On Developing a Thesis for a Research Paper

Identify a burning question and attempt to answer it.

  • Example of a burning question: What did Jesus mean when he taught his disciples to pray, "Lead us not into temptation" (Matt. 6:13; Luke 11:4)?
  • Ways to approach the problem:
    • Exegetical question: What do the Greek words for lead and temptation mean? How does the context in Matthew and Luke help to explain what the Gospel writers understood Jesus to mean? Where else are these words used in Scripture, and where else does Scripture refer to God leading his people into a time of testing? How do these other passages clarify the meaning in Matthew 6 and Luke 11?
    • Translation question: In what other way might "Lead us not into temptation" be translated into English that would assist the reader to be less likely to misinterpret Jesus' meaning?
    • Theological question: Would a good God tempt his children or deliberately lead them into temptation? How have other theologians attempted to answer this question? What can I learn from their attempts? If I agree with them, why; if I disagree, how?
    • Ministry question: How does this theological problem apply to persons or communities that are going through a time of testing?

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