The Practice of Inductive Bible Study


by Pastor Sharon Reid


Inductive Bible study is an approach to understanding Scripture that focuses on three basic steps to move an individual or group from a general overview to a more specific understanding for life application.

Before you take the first step, identify the context: “ABCs”

  • Author — Who wrote the passage?
  • Background — In what time did the writer live? In what culture? Who was the writer’s audience?
  • Context — How does the passage fit in with what comes just before and after it?

Step 1: Observation – What does the passage say?

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Read and reread the passage. Read it in another version of the Bible if available.
  • Gather all sorts of facts like an investigative reporter. Ask questions to help you observe the facts: Who? What happened? What was taught? When? Where? How? Why?
  • Locate and mark any key words, repeated words or phrases, and commands.

Step 2: Interpretation – What does it mean?

  • What is the writer’s intent in this passage? What is one principle or lesson the writer is trying to communicate? What was the writer saying to the people of his day? What would they have understood?
  • Look at other Scriptures that relate to the passage. These are usually found in the margins of Bibles or in footnotes. What do other verses say about this thought or idea?
  • Use Bible study helps to get a clearer meaning of the passage as needed: commentaries, bible dictionaries, concordances, or a bible study guide for the text, subject, or person you are studying. Use a dictionary to define any unfamiliar terms or ideas.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Step 3: Application – How does this meaning apply to my life?

  • What is the Holy Spirit saying to me in this passage?
  • What is one way I can apply the teachings of this passage to my life?
  • What will I do differently because of what I’ve learned?

For more on the practice of Inductive Bible Study, go to