Thursday, December 28, 2023

12 - Verse-by-Verse Bible Study Method

Big Idea: Look at a verse of the Bible asking 5 questions; a quick Bible study method to use on occasion.

Series note: This is the last post at the end of 12 weeks where we featured summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life

A quick donut

Recently a friend and I had only a few minutes to grab a bite of lunch. We did something really crazy. We stopped at a donut shop.

A quick burger or peanut butter sandwich is not a nutritious meal. But in a pinch it provides energy. Like a donut!

Feasting on the Word is important, but sometimes studying a verse or a short section of Scripture provides quick spiritual nourishment. This does not nullify the value to study Biblical context and dig in to the Bible. But it can spiritually energize your day.

Verse-by Verse Analysis Bible Study Method

This method lets you take a passage of Scripture and look at it verse-by-verse, mulling it over, checking cross references, and finding personal application by five simple steps.

You can tailor it to your need at the moment, going at the pace you desire. This method can also be useful in an advanced study of a topic.

Tools needed

  • A Study Bible
  • A Concordance and Bible Dictionary

Five Simple Steps

1. Write the verse into a personal paraphrase. Put it into your own words.

2. List some questions, answers and observations. Make observations within the verse. Write questions you might have, and answers or advice it gives.

3. Find some cross-references. You may know some cross references, have it in your study Bible or you may use a concordance.

4. Record any insights you get from the verse. These might be something you see right away, or might come from further reflection and meditation. Think creatively.

5. Write a brief personal application. Consider a devotional thought or two that comes to your mind from this verse. Make an application that is practical, personal and tangible to your life.

The Verse-by-Verse Analysis Form

Rick Warren has created a form for each one of these 12 studies. There is a website that shows all of them. Here is the link to that page.  For this method he suggestions 6 columns, and make the chart for each verse you plan to study in sequence.  I made this in the landscape mode.

Rick Warren gives an example table in his book using I Timothy 1:1 and suggests starting in I Timothy.

This concludes our review of the 12 Bible Study Methods from Rick Warren in his book, Bible Study Methods: Twelve ways you can unlock God’s Word.

The Introduction and Appendices have a lot more practical information on Bible Study.

You can find the book in PDF form here. You can buy it from Amazon here

What's up next?

In the new year Scripture Spy will give you a weekly look at different tools you can use for personal Bible study. We will look at different kinds of Bibles, study Bibles, concordances, the Bible Atlas, commentaries, and so on. Even tools to understand delving in to a better understanding of Hebrew and Greek words will be touched on. 

So stay tuned!  

Please consider getting on the weekly emailing as a link with a preview of the topic of the week. Sorry Google blogger platform no longer provides a click to follow a blog. You must send an email  (even a blank one) to and you will be added to the emailing.  

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Previous post from the series: Book Synthesis Bible Study Method
Previous post: Out of Darkness: Christmas Meditation
Up next: Using Bible Tools



1. What has impressed you or taught you reading through these reviews?

2. Have you tried some of these methods? Would you like to start the New Year with a plan to study the Bible more using one of these methods? What makes you hesitate?

3. Take some time to pray for a hunger for God’s Word.


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Live the Light: Christmas Meditation

Big Idea: Jesus' birth into the world represents the light of God coming into a world of darkness; we as Christians should live as people of the light.

Out of Darkness

If you ever toured a cave, probably the guide turned off the lights for a few seconds. I remember not seeing my hand 2 inches from my face.

Darkness can be an oppressive, frightening thing.

Separated from Day One

The Bible says a lot about light and darkness, from day one.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. Genesis 1:3-5 NLT

It is a fascinating and lengthy topical study to look at light and darkness in the Bible.

Darkness is hard for humans. We stumble and find tasks difficult. Strange noises are frightening and even ominous. Though like the blind, one can become accustomed to it and compensate.

Light shining into darkness

God saw that the light was good (Genesis 1:4). But in the history of the earth, people have lived in a world of darkness and even found it normal.

