Monday, September 27, 2021

IBS-16 What is a Word Study?


Big Idea: What is a word study and why it is important to conduct one.

Why do a Word Study?

Books have words and words have meaning. Many have a spectrum of meaning often with several usages. The context assits to discover any shades of meaning.

The Bible was written in predominately Hebrew and Greek. Bible versions vary depending on whether the translators choose to be more literal (word for word), or portray the idea (thought for thought).

A word study is valuable to the interpreting phase of Inductive Bible Study. Look at the word usage in your passage, other parts of the Bible, and in the original language. There are helpful tools available so you don’t need to know Hebrew or Greek for a word study.

Steps to a useful word study

To get to the bottom of the word meaning try these steps.

1. Look at the context and theme  

Each word is used in a sentence, belonging to a paragraph, a chapter, and a book of the Bible. What is the book about? What is the author discussing in a particular chapter?

2. Examine the word meaning in your language

Some Biblical words aren’t used every day. Start with its dictionary definition in your language. You cannot assume this definition is its sure meaning. Some English words have multiple meanings and nuance. Context is key.

3. Look at other English versions of the same verse

At Bible Gateway the verse can be viewed how it’s expressed in other English translations. It may be translated the same or it might vary. Those other variations give insight.

4. Discover word frequency and location

a. In your English Bible. You can search word frequency through your Bible app or in a concordance. The back of some Study Bibles have a limited concordance. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance covers every word occurrence in English in KJV including “the.”

b. In the original language. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance indicates the original language word used with an index in back. Future posts present using Strong’s Concordance and online searching.

5. Analysis

  • How is the word used in the book you are studying, and books by the same author (like Paul). Word studies are often done because of frequent occurrence.
  • Do other passages use that word?
  • Some different passages translate it differently so ask yourself why translators may put it the way they did.
  • What impact does this word have on your passage and your understanding of the verse?

6. Pray and apply 

Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Try to rewrite the verse in your own words. Ask yourself why this word matters to the Christian life.


This is the sixteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Previous post: Resources in your Study Bible
Table of Contents 


1. Have you told a story finding you kept repeating a word? Was it intentional or natural? Why do you think a word is used a lot by an author in a Bible passage?

2. Has a pastor or Bible teacher ever given you word insight that has unlocked the meaning of a verse for you?

3. What might be a word you’d like to examine? Is it from your recent study of the Word or is it a verse that has troubled you for years?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

IBS-15 Resources in your Study Bible


Big Idea: How and where to easily find background information notably in your Study Bible.

Where can I find that?

The joke is that Inductive Bible Study is getting “in da Bible. ” Commentaries are off limits till you have simply read the Bible and pondered over it. In the interpretation phase one starts looking at resources. Commentaries should be your last search.

Where would one find background information?  In a good study Bible and resource books. Some of these are found online too.

Pray for God’s guidance as you choose resources. They are useful, but Study Bibles and commentaries are man’s reflection, not inspired by God. Serious study and prayer has gone into them but there will be doctrinal bias because they are the work of human beings. 

The ABC's of Interpretation suggest verifying the author, audience written to, date written, themes, genre of writing and more. All these and much more can often be found in a Study Bible in the book introduction. YouVersion NIV also offers book introductions.  

Valuable Resources for Interpretation

1. Book introduction.  Often includes author, audience, date, outline, themes, genre. Found in study Bibles, Bible handbooks,  Bible websites such as,  Youversion at also have introductions with the NIV Bible.

Finding YouVersion chapter introductions

2. Timelines and period maps. In order to understand time period, location of the story, movement of people groups the timelines and period maps are useful (such as Exodus desert wandering, Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, etc). Found in study Bibles,  Bible handbooks,  Bible websites such as,

3. Cross references. Many Bibles, including some regular Bibles, have cross references. These indicate other places with a similar references or backstory. Marked by a small letter usually in margin or at the  bottom of page. 

4. Concordance. Many study Bibles have a concordance which is an alphabetical index of key words in the Bible, with their reference. It is very useful. For instance, you want find the reference for the verse about the pearl of great price. Look under P in the concordance.  There are a lot of applications for using a concordance, especially Strong’s exhaustive concordance. 

5. Charts, Lists and Illustrations. Many study Bibles and Bible handbooks have a lot of charts and illustrations. They provide invaluable information giving  perspective.


  • Prophesies of Jesus’ birth
  • The Tabernacle and the Temple with placement of sacred objects
  • Kings of Israel and Judah
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Names of God
  • Timeline of the life of the Apostle Paul

6. Notes and commentaries. The bottom of a Study Bible page usually has historical notes and commentary to shed light on a passage. It might note the modern equivalent of money or time of day. It could explain a cultural habit or an archeological find that sheds light. Commentary notes give additional understanding to a verse. It is good to check out a couple of study Bibles or commentaries and compare them.

