If you asked a believer in Christ, “How do you study the Bible?” you’d receive a wide range of answers.
When it comes to digging deeper into God’s Word, there are many study methods available—and it can be difficult to determine which one is best for you.
In this blog series we want to show you how to study your Bible using our tried-and-true Precept Bible Study Method, an inductive approach to Scripture that will transform your life!
Again, it’s no secret that study methods for digging deeper into Scripture abound, and many have merit. Here are just a few.
Effective Bible Study Methods
Bible journaling involves reading Scripture and then writing down your thoughts in a notebook or journal.
Writing as you read Scripture can help you make sense of what you’re reading, draw out key themes, and remember what you read. Pausing often to mull over and digest the Word through writing can help you meditate on Scripture more and make new connections.
Topical studies provide a total-picture view of what God’s Word says about a particular subject.
For example, a topical study on “love” would involve looking up—using a Bible search engine like BibleGateway.com or a concordance like Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible—every passage where the word “love” and related words are used and making a list of what you learn, then organizing and compiling your findings into a list.
Character studies are a tool to learn more about the many interesting people in Scripture.
Completing a character study involves deciding who to study, then gathering all the information available about him or her by listing every mention of them in the Bible—again, an exhaustive concordance, like Strong’s, or a Bible search engine like BibleGateway.com, are helpful tools. The person’s ancestry, shortcomings, accomplishments, and legacy, as well as spiritual principles that can be gleaned from their life, should all be considered and compiled.
Inductive Bible Study
Inductive Bible study is a method of studying Scripture that allows you to discover for yourself what Scripture says, what it means, and how to apply its truths to your life. Here at Precept, we believe it’s the most effective method to discover truth for yourself in God’s Word so you can know Him deeply and live differently.
While many methods exist for studying the Bible, we’ve utilized and honed the inductive Bible study method for over 50 years. Along the way, we’ve identified tools that you can use anywhere, anytime to study God’s Word for yourself that have helped millions of people around the world, and the culmination is the Precept Bible Study Method.
The Precept Bible Study Method centers around three components, which often overlap in practice: observation, interpretation, and application.
Make sure you stay tuned as we walk through each of these components, showing you the Precept Bible Study Method in action, so you can start utilizing this life-changing approach to studying God’s Word and be transformed!
For now, here’s a brief overview of each component.
The fundamental question asked during this part of the discovery process is: What does the passage say?
Anyone who has ever read Scripture and didn’t understand or remember what they read (we’ve all likely been there a time or two!) knows that this is easier said than done.
To know what a passage says, you have to know what to look for. When observing a passage of Scripture, we learn to read with our minds, noticing important facts, details, and ideas so we can better understand the text.
During the interpretation component of the discovery process, we ask, What does the passage mean?
Interpretation flows naturally from observation—as you pay careful attention to what a passage says, its meaning becomes apparent.
However, if you jump straight into determining a passage’s meaning without careful observation, you will base your understanding of its meaning on your feelings, your opinion, or what others have said, rather than what Scripture actually says.
Many tools and steps are available to help us determine a passage’s meaning—including word studies and Bible dictionaries—but the most important is considering cross-references. By comparing the passage at hand with other passages in the Bible—and letting Scripture interpret Scripture—we can be sure that our interpretation is true and consistent with God’s Word as a whole.
Finally, as we go through the discovery process, we ask, How does the meaning of this passage apply to me?
As we read and understand God’s Word, we identify truths to live by, commands to obey, principles to put into practice, and encouragement that nourishes our souls and deepens our relationship with God.
Application is not a third step in the inductive process—it’s an ongoing part of discovering truth for yourself. Belief, based upon careful observation and interpretation of what Scripture says and means, naturally results in being and doing.
As Precept’s co-founder, Kay Arthur, has said, “When you know what God says, what He means, and how to put His truths into practice, you will be equipped for every circumstance of life.”1
That’s thrilling, isn’t it?
Whether you’re learning the inductive Bible study method for the first time or refreshing your memory, our hope is that this blog series leads you to discover truth for yourself—but not by yourself!—so you can know God deeply and live differently.
In upcoming blog posts, we’ll dig deeper into the ins and outs of the Precept Bible Study Method—but if you just can’t wait to begin discovering truth for yourself, here’s how you can get started today:
Ready to jump into inductive Bible study? Here’s a downloadable guide to help you get started: Precept Bible Study Method Overview.
Need help choosing a Bible study that will help you study inductively? With more than 250 unique titles covering every book of the Bible—from book studies to topical studies—Precept has a study that meets you where you are!
This downloadable resource will help you find the level that works for you or your group: How to Choose a Study.
Precept Bible study groups meet virtually and in person all over the world. Find a group, and start learning how to discover truth for yourself, but not by yourself, today!
- Kay Arthur, David Arthur, and Pete De Lacy, How to Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-changing Approach to God’s Word (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010).