How to study the bible

This timeless book with measureless treasures – how do we unravel it’s depths? Here are some quick tips to get started.


Why should we study the bible?

How should we teach the bible?

The Inductive Approach

–Inductive bible study – tips

–Inductive bible study – an example (Luke 12:38-42)

Why study the bible?


  • Obey the command of Jesus
  • Emulate characteristics of God’s servant
  • Increase in faith and godliness

What does the Bible say?

Here’s what some Bible authors have to say.

  • Acts 18:11… So Paul lived there for a year and a half and continued to teach the word of God among the people there.
  • 2 Timothy 2:15… Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly. 
  • Hebrews 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. …

What does the Bible say?

  • 2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
  • John 17:17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

What does the Bible say?

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
  • Titus 1:9 He (leader) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

What does the Bible say?

  • Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 – Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Inductive Bible Study

  • Begin with Prayer
  • Read with a purpose
  • While reading, ask questions
  • WHO? WHAT? WHERE?     WHEN?    WHY?    HOW?

–WHO is speaking?

–WHAT is this about?

–WHEN will it happen?

–WHY is this being said?

–HOW are they described?

Steps to Spiritual Maturity

Components of Inductive Bible Study

  • Observation:

–What does it say?

  • Interpretation:

–What does it mean?

  • Application:

–How does it apply to me?

Most importantly, keep a pen and notebook/ laptop and KEEP WRITING

Observation - Tips

  • Look for the obvious – don’t look for hidden meanings
  • People, places and things
  • For a book study, look for key words and phrases (Sometimes this will take several readings)
  • list characteristics – good and bad.
  • Find cross references
  • List cross references and understand various connotations
  • Study meanings using bible dictionary or other bible refs
  • For a verse study:
  • For a character study: For a book study: Find out the author’s purpose

Observation - Tips

“The main things are the plain things

The plain things are the main things”

Interpretation - Tips

Look for

  • Keywords
  • Contrasts, comparisons
  • Expressions of time
  • Connecting words/ phrases

and always


Interpretation (Cont’d..)

  • Context always rules in interpretation – eg. Parables – a parable is meant to illustrate one focal point. Find that and don’t interpret every word. An allegory on the other hand can have different interpretations on different aspects
  • Eg. parable of the good Samaritan is meant to answer the question “who is my neighbour”. Going into significance of whether the person was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho or vice versa, etc. is irrelevent. Jesus illustration on “the true vine” Jn. 14 is on the other hand an allegory and there is significance on vine, branches, their relationship, etc.

Interpretation (Cont’d..)

  • Take principles of the biblical context and apply into current context.
  • Allow the spirit of God to convict and guide at a personal level

Context continues to rule in application

Interpretation (Cont’d..)

  • “And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, ‘THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS’.”—Matthew 27:37
  • “The inscription of the charge against Him read, ‘THE KING OF THE JEWS’.” —Mark 15:26
  • “Now there was also an inscription above Him, ‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’.”—Luke 23:38
  • “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THEJEWS’.”—John 19:19


  • Those who are looking for contradictions may therefore say, “See—the Bible is full of mistakes!” and choose to reject it entirely as being untrustworthy.
  • However, those who trust God have no problem harmonizing the Gospels. There is no contradiction if the sign simply said, “This is Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.”


  • Take principles of the biblical context and apply into current context.
  • Allow the spirit of God to convict and guide at a personal level

Context continues to rule in application

Use Commentaries Last

After doing your own evaluation of the bible, listing out observations, interpretations, applications, then refer commentaries to supplement. Using them earlier will certainly bias your viewpoints. Ensure you come to your own conclusions based on the word of God

Powerpoint tips

Use of text

  • Ensure your font size is 16 pt (minimum) – typically much more
  • Try to use 7*7 principle – not more than 7 words (in a row) 7 rows. – If it crosses that, use separate slide.
  • Keep it simple and clean.

Powerpoint tips

Use of Graphics

  • Ensure pictures blend in by fitting into “picture” slot or merging with background (ie white background pics to insert on white background ppt).
  • Use Gauze for text (ref John’s gospel) if picture covers full slide
  • In case the proportions do not fit, do not stretch image and contort it
  • Use high resolution graphics wherever possible.
  • Ensure you do not use graphics with watermark as they are copyrighted.

Practical exercise

Read Luke 12:38-42

  • Make 3 columns – observation, interpretation, application.
  • Write down observations – people, places, events, etc.
  • List interpretations against the observations
  • Write down the applications you get.
  • Now identify key themes you find in the passage
  • Choose a theme and list applications against the theme
  • Your outline is ready

Related Posts

Spiritual Maturity

Just as we grow physically, we need to grow spiritually. How can we keep growing and maturing in Christ? ¨Types of growth Where are we heading? Which Spirit is in you? Test your stand Spiritual growth and its importance Immature and mature believers Steps to spiritual...

In His Steps

One of the first times I walked in the snow, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I was then so grateful for those footprints of those who’ve gone before. They made it so much easier to take this walk. I prayed that I too will make footprints that will make it easy for...

Designing your life

Any successful project requires a design, a plan. How much more - something far more important - our life itself! A lady was taken by her daughter to see the “Daffodil Garden.”   Here’s what she says. “Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone...

Finishing Strong

We may not have had a great start in life. But we can finish strong. That's what really counts. When my son was around 7 years old he had a terrible accident. He was running across the street within our colony when a fully loaded car went over his foot. As he grew up...