Bible Study

Inductive Method of Bible Study

This method of study (adapted from Discipleship Essentials by Greg Ogden) will help you read, understand, interpret and apply the Bible to your life. Your goal is to use this method with at least two passages of Scripture from this reading plan each week. Jot down notes as you go through it.

I. Observation (What does it say?)

If we take obedience to God seriously then we must find out what God is saying. The first step is to observe exactly what is in the text before we jump to our own preconceived ideas.

A. Overview
  • Skim material with a view to its main themes.
  • Note context of passage and background.
  • Reread in a different translation.
  • Look for main thought divisions; read the passage in paragraphs.

B. Ask Six Investigative Questions
  • Who are the main characters, and how are they described? 
    • Notice a description of God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit. 
    • Consider how (or if) the character or personality of the author relates to the passage.
    • Notice any supernatural beings and human characters mentioned.
  • What is happening? List key verbs, commands given, promises, conditions, local customs mentioned, flow of conversation.
  • Where do the events occur?
    • How many miles from one place to another? Is this place significant for other events?
  • When do the events occur?
    • How long does each event take?
    • What can be learned from the mention of rulers, ages of characters, lapse of time, genealogies, cultural differences?
    • Are there clues about the historical background or season of year?
  • Why do the events occur?
  • How do the events happen?

C. Summary 
  • Write down the main thrust of the passage. This may become the main thought that you want to develop. 
  • Make notes on unsolved problems as you go through the text. These may be solved in the process of understanding, or you may have to consult reference works such as commentaries, study Bibles, dictionaries or atlases.

II. Interpretation (What does it mean?)

The aim of interpretation is to bring out the meaning of the passage for the people to whom it was written and for us today.

A. Definitions
  • What do the terms, phrases and sentences mean?
  • What are modern equivalents?
  • List any surprising terms used, as well as figures of speech (similes, metaphors, puns, plays on words, hyperbole).

B. Relationships
  • Why this phrase, word or idea?
  • Why did the author say it here?
  • What relationship does one thought have to another?

C. Implications 
  • What is the full significance of the statements? 
  • Be cautious about spiritualizing or allegorizing. 

III. Application (What does it mean to me?)

The goal of application is allowing God’s Word to transform you. As we apply the Bible to our lives, we become more like Jesus.

A. Cultivate a voice of the Spirit
  • Spend some quiet moments asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in seeing how God desires to use this Scripture in your life.

B. Apply the main point to your life
  • What has already been a part of my thinking? What is new to me?
  • What requires a change of thought? How can I make that change?
  • Where do I need a change in my behavior?
  • What can I do now?
Set long- and short-range goals for behavior. Have a plan. Break down your change of behavior or things you want to know into steps. For example: get counseling, get suggestions for reading, set goals in behavior change, ask someone to hold you accountable.

C. Assert your will 
  • Acknowledge to God that you have an active role to play in allowing His Word to transform your life.

D. Relevant Principles 
  • What principles are relevant if the historical situation is no longer relevant?

E. Apply your knowledge 
  • Attitude and obedience to God; attitude toward self.
  • Situations and relationships in family life.
  • Coworkers, employers, subordinates, fellow students.
  • Teaching, practices, relationships in your home church and in other churches, missionary work.
  • National, political, sociological and economic questions.
If this method seems a little overwhelming, you are invited to simplify it. Remember, we are all different. Use this guide as a framework for your own study and personal application and adapt it to work for you.