The Bible is a never-ending adventure. A well so deep we can never touch the bottom. It’s described as ‘living and active’ and in my years of reading and studying I understand that phrase. I could read the same passage for five years and draw something new out of it. Isn’t it fascinating?
When I was high school, I was introduced to an inductive way of studying the Bible, precept to precept, where you essentially take the passage apart as a way of understanding. “Inductive” is to use the Bible as the primary source of study to learn about God and what the Bible teaches. (via) You pose Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions, and you mark up the passage as a visual way of pulling out key details.
You can mark it up however you wish, but the goal is to do the following:
- Consistently ask and find answers for the above questions – Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
- Distinguish key words and phrases.
- Look out for contrasts and comparisons in the passage.
- Note the description of time and location. This will help the story come alive to you, as opposed to textbook reading (you know what I mean).
- Identity chapter/book themes and make note of them.
You’ve just observed the text, now we move to interpreting it (breaking it down):
- Keep it in context. If you lay a solid foundation when observing a passage, you are prepared to consider each verse in the light of the surrounding verses, the book in which it is found, and the entire Word of God.
- Remember that the Bible will never contradict itself. This is an interesting statement to me; I believe it to be true, but there are many intriguing verses in the Bible that threaten it (in my own finite weak human understanding, haha). All Scripture is inspired by God. It can be leaned into and trusted and counted on. Praise.
- Take Scripture literally. Look first for the clear teaching of Scripture, not a hidden meaning. Understand and recognize figures of speech and interpret them accordingly.
- Seek out the single meaning of the passage. This can be like a framework through with you think about the rest of the passage, if you understand its goal and theme. Let the passage speak for itself.
Then, we take what we’ve learned and we do our best to apply it to our daily life. For me, the effort in studying is sometimes cake compared to actually living it out. But this is a helpful, effective, and enjoyable way for me to study the Bible. Being a creative and visual learner, this kind of Scripture study helps engage me in a new way.
Lenae Brooks says
Thank you for sharing! I love to break what I am reading down, but the old who, what, when, where, and why was left out. I am going to start using that more often!
Chelsea B.E. says
You bet, Lenae! :)
Lauren English says
This is so helpful! I tend to turn to more emotional passages like the Psalms or the prophets and don’t do a great job with really jumping into and breaking down Scripture to see what deeper meanings God has in them. I love all these questions and am excited to try them!
Chelsea B.E. says
I’m so glad, Lauren! I think I enjoy it because it gives me something active to do as I read. If I simply read an Old Testament passage, it’s going through one ear and out the other, haha.