How to Study the Bible

God's Communication Process

Revelation - Inspiration - Receiving and recording the Word of God without error.

Transmission - Copying as accurately as possible the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and their copies.

Translation - Seeking the most accurate rendering of the Scripture in our language.

Interpretation - Finding out what the authors meant by what they said and putting that meaning into equivalent contemporary expressions.

Application - Using our varied gifts to make the Word of God relevant to man so that a change of behavior results.  The purpose of Bible Study is to get the mind arid will of God into the attitudes and actions of people.

Preparation for Bible Study

I Corinthians 2: 14 - You must be regenerated. By nature man does not have the ability to grasp spiritual truth.

I Corinthians 2: 15- 3: 3 - Humbly depend on the Holy Spirit Prayerfully approach God's Word.

II Timothy 2: 15 - Patient and diligent study is necessary.

A Method for Bible Study

Overview - This step helps you understand the background, main ideas, characteristics and overall flow of the passage.

.           Read the book or passage several times.

.           Who wrote the book? What was he like? What were his concerns? Convictions?

.To whom was this written? Why? What were their problems? Concerns?

.           What do think is the purpose of the book? Theme? Key words? Main ideas?

.           What is the basic content?

.           What is the literary form? (letter, poetry , narrative. ) Nature? (historical, practical, doctrinal. .)

.           What is the mood or tone of the book?

.           Go to other Scripture passages that give more background to the book. Find out more about the author, people, church or city involved.


Observation - This step involves carefully looking at what the passage says. You begin detailed detective work.

.Who? What? When? Where? How?

.Look for important terms, key sentences, commands, promises, connectives.

Observe grammatical structure, note the tense of verbs -they are key to the action of a sentence.

.           Note literary structure - the use of comparison, contrast, repetition, climax, etc...

You may want to try to outline the passage or make a chart of the passage.


Interpretation - In this step you ask and answer the question what does it mean? This is probably the most important step. We want to carefully avoid:

misinterpretation, ascribing the wrong meaning to a passage;

subinterpretation, failure to ascertain the full meaning of a passage; and

superinterpretation, attributing more significance to a passage than is actually implicit in it

Ask good interpretative questions.

What does this word, sentence or paragraph mean?

Why is this said? In this way? Here? Why is it true?

What are the full implications of this?

Answer your questions.

  Word meanings -consult dictionary, Bible Dictionary , a Greek or Hebrew

  Word study and look up other passages where the same word is used.


  Word relationships.

  Historical, cultural and geographical setting. What may have caused an action or statement?

  Compare translations, look for the Scripture's own interpretation.

  The easiest explanation, the one which grows most naturally out of all the facts, is usually the most accurate interpretation.

  Be careful not to interpret a passage based on preconceived ideas.

  If the data is inconclusive be honest enough to say "I don' t know the meaning of this passage.

.Evaluate and correct the theme or outline you originally made.

Application - This step is where we get personal and transfer what we have learned into our attitudes and actions. True Bible study is never complete without this step.

We ask what difference does this make to me?

What are the basic truths? What do I learn about God? Jesus? Holy Spirit?

What do I learn about good or bad attitudes? Values? Thoughts?

What should be my actions? What changes should take place in my life because of this truth?

How does this affect my relationship with God? Others? Myself?

What sin is pointed out in my life?

What examples are thereto follow?

What challenges or commands am I to obey?

What promises can I claim?

Is there a principle or truth I need to share with someone?

.           What is my personal prayer regarding these truths? Pray about the changes the Lord wants to make in you. Praise God for what you have discovered is true about Him or your relationship with Him.

.What will be my plan of action to apply these truths?

Correlation - This occurs as you continue to study other books and passages. In this step you constantly look for connections between various biblical passages. Many of your questions from previous study will be answered. Ultimately this will enable you to develop a good biblical theology and a vital biblical philosophy of life.

Permission is granted to use this Bible Study outline for personal study and small groups only. 

Study written by Bob Krepps  1994 all rights reserved


Home | Bob | Ministry | Talks & Studies

Contact Information