One of the best ways to study the Bible is through “inductive” study. This method makes observations on a passage of Scripture and then draws conclusions based on those observations. The following steps follow the inductive method’s process of observation, interpretation, and application.
Who is the author? Why was it written? Learn the historical background, dates, key people and so on. Some Bibles have summaries at the beginning of each book that will provide some of this information. A Bible dictionary or online commentary can also be helpful.
2. PERSONAL PARAPHRASE
Write out each verse or section of verses in your own words. This helps you understand each verse in wording that makes more sense to you.
Example: Original Verse: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope … ” (1 Timothy 1:1, NIV).
Personal Paraphrase: Paul, a proclaimer of Jesus Christ, obeying the instructions of God who is the One who saves us, and of Jesus Christ who is our hope.
3. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Write down and then answer any questions you have about the passage or any confusing terms.
Example: (Q) What does the word “apostle” mean? What does it mean to be one? (A) The Greek word apostolos comes from the verb apostello, which means “to send forth.” So to be an apostle means to be someone who is sent forth—in this case by Christ to spread His message.
4. CROSS REFERENCES
Make note of any similar or related passages that come to mind while you’re reading, paraphrasing, and asking questions about the passage. Consult a concordance, study guide, or footnotes to collect additional related passages.
If you observe something that relates to any part of the passage, write it down. After completing your own thoughts and analysis, consult a Bible commentary for additional insight.
Example: Paul was commanded by God to be an apostle. It wasn’t something he decided to do on his own.
6. PERSONAL APPLICATION
Example: (1 Timothy 1:1): Just like Paul, I need to see that I’m tasked with being Christ’s ambassador, authorized and sent out with a divine message. I’ll only be effective in my mission if I’m aware of my status as a divinely appointed witness.
7. TITLE & SUMMARIZE
After completing a verse-by-verse analysis of a chapter, give it a title and identify a key verse or verses. This helps solidify the chapter’s message in your mind. Write a summary paragraph outlining the chapter’s thesis. Repeat the process for each chapter until the book is completed, and then give it a collective title.