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The Inductive Bible Study Handbook

Learn to Read, Observe, Interpret, and Apply the Bible

by Sally Michael

Table of Contents

The Process for Understanding Scripture



When Studying a Book or Chapter

When Studying a Passage

Find the Main Point





My Codes

Grammar Marking Guide


About Truth78

Truth is never determined by looking at God’s Word and asking, “What does this mean to me?” Whenever I hear someone talk like that, I’m inclined to ask, “What did the Bible mean before you existed? What does God mean by what He says?” Those are the proper questions to be asking. Truth and meaning are not determined by our intuition, experience, or desire. The true meaning of Scripture—or anything else, for that matter—has already been determined and fixed by the mind of God.

—John MacArthur. The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception. (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2007)

The Process for Understanding Scripture

The best and most appropriate way to begin your study of the Bible is to ask God for understanding.


Ask God to create in you a receptive and understanding heart.

1 Corinthians 2:14—The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Below is a helpful acronym from John Piper to guide your prayer before you begin Bible study.


Incline my heart to your testimonies.

Psalm 119:36—Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain!

Open my eyes to see wondrous things in your Word.

Psalm 119:18—Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

Unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11—Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love.

Psalm 90:14—Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.
(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2004).


God has sent the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name to guide and teach us.

John 14:26—But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.


Choose a Bible reading plan.

You will find a variety of Bible reading plans on the internet. Choose one that best suits your schedule. Here is a sample of one plan:1

January Bible Reading Schedule

Jan. 1

Gen. 1

Matt. 1

Ezra 1

Acts 1

Jan. 2

Gen. 2

Matt. 2

Ezra 2

Acts 2

Jan. 3

Gen. 3

Matt. 3

Ezra 3

Acts 3

Jan. 4

Gen. 4

Matt. 4

Ezra 4

Acts 4

Jan. 5

Gen. 5

Matt. 5

Ezra 5

Acts 5

Jan. 6

Gen. 6

Matt. 6

Ezra 6

Acts 6

Jan. 7

Gen. 7

Matt. 7

Ezra 7

Acts 7

Jan. 8

Gen. 8

Matt. 8

Ezra 8

Acts 8

Jan. 9

Gen. 9-10

Matt. 9

Ezra 9

Acts 9

Jan. 10

Gen. 11

Matt. 10

Ezra 10

Acts 10

Read with paper and pencil ready to record your thoughts and questions.

Read with purpose and expectation to know God more intimately as he has revealed Himself in his Word.

Read through the passage several times, looking for themes and phrases that repeat. Keep the context of the passage in mind as you read.

Choose a regular time and place for Bible reading. It may not seem important at first, but you will discover that finding a regular special time and a regular special place to do your Bible reading can become a motivation to keep that appointment with God and His Word.


What does the passage say?

In observation, you will dig deeper and try to discover the author’s intended meaning of the text. The following rules will give you the needed tools for effective observation and study of a passage.

Take your time. Write down your observations. This will slow you down and encourage you to think. Writing things down helps you to observe what you might otherwise miss.

John Piper reminds us, “Writing is a way of seeing that is deeper and sharper than most other ways. We see more when we write than when we just read.

I know not how the light is shed, nor understand this lens.
I only know that there are eyes in pencils and in pens.”

Look at the Context

“Context is king!”

The importance of the context of the passage cannot be overstated and should be your first consideration in observation.

  1. Study the immediate context—verse, paragraph, chapter.
  2. Study the broader context—book, Bible.
  3. Read the chapter/book in one sitting many times. (Divide long books into sections; read each section in one sitting.)

Look at the Big Picture

Steps to Seeing a Passage in the Context of the Whole Book:

  1. Get the big picture—read the book several times.
  2. Divide the book into passages.
  3. Label each passage by summarizing the main point.
  4. Organize the summaries into an outline.
  5. For a more detailed outline, divide the passages into sections.
  6. See how the piece fits into the big picture, how the passage fits into the flow of the book.

When Studying a Book or Chapter

Mark Key Words and Phrases

Marking the key words and phrases will help you to recognize the themes of the book or chapter. Mark the key words and phrases with colored pencils or highlighters to help you distinguish them at a glance in the text.2

Ask Questions

Develop a habit of asking good questions about the passage and write the answers you find.

Key words and phrases answer theme-defining questions.

Start with the “5Ws and an H”

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Here are a few sample questions:

Identify the Genre (Genre descriptions follow)

There are different rules for reading each type of literary form or style. Use the rules for the genre of the passage you have chosen to study (e.g., historical narrative of Genesis or Acts, poetry of Psalms).


Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

The law was a covenant between God and man; God pledged blessing and protection, and expected loyalty in return (loyalty was reflected through obedience).

OBSERVE and record the principles that you discover are behind the laws. Some of these principles include:

History—Date, Time, Place, Person...and more!

Old Testament: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

New Testament: Acts

History can be defined as a factual account or record of actual events. The Bible provides the inspired and historically faithful record of God and His people in the historical books. This record also helps us to know God’s character qualities by giving us a chronological narrative of God’s mighty deeds on behalf of His chosen people, as well as His dealings with them in covenant.

In the Bible’s books of history, we learn about God’s glorious attributes and qualities. We get to know the character of God’s people and are provided an accounting of genealogies of the families of the nation of Israel, the apportioning of the land inherited by each tribe, and timelines for the judges, kings, prophets, apostles, and the church.


Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

This genre uses the techniques of picturesque language, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, repetition, anthropomorphism, and parallelism.

Simile—using “like” or “as” to make a comparison. (e.g., Proverbs 16:24—“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”)

Metaphor—comparing two things using picturesque language, but not using “like” or “as” to make that comparison. (e.g., Proverbs 13:14—“The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.”)

Hyperbole—language that describes something as better or worse than it really is; describes the seemingly impossible as actual (e.g., Psalm 18:29—“For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall” and Psalm 78:27—“he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas;”).

Personification—representing a thing or idea as a person to create imagery. (e.g., Proverbs 1:20—“Wisdom shouts in the street, in the markets, she raises her voice.”)

Anthropomorphism—an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics:
humanization. (e.g., Psalm 34:14—“The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.”)

Parallelism—repeating words or sentence structure for effect; a common technique used in Hebrew poetry.

The two types of parallelism used most often in Hebrew poetry are:

Synonymous Parallelism—expressing the same idea; the second line mimics the same idea as the first line using similar terminology or sentence structure.

For example: Proverbs 1:20-21

Antithetic Parallelism—one idea is contrasted with another.

For example:


Different kinds of psalms: lament, thanksgiving, praise, remembrance, celebration, wisdom, trust

Look for balance in the psalms: distress linked with trust; request with appreciation.

Wisdom Books

Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

The wisdom books encourage us to live wisely, make godly choices, and understand life from a spiritual perspective. True wisdom is revealed through statements of general truth and through the overall themes of the book.

Avoid reading bits and pieces and missing the overall message.Follow the line of thinking (especially in Job and Ecclesiastes) to avoid misapplying verses.


Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah (Lamentations), Ezekiel, Daniel

Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

New Testament Prophecy: Revelation

Check the chronology and historical background of prophetic books.

Two Types of Prophecy

  1. Forthtelling:
    • Primarily collections of oracles; read oracles as a unit
    • Prophets saw through three lenses:
      • the immediate
      • the distant
      • and the far distant
    • Preached against idolatry, insincere worship, and injustice
    • Written in poetic form with much imagery; also taught through object lessons (enactment prophecies)
    • Record of visions given to prophets
  2. Foretelling:
    • Contains literal and symbolic language, imagery, dreams and visions.
    • Symbolism represents future real events.
      • Look for main ideas and, for now, do not focus on detailed chronological accounts of end time happenings (e.g., Revelation reveals Jesus—Seek Jesus).
      • Look for Old Testament allusions.


Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

Each of the Gospels is an account of the life of Jesus Christ. These four accounts are similar in many aspects, but each is unique in its focus on the different attributes of Christ’s character, position, and authority.

Parables (contained in the Gospels)

Parables use things in the real world to symbolically explain spiritual truth. A parable makes one point.

Letters or Epistles

Romans; 1 & 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus; Philemon; Hebrews; James; 1 & 2 Peter; 1, 2, & 3 John; Jude

Epistles address specific problems in churches. They are not meant to be exhaustive doctrinal statements.

Discover the context by following the flow of thought in a chapter or book.

The six methods of observation and discovery given below are explained with more detail later in this handbook.

  1. Get the big picture. Read the book several times to see how the passage fits into the flow of the book.
  2. Divide the book or chapter into passages. William Mounce defines a passage as: “A passage is all the verses that make up a complete idea.”3

Transition Markers—To break the text into passages, look for transition markers. Look for transitions in the author’s thinking that may not be according to the man-made chapter and section headings, but provide a natural break in the text.

  1. Title each passage by summarizing the main point. Titles should be brief. Titles should reflect the main idea.
  2. Divide each passage into sections. Read the passage several times until you begin to see the sections. Each section should be labeled with the main point.
  3. Chart the clauses and connectors and/or show the structure by mapping the passage or making an outline.
  4. Mark key words and phrases that will help you determine the theme of the passage. For example, the key word “love” in the book of 1 John reveals the theme.

