I used arcing for when I taught through Philippians and Colossians last semester. The first thing that I would do in my study process for each passage was to arc it before focusing upon the message, studying words, reading commentaries, etc. This first step was integral to my understanding of the text and most of my notes actually flowed directly from the observations I made from arcing.
So what is arcing?
Bible arcing was developed by Daniel Fuller, is recommended by Pastor John Piper and Scholar/Pastor Thomas Schreiner and is used by many others. According to the website, “Arcing helps you to discern, display and discuss the flow of thought in the biblical text.”
Basically, through hard thinking and hard work, one seeks to find the argument (flow of thought) of a particular passage. This is essential and often overlooked today. Many times we just pick and choose bits that sound good from a text, rather than following the flow of thought. When I taught Philippians and Colossians I wanted to know what Paul was trying to say, why he joined one phrase to another phrase, and how everything tied together; and then let his point be my point.
I want to emphasize that arcing is hard work. It took me a number of focused hours to understand how it worked, and then many more hours to develop in it. However, the hours it’s saved me in the long run and the clarity it’s provided are invaluable. Arcing is particularly useful with the writings of Paul.
Here’s an example of one of my arcs: