Observation teaches you to see exactly what the passage says. It is the basis for accurate interpretation and correct application. Observation answers the question what does the passage say?

What would we do if we wanted to study I Peter 5?

Begin with prayer

When you study the Bible, you have the opportunity to learn directly through God’s Spirit. When we approach God’s Word, we should ask God to lead us and guide us in our study. We humble ourselves, recognizing that it is only through God’s grace and His Spirit that we will discover what God says in His Word and how it should impact our life.

Ask the “5 W’s and an H”

As you study any passage of Scripture, train yourself to constantly ask: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? These questions are the building blocks of precise observation, which is essential for accurate interpretation.

Mark key words and phrases

A key word is one that is essential to the text. Key words and phrases are repeated in order to convey the author’s point or purpose for writing. For example, notice that some form of the word suffering is used three times in 1 Peter 5. Key words can be marked using symbols, colors, or a combination of the two.

Make lists

Making lists can be one of the most enlightening things you do as you study. Lists reveal truths and highlight important concepts. 1 Peter 5:2-3, for example, contains a simple list regarding the role of the elder, shown by numbering the items in the text. It is also helpful to make a list of what you learn about each keyword or person you mark.

Watch for contrasts and comparisons

Contrasts and comparisons paint word pictures to make it easier to remember what you’ve learned. For example, Peter compares the devil to a roaring lion in verse 8. Peter also contrasts God’s attitude toward the proud and the humble.

Note expressions of time

The relationship of events in time often shed light on the true meaning of the text. Marking “time” will help you see the sequence or timing of events and lead to accurate interpretation of Scriptures.

Mark terms of conclusion

Words such as therefore, thus and for this reason indicate that a conclusion or summary is being made. You may want to underline them in the text.

Up Next: Interpret Scripture Accurately

While observation leads to an accurate understanding of what the Word of God says, interpretation helps you understand what it means.