Methods of Bible Study

METHODS OF BIBLE STUDY

BOOK STUDY OR SYNTHESIS METHOD

The Bible is a Devine Library composed of 66 books, with 40 different authors, covering a period of 1500 years. Each book has a central message or theme.

  1. Each book contributes something to other books.
  2. Each book derives something from the other books.
  3. No one book says “all” on any one subject.
  4. The first book to mention a subject, usual gives it in “seed form.”Example: Gen. 3:15 (Promise of seeds); II Sam 7:10-13 (Davidic Covenant)
  5. The last book to mention the subject, usually throws much light on the subject.
  6. Seek to find out just what this book actually teaches

How to Study a Book

      (1) Choose the book carefully and prayerfully.

  1. The beginner should probably begin with a New Testament Book (e.g. I John, Mark, etc.)
  2. Read the introduction to the book.
    1. Note the Author
    2. To whom it is addressed
    3. Find out approximate date it was written.

      (2)  Method of procedure

  1. Read the book through at least 3 times, (each time at one sitting if possible and in other translations, versions, or paraphrasing).
  2. As you read try to catch the general theme or continuity of thought, a key verse, or word.
  3. When you catch that general theme, begin your outline on paper using the general theme as the title.
  4. Note if there are several thoughts expressed which are subsidiary to the general theme or explain it. If so, use these as the main divisions for the book. Give these divisions a name or title and write down which chapter and verses speak on this theme.

      (3) How to make a synthetic outline of a book. EXAMPLE: Learn from reading the Book then write down the following,

  1. Name of Book
  2. Author
  3.  Date
  4. General Theme
  5. Key Verse
  6. Main Division
  7. Division One (Here give the title for this division with chapter and verses)
  8. Division Two, Three and so on…

      (4) Illustration of Outline: BOOK OF ROMANS

            Author: Paul

            Date: Approximately 62 A. D.

            Theme: The Gospel of the Grace

            Key Verse: 1:16

                  Divisions

  1. Introduction 1:1-16
  2.   Condemnation 1:18-3:23
  3. Justification 3:24-5; 21
  4. Sanctification 6:1-8:16
  5. Glorification 8:17-39
  6. Restoration 9-11
  7. Exhortation 12-15
  8. Salutation 16

 

ANALYTICAL METHOD

 The Analytical Method of Bible study is an extension of the Synthetic Methods of Book Study. After the student has made a synthetic study, and an outline of the book in Lesson 3, he may then select the first division of that book to begin a more intense study of that portion, actually making an analysis of the chapter and verses therein.

Following the instructions given in Chapter 2, on Chapter Summary of Methods of Study: read the whole chapter or division through meditatively and prayerful. Seek to get the most outstanding thought expressed in this whole portion. Then break the whole division down into paragraphs, (sometimes you will have to ignore chapter divisions). Study this paragraph carefully – select what you think is the main trend of thought in this paragraph, which contributes to the main theme of the book as given in your Synthetic outline, also the main thought as given in your Division of that outline. Note the verses, which seem to contribute to one particular subject, and study these verses very closely. Then select a name (from the text possibly) to give these verses and use that name as a caption for this sub-division or paragraph. Repeat this study until you have analyzed all the verses in the paragraph, giving a caption and stating the verse, or verses which belong under that caption.

 

EXAMPLE

Let’s go back to our Synthetic Method, and the outline of the Book of Romans. Let’s take the first division that is the introduction. Use your Romans outline as the framework for your analytical outline, in the manner given below…

BOOK OF R0MANS

      Author; Paul

      Date: Approximately 62 A. D.

      Theme: The Gospel of the Grace of God

      Key Verse 1:16

DIVISION

      I    Introduction 1:1-17

  1. Sa1uation of Paul. Verses 1-7
  2. Praise and Prayer, Verses 8-10
  3.   Established and comforted. Verses 11-12
  4.   Paul a debtor to all. Verses 13-15
  5.   The message of the Gospel. Verses 16-17

      II   Condemnation 1:18-3:23

  1. Revelations, 1:18 (The wrath of God).
  2. Man without excuse.  1:19-20
  3. Man rejects light and becomes foolish.  1:21-25
  4. God gives man up to his own vileness.  2:26-28
  5. The results of man’s rejection.   2:29-31
  6. God’s just condemnation.   2:32-2:1-10
  7. God’s method or standard of judgment.   2:11-16
  8.  Knowing God’s law is not enough.   2:17-29 (The Jewish people in Jesus’ day were condemned because they knew and did not do.)
  9. The Jewish people along with all mankind are unrighteous. Verses 3:1-9
  10. God sees the whole world as sinners.   3:10-23

 

 

WORD STUDY METHOD (Biblical Exegesis)

We have studied Chapter Summary, Synthetic and Analytical Methods of Bible Study. In this lesson we go one step further in our study of Sentences, Phrases and Words. The theological tern for this type of study is “exegesis”, which means the “critical study” of certain passages, to determine exactly what the authors meant to convey to their readers. This work in Seminary is usually done in the Hebrew or Greek languages in which the Old and New Testaments were written.

Today, through reliable helps one need not know Hebrew or Greek in order to do Word Study. There are many books written by great scholars, whose works are reliable and sound, which we can use as helps, such as Strong’s Concordance, or Young’s Concordance, and Word Studies, by Vincent. Dr. Weust’s series of books on the New Testament and what is called an “Interlinear Greek-English New Testament and Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament in which the original Greek or Hebrew texts is given with a literal translation into English, given directly under each word, with the King James Version given in the margin, There are also Greek and Hebrew Lexicons (dictionaries) available today..

In the study of the words, phrases and sentences it is necessary to observe a few rules for interpreting the Bible such as:

  1. Study the verse, phrase or word in connection with its immediate context, i.e. the verses immediately preceding and following, to determine the theme of that paragraph or chapter   (your Synthetic and Analytical Outline which you have previously made will help you here).
  2. Study the grammatical construction of the verse in which the sentence, phrase or word is found and learn what the verse “actually says.” (Don’t try to force a meaning to suit you. It is God’s Word, you cannot improve on it -accept it).
  3. Study the meaning of each word (look up the meaning of common words often we have forgotten the real often we have forgotten the real familiar words. Study the more common words in the Bible Dictionary or Concordance. Get the original meaning of the “root word” for which the English word has been used, by translators. (For this you will need our Lexicon, Strong’s or Young’s Concordance).
  4. Look up the first place where the word you are studying is used in the Old Testament, also in the New Testament. The meaning of the word in the first place it is used must not be violated.
  5. After you have studied each word for yourself, and then read the passage from two or three recent translations into modern English. (Use modern translations as “supplements” and not “substitutes.”
  6. Seek the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit as you study. He inspired the Word – He can illumine your mind to understand it,

 

 

THE DEVOTIONAL METHOD

Perhaps we should have studied this method first, because it has to do directly with our personal spiritual life. “It is the key to spiritual blessing and growth.” The methods we have studied in our previous lessons are methods are primarily useful in preparation to “teach” others. The Devotional Method is for our own soul’s food and sustenance and the “devotional attitude” of mind must prevail when we study the Bible regardless of which method we follow. Here are a few suggested rules to follow in pursuing the “Devotional Method.”

  1. Let your mind be quiet before the Lord.
  2. Dismiss all thoughts of care, concern, and business.
  3. Seek to become “relaxed” in spirit, mind, and body.
  4. Ask God to teach you by the Holy Spirit.
  5. Prayerfully select some chapter or passage to study.
  6. Slowly and meditatively read and reread the passage.
  7. Let your imagination act freely. Try to “re-live” the scenes or events in the passage.

EXAMPLE

Suppose we use a familiar passage as an example to show how the “Devotional Method” may be used. Let’s study John 3:1-21.

  1. Read the whole passage slowly and attentively.
  2. Notice who is speaking:
    • Nicodemus, 3:5-8
    • Jesus, 3:3
    • Nicodemus, 3:4
    • Jesus, 3:5-8
    • Nicodemus, 3:9
    • Jesus, 3:10-21
  3. Study the subjects:
    1. The new birth and the new kingdom, 3:-12
    2. The Story of redemption, 3:13-17
    3. The Old Testament type (The Brazen serpent) Num. 21:4-9.
    4. The New Testament Anti-type, 3:14-15.
    5. God’s love gift, (His Son) 3:16.
    6. The mission of the Son, 3:17-18.
    7. The results of God’s life, 3:18-21.
    8. Those who believe are saved 3:18a.
    9. Those who believe not are condemned already, (3:18b.)
    10. Those who do evil hate the light, 3:19-20.
    11. Those who seek the truth come to the light, 3:21.

            Analysis of Verse 16. (Note the emphasis)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him (the Son) might not perish but have everlasting life.”

For God SO loved. For God so LOVED. For God so loved THE WORLD.

                  Make it personal.

For God so loved (        insert your name      ) that He gave His only begotten Son, that      (insert your name) believing in Him (the Son-Jesus) might not perish but have everlasting life.

 

THE DOCTRINAL METHOD

 There is a great need for Doctrinal Bible Study today. (II Tim. 2:15; 3:16). Many church members know very little or nothing about what the Bible teaches about God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Sin, Redemption, Heaven or Hell.

            Doctrine is the Foundation of Christianity

  1. Bible doctrine reveals God to man.
  2. Bible doctrine (of Sin and Man) reveals man to himself.
  3. Bible doctrine shows the Christian the foundation of his faith.
  4. Bible doctrine establishes the Christian in his faith.
  5. Bible doctrine (if studied and believed) will keep the Christian from worldliness and sin.
  6. Bible doctrine will lead a Christian to a Spirit-filled life and active service,
  7. Bible doctrine will “set the hungry soul on fire” to seek and win the lost to Jesus.

            Doctrine will save us from error

The “offspring of ignorance is error.” Jesus said to the Sadducees, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” The reason so many false doctrines and “cults” today prosper and spread is because professing Christians do not “know what the Bible teaches.” Dr. R.A. Torry has written an excellent book on doctrine and titles “What The Bible Teaches.” And Dr. C.I. Scofield likewise has a good book entitled“Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth.”

                                    EXAMPLES

                             The Doctrine of God

  1. The nature of God -Spirit, John. 4:24.
  2. The Unity of God – Mark 12:29.
  3. The personality of God, Jer. 10: 10-13.
  4. The attributes of God:
    1. Omnipresence, Psalm 139:7-12.
    2. Omnipotence, Matt. 19:26. 
    3. Omniscience, Job 37-16; Ps. 147:5.
    4. Holiness, Rev. 4:8
    5. Love, I John, 4:8-10.
    6. Mercy and Kindness, Ps.103:80.
    7. Righteousness and Justice, Psa 145:17; Job 37:23.
    8. Faithfulness, I John 1-9.
    9. The Eternity of God, Psa 90:2-4

                        The Doctrine of Christ

  1. His Pre-earthly existence, John 1:1.
  2. His Deity, Heb. 1: l-8.
  3. His Incarnation, John 1:14, 14:28.
  4. His Humanity, I John 4:2-3.
  5. His Character –
    1. Love, John 6:38 (To Father) (Gal. 2:20 (to man)     
    2. Holiness, Acts 3:14.   
    3. Compassion (love)     
    4. Meekness (humility) Matt. 11:29
  6. His Death, (mentioned 175 times in the N. T.)
  7. A His Resurrection, Luke 24:5-6.
  8. His Ascension, Acts 1:9.
  9. His Intercession, Heb. 7:25.
  10. His coming again, Acts 1: in The N. T.)

  

BIOGRAPHICAL METHOD

The Biographical Method of Bible study is a study of “Living Epistles” -The study of the lives of outstanding men (and women) of the Bible. God has given us the account of these great characters as “illustrations,” “object lessons,” and “examples,” – “Now all these things happened unto them for our examples and they are written for our admonition…” (I Cor. 10:11).

Bible characters have life -they will teach you:

      Job will teach you patience.

      Abraham will teach you faith.

      Moses will teach you meekness.

      Joshua will teach you courage.

      Enoch will teach you how to walk with God.

      Elijah will teach you the power of prayer.

      David will teach you to meditate and sing.

      Jesus will teach you how to live.

      Paul will teach you how to serve.

      James will teach you how to work…

      Peter will teach you to “repent” and find restoration in fellowship.

                        HOW TO STUDY

  1. Read all you can find in the Bible about the person.
  2. Use your Bible Dictionary or Bible Encyclopedia to get history.                     
  3. Note the date of their birth and activities.  
  4. Note the place of their birth and childhood.
  5. Study the lives of their parents (if information is given).
  6. Look up the meaning of their name or names.
  7. Note how the call came to them.
  8. Find out all you can as to how they were taught.
  9. Note their personal disposition and characteristics.
  10. Study their successes (what helped them to succeed),
  11. Study their failures or mistakes – (find why).
  12. Make a list of unique qualities they possessed.
  13. Study their prayer habits, their faith, their dedication, their influence, or their contemporaries.
  14. Note some of the great sayings: (Such as: Job, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Jacob, “I will not let Thee go except thou bless me.” Joshua, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John .3:30) Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness….’ (II Tim. 4:7-8).

 

PROPHETIC BIBLE STUDIES 

This course would by no means be complete without some instructions on how to study the Prophecies of the Bible. Much of the Bible, when first given was prophecy – predictions and promises of things to come. Many of those prophecies were fulfilled in the times of the prophets while others were fulfilled years after the prophets who first gave them had died. Many were fulfilled in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus

There are many promises or prophecies made which were made in the Old Testament which were not fulfilled in Christ’s earthly life. Some were only partially fulfilled. Some prophecies of the New Testament were not fulfilled during the early years of the Christian Era and history has yet to record their fulfillment. We believe every prophecy given by God will be completely fulfilled. Therefore we should study all these prophecies

  1. Prophecies which have been fulfilled:
    1. Those concerning the Redeemer.
    2. Those concerning God Chosen people – Israel. 
    3. Those concerning other nations.
      1. Assyria (Nineveh, the capital).
      2. Egypt.
      3. Babylon.
      4. Nations which border Israel:
        1. Tyre 
        2. Syria
        3. Edom  
        4. Moab
        5. Ammon
        6. Arabia
  2. Prophecies which have been partially fulfilled.
    1. The coming and work of Jesus (see Isa. 6:1-11).
    2. The destruction of Babylon (See Isa. 13, 14: Rev 18).
    3. The restoration and glory of Israel (See Isa Chap 1-5; 7-12; 35).
    4. Prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ
      1. His own promise, John l4:2-3.
      2. Promised by Angels, Acts 1:11.
      3. Taught by Apostles:
        1. Peter, Acts 3:19-21; II Peter 3 
        2. Paul, I Thess. 4:13-18. 
        3. John, Rev, 1:7; 19:1-10.   
        4. James, Jas, 5:7-8

 

BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE “AGES”
Name Innocence Conscience Authority Promise Law Grace Kingdom
Beginning Gen. 1:26-29 Gen. 3:22 Gen. 9:1-3 Gen. 12:14 Ex 12:2 Acts 2:1-4 Rev. 11:15
Responsibilities Gen. 2:16-17 Gen. 4:3-7 Gen. 9:3-7 Ex. 19:5 Acts 2:38 Ps. 27:11
Failure Gen. 6:3 Gen. 6:5-12 Gen.11:1-4 II  Ki. 17:7+ I Tim. 4:1+ Rev. 20:7-9
Judgment Gen. 3:14-24 Gen. 7:11-23 Gen..11:5-9 Ex. 1:8-14 II Ki. 17, 25 II Thess.2:

7+

Rev. 20:10-15
Duration Unknown Approx. 1650 427 yrs. 430  yrs. 1500 yrs. Unknown 1000 years
Beginning

     Closing

Adam

   Eve

Adam   to

   Noah

Noah   to

   Abraham

Abraham

    to                   Moses

Moses to

   Christ

Pentecost to Second

Coming

Second

coming to  1st

 Judgment