Here is a simple outline to follow when studying the Bible. It is called the Inductive Bible Study method, but I believe Jesus used this same outline long before anyone named it.
The three basic steps are:
- Observation – What does the text say?
- Interpretation – What does the text mean?
- Application – How do I apply this text practically?
Know the text well before you try to interpret (understand) it. Properly understand (interpret) the text before you try to apply it. Think of what happens when that order is not followed. We could potentially apply passages that we have not understood properly because we did not carefully read them to find out what they really said.
Take Jesus’ discussion with a lawyer in his day. Read Luke 10:25-37. You can see how Jesus was tested or challenged by this lawyer. Jesus first of all directed the attention to the Scriptures, “What is written in the Law?” Observation. Then Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to show how to properly interpret the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Interpretation. He finishes with telling the lawyer, to “go and do likewise.” Application.
It is a basic outline but very helpful, and if you start there you’ll be on a good road to better Bible understanding.
Revelation 1:3 – Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy (observation), and blessed are those who hear (understand – interpretation), and who keep what is written in it (application), for the time is near.