How to Study the Bible Using the Inductive Bible Study Method

This post is part of the Discover Deeper Devotions series.

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The first Bible study method we are going to cover is my personal favorite. I have found the Inductive Bible Study method to be a great tool to help me gain a deeper understanding of what I’m reading in the Scriptures. (And I think the student part of me enjoys all the marking and notes!) I hope you will find it to be beneficial to your quiet times as well.

how to study the bible

The Purpose

According to Precept Ministries, the fundamental principle of the Inductive Bible Study Method is to “study the text of Scripture first and refer to the work of others second. In this approach, individual time spent observing Scripture to know what the Bible says and using sound principles of interpretation to understand what it means should culminate in personal application.”

The Tools

  • Bible (one with cross-reference notes is best)
  • Notebook
  • Pen
  • Colored Pencils
  • Concordance, optional


The Method

1. Observation

What does the text say? (I like to think of big owl eyes while I’m reading).

Begin with prayer. Ask yourself the “4 Ws and an H” questions: Who? (again, the owl eyes! ;-)) What? When? Where? Why? How? Often using colored pencils to mark or color-code these in the text as you read helps with observation. Make a list of your observations in your notebook or journal. Note expressions of time, geopgraphical locations, etc. and identify any themes you recognize..

2. Interpretation

What does the text mean? (Think of a big question mark!)

One of the most important things to remember when interpreting the Bible is context. You cannot take a verse out of the context of the verses/chapter that it was written and decide for yourself what it means. Remember that God’s Word never contradicts itself, so cross-referencing (looking up what the Bible says about the subject in other parts of Scripture) is extremely important. This is where cross-reference notes or a concordance comes in handy.

3. Application

How does God want me to live in light of the truth of His Word? (Envision a U-turn because application always requires us to change direction).

Now that you have a better understanding of what the text says and what it means, you can now discern how to apply what God has revealed to you in Scripture to your personal life. What area of thinking or doing needs a change of direction? Ultimately, the result of studying God’s Word should be transformation, a change in nature or character.

In order to help you remember these three steps, I have created a printable for you to download. The PDF includes two half-sheet cheat sheets, so they are small enough to fit in your Bible or journal.

inductive bible study printable image

{Click here to download your free printable

Also, for a more detailed description of this method, I highly reccomdend printing off this free guide from Precept Ministries International.

If this method seems a bit overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to do a large chunk of Scripture all at once. Break up chapters by sections and work on each section at a time. You may even want to work on one step each day until you get through them all and then move on. Remember, there is no hurry! Take your time and enjoy your time with the Lord, allowing Him to speak to you through His Word.

What are your thoughts on this study method?


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  1. says

    Love this – especially the note taking (I’m kind of a nerd)! How do you decide what topic/passage/book to start with? I get hung up on this, not knowing where to start, so I tend to flip around depending on what’s going on in my life. Not the best method, and I’d like to have more of an organized approach. Thanks so much for this series – I think it’s great!
    Stephanie recently posted..Easy Crockpot Stuffed Cabbage SoupMy Profile

    • says

      Great question, Stephanie! I struggle with this often as well… There’s just so many great things to study, it can be difficult to decide. First, I would suggest praying about it. Secondly, consider what you are learning or studying other places (church, small group Bible study, Christian book, etc) and find a topic or passage that you would like to gain deeper understanding of. I hope that helps! You’ve given me a good idea for a future post in the series. 😉

  2. says

    Just give me a Bible, some index cards, and colored pens…and I experience pure BLISS! I just love, love, LOVE my time in Word. Your study tips are great. My favorite is the “Application: How does God want me to live in light of the truth of His Word.” Isn’t that just the ultimate goal.?!…that our studying His Word affect how we live. That we can love a little stronger, forgive a little quicker, have a little more mercy and grace, be a little kinder, more patient. Yes! Application, my favorite part!
    Jeri Lynn Repp recently posted..Faith For Fitness – Daily Dose #49 I Will Rise!My Profile

  3. says

    Just found your blog recently through a link on Twitter, and today we’re neighbors at MercyINK! I love this inductive way of reading/studying God’s Word. I try to use the SOAP method, and it makes SUCH a difference in retaining what I’ve read. Thanks for sharing your burden for deeper devotions! It’s so crucial to our everyday lives!!
    Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelions recently posted..Master, the Tempest Is Raging!My Profile

  4. Nona1961 says

    I’m such a procrastinator when it comes to getting my life in order. I allow each day to come and go as it pleases and after allowing that to happen for quite sometime, I’m really beginning to realize just how complacent I’ve become with getting into the Word and spending quality time with God. This is refreshing and I’m gonna discipline myself to be determined! I had it all together but then life got in the way.
    I’ve downloaded your add ons to use along the way. Thanks for sharing. It’s a blessing for sure.

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