How delightful when light breaks through the darkness. A Messianic prophesy says:

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2.

Light in the face of Christ

The coming of the Son of God, the Christ, into the world is our Christmas celebration. It is His light that penetrates our darkness. The Apostle Paul tells it so well.

For God, who said “Let there be light in the darkness” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT

I love that verse. To know the glory of God, looking to Jesus!

Paul also says to the first century believers,

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! Ephesians 5:8

Live the Light

This Christmas from the lights on the tree, homes decorated and even the backlight of your phone, remember the value of light.

Meditate on what it means to live as people of light.

Live the light.


Previous: Book Synthesis Bible Study Method
Up next: Verse by Verse Bible Study Method


1. What happens in the light? What are things you can do more easily in light?

2. What might it mean that Christians are people of the light?

3. What might you do differently in your life if you consider living as a person of the light?

Thursday, December 21, 2023

11 - Book Synthesis Bible Study Method

Big Idea: Introduction to a Bible study method synthetic in nature, bringing together the elements we separated by chapter and looking at it as a whole, with better understanding of the parts.

Series note: We are taking 12 weeks to feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life

Our Car’s Engine in Pieces

Early in our marriage, our family car had serious engine trouble. A local garage gave us a good quote for repair.

Getting no word on the car, my husband stopped by the repair shop only to discover our car was suspended on high and all the parts of the engine were spread all over the floor.

The car never ran the same again.

Book Synthesis Bible Study Method

Rick Warren describes the Book Synthesis Method as the third part of the last 2 methods we have looked at (Book Survey and Chapter Analysis). We’ve looked closely at it, took it apart to see its parts and how it fits together. Now we can put it all back together and look at the whole more closely.

It is like taking the car apart and putting it back together with a much greater understanding of how it runs.

The word for synthetic in Greek means “putting together.” It is the opposite of analytic, which means “taking apart.”

It is important in Bible study to always remember its context and see the whole picture.

Simple Steps on doing a Book Synthesis

Please keep your last two chapter’s notes close at hand. You should refer to them often now.

1. Re-read the book. Read it several times in various translations, rapidly. Try to read the whole book in one sitting.

2. Write out a detailed final outline. Compare the horizontal chart you made for the Chapter Survey (lesson 9), and your outline at that time. Compare with your chapter headings from Chapter Analysis.

3 Write down a descriptive book title. From your horizontal chart and your final detailed outline, plus chapter titles, consider an original concise title that describes what the book is about.

4. Make a summary of your insights. Review and compare the concluding thoughts when you look at chapter analysis. List them from reviewing your notes and recent readings.

5. Write out a personal application. Review all the chapter by chapter applications you noted. Also write down any new insights for application that you see. You may want to refer now to Chapter 1 on the Devotional Method.

6. Share the results of your study with others. Bible study should not just be for your own insight and understanding, but also to build others up and have opportunity to share their thoughts with you.

You can find more information and the form for the Book Synthesis Method here.

When I was a teen I went on a Teen Missions, Intl. mission trip to help put up a church building in South America. We were encouraged to memorize this verse.

At last the wall was completed to half its height around the entire city, for the people had worked with enthusiasm. Neh. 4:6.

When we look at the whole of the book of Nehemiah we see the people of God coming back after Exile to rebuild Jerusalem. There was opposition but they worked together and protected each other. They learned where the walls should go and the history of the place. And they accomplished a great work. In the same way, it is hard work to study the Bible. Especially when you do all of this intense work. But it is worth it when you go at it with a will to work.

The webpage has a page on Warren’s Book Synthesis Method including the basic form.  

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word

Work with enthusiasm in the study of the Bible. It is worth the effort!


Previous: Chapter Analysis Bible Study Method
Up next: Out of Darkness: Christmas Meditation


1. Does the car analogy work for you about taking something apart and putting it back together again with a great understanding how it works? Do you have another illustration from your life experience of something you get to know only when you work with it?

