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?

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