Counsel: How to make observations in Bible Study

Counsel: How to make observations in Bible Study 

Recently, I have given some tools for doing Bible study using the “Bible Study and Application Format” worksheet.1It’s a simple exercise using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a pattern for looking at Scripture. To sum up, you take a passage of Scripture and do four things with it. First, record what the passage is teaching. Secondly, examine self to see how you might be failing to live according to the standard of it. Thirdly, identify the correction you need to make in order to get back on track with Scripture. And fourthly, outline a plan of action to put the correction into real living.   

To help you in doing the Bible Study and Application Format worksheet, here are several principles for doing basic Bible study.  Studying the Bible is often done in three steps: Observation, Interpretation and Application (OIA).  “Observation” is looking at a text and making observations about what is in the passage.  “Interpretation” is taking the observations and drawing out the meaning of the passage based on the context and what the original intent of the author was as he wrote to the original audience. The “Application” is the timeless truth that was true in the day it was written, but also how it applies specifically today in our culture and circumstances. 

 I often add one additional step called “Implementation,” because some people take application as merely “how does the passage ‘apply’ to me as an individual.”  What we need to do, in order to follow the model found in 2 Timothy 3:16,17, is to take the meaning of the passage and “implement” it into life.  What are the changes I need to make in my life? How should I implement the application to life?

This article focuses on observation. Here is a simple list of questions that will help you take a passage of Scripture and assist you in making observations. It really just follows the investigative reporter style. 


Who is speaking?

Who is this about?

Who are the main characters?

To who is this written?

What is the subject or event covered in the chapter?

What instructions are given?

What does this tell us about the people or event?

Where was it said?

Why is this mentioned?

Why did it happen?

Why now?

Why this person?

How will it happen?

How is it to be done?

How is it illustrated?

As you make the effort to personal Bible study, you will gain richly and be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Now, when you do Bible study, consider the fourth step and add implementation (OIAI).

Psalm 119:27
Make me understand the way of They precepts So I will meditate on Thy wonders.  

Every problem I face
can be traced to an
inaccurate view of God
~ Bill Bright ~

1The Bible Study and Application Format was posted April 14 and a recent application exercise using the acrostic SPEAK was posted April 19.

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