Transition Markers




Cause / Effect



as well as





first, second, third...







for example

such as

for instance

in the case of

as revealed by

illustrated by













as with



in the same way






apart from

as long as



instead of




on the other hand


above all

in particular





—This list has been adapted from J. Scott Duvall and Daniel J. Hays’ Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001), 123.

Outline the Book or Chapter

(Check an English grammar book for help.)

Remember: Outlines line up main ideas.

  1. Look for transition markers. Divide the chapter or the book that you are outlining into passages. These will not necessarily follow the chapter and paragraph sections as they are divided in the Bible text. You are following categories of thoughts.
  2. Determine the main idea of each passage. These should be stated clearly and concisely in either a sentence or a phrase, and labeled with Roman numerals.
  3. Divide the passage into sections and write the main idea of each section. These would be subpoints of the main idea of each passage. Subpoints supporting, explaining, or illustrating the main point are indented under the main point and labeled with a capital letter. You must have at least two subpoints.
  4. Continue placing subpoints under subpoints to make as detailed an outline as you desire.

Sample Outline:

I. Main Point (verses)

A. Subpoint (verses)

1. Subpoint (verses)

2. Subpoint (verses)

B. Subpoint (verses)

II. Main Point (verses)

Note: If you are outlining a whole book, you will have bigger divisions; if you are outlining a chapter, the divisions will be smaller and the outline will contain more detail. This whole process can be done for a longer passage as well as for a book or chapter.

Research the Historical Context

Note the author’s situation, historical setting, customs, and any words or meanings that may need to be studied.

Remember: Do a background check.

For examples of types of resources you could use to do a background check, refer to Resources in the appendix.

When Studying a Passage

Notice grammar—note the parts of speech.

Remember: Grammar matters!

Nouns—person, place, thing, or idea

Pronouns—take the place of nouns

Verbs—show action (jump, talk) or state of being (is)

Adjectives—describe nouns or pronouns; answer the
questions which? what kind of? how many? how much?Except for demonstrative adjectives like “this” and “that,” adjectives can be inserted in the blanks:

the ________ person;

the ________ thing

Adverbs—describe verbs, adjectives or other adverbs;

Prepositions—always introduce a phrase

Independent Connectors—join two equal things

Dependent Connectors—although, as, as if, as long as, as soon as, because, even as, even though, except, for, if, in order that, in that, just as, nevertheless, provided [that], since, so, so that, therefore, though, unless, when, whenever, where, wherever, while [for]—(See note above)

Note: When looking at LOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS rather than grammatical relationships, you will find that some dependent connectors (such as “in order that” and “therefore”) may introduce main ideas. Think very carefully and make an interpretative judgment. Remember that interpretation is an art as well as a science.

Observe unusual words or phrases, emphatic words (words used for emphasis—e.g., truly). Mark emphatics with an exclamation point.

Mark time references—then, after, until, when

Coordinating Conjunctions

Identify Literary Techniques

Remember: Take a peek at technique.

Remember: Some words paint pictures of truth!

  1. Assume that the language is literal (that it means exactly what it says and should be taken at face value) except in the following instances:
    • The statement would be absurd or illogical if it were taken literally (e.g., trees clapping is completely illogical; trees can’t clap).
    • The context demonstrates that the language is figurative. (The Bible is not a bunch of one-liners strung together.)
    • Taking the text literally would contradict a clearer statement of truth in the Bible.
  2. The author’s and the original readers’ intent must determine whether a passage should be taken literally or figuratively.

Simile—compares two unlike things using “like” or “as”

Metaphor—compares two unlike things using the verb “to be”

Personification—gives human qualities to non-human things or ideas

Irony—says one thing but means another (usually the opposite)

Hyperbole—exaggerates to make a point

Look for key words—words that have significant importance in the text, that cannot be removed from it. Mark each key word differently.

Follow the Flow of Thought Within a Passage

Remember: Connect the thoughts!

