Inductive Bible Study Method

The inductive Bible study method is a very simple yet thorough and methodical study of the Scriptures. In four steps, you will be able to observe facts in the passage, interpret what they mean, and discover how to respond based on what you’ve observed and interpreted. It’s a straight-forward way to prepare for personal or group study.

Step 1 – Pray
This is the most important step of this process! 
Come before the Lord and ask for His help in understanding His word. While it’s so very tempting to jump into studying, it won’t be fruitful without the Spirit’s leading and guidance. It’s only by the Spirit that we can understand what God has said (see 1 Corinthians 2).
Step 2 – Observation
What does the passage say?
This is the fact-finding part of the study. Approach the passage without bias or premises and simply make observations.
• Read and re-read the passage thoroughly. Then read it again. And since you already read it, why not read it again. And one more time for good measure (repeat this step as needed).
• After reading the text several times, begin by using an outline to break apart the ideas. Look for where paragraphs begin and end. Ask yourself if this is a complete thought, or is it carried on in the next paragraph. What is the idea here?
• List the facts (don’t get spiritual—just note the facts)
• Answer basic questions of who, what, when, where, and how.
Step 3 – Interpretation
What does the passage mean?
Now it’s time to determine what the facts that you observed mean. In this step, review the facts you found and seek to understand them in light of the context. It is important to remember to interpret your experience by the Scriptures—do not interpret the Scriptures by your experience.
Review facts in context.
What comes immediately before and after the passage? These details offer insight to the intent of what’s being communication.
Determine when a passage is figurative rather than literal.
It’s important to interpret facts literally. A word will not have a figurative and literal meaning at the same time. When a word in a sentence is given a figurative meaning, it supersedes the literal meaning. If the literal interpretation fits, it should be used unless the context makes it impossible.
Don’t be dogmatic where the Scripture isn’t.
There are many areas in which the Bible is not conclusive. Be careful not to say more than the Bible does.
Let Scripture interpret Scripture.
Don’t rationalize or spiritualize the passage. The best commentary on Scripture is Scripture itself.
Remember that the New Testament takes precedence.
The New Testament clarifies and expands on what was written in the Old Testament. Think of the prohibition against eating unclean foods in Leviticus and the permission God gives in Acts 10, and remember Jesus’ words, “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you…” (in the Sermon on the Mount).
Step 4 – Application
How should I respond?
Given what you’ve just interpreted, it’s time to draw out applications that will help us live in light of what we’ve learned. Here are some general questions that will help determine specific applications:
• Examples To Follow?
• Sin To Forsake?
• Errors To Avoid?
• Promises To Believe
• Commands To Obey?
• Actions To Take?
That’s a basic outline of the inductive Bible study method. These four steps will greatly assist you in discovering what the Scriptures say, it’s proper interpretation, and applications that will help you live in light of what you’ve learned.