One of the fundamental principles in Bible study is to be somewhat “Monkish.” If you have ever watched the award-winning detective show “Monk,” then you know what I mean. Mr. Monk would notice details that many would skip right over. He would question what was going on with those overlooked details. Ultimately, he would solve the case based on his observation and questioning.

As we try to develop better study techniques, the same must be true for us. In Denny’s Excelling in Exegesis articles, he has and will teach more about the importance of words and asking good questions of the text. In Joe Wells’ Excelling in Application articles, he has and will talk about how to take the lesson of the text into our lives. So, I am easing over into both of their categories a little, but I do think that is what the point of this series is.

To excel in our Bible study, we must combine our exegesis (finding the “what” of the text) with our application (finding the “so what” of the text).

So, here is an example of what I mean. As we study, it is easy to just read over a verse, take it kind of at “face value,” and move forward to the next verse. Recently I was studying John 4 as I prepared for a Bible class. I almost read right past verse 35. But then I stopped and asked a question. Why did Jesus say the same thing three times in a row? He said, “Look,” “Lift up your eyes,” and “See.” Then I asked, “I wonder if it was the same Greek word used three times to emphasize a point?” When I began to look at the words used, I found an amazing lesson in one verse.

One of many evangelism lessons from John 4 is found in verse 35. When the entire village comes out to see Jesus, He gives three imperatives to His disciples, all of which may concern the greatest need in evangelism. We must see the opportunities to share Jesus.

First, LOOK!

The idea behind this word is it is a “prompter of attention” (BDAG). The disciples are focused on physical things – eating food. Jesus is focused on spiritual food – doing God’s will (v.34). We have to stop focusing on the physical and pay attention to the opportunities to do spiritual things!


This is the only time this phrase is used in the NT. It is used often in the OT, almost every time to get the person to look all around at the massive amount of something around them (find the list here). We may think there are no opportunities to find seekers today. They are everywhere. But, like in John 4, they may not look like us, smell like us, or be the ones we are looking for.

Third, SEE!

The word means to “have an intent look at something” (BDAG). We have to see people as they are – as souls who need Jesus!

It’s important to slow down and see what is going on in a verse. It is also important to ask questions about the text. I read this verse and wondered why He said “look” three times. It could have been He was using the same word, and the meaning would be He is emphasizing that He wants them to look for evangelism opportunities. But sometimes you find the answer is there’s a ton more depth there than we first thought! Not only does this depth provide great application in our personal lives, but this one verse provides an excellent sermon seed. You won’t find an entire sermon every time. However, when we take the time to look closely at the text and ask some questions about it, we often realize there is more there than meets the eye!

May the Almighty bless us as we work to be better students of His word! Keep studying!

Corey Sawyers
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Corey Sawyers is the preaching minister at the Martin (TN) Church of Christ and an adjunct instructor with Bear Valley Bible Institute. He began preaching at the age of 15, filling in throughout Northwest Tennessee. He has been in full-time ministry since 1998 and has served with congregations in Tennessee and Colorado. He and his wife, Melody, married in 1996, and both are graduates of Bear Valley Bible Institute. They have three sons. Garrett is the youth minister at the Greenfield (TN) Church of Christ and is soon to be married to Bailey Jones. Gordon is the preacher for the Knob Creek Church of Christ in Dukedom, TN, and is soon to be married to Lauren Kelly. Gannon is still at home and wants to go into ministry when he grows up. Corey loves his family, ministry, the Tennessee Vols, the Andy Griffith Show, drinking coffee, and banana pudding.