"Your word I have treasured in my heart"
INDUCTIVE BIBLE STUDY
Inductive Bible study encourages us to read the Bible and then draw our own conclusions instead of depending on someone else’s interpretation, or just accepting what someone tells you to believe. The word “inductive” means we use the Bible as the primary source of study to learn about God and what the Bible teaches. This method of Bible study allows you to collect the facts from the text, and then let those facts lead us to the meaning. This method allows the text to dictate the meaning rather than allow the reader to read meaning into the text.
An inductive study begins with, observation, meaning when we read God's Word we're observing the details of the text. For example, what ideas or words are repeated? What is the setting of the passage? What time in history is under discussion? What is the genre of the passage—narrative, poetry, a letter, or a prophecy? Also, at this stage, we may look at the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic to better determine what the Bible passage is saying.
Our next step is, interpretation, which involves understanding the meaning of the text. What is the larger context of the passage? What do the words mean? What cultural practices need to be understood? What historical and/or archaeological resources are relevant to understanding these words? What have others discovered in their investigation of this passage? At this stage, Bible commentaries and other resources can be very helpful in better understanding the meaning of the text. In addition, investigating related biblical passages, or allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, can offer additional insight.
Here are a few tools which will help you as you learn to study the Bible inductively.
Context - the larger view
The word “context” means that which goes with the text. If you lay the solid foundation of observation, you will be prepared to consider each verse in light of the surrounding verses, the book in which it is found, and the entire Word of God. As you study, ask yourself: Is my interpretation of this passage of Scripture consistent with the theme, purpose, and structure of the book in which it is found? Is it consistent with other Scripture about the same subject? Am I considering the historic and cultural context? Never take a Scripture out of its context to make it say what you want it to say. Discover what the author is saying; don’t add to his meaning.
Key words & 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.Key words can be marked using symbols, colors, or a combination of the two
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.
The key to engaging the text in a thoughtful manner is asking the right questions. "Listen” to the text as you observe it and ask the questions that will lead you to a right interpretation. Don't be afraid to challenge the text with legitimate, piercing questions.
Contrasts & comparisons
Contrasts and comparisons paint word pictures to make it easier to remember what you’ve learned. For example, in 1 Peter 5, he compares the devil to a roaring lion, whereas in verse 8 Peter also contrasts God’s attitude toward the proud and the humble.
References to 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.
When you know God’s Word thoroughly, you will not accept a teaching simply because someone has used one or two isolated verses to support it. Those verses may have been taken out of context or other scriptures overlooked or ignored that would have led to a different understanding. As you read the Bible more extensively, you will be able to discern whether a teaching is biblical or not. Saturate yourself in the Word of God; it is your safeguard against wrong doctrine.
Observe Literary Features
Look for literary features like repetition, comparison and contrast, conjunctions, illustrations, and the like. Are figures of speech being used? Is the author using a certain tone in his writing? Take your time and try to understand if any of the words are conveying the author's feelings.