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The “So That” Connection

Bible arc-ing is a study method that shows the connections between phrases and clauses.
Bible Arc, Action – Purpose Clause

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13 ESV

So that ———->

Those two little words are like an arrow connecting two clauses. They point to the purpose, the “why,” illustrating a cause and effect or action/purpose. We stop to ponder the connection being taught when we see the “so that” phrase.

So that (so, that, in order that) is used to introduce a subordinate clause that shows purpose or reason or gives an explanation. When a term of purpose or result is encountered, it behooves the reader to always ask at least – “What is the purpose (or result or effect)?”

So that (term of purpose or result) is the preposition eis, which is the Greek preposition of motion, and literally can describe motion into any place or thing.

Figuratively as used here by Paul eis marks the object toward which his supplication points–abounding hope.



Before delving into the following phrase of Romans 15:13, let’s look at some examples of the “so that” arrow phrase in scripture. As you read these verses, what questions come to mind? What connection is there between the phrases or clauses?

Galatians 3:24

Thus the law was like a babysitter for us, looking after us until the coming of the Messiah so that we might be given covenant membership on the basis of faithfulness. (NTE)

What is the relationship between law and faith?

Romans 4:16

That’s why it’s ‘by faith’: so that it can be in accordance with grace and so that the promise can thereby be validated for the entire family – not simply those who are from the law … (NTE)

What is the relationship between grace and validation for the entire family?

Romans 3:25-26

God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. … This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness. (NET)

What is the connection between Jesus’ death and His being both the just and the justifier?

1 Peter 2:24

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds, you were healed. (NASB1995)

What is the relationship between the cross and our day-to-day living?

Hebrews 13:20-21

May the God of peace, who led up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in every good work so that you may do his will. (NTE)

What is the relationship between our completion and doing God’s will?

The challenge

There are hundreds of “arrow” phrases we could examine in Scripture. The challenge is to slow down as we read so that we don’t read right over those purpose clauses and miss the message intended.

What passages of Scripture are you reading today?
Is there an “arrow” phrase?
What other structure do you notice in the passages you are reading?


Father, give us understanding so that we may keep your law and obey it with all our hearts. Teach us to be attentive to Your words so that we will gain insight, understanding, and a deeper relationship with You. Help us to meditate on the Word day and night so that we will be careful to glorify You in all that we do and say. We praise you, our God, for You alone are worthy of our worship. Amen.

To read the other entries in this series:

May the God of Hope

In Believing

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