Inductive Bible Study
Two Different Bible Study Methods
The first method of Bible Study is using a study guide. The most common way of doing this is to buy a Study Bible. There are multitudes of these on the market. In fact, if you look for them on Amazon, you will find over 33,000 different Study Bibles. Using one of these books is a good way to study the Bible. However, the problem with using Study Bibles is that the author always has a theological bias. This means that he/she slants the interpretation of the Scriptures according to his/her beliefs.
Thus, you are actually studying an interpretation of the Bible, instead of the Bible itself. This is fine, if that is what you want to do. However, there is a much better way to study the Bible and that is using what is called the Inductive Method.
The Inductive Method
This is the most natural way of learning. A child learns most by experimentation and practice, not by memorizing advice and admonitions. The same is true with Bible Study. First-hand discovery is always the easiest and best way to retain any type of knowledge. This is what inductive Bible Study will do for you.
This method is the purest form of Bible Study. You are starting with a blank slate. You start with no pre-conceived ideas or what anybody else thinks about what the passage means. You clear your mind of anything you have read about it. This is your understanding of the passage.
After you finish with this type of study, then you can go to Bible study guides or other Bible studies. Since you already have a basic understanding of what you have studied, the other study methods will mean much more to you.
This method is very good for small study groups. Each person does their own individual inductive study before the group meets. When the group meets, each person gives what they have learned from their own personal study.
It does not really matter where you start your study. However, I found that starting with the Gospel of John gave me a very good background for understanding the rest of the Bible.
What Bible Should Be Used For This Method?
These are several types of Bible which could be used. First, there are special study Bibles. These Bible are full of question about what you are reading. These are good Bibles to use, but they are not very good for Inductive Bible Study because they are leading your thinking. Remember, this is your study, your understanding of what the Bible says.
Then there are the paraphrased editions. These are Bibles that try to interpret the Scriptures in our modern language. These are good Bibles for causal reading. These are good Bibles to use, but again, they always reflect the theological bias of the author and they often add words and phrases that are not in the original text. These additional words and phrases do help you to understand what the translator thinks is important for you to know. But, remember with this Bible study method, this is your understanding of what the Bible says, not what someone else thinks.
The best Bible to use for this type of Bible study in one which tries to translate the original text as closely as possible into English. Of course, the King James Version is the oldest of this type of Bible. Others are: The New International Version and The New King James Version. Some might want to use the Amplified Bible, but I would only use this as a supplement to one of the others. It is very good in helping you to understand the full meaning of the words in the text, but it is sometimes overwhelming when doing Inductive Bible Study.
How To Use The Inductive Bible Study Method
To get the most out of this method, always start with prayer. After all, this is Godís Love Letter to us. It is God communicating to us, letting us know what He wants us to know. So spend a little time in prayer, opening your self up to the presence of God.
Next, simply read the passage you are going to study. It is best to do this one chapter at a time. Donít rush this step. You are trying to digest what the words say. You may even want to read the passage several times before you go on to the next step. This step gives you an overview of the passage so you want to make sure that you have a very good idea of what it says.
This next step is to outline the chapter. In this step, you divide the chapter into sections, giving each a title. Each section may consist of one verse or many verses. You may have several main titles and several sub-titles under each main one. The more detailed you are, the more you will understand what the chapter is saying. It is important that you make these titles descriptive and not interpretative. You are not trying to interpret the passage at this point. You are just trying to learn what it is saying.
Another step is to use colored pencils or colored high-lighters. Use these to highlight certain words or phrases. For instance, color all passages relating to time in brown, all references to places in green, allusions to the Old Testament in orange, etc.
By this time, you should have a very good idea of what the chapter is saying. So, now you want to record what it is saying to you. One good way to do this is in the form of questions and answers. For instance, if you are studying the Gospel of John, you might ask these types of questions. Who is ďthe Word?Ē How was the world created? Who was John? Is he the same John that wrote the Gospel? Who was it that the world did not recognize? What did John mean when he said: ďHe who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me?Ē Come up with all the questions you can and write the answers to those questions.
Finally, you want to write down how this chapter relates to your own life. After all, this is Godís message to you. What is He saying to you in this chapter? How is this going to affect your life? How are you going to apply this message to your life? How is it going to change your life? Donít just think about it, write it down in your notebook.
Keep a notebook of your study, chapter by chapter. By the time you are finished with a book of the Bible (for instance, the Gospel of John), you will have a valuable study guide to refer to any time you need to.