A Theology of Desire: Inductive Biblical Overview on Desire

The following is an overview for a class Randy Alcorn taught during the Summer of 2002 at Western Seminary (5511 SE Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon 97215, 503-517-1800).

The purpose of this assignment is to see in overview what the Bible says about desire. As you look at each passage, in the space provided jot down key phrases, observations (e.g. who’s doing the desiring and what they desire) or principles. If you have a comment or question, jot it down. You won’t have time to do much in-depth study-that’s not the purpose of this exercise.

I’ve selected passages containing English words such as desire, long, want, wish, yearn, thirst, tempt and crave. There are nearly a thousand such passages, translating dozens of Hebrew and Greek words. This list is only a sampling, perhaps 20% of the passages which could be included. Still, we won’t have time to look at all or even most of these in class. This exercise can give you the “big picture” and provide a reservoir from which you can draw in our class discussions.

Why look at so many passages? Because there are so many. (You should see what I cut out!) The cumulative effect of the passages should allow you to start developing your theology of desire from inspired Scripture, not just uninspired books, lectures, and discussions. Don’t underestimate the importance of this assignment--it’s not busywork. It’s the backbone of everything else we’ll do.

The 17 hours calculated for this assignment assumes you spend an average of six minutes on each passage. Some may take only a few minutes. Others you might spend ten minutes on. I would recommend you resist the temptation-or godly desire-to spend more than 8-10 minutes per passage, since the point is exposure, not detailed study. Because the passages move sequentially through Scripture, you can turn rapidly from one to the next. If you don’t have time for a whole passage, just look at the verses indicated in parentheses-e.g., “(esp. v. 14).” You can scan the rest of the passage, but look specifically at the verse mentioned.

Students should examine all passages marked with two asterisks (**). Though I’m not recommending it, you could spend 20 minutes each on them and still be done within 17 hours. Be sure not to skip any of these. Passages with one asterisk (*) should be looked at if you have time, which you will if you average 8 minutes per passage (which should be plenty). Many of them are quite significant, but if you need to skip them to stay within the 17 hours, go ahead. If you’re averaging 5 minutes per passage, you don’t need to skip any, even those without asterisks. A good plan is to go through all double-asterisked passages first. Then go back a second time and look at the single-asterisked. Then a third time to pick up those without asterisks. (Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down and not make it to the Revelation verses because you’ve spent half an hour on each passage.)

At the end is a space to write out overall impressions, or a summary of passages. Also, a place to indicate a few other passages on the subject that weren’t included. If you still have time, feel free to check a commentary or other reference book. If you find a good insight, jot down the source, including page number. But don’t study any passage in-depth until you finish the overview. If the passage speaks of the desires of any nonhuman—e.g., God, Satan or angels—indicate who it refers to in the left-hand margin preceding the reference. Circle references when the desire, or object of desire, is good.

