How to Study the Bible Using Observation
A series based on the Precept Ministries Inductive Method
August 5, 2009 - Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing the basics of the Inductive Bible Study Method, as outlined by Precept Ministries International. Read below to learn more about the first principle of inductive Bible study, which is “observation.”
- Begin with Prayer
Prayer is often the missing element in Bible study. You are about to learn the most effective method of Bible study
there is. Yet apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, that’s all it will be—a method.
- Ask the “5 W’s and an H”
As you study any passage of Scripture, train yourself to constantly ask: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? These questions are the building blocks of precise observation, which is essential for accurate interpretation.
- Mark key words and phrases
A key word is one that is essential to the text. Often key words and phrases are repeated in order to convey the author’s point or purpose for writing. For example, notice that some form of the word suffering is used three times in 1 Peter 5. Key words can be marked using symbols, colors, or a combination of the two.
- Look for lists
Making lists can be one of the most enlightening things you do as you study. Lists reveal truths and highlight important concepts. 1 Peter 5:2,3, for example, contains a simple list regarding the role of the elder.
- Watch for contrasts and comparisons
Contrasts and comparisons use highly descriptive language to make it easier to remember what you’ve learned. For example, Peter says in 1 Peter 5:8: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion.”
- Note expressions of time
The relationship of events in time often sheds light on the true meaning of the text. Marking them will help you see the sequence of events and lead to accurate interpretation of Scripture.
- Identify chapter themes
The theme of a chapter will center on the main person, event, teaching, or subject of that section of Scripture. Themes are often revealed by reviewing the key words and lists you developed. Try to express the theme as briefly as possible, using words found in the text.
Precept Ministries International was founded by internationally-known Bible teacher Kay Arthur, along with her husband, Jack, with the vision to establish people in God's Word. Be sure to visit the Precept Ministries International Web site to go deeper into inductive Bible study.