This may be one of the craziest words you hear in the Bible Study realm…
So, what is it??
Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Bible.
Saying that Hermeneutics is a science infers that there are steps to follow…
THIS is VERY good news!!!
Having steps to follow means the steps can be learned, practiced, and followed in order to get a desired result. And for us, the desired result from using good hermeneutics is understanding God’s Word firsthand.
Within Hermeneutics is the Inductive Bible Study Method. This method has tried and true steps within it that will open the door to understanding God’s Word. The steps are very simple…
Let’s break down each step…
The goal of observation is to take a passage of Scripture and read, reread, notice details, and ask questions of the passage in a step by step manner.
The goal of interpretation is to answer the questions from the observation step and to make a conclusion about the main point of the passage.
The goal of application is to prayerfully consider how you would apply God’s Word to your head, heart, and hands so that you may be changed from the inside out more and more by the power of the Holy Spirit into the image of Christ.
Let’s break down each step a little more…
Observation is the first step in the Inductive Bible Study Method and probably the most crucial. Your interpretation and your eventual application will only be as strong as your observations! Don’t rush through this step. Take your time. Go slow. Stop and notice every detail you can by following the steps listed below. Everything you see in the in the passage you are studying is important. Nothing in the Bible is there by accident. Every word, punctuation mark, and grammar structure is there for a purpose. It all points to the main point. God is communicating something to you and good hermeneutics contain the tools to use to help you figure out what that is!
1. Read and reread the passage you are studying as may times as needed to familiarize yourself with the passage.
-The more you simply read a passage the more you will understand it. Repetition plays a huge part in understanding God’s Word.
2. Circle and number the repeating words.
-Repeated words show emphasis and importance; the more a word is mentioned the more we should pay attention to it.
3. Make note of nouns (persons, places or things) and verbs (action words).
-Names and titles have meanings and reveal much about who a person in the passage is and why they are doing what they are doing. And their actions show movements and motivations in the story.
4. Draw arrows connecting thoughts and/or ideas.
-Connecting thoughts and ideas can be used as the Bible’s own commentary on itself.
5. Make note of comparisons and/or contrasts.
-Comparisons and contrasts help drive a point home for the reader.
6. Put question marks near words or thoughts you do not yet understand and will research during the interpretation step.
-It is good to look up words you don’t understand in your regular dictionary and in your Bible dictionary. Don’t assume you know the definition of every word or phrase used in the Bible. And don’t miss out on taking the time to look them up.
Interpretation is the second step in the Inductive Bible Study Method. In this step you will ask and answer your own questions based on your observations.
There are endless questions you could ask, but begin with asking questions like…
1. Why is this particular word repeated so many times?
2. Why is this person in this particular location doing a particular action?
3. Where is this location and why is it important?
4. Why are these people, actions, or ideas being compared or contrasted?
If you ask a question you don’t know the answer to, use your dictionaries and concordance to find the answer. Asking questions from your observations draws out the interpretation of the passage and the interpretation of the passage is what you will want to apply to your life.
Application is the third step in the Inductive Bible Study Method. This is where you bring it all home and make it personal. Think about yourself and how you are made up of your head, your heart, and your hands…
-Your head is where you think and decide what you believe.
-Your heart is where you decide how to live based on what you think and believe.
-Your hands are what you use live out and act on what you think and believe.
Allow God to guide you in applying His Word to your whole self and your whole life by asking the following questions:
How does this passage change what you think about God?
God’s Word transforms our minds to have right thoughts about Him. How did the passage you studied transform your mind to think right thoughts about Him?
How does this passage change what you think about others?
God’s Word transforms our minds to have right thoughts about others. How did the passage you studied transform your mind to think about others the way God does?
How does this passage mold your heart more into a heart like God’s?
God’s Word softens our hearts to make it moldable for God to change it into a heart that is more like His. How did the passage you studied soften and mold your heart?
How does this passage encourage you to serve God and others with your hands?
God’s Word guides us as the Body of Christ in how to serve God and others. How did the passage you studied encourage you to serve God and others?
There you have it! That is the most concise I can make the explanation of Biblical Hermeneutics and the Inductive Bible Study Method. That wasn’t so bad, was it??!!
We hope you learned something new or were reminded of the simplicity of this method. Either way, we pray you continue to dig into God’s Word every day with this tried and true method of Bible Study!
If you’d like to try the OIA method head to the OIA page here! There you will find downloadable books of the Bible that are double spaced that you can print so as to make your observations directly on the text. These Bible Studies also include OIA Charts after each chapter.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!