Wednesday, July 14, 2021

IBS-5 Clean Bible Study: just three steps

The Big Idea: A brief overview of the three steps to an Inductive Bible Study

Just Three Steps

My parents both grew up on a farm. They loved the wholesomeness of garden to table food. Have you heard the buzz phrase "Clean eating"? It's good for you! Eat more whole foods that are not processed. Avoid pre-packaged meals with preservatives and additives. Salt food but avoid those pre-loaded with salt.

Inductive Bible Study is like that. Simply look at the Bible. Just the Bible. Examine it. Evaluate it. Embrace it. Do not start with a commentary, or a read a book all about it. That might be helpful later in your study. Start with you and the Word of God. See what it says. Seek what it means. Seize it for your life.

This method is often explained in these three steps.

  • Observation: what does it say?                       
  • Interpretation: what does it mean?
  • Application: what does it matter?  (or how does it apply?)

Let's look briefly at each step. They will be examined more in the following weeks. And always, always begin with prayer.



By reading and re-reading the passage by making notes and notations, you observe carefully like a scientist what the passage says. It often involves multiple readings looking for something different each time.

People mentioned. Author's voice. Recipients of the writing.

Time references and places and countries/nationalities mentioned.

Lists and correlations. Comparisons. Contrasts. Descriptions.

Make sure you cover these interrogative questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?



Steps imply one is necessary for the second. Review your observations with prayer. To analyze what it means try these.

Context. Theme or goal of the book? Author's purpose? Historical setting? OT or NT? etc.

Genre or type of literature. Is this a story or a letter? Is it metaphorical? Poetry?

Central points. Key words or ideas repeated?

Cross-referencing. What corresponds with other places in the Bible? Is someone mentioned elsewhere? What's their story?

Perspective. What does it show us about the nature of God and the nature of man?

Put in your own words. What does it say? What is most obvious?



Why is this in the Bible? The Holy Spirit inspired it. What have you learned and how will it help you today? A few guidelines.

Instruction. What might this teach about who God is for me and about myself? Teachings on church? Family? Leadership? Society? Neighbors?

Disclose. What might this reveal about sin, bad attitudes, etc. A warning?

Encourage. Is there encouragement for me? Can I pass it on to others?

Actions. Can I make a real-time application to my life? How? How soon?

All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16



This is the fifth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Table of Contents 

Up next: The Power of Observation
Previous Post: Best Translation for Inductive Bible Study



1. If you have never studied the Bible on your own like this, what do you think about it? What are your concerns? What might be useful?

2. What role would prayer play in the process? Why?

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