A Guide to Diagramming


A. Subject, object and predicate

1. Place the subject and the predicate verb on a horizontal line, separated by a vertical line which goes through the horizontal line. We will place the article together with the word it modifies.

    John 11:35  Jesus wept. 

2. Place the direct object after the verb, separated by a vertical line above the horizontal line.

    John 3:14  Moses lifted up the snake. 

3. If the verb takes two objects:

    a. an object of person and an object of thing:

        John 14:26  He will teach you all things. 

    b. an object with an accusative predicate (or object complement):

        John 15:15  I have called you friends. 

4. Place the predicate nominative or predicate adjective after a linking verb (copulative) with a backslash line.

    1John 4:8  God is love. 

5. Place an appositive with the equal sign.

    Gal 5:2  I, Paul, say. 

6. Disconnect vocatives and exclamations from main diagram line.

    John 17:1 Father, the hour has come. 

    Rom 9:5  God [be] blessed. Amen. 

7. If there are two subjects and/or two verbs:
Acts 15:32  Judas and Silas exhorted and strengthened the brothers.


B. Modifiers

1. Place an attributive adjective under the word it modifies with a diagonal line.

    John 10:11  I am the good shepherd. 

2. Place a genitive modifier under the word it modifies with a diagonal line.

    2Cor 5:14  The love of Christ compels us. 

3. Place an adverb under the verb directly. This includes an interrogative pronoun that functions as an adverb.

    Rev 3:11  I am coming soon. 

    Rom 9:20  Why did you make me this way? 

4. Place an adverbial dative (including indirect object) under the verb with a diagonal line.

    Mark 1:17  Jesus said to them. 

    Luke 5:8  Simon Peter fell down at the knees of Jesus. 

5. Place an adverbial prepositional phrase under the verb with a diagonal line.

    Mark 4:2  He was teaching them in parables.

C. Clauses

1. Place a relative clause underneath the main clause. Draw a dashed line to its antecedent.
Rom 4:8  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord would never count.

2. Place an adverbial subordinate clause under the main verb on a diagonal line.

    1John 3:2  We shall see him just as he is. 

3. If the clause is substantival (it functions as a subject or object), place it on a stilt.
Gal 3:11  That no one is justified by law before God is clear.
(It is clear that no one is justified by law before God)
    John 11:27  I have believed that you are Christ.

4. If the clause is epexegetical (explicative, i.e., it explains or clarifies):
Acts 9:20  He was proclaiming Jesus in the synagogue, that He is the Son of God.

5. Conjunctions: place a coordinating conjunction above and before the main clause, and a subordinating conjunction under the main clause.
Gal 5:18  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

6. Correlative (paired) conjunctions:
Matt 9:37  On the one hand, the harvest is plentiful, on the other, the laborers are few.
(The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.)


D. Infinitives

1. If the infinitive is substantival, place it on a stilt. If a "subject" (accusative of general reference) is present in the infinitive clause, separate it from the "verb" with double lines.

    Phil 1:21  For me, to live is Christ. 

    Gal 3:2  I only want to learn this from you. 
Rom 4:18  Who, against hope, believed on the basis of hope, with the result that he became the father of many nations.

2. If the infinitive is attributive or adverbial, place it under the word it modifies. No stilt is necessary.
Matt 3:14  I have need to be baptized by you.
(I need to be baptized by you.)
1Th 1:6-7  You became imitators of us, as a result you became an example to all.


E. Participles

1. If the participle is substantival, place it as a noun.

    John 3:6  That which is born from the flesh is flesh. 

2. If the participle is attributive, place it under the word it modifies.

    John 4:10  He would give to you living water. 

3. If the participle is adverbial, place it under the verb it modifies with a vertical line.
John 9:25  Being blind, now I see.
(Although I was blind, now I see.)

4. If the participle is supplementary (complimentary), place it on a stilt.

    Col 1:9  We do not cease praying for you. 

    Acts 6:14  We have heard him saying. 

5. Genitive Absolute construction: place it under the verb (for all genitive absolutes are adverbial participles). Use a dashed line to show that the construction is absolute.
Mark 9:28  After he entered into the house, his disciples began asking him.

6. Periphrastic construction:

    Luke 11:14  He was casting out a demon. 

Color code: 

This guide is modified from Chapter 5 of Interpreting the Pauline Epistles: Guides to New Testament Exegesis by Thomas R. Schreiner, and my class handouts at Gordon-Conwell originally written by Daniel P. Fuller.

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