The process from exegesis to application is characteristically discussed within the context of sermon preparation or homiletics. Typically there is detailed discussion regarding the need to discover the “significance of a text,” that is the time and cultural gaps between the Bible’s historical and cultural settings and the now of the reader/listener. This process is labeled under various titles: contextualization (Osborne), transferring the message (Greidanus), fusion of horizons (Gadamer; Thiselton), and principlization (Kaiser; Virkler). Developing the significance of a text, however, is not simply about seeking the universal truth behind the text and its historical context, or attempting to link the ancient cultural value or historical situation to something similar in the contemporary so it may be “applied.” It should also establish the relationship of the text’s meaning to those in front of the text. Put another way, we need to decipher the significance of the biblical author’s original meaning to the contemporary reader/listener and church community beforedetermining application.
Also, simply attaching an “application” to a text, or even a text to an “application,” is not enough; application should be built on reasonable authority. It must produce analogous and relevant obedience reflective of the text. Obedience (i.e., application) ought to correspond in-kind to Mark’s narrative. There needs to be a reasonable association between Mark’s understanding of the gospel and faithful obedience to that gospel. When application is detached and/or dissimilar from his narrative (in this case the Mark 3 commission and his overall Gospel narrative), then there is no authority for that application. In fact, it might not be obedience at all. Application on the contemporary side of the text should find support by analogous associations and applications made by the original author. When application is based on the consequence or result of a text’s meaning, then it carries the weight of biblical authority, which leads to relevant faithful obedience.
Abraham Kuruvilla offers a helpful set of principles for developing the significance and range of potential application from a biblical narrative such as Mark’s Gospel. Kuruvilla proposed what he calls “the two rules” for establishing the significance of the text to the readers/listeners, that is, their relationship to the text:1) the Rule of Plot“prepares the interpreter of biblical narrative to attend to the structured sequence of events emplotted in the text, in order to apprehend the world projected by that text” and 2) the Rule of Interaction that “directs the interpreter of biblical narrative to attend to the interpersonal transactions of the characters as represented therein, in order to apprehend the world projected by the text.” Thus, our move here toward application will seek its underlying authority from Mark’s surrounding plot and the role and responsibilities of the characters in the story (i.e., the fisher-followers who are sent forth to preach and to have authority to cast out the demons, 3:14c–15).
 Osborne, Hermeneutical Spiral; Greidanus, Modern Preacher; Gadamer, Truth and Method; Thiselton, Two Horizons; Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology; Virkler, Hermeneutics.
 Kaiser, “Inner Biblical Exegesis,” 33–46.
 Kuruvilla, Text to Praxis, 73. The word “emplot” or “emplotted” is not found in the Oxford English Dictionary or in any dictionary to my knowledge. Kuruvilla, in the context of his “two rules,” refers to “a plot” as “a sequence of causally related events” (Text to Praxis, 73), therefore I take the word and use it here and throughout the chapter to mean em-plotted, or to embed material into a plot; more specifically to assemble together historical events and place them strategically into a narrative in order to create a plot (i.e., a storyline).
This post is one of a thread adapted from the last chapter of Wasted Evangelism: Social Action and the Church's Task of Evangelism, a deep, exegetical read into the Gospel of Mark. All royalties from this book go to support our church planting ministry in the Hill community of New Haven, CT. The book and its e-formats can be found on Amazon, Barns'n Noble, (and most other online book distributors) or through the publisher, Wipf & Stock directly.