The Practice of Correlation of Scripture

The study of Scripture is not complete until one understands the main point of the passage and its relationship to their lives. Therefore, you will want to derive the main principle or theme from the text.

In order to accomplish this, the five principles of correlation will need to be used. The final result should be 3-5 principles stating timeless theological truths and a simple (non-complex) statement of the main theological proposition of the passage in Philemon 4-7.

The five prohibitions of extracting correlation principles are:

  1. Don’t state as a question
  2. Don’t state negatively
  3. Don’t use names unless they are eternal or everlasting
  4. Avoid compound or complex sentences
  5. Don’t use first or second personal pronouns

The five procedures for extracting correlation principles are:

  1. Ask the six interrogative questions – Answer the six interrogative questions (who, what, where, why, when, how) based on the understanding of the passage you gained from the mechanical layout.
  2. Record all truths, great and small – Record all truths of the passage, great and small. Some will be more demanding than others in terms of personal application.
  3. Combine related truths into statements – Group truths together based on topics (e.g. thanksgiving, prayer).
  4. Concentrate on major truths – Set aside all non-demanding truths and retain those that require personal application.
  5. Reword paragraph into 3-5 simple sentences in principle format – Reword the remaining truths into 3-5 theological principles. Five is the maximum number of acceptable principles.

Next, represent the main theme, or theological proposition, of the text in one simple statement. This theme should clearly express the main point of the passage to anybody who reads it.

First, let’s look at Philemon 1:4-7 to start the process of correlation

4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake. 7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. (NASB)

CORRELATION OF PHILEMON 1:4-7 – Please note, this is just one of many variations of truths and applications that one could get out of this passage.

Step 1 – Six Interrogative Questions

  • Who?
    • I (Paul, subject, part of “I thank” and “I pray”)
    • Of you (object of Paul’s mention in prayers, Philemon, “brother”)
    • My God (object of whom Paul thanks)
    • Lord Jesus (object of Philemon’s love and faith)
    • All the saints (A second object of Philemon’s directing his love and faith)
  • What?
    • Because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have (Describe subject/topic of what Paul is hearing.)
    • Because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have (Describe subject/topic of what Paul is hearing.)
    • For I have come to have much joy. (Describes the action that has come to Paul.)
    • For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love (Describes the subject of what Paul has.)
    • For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love (Describes the subject of what Paul has.)
    • I thank my God (Describes the action Paul is taking toward God.)
    • Because I hear of your love (Describes the action of Paul in relation to Philemon’s love)
    • And I pray that the fellowship… (Describes Paul’s action because of Philemon’s faith.)
    • [That the fellowship of your faith] may become effective… (Describes the action of faithful fellowship.)
    • For I have come to have much joy and comfort… (Describes the action of Paul in having joy and comfort.)
    • [Because the hearts of the saints] have become refreshed… (Describes the action of the saint’s hearts.)
  • When?
    • I thank my God always. (temporal, present)
    • I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become (future)
    • The hearts of the saints have been (past)
  • Where?
    • Making mention of you “in my prayers”. (Adverb/locative, describes where Paul makes mention.)
    • Of every good thing which is “in you” for Christ’s sake. (Adverb/locative, describes the location of every good thing residing.)
    • For I have come to have much joy and comfort “in your love” (adverb/locative, describes the place of Paul’s joy and comfort.)
  • Why?
    • “Because I hear” of your love (Gives the reason for Paul giving thanks to God.)
    • And I pray that the fellowship of your faith “may become effective” (Describes the purpose and content of Paul’s prayer.)
    • Knowledge of every good thing which is in you “For Christ’s sake.” (Describes the purpose of becoming effective or describes the cause of every good thing which is in you.)
    • For I “have come” to have much joy and comfort (Describes the reason for Paul thanking God.)
    • Because the hearts of the saints “have been refreshed” through you, brother. (Describes the reason Paul has joy and comfort.)
  • How?
    • “Making mention” (Describes how, or the manner of which, Paul thanked God.)
    • “Through the knowledge” (Describes in what way the fellowship of faith becomes effective.)
    • “Through you” (Describes the manner their hearts were refreshed.)

