Is it weird to say I love my Bible study plan . . . and then not know how to explain what it is or how it works? Well, today, I make a meager attempt to bring you the explained and technical version of my Bible study plan as it stands thus far. This plan may look familiar to you, as it is nothing profound or new. Or it may look foreign and overwhelming . . . in which case, I challenge you to simply try it! I pray it will transform your time in the Word, as it did mine. Have fun!
PERSONAL STUDY PLAN
- Read the entire passage (chapter, several chapters, or small book) weekly over a period of 8-12 weeks
- Meet with a group weekly to share discoveries, following the observation-interpretation-application plan below
- Read slowly and think carefully, asking lots of questions
- Make a markable copy of the passage, and write down everything that comes to mind
- Make a list of repeated words/themes, then mark one or two per week as you read, using color coding
- No commentaries or study Bible notes!
- Be creative: charts, pictures, poems, songs, etc.
- More tips here
OBSERVATION // 3-5 weeks
- Ask questions
- State the obvious
- Note author, audience, and historical context
- Find locations in maps
- Consider who is speaking what
- Mark and connect words and themes
- Note comparisons and contrasts
- (Gospels) Compare to the other Gospels . . . but wait for this observation step until most other observation/interpretation steps are complete!
- How is the account in this Gospel unique from the others?
- What additional things from the other Gospels would be important for us to know as we consider this particular Gospel account?
INTERPRETATION // 3-5 weeks
- (Narrative) Place yourself in the shoes of the various characters
- What do we know about this person, and what is their story?
- What might they have felt, seen, thought, etc. in this scenario?
- (Gospels) How do they respond to Jesus, and how does Jesus respond to them?
- Make an outline
- (Narrative) Make a timeline
- Retell the passage in your own words
- Find the main point, climax, and key verse
- Write a one-sentence summary
- Consider how this passage points to the person and work of Christ
- Consider why it is included in Scripture and how it fits into the flow of the Bible’s history and message
- Starting with the passage and zooming out (chapter-book-testament-canon) to the grand narrative of Scripture, search for cross-references and related passages
APPLICATION // 1-2 weeks
- Original audience:
- What do we know about the original audience and their situation?
- What was the author trying to say to his readers and why?
- How did the author intend for his audience to receive and apply this passage?
- What heart response would God want from those who originally heard it?
- How does our situation correspond to theirs?
- How should 21st-century Christians respond to this passage?
- How does it strike you personally?
- How have you seen it portrayed (negatively or positively) in your own life?
- In what ways do you desire to take it to heart and see it at work in your own life?
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