More information is ahead on how to use various resources.


This is fifteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: What is a Word Study?
Previous post: That's Really What it Said!



1. Do you own a Study Bible? Do you use any of the feature? What have you used most and why do you find it helpful?

2. If you have a Study Bible take a look at the table of contents and look in the back of it too. Is there something in it you never looked at before? When or how might it be useful to your study?

If you have never looked at a Study Bible or don’t have one, take a look inside the first few pages of an electronic Bible on Amazon kindle. It is NIV Version but it is only $14.99 as I write this which is an excellent sale. It is an interesting Bible and easy to look around on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

IBS-14 That’s really what it said! Beliefs and mystery


The Big Idea: Can we take the Bible literally (which at times seems hard to understand) and trust it to be God’s Word?

Simple or Hard?

The Bible is simple. The Bible is hard.

Can it be both? Turning a light on is so simple a 5 year old can do it. With a massive power outage, specialists reinstate it by a pretty complex process. College professors teach electrical engineers the complexities of energy. The Bible has that kind of duality.

A five year old hears “Jesus loves me” and understands. “Love” in the Bible is complex. Inductive Bible Study is not for the lazy. It can be hard work. Like a multi-faceted diamond, fresh angles emerge studying the same passage repeatedly.

The Bible is not a mystical book, nor a fairy tale. It speaks to man from the heart of God, though it covers over a thousand years and numerous civilizations. The truths it contains apply to multiple cultures and generations because it is the divine Word from God to man. It is not intended to be a secret for a select few. God wants you to understand and know Him.

Belief and mystery

You need not know Hebrew and Greek to understand the Bible. With desire to know and walk with Him, God gives the wisdom and understanding to discern His Word.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 (NASB95) Also see Acts 4:13

The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It touches thoughts and guides actions. It is not fabricated to make a point. Some spend massive energy discounting the stories and miracles. Take God at His Word, trusting even the mysterious. What is your perspective? 95% mystery and 5% literal? Or 5% is a mystery and 95% literal?

The Bible speaks of mystery till we’re in heaven. It also says dullness accompanies unbelief.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. I Corinthians 13:12 (NASB95)

Colossians 2:2 and 4:3 and numerous other passages state “God’s mystery… is, Christ Himself.” Believe His Word and submit that which you struggle with to Him.

Moving from Observation to Interpretation

Having observed the text gives you a head start. Observation bleeds over into Interpretation smoothly.

1. Review your observation notes.

2. Does the Bible passage state purpose? i.e.” _____so that_____”

3. Revisit the theme of the chapter and book you are studying.

4. Describe what the verse says in your own words.

5. Explain the most obvious point it appears to be making.

6. Contemplate where God shows up. What does it say or show about Him?

Don’t make this hard. The Bible has clear lessons throughout, especially when we sync passages with the rest of the Bible. Scripture interprets Scripture. Pray for God to guide and simply believe.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6


This is fourteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up Next: Where Can I Find That?
Previous post: The ABC's of Interpretation
Table of Contents 



1. If you had to take a wild guess what percentage you think is literal and that which remains a mystery, what might you suggest? Does your presupposition help you study the Bible or hinder it?

2. In spite of Inductive Bible Study being hard work, are you enjoying putting in the time to do it? Do you find inductive study rewarding or frustrating?

3. Pray asking for God to guide you in your studies that His Word will become even more precious to you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

IBS-13 The ABC's of Interpretation


Big Idea: Use the acronym ABC to understand the meaning of the Bible.

What could it mean?

The Star Trek: Next Generation episode, “A Matter of Perspective,” (S3E14) has Riker on trial for the murder of a scientist. The courtroom, created on the holodeck, recreates the scene from each person’s perspective. Truth wins based on indisputable evidence at the end.

Today’s culture values relativity. Everyone has a right to their opinion, believing truth is relative to each individual’s point of reference. Everyone experiences life filtered by personal experience. However truth is fixed, not a moving target. It can be determined.

The Word of God expresses truth in cultural and temporal ways but its Biblical truth is timeless unalterable truth. The Holy Spirit with careful Biblical study guides us to truth. The Bible is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16)  who moved humans by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) to write the words. Start with prayer. Who better to ask than the author?

Interpret a passage more easily using the A-B-C’s.

