Posted by: Esther | April 22, 2010

Steps for Inductive Bible Study

Inductive Bible Study Guide

Step 1: Pray for guidance and for God to teach you. (John 16:13-15)

Step 2: Read the chapter and separate the events or verses of the chapter into logical chunks according to theme or topic. You may use the headings in your Bible, but do not limit yourself to this.

Step 3: Identify key words in each event in order to discover the “big idea” or theme of the passage, event, topic or chapter. “Key words always answer the question who, what, when, where, why or how. They are the most often words that are repeated. Names of key people in the story and their pronouns are key words. God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit or any words that mean the same, including pronouns, are also always key as we are seeking to discover more about God.” I use a colored pencil to mark key words. For example I mark a yellow cross next to the word Jesus and His pronouns, a blue cloud around Holy Spirit and His pronouns and black underline for God the Father.

I use a printed copy of the chapter from to mark keywords and cross-references (from the interpretation step). I write the answers to the questions in steps 4 to 7 in a notebook with each section labeled Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

Step 4: Observation: Reread each event or topic and answer the following questions:

  • Who is writing or speaking and to whom? Who is in the event or who is the event about.
  • When does this take place?
  • Where does this take place?
  • What is the passage about? What problems were the recipients facing? What is the cause and effect of the problem? Summarize the event.
  • Why does the author write what he does? Or why is this event taking place?
  • How does this passage fit in with the context? (What goes before and after?) Or how did the event happen?
  • What do I learn about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
  • Write out any additional observations including contrasts, lists, comparisons, etc.

Step 5: Theme: In one phrase, sum up the main thought of the passage.

Step 6: Interpret the passage. Use as many of the following questions as you need, progressing downward. Suggested resources for this step include: a concordance, a biblical dictionary, and


1. What are the meanings of the words?

2. What does the immediate context suggest?

3. What does the broader context suggest?

4. What do cross-references suggest?

5. What is the cultural meaning? (That is, what did it mean to those to whom it was originally addressed?)

6. What do commentaries suggest?

Step 7: Apply what you have learned?

2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for…

  • Teaching. What did I learn?
  • Reproof. Where do I fall short? Why do I fall short?
  • Correction. What will I do about it?
  • Training in righteousness. How can I make this principle a consistent part of my life? Which verse will I memorize and meditate on this week.

Complete steps 3-7 for each event in the chapter.


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