Preparing Your Own Bible Study


Some of the material found in this study has been adapted from the "Modular Course of Study" of the church of the Nazarene.

Principal Contributor:  

                       Alex Varughese



Itching Ears
Compas and Bible  
"What does this verse
say to you?"
While this question may lead to an open and candid discussion, it could be one of the most dangerous questions you may ask. Depending on an individual's personal perspective, one verse in the Bible could have a variety of meanings.


As teachers, we accept the responsibility of knowing what a passage is really saying. The best way to be true to God's Word is to discover what it means in its original context. 



Topical Studies

Topical studies are a good way to discover what the Bible has to say about a certain issue or subject.  


1. You can go to and find many references under a certain topic. 

2. Compare the verses to see if they have a consistent message.

3. If the messages are not consistent or do not seem to agree, you can use the inductive method to help understand some of the reasons why this may be the case.

4. Beware of "proof-texting": quoting verses just to prove a point. It is important to remain true to the original meaning of every text, even supportive texts.


Word Study
What do the following words mean?
1. Cool
2. Jive
3. Race
4. Sanctify
As you can see, each of these words have many different meanings.  What is true in the English language is also true for the Bible.  By unlocking the true meaning of a word as it is used in context we can uncover many treasures of hidden truth.
Most of us are not scholars in Greek or Hebrew, but there are ways we can learn more about a particular words.
1. Look up the passage in several different translations.  This is easy.  Just go to  You can compare many different translations with the click of a button.
2. You can also go to Free Bible Tools to find word meanings.
3. Search for a certain word and compare the various ways it is used throughout Scripture.
4. You might want to invest in a Bible Dictionary:
Life Application
Here are some questions you might want to ask as you prepare the "Life Application" portion of your study:
1. What are the commands to obey?
2. What are the promises I can trust God to keep?
3. How will this truth change my life, my church, my family, my work?
4. What will I do about it?  What will I correct?  How will others help me do this?
5. What practices, relationships, and experiences will I pursue so that I might train myself to be like Christ?
Mosaic Resources


Mosaic Home Page


More Bible Studies


Lessons for New Christians


Series on the Foundational Beliefs of

The Church of the Nazarene 


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Find a Mosaic Bible Study Near You



The purpose of Mosaic is to help individuals become mature, fully devoted followers of Christ. It is with this in mind that we have prepared an in depth discipleship series:

1. Bible Studies for New Christians

2. How to Become a Mentor

3. Foundations of Faith--What do Nazarenes Believe


See Entire Series


See Also

Prepared Lessons

Approved Curriculum


While Mosaic provides many easy to use resources, the ultimate goal is to help you prepare your own Bible study.


This lesson is designed to give you several ideas on how you can study and apply scriptural principles.  It also introduces one of the most widely accepted and theologically responsible methods for preparing a Bible study.


The inductive Bible study method will help you discover and apply the central biblical truths that are being conveyed in a particular passage.  

We all understand Scripture from our own cultural perspective


The goal of an inductive Bible study is to step out of our own particular culture and into the culture and language of the biblical text.


While we find issues of diversity woven into the tapestry of almost every Bible story, it is also evident that these stories can be interpreted in different ways by the various people groups who may study them.[1] For instance, the story of the Exodus may carry a very different message when read through the lenses of someone else's culture. An African American may see the Exodus account as a story of how God freed a group of people from slavery. Anglo Americans may read the same story and see how Moses was the giver of the law. At the same time, a Native American may struggle with what he perceives is a story of the colonization of Canaan.[2]


A Westerner may take Gen. 2:24 where it says, "a man will leave his father and mother and be united with is wife," as a mandate for newlyweds to move into their own home. Someone from China may be appalled at such a notion and simply see this verse as a mandate to shift his allegiance from one's parents to his spouse, even if they live under the same roof.[3] As hard as we may try to avoid it, we all read Scripture from our own point of view. Robert Bell wrote:


The idea that everybody else approaches the Bible with baggage and agendas and lenses and I don't is the ultimate arrogance. To think that I can just read the Bible without reading any of my own culture or background or issues into it and come out with a "pure" or "exact" meaning is not only untrue, but it leads to a very destructive reading of the Bible that robs it of it's life and energy.[4]