1. Verify the APPARENT.

a. Simplicity. Usually Biblical truth is easily apparent. God wants us to know Him. He doesn’t fill the Bible with booby traps.

b. Literal. Allegories, parables etc were used by ancient writers but not in every chapter and verse. Consider the literary style of the book. For Poetic, Prophetic and Apocalyptic styles keep literary device in mind. Historical Narrative is usually literal.

c. Stated purpose. Often the Bible identifies why it was written. The author states it clearly or Jesus tells us directly. Look for these statements. 

It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. Luke 1:3-4 NASB95

I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God. I Timothy 3:15 NASB95

2. Verify the BIBLE as a whole.

a. Themes throughout the Bible. Many key themes run throughout; love, sin, redemption, light….

b. Cross References. Scripture Interprets Scripture. Cross references show other places that are similar. Often found in the margin in a study Bible or in other resources, follow the trail.

c. Word Study. Through a concordance and other tools, examine the word use in other places.  Check it in the original language for translation and usage. (How to do that is for another blog post)


3. Verify the CONTEXT.

a. Paragraph, chapter, book. Look at the passage comparing paragraphs in the chapter, chapter themes, book themes, etc. What is stated around the verse?

b. Author, audience. Review the writer and who they addressed. Background of author.

c. Timeline, period, circumstance. Familiarize yourself with backdrop of the writing; period world powers, civilizations, lifestyle and culture.


4. Verify with DISCERNMENT.

a. Warning. An obscure verse/passage, especially out of context, cannot create new “truth.” It must line up with the rest of Scripture and the historical church God has led.

b. God focused. Seek God. Keep Jesus primary. Seek the Holy Spirit. Elevate the Bible as writings to us from God. Assume it’s God infused and true.

c. Timeless truth. Ask the meaning to people in Biblical times. Ask what the timeless truth is that transcends time. Ask what that timeless truth is for us today.


This is thirteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: That's Really What it Said!
Previous post: Chapter Theme
Table of Contents 



1. What is a verse you find confusing? Have you tried anything to understand it better?

2. Does this give you a fresh idea to explore the meaning of a passage? We will be unpacking these suggestions over the next several weeks.

3. Pray for God to open your eyes to learn how to find understanding.

I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. Ephesians 1:17 GW

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IBS-12 The Chapter Theme: #hashtagit


The Big Idea: Craft a Bible chapter theme title.

#Hashtag It

Precept author Pam Gillaspie suggests in her Bible studies to create a #hashtag for your chapter theme, thinking about how you’d post your Bible passage as a Twitter hashtag. To do that you'd come up with select key words. A catchy summarizing theme.

I don't succeed at Twitter. I revived my account several times, but each time I failed miserably. I had to recently google what a hashtag is! It is that number sign "#" inserted in your social media message that summarizes cleverly how you'd categorize the post. Clearly I never figured out Twitter or I’d already have known that!


Precept is the standard in Inductive Bible Study methodology. If you participate in a “Precept-upon-Precept” study or an “In and Out study by Precept,” something called an AT A GLANCE chart is provided. As you move through your study you create a theme for each chapter which you write as a chapter heading on your AT A GLANCE chart. You include the author, date and purpose of the book. When you have enough chapter themes to determine the theme of the whole book, that is filled in too.

Whether you like social media or not, the hashtag concept is a creative way to label a chapter. Summarize in 2-7 words what each chapter is all about.

Why is this valuable?

  • It challenges you to digest/summarize what each chapter is about.
  • You can quickly refer to a chapter later and view themes.
  • It helps you remember what you studied.
  • Compiling them guides you to discern the overall theme for each book.

How can I determine the theme?

1. Repetition and Key Words. Look at your passage work and observe the key words you have noticed. Look at the paragraphs and observe any phrases repeated. How about your comparison/contrast notes?

2. Summarize the chapter. Talk out loud to yourself telling what the chapter is saying. Or write down in your own words a short paragraph of summation of the chapter.

3. Observe the first and last sentence. You may see a framework or a timeline. Perhaps you will see a problem and the solution.

4. Emphasis. Why is this chapter here? What is useful about it? What might the author be trying to show?

5. Character or Activity. Is there a key player? Is there a major activity? You can label the chapter with something like “Call of Moses,” “Ten Commandments,” or the “Feeding of 5000.”

You can neatly summarize your chapter or study section because you have done the work of observation. You are now ready to move on to Interpretation and Application!

From the Precept Inductive Bible Study Bible


This is twelfth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.
Up next: The ABC’s of Interpretation 
Table of Contents 



1. Why is a title useful when looking for a movie to watch or a book to read? What can it tell you?

2. Remember prayer while studying the Bible, especially if you feel stuck. It is a great occasion to lift our eyes heavenward and ask for a little help!