J. I. Packer and Gerald Bray—independently—suggest there are three questions we should ask of every passage we read in God’s Word.
First, J. I. Packer:
Three questions must govern readers of the inspired Word:
First, in the passage being read, what is shown about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What does it say about what the holy Three are doing, have done, and will do in God’s world, in his church, and in lives committed to him? What does it reveal about God’s attributes, that is, God’s power and character, how he exists and how he behaves? One reason, no doubt, for God’s panoramic, multigenred layout of the Bible—with history, homily, biography, liturgy, practical philosophy, laws, lists, genealogies, visions, and so on, all rubbing shoulders—is that this variety provides so many angles of illumination on these questions for theological Bible readers’ instruction.
Second, in the passage being read, what is shown about the bewildering, benighted world with all its beautiful and beneficial aspects alongside those that are corrupt and corrupting? Discerning the world’s good and evil for what they are, so as to embrace the world’s good and evade its temptations, is integral to the godliness that theological Bible reading should promote.
Third, in the passage being read, what is shown to guide one’s living, this day and every day? The theological logic of this question, through which the reader must work each time, is this: since God, by his own testimony, said that to those people in their situation, what does it follow that he says to readers today in their own situation? The Holy Spirit answers prayer by giving discernment to apply Scripture in this way. Those who seek will indeed find.
Gerald Bray, more succinctly:
The first question we must ask of every biblical text is simply this—what does it tell us about God? What does it say about who he is and about what he does?
The second question is: what does this text say about us human beings? What are we meant to be and what has gone wrong?
The third and final question is: what has God done about this and what does he expect of us in the light of what he has done?
Bray goes on to offer an illustration regarding the reading of biblical genealogies.