The Beginners Guide to The Inductive Bible Study Method

inductive bible study

Do you wish to let scripture interpret scripture without depending on or being clouded by commentaries? If this is your desire, you may which to consider the Inductive Bible Study Method.

There are tons of different Bible study Methods that have been developed over the years to help individuals gain clarity as they study God’s word for themselves.

The inductive bible study method is the best way if you are looking to transform your Bible study routine with a Bible study method that places emphasis on letting the word of God explain itself. If this is your desire, I encourage you to continue reading as we deep dive into the inductive bible study method.

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What Is The Inductive Bible Study Method?

The inductive bible study method is a transformative tool that will positively impact your Bible studies. It is an investigative approach to Bible Study where the reader observes the text, they then interpret the text and then close off their study by seeing how the text applies to their life.  

The application of this method will provide a wholesome understanding of scripture with regards to the intent and the context at the time it was written and its application in present times.

As, the reader looks at the original audience, and the intended meaning of the text by understanding it in context (historical and literary). It gives readers a deeper understanding of the scriptures by using Bible study tools and enables them to walk away with a practical application during their personal Bible study.

 How to do the Inductive Bible Study Method

Their are three steps involved in the inductive Bible Study method, these include:

  1. Observation – What does the text say?
  2. Interpretation – What does the text mean?
  3. Application -What does the text mean to me?

 Inductive Bible Study Method Step # 1 – Observation

At the first step of inductive Bible study, you are required to just observe and take note of relevant facts that stand out to you.  Resist the urge to interpret the passage at this stage, focus on inspecting and patiently examining the passage, the words used, repeated words, key words, themes, geographical locations, grammar and so on. It is important to highlight and document the relevant information you have identified.

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Studying the bible is not a race or competition, it is not about how fast but how well, so it is advisable to take your time and go over the passages of scripture you have mapped out as many times as possible.

After you have highlighted the text and made your observations, you can answer the following 5 W’s and an H to aid you in compiling the information you have collected. Here are some questions of the text to ask and think about:

  • Who- who is the author? Who is the passage referring to?
  • What- what is the theme of the passage? What is the topic of the passage? What is the tone being used? What message is the passage trying to pass across? What events are taking place? What is the genre of the book?
  • Where- where did the event happen? Where are the characters coming from and heading to?
  • When- when did the events happen? When will the event take place? When was the text written?
  • Why- why is this event/character being made mention of? Why has reference been made to an event? Why has a person been made mention of? Why was this illustration made?
  • How- How will the event happen? How is it explained?

If you own a Study Bible, the beginning to each book of the Bible will include background information on each book of the Bible.  This is a great place to start in gathering background information.  Alternatively, online research can also assist you in finding relevant information for your study.

Make note of your observations by using a Bible that you use specifically for inductive Bible study or a notebook. If you aren’t a fan of writing in your Bible, visit a website like Bible Gateway and search for your passage, then copy and paste it into a word document and print.

You can then use this sheet to record your notes. Develop an inductive bible study color code or inductive bible study symbols that you can use on a consistent basis to annotate your text.

As you read the text, pay particular attention to the following:

Look for key words or ideas that gets repeated over and over again – This should indicate to you that this is something that you should pay attention to.

Look for key themes that seem to come up over and over again – This will help you comprehend what the passage is all about.

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Look for transition words –  Transition words are words such as: therefore, but, because, this will help you understand how thoughts are connected.

Look for lists – Example Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Look for comparisons and contrasts as well as commands.

Look for words you don’t understand and make note of questions you have about the text.

Inductive Bible Study Method Step  # 2 – Interpretation Step

After you have completed the first stage in the inductive approach and critically examined the background by making observations and extracting relevant information, it is important to decipher the message the passage intends to bring across. At this second step of inductive reasoning, you should avoid making new observations or trying to apply the passage to your life.

Try reading the passage several times, the Bible wasn’t originally written in English so it may take a bit of repetitive reading to understand what’s happening in the passage and see the logical flow. You can also try reading the passage in multiple translations for more clarity. In this stage, don’t just focus on the passage, read the book in its entirety to see the big picture of the book which will provide more context to the passage.

Here are the steps you should take at this stage:

  1. Identify the cultural context and historical background at the time the passage was written to enable you interpret the passage within that context
  2. Identify the context in which the passage was written
  3. Interpret the passage according to the literal meaning of the words used and the context it is used, make use of a dictionary where necessary
  4. Read the book the passage is found in and the verses preceding and succeeding the passage
  5. Pray for revelation from the holy spirit
  6. Take a look at cross references
  7. Take note of the meaning of symbols, figures of speech used, where a literal interpretation will not give a clear interpretation

Always start with a literal interpretation of a passage and avoid looking for “hidden” meanings. Do not make assumptions or input your “opinion” when interpreting the bible, the bible is not an intellectual piece of work or an academic paper.

Do not read passages in isolation, refer to other passages and interpret words within the context in which it is used. Consider using Blue Letter Bible to do word studies for words that you may not fully comprehend the meaning of. 

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Inductive Bible Study Method Step # 3 – Application

This is the final stage of the inductive bible study method in analyzing a passage of scripture during your personal study. After you have observed and interpreted the passage you have studied, it is important to apply it to yourself personally. Apply it to your everyday life.

Identify how you can apply the revelations and understanding you have gotten in your life, how you can make different choices, act differently, renew your thought process, drop habits and so on, it is important to be brutally honest. If you are falling short, the word of God does not bring condemnation or guilt rather it leads to repentance and transformation.

To help with the application aspect of the inductive Bible study method, here are some application questions to ponder:

  • Is there a sin to confess?
  • Is there a promise to claim?
  • Is there an attitude to change?
  • Is there a command to obey?
  • Is there an example to follow?
  • Is there a prayer to pray?
  • Is there something for which to praise God?
  • Does the text reveal something about the character or nature of God?

The New Inductive Study Bible

Discover God’s truth for yourself with The New Inductive Study Bible (ESV) by Precept Ministries. It includes a 32 page guide that walks you through the inductive Bible study method teaching readers how to observe, interpret, and apply the text to their everyday lives.

Full color maps and charts are included along with an inductive study guide instruction on how to mark the text.  Get back to the source by allowing God’s words to become its own commentary with The New Inductive Study Bible.

Inductive Bible Study Method Summary

There you have it, a step by step guide on how to get started with the inductive study method. Want to learn how to incorporate inductive Bible study into your daily routine?

This Bible study journal will walk you through a 10-day, in-depth study of John chapter 1. This chapter gives us some great, foundational teaching of the life, ministry, and deity of Jesus and sample of inductive bible study!

Alternatively, you may which to use this 40-day inductive Bible study worksheet to walk you through an in-depth study of what it means to rejoice always, a study on Philippians. 


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