2. How might this understanding of putting the Word of God back together with a better perceptive of the parts make sense to help you know it and appreciate it better for your life?


Thursday, December 14, 2023

10 - Chapter Analysis Bible Study Method

Big Idea: Introduction to a Bible study method that focuses in how to analyze each of the chapters in a book of the Bible

Series note: We are taking 12 weeks to feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life

Narrowing the Telescope

Last year I got a travel scope for my husband for Christmas. It is supposed to zero in on wildlife or the terrain when travelling. However neither of us has easily gotten the hang of it. It takes practice.

Rick Warren’s book of Bible Study Methods has taken us from broad topics to book surveys. Now he shows how to look at a book more closely to examine the content chapter by chapter. It also takes practice.

Why do a Chapter Analysis?

This method to examine and understand the nature of a book of the Bible and then review and dig into the chapter content is a methodical, valuable way to understand God’s Word.

I learned this method from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. When I got to seminary I noticed I could dig into the Word better than others in my class.

Personal deep Bible study is possible for anyone whether they go to Bible college and seminary or not.

Diligent Bible study with prayer, aided by the Holy Spirit is the way.

Simple Steps for a Chapter Analysis

1. Write out a chapter summary. Read the chapter several times making general observations. Summarize.

  • Paraphrase it.
  • Outline it.
  • Rewrite it in simple short sentences.
  • Title each chapter

2. List your observations. You want to saturate yourself with the contents.

Why we often overlook things according to Rick Warren.

  • We rush through the passage
  • We don’t write down observations
  • We give up too soon

So ask good questions using the skills you have been learning. Make lists. Write down all your observations.

3. Ask interpretive questions. You want to get at the meaning so ask questions with “what” or “why.” Write down all your thoughts on it. List the difficulties.

Start finding meaning of the text.

  • Check the context
  • Define the words and phrases used
  • Study the grammar and structure of the sentences
  • Compare several translations of the text
  • Study the background of the text
  • Compare your text with other passages of Scripture
  • Consult a commentary (as a last resort)

4. Correlate your chapter with other scriptures. Look for cross references.

Rick Warren quotes a principle of interpretation that says “ The Bible interprets itself; Scripture best explains Scripture.”

Steps in cross-references

  • Look for cross-references with the same book
  • Compare statements in other writings by the same author
  • Compare with other books in the same testament
  • Compare cross references from the whole Bible
  • Types of cross-references
  • The pure cross-reference – almost exact
  • The illustrative cross-reference – illustrates it
  • The contrasting cross-reference – seems opposite
Caution: check the context of cross-references as it may not be what you think.

5. List some possible applications. Just list them at this time.

6. Write down some concluding thoughts. Go back over the first 5 steps and write some concluding thoughts. New observations, interpretations, theme or topic of interest for the future, word possibilities for a word study. There is a lot to affirm here.

7. Write out one application. Choose one to write out and consider practicing this week. Make it relevant to the present.

The Chapter Analysis Form

Fill in the reference for your chapter. Apply a title. Summarize the chapter (step one). Write observations. Write concluding thoughts. Write down the application.

The webpage has a page on Warren’s Chapter Analysis Method including the basic form. 

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 NIV

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word

Previous: Book Survey Bible Study Method
Up next: Book Synthesis Bible Study Method


1. By now you realize studying a book of the Bible like this takes time.

How long per day are you willing and able to devote to study the word? You do not need to do one chapter in one sitting. You can still study like this even if you devote only 10 or 20 minutes a day to it. So, how much time can you devote?

2. Think about the things that might interfere with your quiet time in the Word? How might you limit the interruptions? When or where is the best time and place for you?

Thursday, December 7, 2023

9 – Book Survey Bible Study Method


Big Idea: Introduction to a Bible study method that directs you towards a overall telescopic view of a book of the Bible.

Series note: We are taking 12 weeks to feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life

This method is the first of three providing a detailed study of a book of the Bible.

Bird’s Eye View of a Book

My first time to New York, our flight path took us over Manhattan. I cooed at the Empire State Building and other landmarks I could identify. I saw New York as a bird’s eye view.

Later when I moved to Manhattan, I got to know all the subways and bus routes. On Fifth Avenue my head strained up viewing the tall buildings.

The Book Survey Bible Study Method

This Bible study method is about getting a bird’s-eye view of a book. It reveals the shape and purpose of the book. It is a general view rather than a detailed view.

This is important because it shows how each part of the book relates to the other parts.

It involves a number of readings through the book with questions that will draw out the purpose, theme structure and content.

It is too easy, and erroneous, to take a few verses out of context. We need a balanced view of God’s Word in its’ wholeness.

Three phases developed by the Navigators

The book survey is the first of three steps developed by the ministry called the Navigators giving us a solid understanding of a single book of the Bible.
  • Survey — get a bird’s-eye view of the book.
  • Analysis — study everything in each chapter in detail.
  • Synthesis — put it back together again and draw some conclusions.

Tools needed:

Study Bible
Several contemporary translations
Bible dictionary or Bible encyclopedia
Bible handbook
Other background related tools may be useful also as mentioned in the last chapter.

Realize that Bible surveys on a book, and commentaries, represent opinions and thus different theological views at times. This is why it is so important to examine the Bible for yourself as primary, and then consult the opinions of others.

Steps for doing a Book Background Study

1. Read the book. Do not consult surveys, handbooks or commentaries at this point.
  • Read the book through in one sitting (break up long books like Psalms and Isaiah)
  • Read through the book in a recent translation.
  • Read it rapidly and ignore chapter divisions (these were not in the original copies)
  • Read the book repeatedly
  • Read through the book without referring to commentaries or someone’s notes
  • Read through the book prayerfully
  • Read through the book with a pen or pencil in hand.
2. Make notes on what you read
  • Category (poetry, history, prophecy…)
  • First impressions. Do you see a purpose coming through?
  • Key Words. Are there significant words the writer uses a lot?
  • Key Verse. Does a significant key verse jump out at you, showing the main thought?
  • Literary Style. (Narrative, drama, poem, letter…)
  • Emotional tone. (Angry, sad, happy, worried…) How does it make you feel?
  • Main Theme(s). What is being said? What seems to be the emphasis?
  • Structure of the book. Are there obvious divisions?
  • Major People. Who are the people mentioned most?
3. Do a background study. Look at the text itself first. Then check other tools.
  • What can I learn about the writer?
  • When was the book written?
  • To whom was the book written? Who were they? Who was he? Who was she?
  • Why was the book written?
  • What other background information sheds light on this book?
  • What is the place of this book in the Bible?
  • What are the geographic locations mentioned in the book? Where are they?
4. Make a horizontal chart of the book’s contents (Bible, ruler, 8 1/2”x11” page)
  • Make vertical column for each chapter in the book (may need more than one page)
  • Read the book again finding major divisions and noting on top
  • Read the book again creating a title for each chapter
  • Read the book once more by paragraphs making paragraph titles

5. Make a tentative outline of the book
  • Refer to the horizontal chart to help make the outline
  • Outline from major divisions to minor divisions
  • Use paragraph divisions for outline clues
  • Compare yours with other outlines you may find in a study bible or reference book
6. Write out a personal application

Consider the impressions of all you have looked at. What is one thing the Lord spoke to you about during your study? Write a personal application to it.

Rick Warren suggests these potential places to start:

1 Thessalonians • 1 John • Philippians • 2 Timothy • Ephesians • Mark • Romans • Habakkuk

Helpful resources

The webpage has a page on Warren’s Book Survey Method with the basic form at this webpage. HERE.

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word

Previous: Book Background Bible Study Method
Up next: Chapter Analysis Bible Study Method


1. Are you an analytical personality or an artistic personality? Would this method be easy or hard for you to do?

2. What benefit might you find in doing this kind of study?