Chapter 19 - Summary: Thirty Key Principles of Bible Study
The most basic and most important ideas which are discussed in the preceding
chapters are here condensed into thirty key principles.
- Respect the Bible as God's inspired, reliable Word. Approach
it prayerfully and with an open mind, ready to respond with obedience whenever
appropriate. Beware of Bible study done out of a motive of pride
or self enhancement.
- The Holy Spirit will teach you as you actively engage in the
work of Bible study with his help.
- Go directly to the Bible instead of depending on sources
about the Bible (interpretive aids).
- Discover what the Bible says. Let the Bible speak
for itself by using an inductive process, rather than reading meaning into
- Keep these three phases in their proper logical order:
first observe, then interpret, then apply.
- During each step and operation of Bible study, keep the distinction
between observation and interpretation clearly in mind. Interpretation
of what the text means must be based on systematic observation of
what the text says, not on assumptions which you bring to the text.
- Do not overlook the clear, straightforward statements of the
- Seek to understand each passage as the writer and original
readers understood it.
- Learn as much Greek and Hebrew as you can, but do not substitute
that knowledge for proper hermeneutics and thorough Bible study procedure.
- Remember that each passage has only one correct interpretation,
which may have many applications.
- Use literary interpretation. Begin with a literal
understanding of the passage, and then make whatever adjustments are called
for by the figurative elements in the passage, determined in light of the
context. Avoid allegorizing the text.
- Interpret each passage according to its historical background,
cultural background, and literary genre.
- Always examine a passage's context carefully, especially
its immediate context. Interpret every passage in light of its context.
- Do not let an overemphasis on details or mechanical procedures
hide the message of the text. Read and study each passage as a whole
- When studying a topic, examine all the passages which
are relevant to the topic.
- Compare passage with passage. Interpret less clear passages
in light of clear ones.
- Use such noninterpretive aids as an English dictionary, a
set of Bible maps, and a complete concordance throughout your study procedure.
- After you have arrived at your own interpretations and conclusions,
carefully examine what others say by using a variety of interpretive aids.
- Reason properly. Avoid circular reasoning based on unfounded
assumptions, overgeneralizing, arguing from silence, arguing by analogy,
and misusing the converse and inverse.
- Persevere and be patient. Keep examining the text, and
keep asking (1) Do I have all the relevant facts? and (2) Have I considered
a full range of possible interpretations?
- Be willing to proceed slowly and suspend judgment on difficult
matters when necessary. Distinguish between primary and secondary
- No translation is perfect. Use one or two translations
as your basic study Bibles, but also keep a few other translations handy
for survey readings and for comparisons, passage by passage.
- Your basic study Bible(s) should be an accurate translation,
relatively literal rather than a paraphrase. It should also use current
English and should be a committee translation.
- Read through the Bible to get a bird's-eye view before you
begin intensive study of a book or topic.
- Generally, book study should precede topic study, since book
study lays a necessary foundation for topic study.
- The Bible's teachings are not merely to be understood, they
are to be applied in our lives. However, application must be based
on correct interpretation. General spiritual principles can be applied
directly; specific examples and commands must be examined in order to uncover
the underlying general spiritual principle which can then be applied.
- Write out your thoughts. Organize your notes in a loose-leaf
notebook rather than marking up your Bible.
- Adopt a procedure for studying Bible books which follows the
whole-parts-whole pattern, namely:
- Survey the book
- Divide the book into its natural divisions
- Scrutinize each unit of immediate context in succession (see 29
- Examine topics throughout the book
- Synthesize the parts into a meaningful whole
- Compare your findings with the findings of others
- Apply your findings in your life
- Scrutinize each successive unit of immediate context using a
variety of operations, namely:
- read the unit for meaning
- respace the text
- outline the unit
- note the function of the unit in its larger context
- ask the six standard questions of the unit
- note grammatical details in the unit
- identify internal and external relationships
- temporarily alter the wording
- paraphrase the unit
- list the unit's main teachings
- condense the unit
- employ other operations which fit the nature of the unit
- Adopt a thorough procedure for studying Bible topics, namely:
- Delimit the topic
- Recall your present ideas on the topic
- Find all the passages relevant to the topic and sort them into
- Scrutinize each passage
- Synthesize your findings from the definitive passages
- Compare your finds with the findings of others
- Apply your findings in your life.
Concluded | Back to Index
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