Step 2 – The Truths of the Passage

  • It is good to thank God.
  • The manner in which it is appropriate to thankfully make mention of others is in prayers to God.
  • Thank God always when faith and love of others is heard about.
  • The manner in which faithful fellowship becomes effective is through knowledge of every good thing.
  • The result of brotherly love is the refreshing of other’s hearts.
  • The result of a life exemplifying love and faith can cause others to be thankful.
  • The result of Christ living in a believer is having knowledge of every good thing.
  • The means of having knowledge of every good thing is faithful fellowship with Christ.
  • The reason knowledge becomes effective is by having faith in fellowship with Christ.
  • The result of loving others causes joy and comfort in other believers.
  • The means to refreshing believer’s hearts is by having love.
  • Pray for others faith to become effective
  • It is possible to have knowledge of every good thing because of Christ.
  • The direction of faith and love should be toward Christ and all believers.
  • Thank God for others faith and love in prayer.
  • Love and faith in Christ leads to loving others.
  • A life of love and faith can be an effective example to other believers.
  • A contrast between the physical body and the spiritual is by having Christ in us.
  • Knowledge can be good.
  • A joyful and comforting heart is refreshing.
  • Christianity gives a sense of family and friendship.
  • A person can have a significant and joyful impact on the lives of many through love.
  • Prayer includes thanksgiving.
  • Prayer should include requests for others.
  • Having fellowship with faith can lead to a more effective communion with Christ.
  • Love is joyful, comforting and refreshing to others.

Step 3 – Group Truths Together based on Topics

  • Thanksgiving
    • A life of love and faith can be an effective example to other believers.
    • Love and faith in Christ leads to loving others.
    • Thank God for others faith and love in prayer.
    • The direction of faith and love should be toward Christ and all believers.
    • The result of a life exemplifying love and faith can cause others to be thankful.
    • Thank God always when others faith and love that is heard about.
    • The manner in which it is appropriate to thankfully make mention of others is in prayers to God.
    • It is good to thank God.
    • Prayer includes thanksgiving.
  • Prayer
    • Knowledge can be good.
    • A contrast between the physical body and the spiritual by having Christ in us.
    • It is possible to have knowledge of every good thing because of Christ.
    • Pray for others faith to become effective
    • The reason knowledge becomes effective is by having faith in fellowship with Christ.
    • The means of having knowledge of every good thing is faithful fellowship with Christ.
    • The manner in which faithful fellowship becomes effective is through knowledge of every good thing.
    • Prayer should include requests for others.
    • Having fellowship with faith can lead to a more effective communion with Christ.
  • Refreshment
    • Christianity gives a sense of family and friendship.
    • A person can have a significant and joyful impact on the lives of many through love.
    • A joyful and comforting heart is refreshing.
    • The means to refreshing believer’s hearts is by having love.
    • The result of loving others causes joy and comfort in other believers.
    • The result of brotherly love is the refreshing of others hearts.
    • Love is joyful, comforting and refreshing others.

Step 4 – Major Truths Requiring Personal Application

  • Thanksgiving
    • A life of love and faith can be an effective example to other believers.
    • Love and faith in Christ leads to loving others.
    • The result of a life exemplifying love and faith can cause others to be thankful.
  • Prayer
    • The reason knowledge becomes effective is by having faith in fellowship with Christ.
    • Prayer should include requests for others.
    • Having fellowship with faith can lead to a more effective communion with Christ.
  • Refreshment
    • A joyful and comforting heart is refreshing.
    • The result of brotherly love is the refreshing of others hearts.
    • Love is joyful, comforting and refreshing to others.

Step 5 – Theological Principles

  • Christian love is exemplified by bringing a refreshing comfort and joy to others lives.
  • Be thankful for those who live a life of love and faith.
  • People should have faith in Christ so that they may have a more effective knowledge.
  • Christians should remember that we are all one in Christ
  • Christians should always pray for other believers to show Christ’s love to those around them.

Step 6 – Main Theme or Theological Proposition

Faith in Christ results in a life of love that is thankful and prayerful.

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