations and ask questions. Create a chart by dividing a page (digital or physical) into two equal columns with a vertical line down the center. Label one column “Observations” and the other “Questions.” Provide at least five (5) observations and three (3) questions for the entire passage. Read through the passage several times and note in the Observations column interesting things you observe. These observations should not be summaries of the text but instead should focus on analyzing it. Most observations should begin with a label that describes what type of issue you are pointing out (e.g., Who, What, When, Where, and Why). When you find something you don’t understand, or that you need to explore further, write it in the Questions column.
Write. For your paper, summarize and comment briefly on two (2) of your Observations and two (2) Questions you listed on your chart, and attach your chart to the end of your paper
Step Three: Consider Key Words & Phrases
Studying repeated, important, or puzzling words or phrases found “within the text”
By this point, you should be familiar enough with your text to have noticed certain words or phrases that are significant for understanding the meaning of your passage. Choose one key word from the text. Try to choose a word that you think may have a deeper meaning or maybe a word that you think is unclear. Theologically significant words or words that are repeated are also good choices as well.
The tool used for Bible word studies is called a concordance, and while many Bibles have shortened concordances in the back, we are going to use an “exhaustive” concordance, which means it has every instance of every word cataloged. The free online exhaustive concordance used for this course can be found at blueletterbible.org.
After navigating to blueletterbible.org, change the translation from the KJV to the translation you have chosen to use for this paper (you can also do this at any point using the navigation bar at the top of each page). Enter the reference of your text into the search bar (ex: Matthew 5:1-12), and your results will be displayed verse-by-verse.
Scroll to and click on the reference for the verse that contains the word you want to look up (For example: “Mat 5:4”).
This will bring up a window containing the Hebrew or Greek text, Since you likely don’t know how to read Biblical Hebrew or Greek (at least not yet!), refer to the English words in the left column. Scroll through until you find your word or phrase. If your word (or possibly a similar word in its place) is not there, double-check to make sure you clicked the right verse. If it is still not there, then go back and try a different word. Once you find your English word click on the Strong’s number in that same row. This number will begin with an H (for Old Testament passages) or a G (for New Testament passages).
Now you will be redirected to a new page dedicated to that specific word. This page contains everything you need for your word study.
Write. Include the following information from that web page on your word or phrase:
The word as you first noticed it in English and what you discovered about its meaning in its original language and context—you may want to include a transliteration of the original word, but this is not required.
The Strong’s number—make sure to include the H or G.
How often this word occurs in the book of the Bible that you found it in—you do not need to count the number of instances in other books.
Two other places where your Hebrew/Greek word is found in the Bible—make sure to include these other references and your explanation of the word as it appears in those contexts.
Proper citations and bibliography entries. Make sure you cite the webpage from Blueletterbible.org in your paper and include it in your Works Cited page.
Step Four: Understand the Insights
Looking beyond what the passage says and thinking carefully about its message
While studying the Bible, we want to examine not only “within” and “behind” the text, but also “in front of” the text, to be aware of ourselves as readers and interpreters. One important way to do this is by biblical meditation. Biblical meditation involves thinking about something several times, slowly and carefully, from different perspectives.
Reflect on any insights that come to mind. What can you learn about God, human beings, relationships, or the way the world works?
Open yourself to self-examination, to something God may be teaching you about yourself (e.g. something you should do).
The acrostic P-E-A-C-E A-C-T-S may be helpful here. Each letter represents a question to be answered as you think about a passage. Ask the question first about the passage, then second about yourself.
P Promise to claim? Is it only for myself or for others too?
E Emotion expressed? What emotions are found in the passage? What can I learn about frustration, excitement, anger, sadness, happiness, etc.?
A Assistance to give? Is there something I can do to help someone else?
C Command to obey? Am I willing to do it no matter how I feel?
E Example to follow? Or a negative one to avoid? Is there some danger that I should be alert to?
A Adoration to proclaim? What aspects of God’s nature or character do I want to praise and celebrate?
C Cry to God? A cry confessing sin? What needs to change about me? Do I have attitudes displeasing to God? Do I need to make any restitution to someone? A cry of crisis? Do I need to be honest and real with God about my life circumstances? About my future? About doubt?
T Thanks to offer? What good things has God done for me or for others?
S Supplication or request? What would I like to ask from God?
To substantiate your reflections, read the commentary article associated with your passage that has been provided by the instructor. Be sure your PEACE ACTS insights would be in general agreement with the scholarly insights you find in the commentary article.
WRITE. Record your answers to some of the reflections above. Include: (a) at least three of the PEACE ACTS items by clearly connecting your reflections to the labels given above; (b) include at least one properly cited quote from the provided commentary article to substantiate at least one of your PEACE ACTS insights.
Step Five: So What?
Considering what value your passage has for our lives right here and now
In this final section of the Bible study, we are finally reaching the application. The biblical application seeks to move beyond the broader concepts and apply the truth of the passage to life. This section asks, “So what? What’s the bottom line? What is the practical pay-off? What are the implications of the passage for us today? How might this passage inform, correct, or empower people?”
After doing all of the hard work of a careful Bible study, the temptation may be to overlook what the Bible may be teaching you personally. We believe the Scriptures invite us to respond fully, with our total love and devotion, involving our minds, attitudes, and actions.
Faith is much like a journey. We’re moving and growing at different paces and find ourselves in different places. Some of us are committed to Christ, others may be curious about God and still, others may be cynical about faith. We recognize that students could be anywhere along this continuum. Given where you are on your spiritual journey, consider the following questions:
What are the important values being communicated in this passage? In other words, what should become important to us?
What life lessons are being taught in the text that can help us navigate life and the world?
What are you going to do differently as a result of what you have learned? Is there something to stop doing? Something you wish to commit to doing regularly? A habit you need to establish or break? Something you wish to speak to someone else about?
As the culmination of the paper, write how this passage applies to your life. Writing this out helps you see it more clearly and may help influence you to put it into practice. Be sure that your application is personal, practical, precise, and planned.
Personal Use the first person singular: “I” and “me.” For example, “I need to…”
Practical
It should be something you can actually do. Describe a definite course of action. For example, “I need to spend more time in prayer.”
Precise
How often or how long? Be specific. For example, “I will pray for ten minutes.”
Planned
When? Set some measurable goals. For example, “I will pray for ten minutes a day this week.”
Final Instructions
The results of your FOCUS Study should be presented in a typed and double-spaced paper with 1-inch margins all around. This should make the paper between 4 and 5 pages in length. Note the instructions for writing in each of the steps above.
NOTE: This type of study is designed to be very personal, and so may involve things you are hesitant for another person to know about. If so, please indicate in general terms what you have done in your study, and be only as specific in your paper as you feel comfortable. You may discuss this with your professor if you have questions.