Studying the Bible: A Basic How-To using an Inductive Approach

(This blogpost goes along with this podcast episode.)

So many women I see want to study the Bible but have NO clue where to start. So, they don’t start. They rely on devotionals, which can be great tools, but should not be used as a primary source of Biblical knowledge. Or they read the Bible without knowing how to unpack it and become very overwhelmed.

Since we have no idea how to study the Bible, or do not know how to read and understand biblical principles ourselves, we are often led astray easily by false teachings and ideas that tickle our ears. My goal and desire is that believing women will turn from this me-centered ideology, rely on God’s word, and teach it to their children.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Ok, so let’s get started!

First, what is an “inductive” Bible study?
Inductive Bible study is going to the text and using it to interpret itself. You make observations from the text, then draw your theology and conclusions.
(Other methods of study would be to go into the passage with preconceived ideas in order to prove your views or theories. This is a dangerous method, honestly, and one that leads to all sorts of misinterpretations. There is a propensity to take a verse or even part of verses to prove a point. That does not produce theologically sound doctrine, and we want to stay far away from that approach.)

In inductive study you observe, interpret, and apply.

There are many different ways and tools to do this. This is probably one of many, of which I’ve taken teachings from many different sources and mixed them together to make it my own. I would suggest to develop something that works for you and helps you understand the Scripture better as well as draws you to the Lord. Don’t forget to grab your favorite Bible, notebook, and pen/highlighter. (I give a list of my favorites here.) AND PLEASE, don’t forget to pray. So often I am eager to learn and dive into the Word of God that I forget to ask Him to speak to me through His Word. – This is directed to myself.

  1. Read the Book (or passage/pericope) fully a few times. If you are studying a smaller book, read the entire book before honing in on a specific chapter. If you are concentrating on a larger book, go through chapter by chapter, but study it as an entire book.
  2. Look for the specifics of the book or passage.
    • Note the who, what, when, where, why, and how. (Who is it written to? From whom? When was it written? Why was it written? Etc…)
    • Pay attention and write down the key words in the passage. What is said or conveyed over and over?
    • What is the flow of the book? (What are the events or topics covered and in what order?)
    • What is the purpose of the book? Can you find the key verse?
    • What do you find interesting in what you’re reading?
    • Do you have any questions about the passage?
  3. Narrow down your study to a specific chapter. Some things to look for:
    • Note the keywords. Go through different versions and note the differences in translations. (You can look up the greek word and see what the literal translation is, if you’re feeling spunky.)
    • Note the theme of the chapter.
    • What is the flow of the chapter by itself?
    • What is the purpose of the chapter within the book?
    • What are events that took place?
    • What is knowledge in the chapter?
    • Are there any mandates or imperative statements?
  4. Application
    • What does the chapter teach me about God?
    • What does the chapter teach me about worship?
    • What does the chapter teach me about being a follower of God?

I fill notebooks and journals with notes going through different books. This should not be a fifteen minute process. It should take days, honestly. Our goal is to meditate and chew on the Word of God. The Bible is both easy to understand and mysterious.

(This is my notebook for the overview of 2 Peter. I will do the same for and expound each chapter.)

I have included a cheat sheet for you to download and print off to help you for your first couple of chapters. Or make a whole binder with these for your notetaking journal. Let me know if you find it helpful!

Published by Danielle Barker

Hi, I’m Danielle. Momma of five who survives every day with Jesus. I'm somewhere between a crunchy and silky mom. I love theology and relating it to motherhood. Coffee and running keep me sane. ♥️ Best advice? Make your home the place you want to be.

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