How to Study Your Bible

The inductive Bible study method involves answering three questions:

  • What does it say? (Observation)
  • What does it mean? (Interpretation)
  • What should I do? (Application)

Observation

Summarize

After reading a passage, try to come up with a title. Look for a key verse that captures the heart of the passage. Write a brief summary overview of the passage, including the major points.

Paraphrase

Try to write the passage in your own words.

Ask questions.

  • Who wrote it? Said it? About whom? Speaking to whom?
  • What happened? What are the main events? The major ideas? The major themes?
  • When was it written? Did the events take place? Will it yet happen?
  • Where did this happen?
  • Why was it written?
  • How did it happen? Is it done?

Look for patterns.

Patterns such as repeated words or phrases to help you understand what the author intends to emphasize.

Look for cross-references.

As you become more familiar with the Bible, you’ll find that as you read a passage, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind other verses that relate to, confirm, or shed further light on what you’re reading.

Use other tools to help you discover what a passage is saying.

  • An English dictionary helps you understand the basic meaning of words.
  • Various translations shed fresh light on passages.
  • A concordance helps you discover what words meant in their original language.
  • Commentaries and study Bibles are helpful in understanding passages, gaining background on the authors, locations, characters, and customs.

Interpretation

Ask these kinds of questions to help you understand the implications of the text:

  • What does this passage teach me about God?
  • What does this passage teach me about Jesus?
  • What does this passage teach me about man?
  • Are there any promises to claim?
  • Are there any commands to obey?
  • Are there any examples to follow?
  • Are there any sins to avoid?

Application

After we’ve learned the “what,” now we ask the question, “So what?” Ask such questions as:

  • How does this truth apply to my life? To my situation?
  • In view of this truth, what changes need to be made in my life?
  • What practical steps can I take to apply this truth to my life?
    • Exercise faith in God’s promises or character.
    • Humble myself and acknowledge my need.
    • Confess my sins.
    • Turn from my old ways of thinking.
    • Obey some command I have been neglecting.
    • Worship and adore the God who has revealed Himself.
    • Forgive one who has wronged me.
    • Seek forgiveness from someone I have wronged.
    • Seek to reconcile a broken relationship.
    • Give to meet the need of another.
    • Share the good news of Jesus Christ with a non-Christian.
    • Cry out to God on behalf of a needy friend.

About the Author

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored nineteen books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), and Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. Her books have sold more than three million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.