Find the connectors and isolate the clauses:

  1. Find all the independent connectors. Mark these with a red square. Independent connectors are used as connecting words at the beginning of independent clauses or within clauses.
  2. Find the dependent connectors. Circle these in red.
  3. Put prepositional phrases in parentheses.
  4. Bracket all the clauses. Keep the independent connector separate from the independent clause when it is joining two clauses; keep the independent connector within the clause when it is joining two words or phrases. Keep the dependent connector within the dependent clause.
  5. Label the independent (I) and dependent (D) clauses.
    • Independent clause: group of words containing a subject and a verb expressing a complete thought; can stand alone as a sentence
    • Dependent clause: group of words that contains a subject and a verb BUT does not express a complete thought; cannot stand alone as a sentence

      Example: Colossians 3:1

      Dependent clause: If then you have been raised with Christ,

      Independent clause: seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

  6. Make a Flow of Thought Chart and/or Map the passage.

Flow of Thought Chart:


Independent Clauses

Dependent Clauses

Purpose for Connectors

Add rows as needed

Mapping—Rewrite the passage using the following rules:

  1. Make a Mechanical Layout: Draw a left margin line on your paper. Keeping the words in order:
    • Write the Independent Clauses (can stand alone as a complete sentence) at the left-hand margin. Include the subject, verb, and word or phrase indicating the direct object.
    • Write the Dependent Clauses (cannot stand alone as a complete sentence) or modifying phrases on the next line under the word they describe. (Modifiers include adverbial phrases and clauses and relative clauses. These phrases or clauses may also include modifiers that would be indented on the next line, so that the final product might appear terraced.)
    • Write the Connecting Words above the line or joined to modified phrases or clauses with bracketing lines.
  2. Label the Connections: Determine the logical connection between the clauses or phrases and write the connection to the left of the margin line.



    Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth

    where moth and rust destroy


    where thieves break in and steal



    BUT lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven

    where neither moth nor rust destroys


    where thieves do not break in and steal



    FOR where your treasure is

    there will your heart be also

  1. Find the Main Point: Star the main point of the passage using the logical relationships as a guide.
  2. Summarize: Summarize the logic of the passage in your own words.

—This technique and the chart below are extensions of the mechanical layout explained in Robertson McQuilkin’s Understanding and Applying the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 145-147.

Make Logical Connections: Understand the connections between clauses or statements (propositions).

Time (T): (answers the question—When?) after, as, before, now, then, until, when, while, during, meanwhile, then, next

John 11:5-6—Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Place (Pl): (answers the question—Where?) where, wherever, in

John 7:1—After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.

Continuation or Series (S): (sequence of events, things or ideas; each statement contributes to the overall concept) and, or, either...or, neither...nor, like, also, in addition, also, furthermore, moreover, in addition

2 Peter 1:5-7—For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Progression (Pro): (answers the question—Then what? statements build toward a climax)

Romans 8:38-39—For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, not height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Contrast (Con): but, nevertheless, however, yet, otherwise, whereas, yet, on the contrary, on the other hand

Psalm 73:26—My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Comparison (Cp): (answers the question—Like what?) also, as,, likewise, so also, moreover, than

Ephesians 5:25—Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,…

Explanation and Clarification (Ex): includes summaries, restatements, and illustrations

1 Corinthians 1:26—For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

Purpose (Pur): (answers the question—Why?; tells why an action takes place) so that, in order to, that, to

1 John 1:4—And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Reason or Cause or Ground (G): (draw conclusions from prior statements or state the basis for conclusions; reason can come before or after statement) for, since, because, therefore, thus, so, then, consequently, for this reason

Romans 5:1—Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:23—Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Cause and Effect (C/E): (one statement describes what happened or what is true; the second explains how or why it came about—e.g., Since it rained, we had to cancel the softball game.)
since, then, consequently, and

Mark 4:39—And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Concession (Css): (answers the question “In spite of what?”; concedes that one thing is true even though we have reason to expect another— e.g., We had a wonderful picnic, even though it rained) although, even though, nevertheless, in spite of, yet, nonetheless

Hebrews 5:8—Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Condition or Possibility (Poss): if, if...then

2 Corinthians 5:17a—Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…

Result (R): so that, so, then

1 Peter 1:6-7—In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire...

Note: Connections are not automatic; check the context. Not every logical connection uses a connecting word as a signal.

—Information adapted from Robertson McQuilkin’s Understanding and Applying the Bible. (Chicago: Moody Press,1992), 142; and from Daniel Doriani’s Getting the Message. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub., 1996), 89-91.

Find the Main Point

Finding the main point is subjective—even scholars disagree on this sometimes. So just do your best and check your work against a couple of experts if you’re unsure. Also, note that an extended passage of Scripture might not have only one main point but rather a sequence of main points, as in the epistles of John and James.

Classify the statements. For example:

Study the Context: Remember “CONTEXT IS KING!”

Review the Steps to Seeing the Passage in the Context of the Whole Book:

  1. Get the big picture. Read the book several times.
  2. Divide the book into passages.
  3. Label each passage by summarizing the main point.
  4. Organize the summaries into an outline.
  5. For a more detailed outline, divide the passages into sections.
  6. See how the piece fits into the big picture, how the passage fits into the flow of the book.


