4 Steps to Reading the Bible
1. Selection - What do I study?
- Pick a passage
2. Observation - What do I see?
Study different translations, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, interlinear Bible (Greek and Hebrew to English), Bible handbooks, and Bible atlases, time lines, and topical Bibles.
A. Look at the Text
Who are the people in the passage?
What are the important ideas in the passage?
When did this occur?
Where are the places in this passage?
What is the literary genre of this passage? Is it poetry, narrative (story), Epic, Priestly Writings, Law, Liturgy, Lament, Teaching, Prophecy, Gospel, Parable, Letter, or Apocalypic Literature?
B. Look at the Context
What comes right before and right after the passage?
What events are happening in the original time period?
C. Look at the Historical Setting
When was the passage written?
Where was this passage written?
Who is the author?
Who is the audience?
What was the original purpose for this passage?
3. Interpretation - What does it mean?
What is the meaning of each word in the original language?
How are the significant words used in other places in Scripture?
How does the genre effect the text?
What is the sentence structure?
Why are these particular words used?
Compare the passage in other versions of the Bible?
How does the historical, sociological, or historical situation affect this text?
What truths are taught about God?
What truths are taught about human nature?
What does the passage tell us about sin or about salvation?
What does the passage say to the church?
What does the passage say to me as an individual?
4. Life Application - How does this apply to my life?
How does this passage apply to the contemporary situation?
How do we apply this passage to our modern day assumptions, values, and goals?
What principles apply to our society today?
What does this passage say about social issues?
How does this passage apply to me personally?
How do these principles apply to the church?
How do these principles apply to my friends and family?
How do these principles apply to me personally?
How does this passage effect my moral decisions?
How does this passage effect my personal goals?
What am I going to do with what I learned?
How does this passage impact my relationship with God?
What personal goals am I going to set in my life to apply these principles in this passage? Pray for God to help you apply the principles in the passage to your life.
Do not “proof-text.” (Take verses out of context.)
Do not be too literal. Ex: Matt 5:29-30
Do not ignore cultural, historical, and literary background of the Bible.
Do not read your own ideas into Scripture.