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What Is Inductive Bible Study

An Example Of Inductive Bible Study: Isaiah 5: 8

Inductive Bible Study
What does the text say?

I first read Isaiah 55 in different translations. I chose HCSB, ESV, NIV, NLT, and The Message. I choose these translations because some are more word-for-word and others more thought-for-thought. Then I made some observations of the specific verses I was focusing on:

  • Repeated Words/phrases include:
  • My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.
  • The idea of returning to God repeats
  • Figures of Speech:
  • God compares His word to rain or snow that causes things to grow
  • Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, How?
  • Who God does most of the talking after Isaiah calls us to return to God.
  • What: God says his thoughts and ways are higher than ours.
  • When: Isaiah says to seek the Lord while he may be found and while he is near
  • Where: Gods word comes to the Earth. God is higher than the earth.
  • How: Gods word will do His will and prosper in what he sends it to do.
  • Transition Words: For and so. It goes For thisand for thatSo this
  • Historical-Cultural Background
  • Isaiah was writing to tell the people of Judah they had broken Gods covenant and needed to repent. But he also wrote of a hope that is beyond the judgment.
  • People at the time were living in sin and fear of the larger nations around them.
  • What does the text mean?

    Taking all the observations into account I began to look for a universal principle.

    Thus, I concluded that the theological principle could be: God is higher than humans and thus able to save them.

    Coma Inductive Bible Study

    • Context – This refers to the background of the passage and the circumstances in which it was written. Answer questions like who wrote the passage? Why was it written? Who was it written to? What is the literary genre? What happens immediately before and after this passage? Are there specific themes or ideas that are expressed.
    • Observation – This means to carefully examine the passage you are reading. Look to answer questions like is there any structure or arrangement to the passage? Is there any repetition or comparison or contrast? Are there any keywords or phrases? Does anything surprise you or stick out? If there are characters, what do they say and do? What theological terms are used and what do they mean?
    • Meaning – This refers to the main point or idea that the author wanted his original audience to understand. Ask questions of the passage such as how does the passage describe, point to, or refer back to Jesus? What is the reader supposed to learn about God from the passage? If you could sum up the main point of the writer in a sentence, what would it be?
    • Application – This refers to how you as the reader are supposed to respond to the text. Think through questions like does this passage challenge or confirm my beliefs? Is there an attitude or assumption I must change? Are there any changes to my actions or the way I live being advised by the passage? Is there a promise I should be believing or an attribute of God’s nature that I should be trusting?

    A Surefire Bible Study Method

    Inductive Bible study is a surefire method for getting the most out of your Bible study. The steps are simple: 1) observe, 2) interpret, and 3) apply. If theres one Bible study method you implement, inductive Bible study should be it. Its a one-stop shop for studying Gods Word.

    And, if you want to learn more about the inductive Bible study method, I heartily recommend picking up a copy of Inductive Bible Study by Richard Fuhr & Andreas Köstenberger.

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    What Does The Text Say

    First, we need to ask ourselves, What does the text say? This is surface-level digging. So, how do we find out what the text says? Well, you can start by reading it in different translations. Afterward, make simple observations from the text.

    Here is a list of some things you should consider looking for:

    • Repeated words or phrases
    • Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, How?
    • Quotes
    • Transition Words
    • etc.

    Now that we have observed the text, lets move on to the historical and cultural background.

    This is where a Bible Dictionary or Commentary might be helpful. But a good Study Bible will have all this information, too. Generally, the book introduction will have what you are looking for.

    To help get a grasp of the historical and cultural background we could ask:

    • Who is writing?
    • To Whom is this person writing?
    • Why are they writing?
    • What is going on in the world around them?

    Finally, we put all this newfound knowledge together to see what the text is saying. Honestly, it sounds complicated, but its not. All we are doing is making observations. Seeing what is going on. Now, on to the next question

    The Inductive Method Of Bible Study: The Basics

    The New Inductive Study Bible ESV

    Kay Arthur

    Inductive Bible study consists of three component parts, which we will look at separately, but which frequently overlap in practice. These three parts are observation, interpretation, and application.

    Observation answers the question: What does the passage say? It is the foundation which must be laid if you want to accurately interpret and properly apply God’s Word. Have you ever read a book, chapter, or verse of the Bible and five minutes later been unable to remember anything you have read? So often we read the Bible with our eyes but not with our mind. There are several reasons for this. Either

    • we think God’s Word will magically make an impression on us without any effort on our part, or
    • we don’t really believe we can understand what we’ve read, or
    • we are waiting for the pastor to teach on this section of Scripture so we’ll know what to believe.

