I have been working on and planning a workshop on how to study the Bible for yourself, mostly focusing on the inductive study method. A brief overview of that method can be seen here. As a result of my research into this topic I have found a plethora of information and resources and thought it might be good to do a blog series on how to study the Bible for yourself. Biblical illiteracy seems to be very prevalent these days and a lot of people seem to have never been taught how to study the Bible for themselves, but rather they just expect to learn what they need to know from their pastor or teachers on TV. As a result, people are not learning for themselves about the Bible but are getting spoon-fed by others. In a day and age where we have the advantage of being able to read and have the Bible available to us in our own language (multiple translations at that), we have unprecedented access to the greatest book on earth, yet we are not taking advantage of its treasures.
There are a lot of Bible study guides available and these can be useful in helping to dig into the Bible. But there is something exciting about digging into the Bible for yourself without the help of a study guide – learning how to interpret it and understanding what it’s saying. Before jumping in though, why is it so important that we learn to study the Bible for ourselves?
One reason is that it is commanded: 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us (NASB) “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
Another reason is that it reveals who Jesus is, so that we can have eternal life: John 20:30-31 (NASB) “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
And, it helps us to grow in our Christian walk (it equips us): 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
There are a lot of different methods that can be used in studying the Bible. The primary method we will look at is probably the most popular method and that is the inductive study method. What does inductive mean? Inductive is starting from a general overview and then narrowing down to the specifics. In further blog posts, I’ll go into more detail on this method but here is a quick overview.
Step 1: Observation
Asking questions of the text, looking at what it says (not trying to get meaning out of it, just blanket observations)
Step 2: Interpretation
Taking the observations and extrapolating the meaning – based on what is observed, what does this text mean?
Step 3: Application
After understanding what the text means, we look at how we can apply it to our own lives.
Before we can begin our study however, there are some factors we need to consider. The Bible is a book that was written by various authors over a period of a few thousand years. It was written to different people in different cultural settings and historical backgrounds. And the type of literature varies from historical narrative to poetry to prophecy to letters. We live in a different place and time from the original authors and audiences. All these different factors play a part in how we interpret the Bible. In the next post in the series, we’ll look at some of these factors – the importance of context and understanding literary genres in the Bible.
*Source material for this blog series came from a variety of sources.
Living by the Book by Howard and William Hendricks
Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins
Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days by Kay Arthur
Credo House Bible Boot Camp video series (link is broken, no longer posted)
Secret Church: How to Study the Bible series
How to Read the Bible by A.J. Conyers (out of print, but seemingly available used)