How to Study the Bible Inductively

A Few Words On The Alternative: Deductive Bible Study

English: The study translation Bible 2009 Česk...

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While Deductive Bible study is possible it is also dangerous and can lead to a multitude of problems including taking bible verses out of context and proof-texting. As one can tell by simply the name Deductive Bible Study this kind of study starts with a conclusion, something that you want to prove, and you attempt to read that into the verse, verses or passage. If you can’t see how dangerous that is you might as well leave this page now because you will not like Inductive Bible Study.

An Introduction to Inductive Bible Study

Inductive Bible Study exposes what the Word means. It takes the text you are looking at and it exhaustively brings out the Truth of the Word through the text by inducing the deep thought of the reader combined with the illumination of the Holy Spirit to mine each verse for every little bit of information.

You won’t need commentaries/guides/helps for this kind of Bible study- all you need is the Holy Spirit who illuminates and makes clear the realities of His Word. And through the illumination of the Word we gain the knowledge we crave as Christians.

The Key to Inductive Bible Study

The key to inductive Bible study is to take time, lots of time, don’t shortchange God He yearns for us to spend all the time we need to understand the Word correctly. In Inductive Bible Study you are encouraged to ask and answer the following list of questions for whatever passage you are studying:

An addendum that is critically important- each of the questions must be logically applied to the understanding that you have received from the Holy Spirit as He has illumined the Word.

In other words no fanciful reasons for why something is such…or what something means that doesn’t follow logically from what you’ve discerned from the Holy Spirit.

When one goes off on a flight of fancy it can turn an INDUCTIVE Bible study into a DEDUCTIVE Bible study and that is very dangerous.

Observation Questions (What Does the Text Say?)

a) Who?

Make a list of the people in the passage. Who is being talked about? Who is being talked to? Who is talking? Who is involved? Etc.

b) When?

When did something happen? When will it happen?

c) Where?

List the places mentioned. Where did it occur? Where will it occur?

d) How?

Note when the passage mentions how something happens or will happen.

e) Why?

Note when the passage mentions why something happened or is going to happen, make note of it.

f) What?

What things are mentioned or described? What is talked about most?

g) Contrasts and Comparisons: Note when people, places, ideas, etc. are being contrasted or compared.

Interpretation Questions (What Does the Text Mean?)

Interpretation is based on what has been observed after doing the above.

a) What did the text mean to the readers back then?

b) Is the text literal or figurative?

c) What is the straightforward meaning?

When the plain sense makes sense, don’t seek any other sense, or you are may end up with nonsense.

Finally, Application Questions (How Can I Apply This To My Life?)

Based upon what we have observed and interpreted. Based on this acronym, S.P.E.C.K., some application questions are:

a) Is there a Sin to avoid or forsake?
b) Is there a Promise to believe?
c) Is there an Example to follow?
d) Is there a Command to obey?
e) Is there Knowledge of God to grow by?

(The above clarifications and questions are from my Men of Courage Bible Studies from the Packinghouse).

Inductive Bible Study in Action

Below you will find an example of an Inductive Bible Study based entirely on Psalm One that we were led through last night by Troy Gnuschke who teaches Inductive bible Study to Pastors in Zimbabwe (please pray for Him as he returns to the mission field soon).

(All text taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)

After each verse is the inductive reasoning we gained from that verse.

(Ps 1:1 [HCSB])
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!

V 1: Not walking in the path of the ungodly. Nor standing in the way of sinners. Nor sitting in the way of the scornful BECAUSE he’s been blessed. Refusing to compromise.

Good character, character is who you are when no one is watching.

(Ps 1:2 [HCSB])
Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

V2: He delights in the Word of God- He meditates- studies inductively- chews the Word- all the time.

(Ps 1:3 [HCSB])
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

V3: Because of the above He is like a tree rooted in Truth, like a healthy tree he has deep roots, planted by a river…the river of living water. Our roots gravitate towards the living water of the Word. Because of this our tree produces fruit, the fruit is for others, for nourishment. It’s leaves provide photosynthesis- how a tree gets light- Christ said “I am the light of the world…I am the living water…”

Here we have exhausted the idea- if you look to the next verse it starts a new topic, verses 1-3 are about The Blessed Man.

(Ps 1:4 [HCSB])
The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.

V4: The Word separates the Wicked- like chaff-

When the African’s separate their corn from the chaff it is in a basket and they use a rhythmic motion to bring whatever is not corn to the top where it is blown away on the wind. In other words The Word and the way the Word is understood and divided reveals who is wicked (not a Christian) and who IS a Christian.

(Ps 1:5 [HCSB])
Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.

V5: They cannot survive in the church, because of the judgment of the Word. They cannot truly be part of the congregation.

Verses 4-5 are talking about the Wicked Man.

(Ps 1:6 [HCSB])
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

V6: The Lord guards the way of the Blessed Man. But the Wicked is lost to destruction even though God knows (personally the Blessed) and watches (over the Blessed) BOTH. This is KEY —–> God knows both.

The last thing to do is to give your study a title in this case I chose the following: The Two Ways

A Few Final Words About Bible Study

It is done to edify the person who has take the time to study it, totally, however the fruit from his studies needs to be shared with the group thus edifying others.

Also all Bible Study is about our observations about the passage, what the passage truly communicates, and how we apply it as a person and/or as part of a fellowship.

Inductive bible Study is the type of Bible Study that you will find me using for the studies I post on this blog and I recommend that you take the time you use it in your own Bible Study time also!

God Bless!


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