    Often, however, we forget what we have read simply because we don’t know what to look for in the text. Therefore, in the first part of this book you are going to learn what to look for when you read your Bible.

    Because observation is discovering what the passage is saying, it requires time and practice. You’ll discover that the more you read and get to know a book of the Bible, the more its truths will become obvious to you. You’ll be awed at the wealth of spiritual riches contained in even the shortest books of the Bibleand you will have discovered it yourself! You will know that you know!

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    Why Study The Bible Inductively

    While there are theological reasons for inductive Bible study, my biggest reasons for continuing with this method are my personal experience and, now, as an inductive Bible study leader, watching others grow in Christ through their time studying inductively.

    First, inductive Bible study requires me to spend extended time in a particular book of the Bible. This helps me learn more deeply. Because of this focused study, I am more likely to remember what a passage of Scripture or a book of the Bible is about and what it means.

    Second, inductive study puts God, His Word, and His character at the center of my attention, rather than myself and what a passage means to me. Personal application is an important part of inductive study. However, it comes after careful listening and discerning what the passage means in context, without reference to my personal feelings or preconceptions, factors that could easily lead me to incorrect or simplistic takeaways.

    What Are The Basic Steps Of Inductive Bible Study

    The first step of inductive Bible study is simply to choose a passage and read it. This is the Observation step.

    So, in the Luke 8:22-25 passage, we would simply read the story of Jesus falling asleep in the boat, being woken by the disciples to the storm, and Him silencing the storm. The story concludes with Jesus asking them Where is your faith? The disciples marvel at His authority over the wind and waves.

    We might ask if there are any words we dont understand in this passage. Its a pretty straightforward story, so then we could list our observations. We might observe that Jesus fell asleep like other humans. We might observe that the storm put the boat at riskit was taking on water . Then, we observe Jesus calms the storm with just His words. He appears to rebuke the disciples for their lack of faith, and they marvel at His authority over the storm.

    With Gospel stories, it can be helpful to read the same story in every Gospel in which it appears. So, in addition to reading the Luke 8:22-25 passage, we might also read Matthew 8:2327 and 41. There are slight differences in the wording that we would note. For instance, in the Mark passage, it seems as if the disciples are asking Jesus if He cares that they are perishing, not just making a statement of fear that they are.

    The second step in the process is understanding the meaning of the passage. This is the Interpretation step.

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    I The History And Meaning Of Babylon

    Discussion Questions

    • When will these things take place?
    • What is Babylon the great?
    • Is the description that it is a dwelling place of demons figurative or literal?
    • What does that teach us about the spiritual warfare we are involved in?
    • How should knowing Babylon will fall affect us today?


    James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

    Teaching Points

    Revelation 18:1 Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.

    1. The history and background of Babylon This chapter is all about the fall of Babylon the great. To fully understand the significance of this, we need to go back and trace the history of this city and its meaning in the Bible.

    It was started by Nimrod.

    Genesis 10:8-10 Cush fathered Nimrod he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

    The name Nimrod means Let Us Revolt or Let Us Rebel. And the city lived up to its founders name.

    God commanded people to Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth

    But the people of Babel had a different idea.

    So we see three things about Babylon historically.

    Esv Journaling New Testament Inductive Edition

    Inductive Bible Study: Segment 3

    Now, when it comes to doing inductive Bible study, you need nothing more than a Bible and a notebook. But, that doesnt mean other tools cannot be helpful. There are lots of resources available that will help you study Gods Word. One tool Im excited about is the ESV Journaling New Testament Inductive Edition. Its a Bible from Crossway that is perfect for inductive Bible study.

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    Bible Basics: What Is The Inductive Bible Study Method

    What is the Bible?

    The Bible is Gods Word. God is the author of the Bible. Scripture says it is inspired by God in the ESV translation it says breathed out by God. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. The Bible brings heart and life transformation by changing us from the inside out.

    Gods Word is authoritative, sufficient, infallible, inerrant, and eternal. Gods Word is the authority on truth nothing is higher than the Truth of His Word. Sufficient means that it is the ultimate guide for our life. Gods Word is dependable and unfailing. Inerrant means that is it without error. Everything in the Bible is true. It is eternal because the Word of God lasts forever.

    The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

    Isaiah 40:8, ESV

    Why is Studying the Bible Important?

    In the Bible, we discover the character of God, our salvation through Christ, and how we should live. We learn about who God is when we study the Bible. The Bible is not about us, it is about God. It is our guide and brings us to grace and salvation.

    The Bible tells us that there is ONE God, who is revealed in Three Persons of the Trinity. The Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Three Persons of God are seen in Matthew 3:16-17, where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

    What Is The Inductive Bible Study Method

    The inductive bible study method is a transformative tool that will positively impact your study of the scriptures. 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 intended meaning of the text by understanding it in context . It gives readers a deeper understanding of the scriptures and enables them to walk away with a practical application.

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    What Is The History And Origin Of This Bible Study Method

    Many credit Howard Tillman Kuist, working under Wilbert W. White at The Bible Seminary in New York with originating this method of study. White had created a curriculum of Bible study used in the YMCA in 1899 that was inductive. When Kuist moved on to teach at Princeton Theological Seminary, he and Charles T. Haley further developed the method. Through the 40s and 50s, it became a popular method of such organizations as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Navigators, and Youth With a Mission. Kay Arthurs Precept studies have also popularized the inductive study method for many believers today.

    What Does The Passage Say

    The New Inductive Study Bible ESV
    • Pray for the Holy Spirits guidance. Read and reread the passage. Read it in another version of the Bible if available.
    • Gather all sorts of facts like an investigative reporter. Ask questions to help you observe the facts: Who? What happened? What was taught? When? Where? How? Why? This is where you see and discover what the author is saying.
    • Locate and mark any key words, repeated words or phrases, and commands.

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    Hear Inductive Bible Study

    • Highlight – Highlight each verse that speaks to you. Note the name of the book, the passage of Scripture, the chapter and verse numbers that especially speak to you, and create a title to describe the passage.
    • Explain – Ask simple questions to determine what the text means. Why was it written? To whom was it originally written? How does it fit with the verses before and after it? Why did the Holy Spirit include this passage in the book? What is he intending to communicate through this text?
    • Apply – Everything you have learned and noted so far culminates under this heading. Answer these questions to uncover the significance of the passage for you: How can this help me? What does this mean today? What would the application of this passage look like in my life? What is God saying to me?
    • Respond – Here you can write out a call to action, describe how you will be different because of what you read, or indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned.

    What Does The Text Mean

    After finding out what the text is saying its time to dig a little deeper. So, lets ask ourselves: What does the text mean? That is, what is the heart of the matter? The big picture? If we did our homework, by answering the first question well, this should not be too difficult.

    We are looking for something called a theological principle. A theological principle is a principle that applies both in their world and in our world. There could be more than one theological principle. You will find what principle God is leading you toward.

    Also, to help us find the meaning we can look at how this theological principle is expressed in other literary contexts. For instance, if we are reading in James and find a theological principle, it would help to go to the Old Testament and see how Proverbs or one of the prophets or one of the first five books talks about this principle.

    This principle is universal. That is, it applies to all people all the time. Generally, it is helpful to state it in one or two sentences. Then, once weve found the meaning its time to move to applying it. So, we should ask

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    Interpretation: What Does The Text Mean

    The observation phase was all about observing what the text says, but the interpretation phase is the next step. And its in this phase we start to look at what the text means.

    Your job at this stage is to discover what the author is trying to communicate. And to do this, you need to look at the context . Here are a few questions you can ask:

    • What is the cultural and/or historical context of this passage?
    • What else do I know about the book, author, and broader context of the passage?
    • What other Scripture passages might help me better interpret this one?
    • Have I overlooked anything or made any assumptions?
    • What is the clearest meaning of this text?

    There are a few essential rules to remember when attempting to interpret a passage:

    • Dont twist Scripturemeaning, dont manipulate the text to get it to say something youd like for it to say. This is a dishonest way to interpret the text.
    • Look for the plainest interpretation first. Believe that the text means what it says. Sometimes there will be figurative language and confusing imagery, but dont start by looking for hidden meaning. Start with the obvious.
    • Scripture interprets Scripture. Allow the Bible to help you understand other passages of the Bible. Where similar words are used, explore the context of each of those instances.
    • Avoid basing important doctrines on obscure passages.
    • Connect each passage back to the gospel and the broader message of the Bible.


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