The Inductive approach to Bible study follows three progressive steps – observation, interpretation, and application.
It is the act of recognising and noting down facts both open and hidden. In other words, what the passage actually says and not what anyone wants it to say. A thorough observation demands looking, searching the text carefully, asking the basic fact-finding questions and reflecting until one discovers the author’s emphasis and the arrangement of ideas. Note that all questions will not apply to every passage. The fact-finding questions are – Who | Where | When | What | How | Why.
Make a note of the following as well:
- Literary Form: Narrative/Discourse/Poetry
- Repeated words/phrases-the word ‘right” repeated in 1 Cor 9:3-18 gives clue to the theme of the passage.
- Time words: after, before, evening, next day
- Location words: Sea of Galilee, Mount Sinai, Bethany
- Comparisons and contrasts
Interpretation is explaining or showing the meaning of the facts observed. In understanding the scripture, it is important to know some general principles, laws of language and some special principles to understand the bible language
The need for interpretation:
- There is scriptural encouragement for correct interpretation. Ex: Neh 8:8, Lk 24:27, 2 Tim 2:15
- Correct interpretation is the antidote to heresy or false teaching (2 Pet 2:1-3) and fanciful or subjective interpretation and tampering with God’s word (2 Pet 3:16, 2 Cor 4:2, Rev 22:18,19)
The word of God is authoritative and not optional. It makes a spiritual challenge upon our lives. Deriving benefit from the scripture depends on how one responds to its message. The bible calls for response and not just analysis. Application is personally responding to the truth learned. Response to God’s word involves transformation of lives and society.
Written by Ms Shirley Christopher, Retired staff of UESI.