There are so many great Bible study methods we can use to help us study the bible effectively. However, I have to say that the Inductive Bible Study Method is my favorite way to study the scriptures for an in-depth Bible study.
If you are a new believer or just starting to study the Bible for yourself you may have some questions about this process:
- What is the Inductive Bible Study Method?
- What are the three steps to the inductive method?
- What is the difference between an inductive and a deductive process?
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These are all great questions that are worth exploring as you learn to grow in your ability to study God’s Word.
What is the Inductive Bible Study Method?
Inductive Bible study is a way of studying the Bible that uses a three-step process of observation, interpretation, and application. I’ll talk about this more in-depth in a minute.
The guiding principle for this method of study is that we use God’s Word as the primary resource. That means that we wait to consult commentaries or others’ thoughts until after we have done our own diligent study of the scriptures.
Then, the ultimate goal of our Bible study is to know God more!
The Three Steps of Inductive Bible Study
Watch the video tutorial on how to use the Inductive Bible Study Method
Here is a breakdown of the three steps to inductive study.
1. Observation (What Does it Say?)
The first step is observation. It’s simply looking at the text to see what it says. This step is crucial! In order to properly apply God’s Word to our lives, we must interpret it correctly. In order to interpret scripture correctly, we must observe it thoroughly.
2. Interpretation (What Does it Mean?)
There is one original meaning that the author had in mind when they were writing scriptures. This is the interpretation we are searching for.
It’s also very important to look at the text objectively at this point. If we read a certain passage of scripture with an attitude that we already know what it means, we may miss a deeper concept the Lord wants to show us. So try and read the scriptures with fresh eyes.
3. Application (What Does it Mean to Me?)
Once we gain a clear understanding of the meaning of the scripture, we should then prayerfully consider how the Lord would have us apply that Truth to our lives.
Then, the fruit of our application should always be transformation.
Get your free inductive Bible study observation chart and overview below.
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The Difference Between Inductive Bible Study and a Deductive Process?
When I want to define a specific word or process I find it helpful to look at the antonyms (or opposites). The opposite of inductive reasoning is deductive reasoning.
Inductive reasoning is considered to be “bottom-up logic”. Deductive reasoning, or deduction, starts out with a general statement, then observes data to reach a specific conclusion.
Basically, it’s considered as “top-down logic”.
If we think back to our 6th-grade science class, we may remember learning about a deductive process. As you can see below, the Scientific Method begins at the top with a hypothesis, then works its way down to reach the conclusion.
So an inductive process is the opposite of this.
Instead of starting a more general idea or hypothesis, we begin with the conclusion (or the truth). Then, we dig up that truth to help us answer more general thoughts and questions about life. An inductive process is bottom-up logic.
So, in Bible study, the truth or conclusion that we are going to be digging up is God’s Word.
Therefore, in order to do inductive Bible study, we have to have already determined that God’s Word is truth. This is foundational because the Word of God is our starting point. It’s what we are building everything else upon.
Why Use the Inductive Bible Study Process?
There are so many great Bible study methods. So, why use this one?
That’s a great question!
Learn to Study the Bible For Yourself
There are some amazing Bible studies written by very wise and knowledgeable people. However, many of them are simply a reiteration of truth that has been revealed to another person. The author is teaching their readers what the Lord has shown them.
Don’t get me wrong – we need these people! God has given many men and women the gift of teaching. People who have devoted much time and dedication to the study of His Word for the purpose of faithfully and passionately building up the body of Christ.
However, what I’ve learned is that I am able to hear from the Lord too. I don’t always need someone else to reveal the truth in God’s Word to me. John 16:13
We have the ability to discover truth and correctly discern His voice because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us. HE is able to lead us into truth.
The Inductive Bible Study method allows us to discover God’s truth for ourselves.
What the Lord needs most from us is a hunger to know Him and a willingness to apply ourselves to the disciplined study of the scriptures.
The Inductive Bible Study Method Takes You Deep
The rule of inductive bible study is that you use God’s word as your first and primary source. You do your own study of the scriptures prior to looking at any commentaries or outside resources.
So this method demands an in-depth Bible study to discover the correct meaning.
Some of my most favorite moments are those when I’m sitting early in the morning with my coffee and Bible open and the Holy Spirit reveals His Truth. Just Him and me.
Get Started With Inductive Bible Study
Here are some tips for how to dig a little deeper into each step of this process. Remember, don’t consult commentaries pre-maturely. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you first. Then, look at thoughts from others.
How to Observe the Scriptures
When you are observing the scriptures there are some specific words and phrases you want to watch for that will help you gain a better understanding of the historical context of the scriptures.
- People: Look for the different people (author, recipients, God, Jesus) in the text you are studying. As you observe each person, see if you can answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions about character that is mentioned.
- Keywords: Keywords are words that are repeated or words that would change the meaning of the text if you were to take them out. Look for these words and make note of how they are used and what the text reveals about each of them.
- References to time, Geographical locations: These references help you to discover the historical settings and are important for keeping the scriptures in their original context.
- Comparisons and contrasts, Terms of Conclusion: Looking at these words or phrases helps us to determine the main points the author is making.
How to Interpret the Scriptures
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you move into the next step of interpreting the scriptures.
- Keep Scripture In Context: This is probably the most important step for correct interpretation. Always read at least ten verses before and after whatever portion you are studying to ensure you are keeping the scripture in context.
- Determine Chapter Themes: After observing a section of scripture, see if you can determine chapter themes that the author is portraying. Then, you could even go a step further and break each chapter down into paragraphs to determine the theme of each segment.
- Cross Reference Other Verses: Consider the full counsel of God’s Word. When you are having a hard time interpreting a certain passage, cross reference other verses that relate to that scripture.
- Biblical Word Studies: Take the keywords that you identified in the observation step, and do some biblical word studies. Look at their definition in the original language. Bible Hub and Blue Letter Bible are both great resources for this.
How to Apply the Scriptures
Now, it’s time for application! God’s Word is alive and active. After you gain the correct interpretation of what the text is saying, ask the Lord how He would have you apply it to your life.
Application questions to ask yourself:
- Are there any promises to cling to?
- Any commands or warnings to follow?
- Anything to praise Him for?
- Does the text reveal anything about the character or nature of God?
- Is there any sin you need to confess?
Resources for The Inductive Bible Study Method
Here are some great resources to help you get started using the inductive Bible study method.
- Inductive Bible Study Questions for John 1 – This study of John chapter 1 is perfect for those new to inductive study because it walks you through each step of the process.
- Inductive Bible Study Book – How to Study the Bible – by Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries
- Inductive Bible Study App – This app is a great digital option for inductive study.
- Inductive Bible Study Observation Chart – This printable resource is great for helping you come up with symbols for marking keywords.
- Inductive Study Bible ESV – This is my favorite Bible to use for inductive study because it gives lots of space to mark the scriptures and make notes in the margins.
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