Skeleton: Outlining Example

For this example, I will use Acts 17:10-15 as the assigned passage. It will be helpful if you read the entire passage (don’t be lazy, it’s only 6 verses!) and refer to your Bible often. I am using the NIV84 translation. Assuming that you’ve done your hermeneutical homework, let’s build the first outline. You can download a side-by-side comparison of the three outlines HERE.

(1) Exegetical Outline
Here, you will answer this simple question: what does the text say? Be as accurate as possible.

Acts 17:10-15

Context: Turmoil in Thessalonica (v. 1-9)

Prologue: Paul and Silas began to preach in Berea (v. 10).

I. The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians (v. 11).
A. The Bereans received the message with great eagerness.
B. The Bereans examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

II. Many Bereans came to believe by receiving and examining the Word (v. 12).
A. Many Jews
B. Prominent Greek women
C. Many Greek men

III. The Jews from Thessalonica stirred up trouble in Berea (v. 13).
A. The Jews from Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching in Berea.
B. The Jews from Thessalonica went to Berea.
C. The Jews from Thessalonica agitated the crowds and stirred them up.

Epilogue: Paul left for Athens (v. 14-15).

Comments:
(a) Notice that I’ve included the context at the start of the outline. This will signal to us that the verses prior to this passage are important to look at.
(b) I put a prologue and an epilogue. This is not necessary. You can easily insert the prologue in Point I and the epilogue in Point III.
(c) Notice how the outline encompasses all the verses of the assigned passage in sequence.
(d) In v. 12, the NIV84 translation is missing an important word: therefore. The verse should be read like this: “Therefore, many of the Jews believed, as did also…” This is an important nuance that you should have spotted during your hermeneutical study. The word, “therefore”, shows that there’s a relationship between receiving and examining the Word and the possibility of belief (Point II).

(2) Theological Outline
Here, you will draw out the timeless truths (or Biblical principles) from the passage. A good question to ask is this: what does the text say about God and/or people?

Acts 17:10-15

I. God wants people to receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures for themselves (v. 11).

II. People may come to believe by receiving and examining the Word (v. 12).

III. There will be things that hinder people from learning the Word of God (v. 13).

Comments:
(a) In Point II, the statement is “people may come to believe” and NOT “people will come to believe”. The Bible declares that many Bereans believed—not all Bereans. Thus, we cannot guarantee that a person will come to believe if they accomplished Point I. The chances are good but there’s no absolute certainty.
(b) In v. 13, notice how the Thessalonian troublemakers were hindering Paul from preaching and hindering the Bereans from learning. That is how I arrived at the timeless truth found in Point III.

(3) Homiletical Outline
Here, you will apply the timeless truths directly to your audience. A good question to ask is this: what does the text say for us to do? This is the outline that you will show to your congregation. Notice that I’ve added a sermon title here.

BEING A BEREAN
Acts 17:10-15

Context: Turmoil in Thessalonica (v. 1-9)

Prologue: Paul and Silas began to preach in Berea (v. 10).

I. Receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures for yourself (v. 11).
A. The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians.
B. God wants people to receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures for themselves.

II. You may come to believe by receiving and examining the Word (v. 12).
A. Many Bereans came to believe by receiving and examining the Word.
B. People may come to believe by receiving and examining the Word.

III. Watch for things that will hinder you from learning the Word of God (v. 13).
A. The Jews from Thessalonica stirred up trouble in Berea.
B. There will be things that hinder people from learning the Word of God.

Epilogue: Paul left for Athens (v. 14-15).

Comments:
(a) Notice how the exegetical outline (Point A’s) and the theological outline (Point B’s) support the homiletical outline. For brevity, I did not insert the entire exegetical outline but you may do so.
(b) In Point II, the statement is “you may come to believe” and NOT “you will come to believe”. The Bible declares that many Bereans believed—not all Bereans. Thus, we cannot guarantee that a person will come to believe if they accomplished Point I. The chances are good but there’s no absolute certainty.
(c) This homiletical outline is quite simplistic and contains very little creativity. You can add creativity later. Understand the basics first.

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