______**Genesis 3:6

______*Genesis 3:16

______**Genesis 4:7

______Genesis 39:6-23 (esp. vv. 6-12)

______Numbers 11:4-6

______*Deuteronomy 5:21

______Deuteronomy 12:17-25 (esp. v. 20)

______Deuteronomy 14:26

______*Deuteronomy 17:14-20

______*Deuteronomy 28:62-68 (esp. v. 65)

______Judges 16:1, 4-5

______*2 Samuel 11:1-6

______2 Samuel 13:1-19

______*1 Chronicles 29:14-19 (esp. v. 18)

______*2 Chronicles 1:7-12 (esp. v. 11)

______2 Chronicles 9:8

______Job 7:1-10 (esp. v. 2)

______*Job 17:11-16 (esp. v. 11)

______**Job 19:25-27

______*Job 23:13

______*Psalm 10:14-18 (esp. v. 17)

______*Psalm 16:11

______*Psalm 20:4

______Psalm 21:1-7 (esp. v. 2)

______*Psalm 34:8

______*Psalm 36:7-9

______**Psalm 37:4

______*Psalm 40:6-8

______**Psalm 42:1-2

______*Psalm 51 (esp. vv. 6, 16, 19)

______**Psalm 63:1

______**Psalm 73:25

______**Psalm 84:1-4

______*Psalm 103:5

______**Psalm 106:9-15 (esp. v. 14)

______*Psalm 107:4-9, 33-35

______*Psalm 119:20, 131

______*Psalm 119:81-82

______*Psalm 132:13-14

______*Psalm 145:16, 19

______Proverbs 3:13-18

______*Proverbs 4:13-19

______Proverbs 5:15-23

______*Proverbs 6:23-33

______Proverbs 10:3

______*Proverbs 10:24

______**Proverbs 11:6

______**Proverbs 11:23

______*Proverbs 13:2-4

______*Proverbs 13:12, 19

______*Proverbs 19:21-23

______Proverbs 21:10

______*Proverbs 21:25-26

______**Proverbs 23:1-8

______Proverbs 24:1

______Proverbs 31:4-7

______**Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (esp. v. 10)

______*Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

______**Ecclesiastes 6:2

______**Ecclesiastes 12:5

______*Song of Solomon 2:7 (3:5, 8:4)

______**Song of Solomon 5:2-8

______Song of Solomon 7:10

______*Isaiah 14:12-15

______**Isaiah 26:8-9

______**Isaiah 30:18

______Isaiah 50:10-51:3

______Isaiah 53:2

______*Isaiah 55:11

______*Isaiah 58:13-14

______Isaiah 65:1-2

______Jeremiah 2:23-25

______Jeremiah 31:20

______**Ezekiel 23:27-30

______Ezekiel 24:25

______Daniel 11:36

______**Hosea 6:6

______Hosea 7:1-7 (esp. v. 6)

______**Haggai 2:6-7

______**Malachi 3:1-2

______**Matthew 5:6

______**Matthew 5:27-30

______Matthew 12:7-8

______*Matthew 13:17

______Matthew 13:44 (implied longing for _____)

______**Matthew 16:25

______*Matthew 19:17, 21

______*Matthew 20:13-15

______*Matthew 20:21-28

______**Matthew 23:37

______*Matthew 25:21, 23 (implied longing for _____)

______Matthew 27:17,21

______Matthew 27:43

______**Mark 4:19

______*Mark 6:22-28

______**Mark 10:51-52

______*Luke 4:1-13

______*Luke 12:49-50

______*Luke 14:28-30

______*Luke 15:18-24

______**Luke 16:19-31 (esp. vv. 21, 24)

______**Luke 22:15-16

______**Luke 22:44-46

______John 1:37-39

______**John 5:1-9

______John 5:44

______*John 6:35

______**John 6:66-68

______**John 7:37-39

______**John 8:44

______John 9:24-34

______*John 14:2-3

______**John 15:7

______*John 15:11 (implied longing for ______)

______John 16:24 (implied longing for ______)

______**John 17:24

______**John 19:28

______*John 21:18-23

______**Romans 1:24-28

______Romans 6:6-18

______Romans 7:7-25

______**Romans 8:1-9 (esp. v. 5)

______**Romans 8:19-26

______*Romans 9:16-18

______Romans 10:1

______*Romans 13:14

______Romans 15:23-24

______*1 Corinthians 6:9-20 (esp. v. 18)

______*1 Corinthians 7:5, 9

______1 Corinthians 7:36

______1 Corinthians 10:6

______*1 Corinthians 10:13

______1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1

______*2 Corinthians 5:1-4

______2 Corinthians 7:7

______2 Corinthians 8:10

______2 Corinthians 8:13

______Galatians 1:10

______**Galatians 5:16-26 (esp. vv. 16-17, 24)

______Galatians 5:17

______*Galatians 5:24

______**Ephesians 2:1-10 (esp. v. 3)

______*Ephesians 4:22

______**Philippians 1:23

______*Philippians 3:6-14

______*Colossians 3:5-10 (esp. v. 5)

______*1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

______**1 Timothy 2:4

______1 Timothy 3:1

______1 Timothy 5:11-12

______**1 Timothy 6:9

______**2 Timothy 2:22

______2 Timothy 3:12

______**2 Timothy 4:3

______*Titus 2:11-14

______Titus 3:3-5

______*Hebrews 2:17-18

______*Hebrews 4:14-16

______Hebrews 10:5, 8

______**Hebrews 11:13-16

______Hebrews 13:18

______*James 1:13-15

______James 1:20

______*James 4:1-4

______*1 Peter 1:11-12

______1 Peter 1:13-14

______**1 Peter 2:2-3

______**1 Peter 2:11

______**1 Peter 4:2-5

______2 Peter 1:4

______2 Peter 2:18-19

______2 Peter 3:3

______**1 John 2:16-17

______**Revelation 21:1-6

______**Revelation 22:1-4

______**Revelation 22:17

Overall impressions or summary of biblical passages on desire (What have you learned? What preliminary conclusions can you draw about desire and longing as portrayed in Scripture?)

Three passages (may include stories of biblical characters) you can think of involving longing or desire that aren’t listed in this study:

1)

2)

3)

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries