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Bible Study - Study Steps - Observation

Bible Study: Observation

Begin With Prayer
Read the Bible Daily
Ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How
Mark Key Words and Phrases
Keep an Eye Out for Similar References
Look for Lists
Watch for Contrasts, Comparisons, Questions and Answers
Mark Expressions of Time
Note Terms of Conclusion
Develop Themes
List Lessons for Life
Next Steps: Interpretation and Application

Begin With Prayer

It is important the begin with prayer to God. To ask that God open your mind to His word as you read the Scriptures. "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).

Read The Bible Daily

To really begin to understand God's purpose and message, it is important to read a portion or portions of Scripture daily. Why, because the Bible is God's message to mankind, telling us how we came about, the reason for our existence and the love God has for all His creation. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

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Ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How

When studying any passage or book of the Bible, use the building blocks - Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Asking these types of questions will ensure that you gain an accurate interpretation of God's word.

Who is speaking? Who are the main characters?
The letter to the Ephesians begins, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus..." (1:1).

What event is being spoken of? What is the purpose that this was written? What can I learn from this story?

When will these events occur?

Where did this happen?

Why is something being said? Why is this happening at this time, to this person?

How will it happen? How is it to be done?

Mark Key Words and Phrases

Identifying the key word(s) or phrase(s) within verses, chapters or books is important to establish the author's message. Don't forget to ask Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. You can mark these important words or phrases by using symbols, colours or a combination. It is essential to decide on your own distinctive marking system as it will help you quickly identify important phrases and words throughout the whole Scriptures.

Keep an Eye Out for Similar References

Daily reading of God's word combined with the use of marginal references helps unlock the consistent message throughout the whole of Scripture. Often portions or ideas from the Old Testament are repeated in the New Testament. Reading both help you to understand what God is trying to tell us throughout the whole bible. For example,

Old Testament

God talks to Moses in Exodus 3:4-6, "When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here I am. The He said, Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. He also said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God."

New Testament

Jesus talking to the Sadducees about the resurrection says in Luke 20:37-38, "But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him."

If you have a bible with marginal references you should find a note against Exodus 3:6 linking it to Luke 20:37. Mark this quote to alert yourself next time you read Exodus that this passage is teaching that there will be a resurrection and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be part of those who are resurrected.

Look for Lists

Making a list when you are studying a chapter or section of Scripture is a great way of revealing the author's point or purpose.

Ephesians 6:13-17 details the full armour of God:

  1. Loins girded with truth
  2. Breastplate of righteousness
  3. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of truth
  4. Shield of faith
  5. Helmet of salvation
  6. Sword of the spirit which is the word of God
Watch for Contrasts, Comparisons, Questions and Answers

The Scripture often uses contrasts, comparison, questions and answers to help the reader or listener to really understand the message.

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" Proverbs 15:1

Talking of the Lord Jesus Christ many hundreds of years before he was born, Isaiah is inspired to write, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth." Isaiah 53:7

Question and Answer:
The disciples said, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus answered them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority..." Acts 1:6-8

Mark Expressions of Time

Noting expressions of time, whether specific (the second day of the tenth month or a place name) or vague (until, then, after) help place events in context. They also lead to a accurate interpretation of Scripture. Mark them with a colour or symbol such as a clock.

Acts 27 details the beginning of Paul's last journey from Caesarea to Rome. There are many references to time, v3 "the next day", v7 "a good many days", v9 "considerable time" and "the fast was already over", v18 "the next day", v19 "the third day", v27 "the fourteenth night", v39 "when the day came".

Note Terms of Conclusion

There are a variety of words that signify a concluding thought such as therefore, wherefore, finally or for this reason. These terms help more easily identify the messages that each author has been inspired to write down by God.

1 Peter 5:6 says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you at the proper time..."

Why? Because as the previous verses tell us, we should be humble because God is opposed to the proud , but gives grace to the humble.

Develop Themes

Developing themes, whether they may chapter or book specific or themes running throughout the whole of Scripture is very important. They help us get more out of our reading - keeping us excited about the consistency and relevance of God's message to us today.

Romans chapter 13 theme can be described as "The Gospel Influencing Daily Life"

Whole bible themes can include exploring "The Kingdom of God on earth" or "God's Character" or "Faith" or many others.

List Lessons for Life

As we read through the Scriptures we become aware that God is instructing his people how to behave - that He has a purpose with this world and the people that live in it. It is extremely useful to list and think on as we read lesson for our daily life in the 21st century.

Next Steps

Interpretation Interpretation , and
Application Application

Intro . Observation . Interpretation . Application
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