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This content is part of a series Bible Study, in topic 2024 & books Luke, Mark, Matthew.

Inductive Bible Study

  • Rev. Moses Njenga
Date preached February 11, 2024

Inductive Bible Study

There are two approaches to interpreting the word of God, one is correct and the other one is wrong.

1. Deductive interpretation

The first and the most common way is to bring your own understanding into the Bible this is called deductive interpretation. The person interpreting the Bible simply uses the word of God as a rubber stamp to his/ her own ideas. This is wrong because the interpreter assumes that they have more information than the Bible can offer. We should always remember that the Bible is the very breath of God. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21). Even if we have a wonderful idea we should always approach the scripture with open minds willing to learn and not to dictate what the scripture will say to us.

2. Inductive Interpretation

The second way is to approach scripture with an open mind to learn what the scripture says. In this way we come with no preconceived idea but simply place our selves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and search the scripture in order to understand it, practice it and teach it (Ezra 7:10; Acts 17:11). We will now spend some time to study the best way to interpret the word of God inductively.

Steps of Inductive Bible Study

In inductive Bible interpretation we recognize that the Bible is both a human book and a spiritual book. In other words God allowed the human authors of the Bible to write about their situations and only guided them to record the things that God chose for the scripture. In other words the Bible was not dictated from heaven but guided from heaven. In this regard we interpret the Bible as a human book relying on supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. This removes the need for us to seek mystical understand of Bible texts or only relying on some “holy people” to interpret the Bible for us. With good study habits and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit, all people can understand the word of God. They can do this by following the following simple steps.

Step 1: Take some time to Pray

This is the first thing we should do so as place ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to alert our minds of the spiritual nature of the exercise we are involved in. We ought to pray specifically that our minds will be directed by God and not our own ideas. We also need to pray that we will handle the word of God faithfully and accurately as we can. We also need to pray that the word of God will be profitable to us as we study it and that we will have no distractions.

Step 2: Select a text

This may sound pretty obvious but it is not so obvious to many people. Many people make the mistake of not having a selected portion of the Bible to learn from. In the end they find themselves simply jumping from text to text. This is very misleading and will eventually get us to deductive interpretation. The only way to profit from the word of God is to select a text of scripture and meditate on it. Each of the words of the Bible are connected to other words within a context and to fully understand them we must study them within their context. This context is the paragraph, the chapter the book, the testament and eventually the whole Bible. By selecting a particular text we are committing ourselves to bring out the meaning of that particular portion of scripture with the context in mind.

Step 3: Read the Text

We must now take some time to read the text we are to study for some time. We ought to take time to read several times. We should read first to just know what the passage is about. Then we should read to understand the key people and events in the text. Then we should read to understand the meaning of the text. This means we should read the text at least three times. The secret is that the more we read the better we understand the passage and the more aware we are of its various parts. There is also a blessing in simply reading scripture ( Rev. 1:3).

Step 4: Observe the text

Here is where you take a pen and a note book and begin the serious study of the Bible. First of all, note down what kind of passage you are studying. Is it a story, a parable, a poem, a prophesy or a teaching? Each kind of writing has its own different way of interpretation. The observation of the kind of literature we are dealing with is the first key to proper interpretation.

Note down all the keywords or phrases that you notice as you read the Bible passage. Meaning comes out of words and phrases. It has long been said that words make up sentences and sentences make up paragraphs and paragraphs chapters. This means that the basic unit of all communication are the words. So we should try to do a proper job of the observation of words in a passage. Note down the new words that you encounter. Note down the big words that you notice. Note down important words that you notice. Also note down the people,places, things that are mentioned in the passage. Try also to ask what actions are being done in the passage. You can also note down words that connect between different ideas.

After this you want to next to noting down where the sentences begin and end. If you are observing a long passage try to observe where paragraphs or ideas begin and end. The Bible is written in complete thoughts try to ask yourselves where a thought begins and ends.

Step 5: Interpretation

Once you have your list of observation you will proceed to fit them together to answer the question, “What did this passage mean to the original hearers?” This is a good step towards interpreting the passage. You must get one clear thought from the passage as to what the passage is all about. Frequently we want to come up with a lot to say about the passage, but we must emphasize that all we have to say must come from the very point of the passage.

Next we must ask what the passage means in the contemporary world. Frequently you will find that the principle of the passage remains the same though the modern context is a bit different from the context of the original hearers. We ought to find out how the message applies to our particular context. This must be based on what the text says and not on our own interpretation. Be sure that your interpretation is inline with all that the Bible teaches, if you find that it differs with the rest of the Bible chances are that you are wrong in the process of interpretation.

In series Bible Study