I would like to share some things I learnt from Howard Hendrick’s – Living by the Book which covers how to study the Bible.
It is my conviction that the church is weak because we do not study the Bible for ourselves. Not just read, but to diligently study the Word of God.
There are three steps in studying the Bible:
And in this specific order.
When more time is dedicated to observation, the more accurate will the interpretation and application be. If a space shuttle moves one degree off its intended direction, the eventual destination will be drastically wrong. Make sure your observation is correct.
As Hendricks says, “the Bible is not merely to inform but to transform.”
Without further ado, here are 6 W’s to ask during the Observation phase you study the Bible. Imagine yourself as a reporter interviewing or a detective looking for clues.
Look at names of people and terms such as “you” or “I”? Who are they specifically? Find out who they are and write down the notable information about them. Important thing is to observe what the characters say.
What happened in this passage? List out the logical sequence of events as they unfold? You might see things you’ve never realised. If it’s a letter, what is the theme the writer is trying to get across? You could also ask, what’s wrong with this picture?
Where are the events taking place? A road, a city or a lake? This is where a Bible map plays a huge role. Normally, the back of your Bible should contain some maps. If not, check out the Internet. Find the name of the places on the map. Trace out the paths the characters travel. Where are they going to or coming from? How far away are the locations?
This asks the time of day. Morning, noon, night? Is it a Sabbath or Passover? What year is it happening? AD or BC?
This is the hardest part for me. Bombard the text with questions. Ask everything you don’t understand about the text and write it down. Sometimes, you figure them out. When you can’t figure it out, leave it in the backburner of your mind for further meditation.
6. Wherefore (So what)?
Now, there are two things to ask: What does this mean for me? What does this mean for others? If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work at all. Let the words speak to your heart. Let the Holy Spirit teach you as you mine the Word for gold.
Remember, it takes time to be holy. Pray before, during and after your Bible study. All success in life is derived from studying and applying the word of God.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.