What does the passage mean?

Main Principle of Inductive Bible Study Interpretation:

Use the Bible to interpret the Bible

Principles of Interpretation

  1. Look at the verse in context.

Example: 1 Corinthians 1:14—I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,

This statement makes sense when looked at in the context of
1 Corinthians 1:10-15. Paul is concerned that the Corinthians were identifying with a leader rather than with Christ.

  1. Look for the author’s intended meaning of the text.

Example: 1 Corinthians 1:17—For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

The church in Corinth was listening to worldly wisdom, as well as fighting over which leader baptized them. Paul is not against baptism and wisdom. He is making a statement about the supremacy of the gospel.

  1. Notice figurative language.

Example: Psalm 98:8—Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.

  1. Interpret the biblical text literally unless there is a reason not to do so.

Example: John 6:51a—“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

To take this literally would be to think that Jesus is proposing cannibalism. “Eat this bread” is a reference to believing in Jesus.

  1. Remember that the Bible often uses ordinary, everyday language, not technical language.

Example: The reference in Luke 8:43 to the woman who had spent “all her living on physicians” does not mean that she spent every single coin, but is a general statement intending to show that she spent a great deal of money.

  1. Earlier texts should be interpreted in light of later revelation.

Example: The Old Testament texts regarding animal sacrifices are no longer the practice of the Christian, because New Testament texts show Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system. Jesus is a better and permanent sacrifice for sin.

  1. Doctrine should be based on clear Scripture passages.

Example: The doctrine of salvation is not based on the story of the rich young ruler (where Jesus asks the young man to give up that which is holding him back from the Kingdom—“sell all you have”), but on a clear teaching like Ephesians 2:8-9.

  1. Define unclear or key words in light of the biblical usage of the word. (See:
  2. Unclear passages should be interpreted in light of clear passages.

Example: Matthew 7:8a— ...everyone who asks receives— needs to be interpreted in light of 1 John 5:14b...that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

—Adapted in part from David Bryant’s Writing and Leading Bible Studies, published in 2006.

Discern the Biblical Principle in a text:

Example: Matthew 5:13-16: True Christians overflow with good works as a testimony to the goodness of God.

Look at the passage from the FALLEN-CONDITION FOCUS: through the lens of the doctrine of man—the fall and sin. When you see this, you will see that every part of Scripture shows how Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

—Daniel M. Doriani’s Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the BIble. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 1996), 171.

Some questions to ask:

Look at the passage from the REDEMPTIVE-HISTORICAL FOCUS: through the lens of the doctrine of God—His grace and His sovereignty. When you see this, you will see that every part of Scripture shows the need for a Savior; Jesus’ work of salvation, and the result of His salvation; and the perseverance, sanctification, and glorification of the believer.

—Daniel M. Doriani’s Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 1996), 171.

Some questions to ask:

Remember: History is “HIS story!”

Check Verses Noted as Cross References

Look for:

Example: Jesus’ statement in Luke 14:26 that a person cannot be His disciple if that person “does not hate his own father and mother…” must be interpreted in light of this clarifying passage:

Matthew 10:37a—“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me...”

As a Last (but important) Step in Interpretation:
Check with an Expert


How does God want me to respond to the passage?

Application is “personalizing” Scripture.

Application should be realistic.

Personalize the principle using life-application questions:

Ask these questions and write your answers:

What should I think?

What should I be?

What should I do?

What action do I need to take?

Is there a...

Command to obey

Character quality to imitate

Promise to hold on to

Prayer topic to focus on

Example to follow

Something to be thankful for

Example to avoid

Temptation to resist

Warning to heed

Error to avoid

Advice to follow

Perspective to ponder

Attitude to change

Priority to establish

Truth to believe

Tactic to employ

Teaching to put into practice

Verse to memorize

Sin to repent of and turn from

Something to teach or tell others






Bible Dictionaries


My Codes

Fill in your choice of symbols or markings for the following key words: (Add other key words and markings as desired.)







Holy Spirit











“add” to nouns




“add” to verbs



prepositional phrases



independent connectors

mark with an I

references to time



mark with a D

Groups of people (e.g., Israelites)

Grammar Marking Guide

1 You could also use the reading plan included in Sally Michael’s Meeting God in His Word: A Guide to Bible Reading and Prayer for Children, a booklet available from

2 Adapted from How To Study Your Bible: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word by Kay Arthur (Nashville, Tenn.: Harvest House Publishers, 1994).

3 William D. Mounce. Greek for the Rest of Us: The Essentials of Biblical Greek. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2003), 57.