Inductive Bible Study (IBS) is a simple, easy to learn, practical and highly effective way to read and understand the Bible – for adults, young people and children.
So what does ‘inductive’ mean?
Simply that we go to the Bible first to find out what God is saying in and through His Word; thus the Bible is our primary source of information. To this end remember to pray first because without the work of the Holy Spirit it will only be a method!
Inductive Bible study is made up of 3 parts Observation, Interpretation and Application
OBSERVATION – first, we carefully examine the text to see exactly what it says. To help us do this, we use 3 very simple skills:
- Ask open questions (i.e. questions that cannot be answered simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’) of the text, using the 5 W’s and an H; which are:– (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?)
The text will determine which of these questions you need to ask and as shown not every question can be answered, see the examples below:
Example 1 – “Yesterday my brother went on his bicycle to the farm to visit his friend.”
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
As can be seen in this example you can answer all the questions.
Example 2 – “My brother went to the farm.”
Who? What? When? X Where? Why? X How? X
Here you can only answer who, what and where.
- Mark key words in a distinctive way using different colours, please click click here to print a marking guide and the more in-depth overview of how to do it. When reading the text for the first time, a good question to start with is ‘who?’ e.g. Mark every reference to the author or main character in one colour and every reference to the recipients in another colour putting a circle around each reference. Then using the marking guide ask the other questions that apply and mark the text. People, locations, events and time maybe the easiest to see.
Makes us read the passage slowly and intentionally.
Helps us see where we need to go back and dig for more information.
Helps us to remember what we have studied.
- Make a list(s) Once we have marked words, we go back and make a list from those words by asking the 5Ws and the 1H question again.
A list is:
A place to collect information provided by the text.
A tool to help us observe all the passage says about a given person, word or theme.
INTERPRETATION – next, we carefully consider the text to understand exactly what it means – in context! (If you take ‘text’ away from ‘context’, what are you left with? a ‘con’. A verse, or verses, taken out of context all too easily becomes a pretext.)
There are other tools that help us interpret the text such as Concordances and Commentaries, but the best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. Remember, the Holy Spirit is our Teacher and prayer is key!
APPLICATION – last, we prayerfully consider how what we’ve discovered in God’s Word should change the way we live. Why? Because the goal of Bible study is not education, but transformation; it’s not about being clever, it’s about being changed to become more like Jesus!
During a radio interview in 2010, Anna Bartholomew gave an audio lightning study of Psalm 23 – which, if you have 12 minutes to spare, we highly recommend you listen to it now!
Please now read our Go Deeper page to try some of our free studies and learn more.