After completing the detailed grammatical, syntactical and lexical analysis, we need to step back and refocus to the bird’s eye perspective and so some synthesizing. First, we need to identify the overall theme of the book, but by completing the first steps in the exegetical process, the theme of the chosen book should by now be apparent. If we have done our work well to this point, the remaining steps are easy. Once we grasp the overall theme of the book, we need to summarize the immediate context surrounding the passage. Note how important it is to recognize the immediate context in relation to the following passages:
Genesis 49:10 (for context definition, see 49:1) – the immediate context demonstrates the significance of the statement regarding Judah. What kind of statement was it?
Exodus 20 – The Ten Commandments. Should this passage apply to the church today? Why or why not? How does the immediate context clarify the issue?
2 Chronicles 7:14-15 – This passage has often been applied by the church to the church. Is this appropriate? What does the immediate context say about the intended audience? What kinds of consequences are promised? What is the significance?
Job 34:37 – Does Elihu personally indict Job for sinning?
Psalm 58:6 – How is this an appropriate prayer?
Isaiah 6:8 – This sounds like a very bold response by Isaiah. How do the preceding events alter that perception of this passage?
Ezekiel 40-48 – What time period does the context suggest?
Matthew 13 – Why is Christ speaking in parables. What is the significance?
Mathew 16:27-28 – Contextually, to what event is Christ referring? (Note the chapter division of Mk. 9, how it fits the context better than the chapter division between Mt. 16-17).
Acts 2:4 – How does the immediate context define to speak with other tongues? See 2:11.
Galatians 3:28-29 – How does the immediate context define and limit the elimination of all distinctions?
Ephesians 3:3 – How is the mystery defined contextually?
Hebrews 6:4-6 – Who is being described, believer or unbeliever?
In these – and any passages, we need to understand the immediate context. What directly precedes our chosen passage, and what immediately follows it? How does the immediate context contribute to and define our chosen passage, and what impact do those contextual factors have on the passage’s contribution to the book?
Because context is the single greatest factor in defining words and helping us understand intended meaning, we cannot give too much attention to Biblical context. In discovering that context, we do need to exercise caution that we are focusing on the textual, rather than theological context (that is another step entirely). If we introduce theological concepts before thoroughly considering Biblical context, we can lose our objectivity here. So, we ask simple question, and try to answer them textually. What is the overall theme of the book? What immediately precedes and follows our chosen passage, and how does that context impact the passage? And how does our chosen passage contribute to the overall theme of the book?
Finally, we can examine more distant contexts. Does the writer have other Biblical writings that have related contexts that we should consider that can help us understand our chosen passage. Remember, we need to look at the big picture, and then near contexts, then far contexts, and in that order.