Norman Gottwald suggests that our view of Scripture is tainted by no less than 18 different influences: (1) denominational history or tradition, (2) norms or standards valued besides the Bible, (3) our working theology, (4) ethnicity, (5) gender (6) social class, (7) educational background, (8) community priorities, (9) explicit political position, (10) implicit political stances, (11) customary exposures to the Bible, (12) Bible translations used, (13) use of other Bible study tools, (14) past exposure to biblical preaching, (15) orientation toward biblical scholarship, (16) family influences, (17) life crises, and (18) spirituality and divine guidance.[5]

[1] Klein, et. al., 7.

[2] Foster (1997).

[3] Klein, et. al., 79 (For even more examples read pages 90-94).

[4] Bell, 45.

[5] N. K. Gottwald, "Framing Biblical Interpretation at New York Theological Seminary: A Student Self-Inventory on Biblical Hermeneutics," in Reading From This Place, Volume I: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States, ed. Fernando Segovia and Mary Ann Tolbert (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995), 252-261.

What you see depends on where you stand

The cultural lenses people use when they read Scripture impacts their theology.


To a black man, it may be paramount that we acknowledge that Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus' Cross, was black.[1]  Don't fail to mention that the Ethiopian Eunuch was an African. You can count on an Eritrean Christian to know this. A refugee may find comfort in knowing Jesus' parents had to flee to another country in order to spare their child. Presumably we have developed a comparable theology. We all read the same Bible, but we may have vastly different ideas about social issues, spiritual practices, methods of worship, and numerous other concerns. To borrow a phrase from Eddie Gibbs, "What you see depends on where you stand."[2]

[1] Found in Matt. 27:32 and Luke 23:26. Cyrene in the eastern area of what is now known as Libya.

[2] Gibbs, 24. The phrase is taken out of context, but fits well.

It is important to understand the orginal meaning of a text


Simply stated, we let the original meaning of the text speak for itself.


Exegesis is the process of bringing the actual meaning out of a biblical text and applying that meaning to the modern reader.  To accomplish this, we use an inductive approach to  the study of the Bible which attempts to draw out the meaning of the text by making observations and conclusions about the details presented in the text.

Where is the passage found?


The study of a biblical passage should begin with an investigation of the book in which the passage is located. This requires a thorough reading

of the book in which the text is located. Key questions to ask:

  • To what section of the Bible does the book belong?
  • What is the relationship of the book to other Old Testament/New Testament books?
  • To what period in Israel's history/Christianity does the book belong?

What is the immediate setting of the biblical passage?


Key questions to ask:

  • Who was the author?
  • Who were the recipients?
  • When did the message of the book first originate?
  • What is the particular historical situation of that period; political leadership and political developments of that time?
  • Does the text contain references to particular cultural customs of that period?
  • What were the religious practices or beliefs of the people being addressed?
  • What spiritual need prompted the writing of the message contained in the text?
Overview of the Book


1. Read the entire book and write down your impressions.

2. Is there a theme or central idea that runs throughout the book?

3. What are the major topics of the book?

4. Notice the headings of each section. 

5. Prepare an outline of the book.


Establish the relationship of the text to the passages that precede and follow the text


A single verse in the Bible does not stand alone. It is surrounded by other passages that have a direct impact on its particular meaning.  For this reason it is important to read the passage in light of its context.  To extract a single verse from a passage and attempt to find its true meaning is like listening to a small portion of a an entire conversation, assuming you know the full meaning of that single statement. 

Understand the meaning of the words


Investigate the meanings of important words in their original ancient setting. It is important to understand what a particular word meant in the ancient language and so we may faithfully bring out the meaning of the biblical text.

1. Read the passage in several different versions.

2. Refer to your dictionary, if necessary.

3. Read commentaries.

Make Conclusions


Make conclusions about the theological truth or lessons the writer of the text intended to communicate to ancient listeners. Our attempt here is to discover how God speaks or acts in response to human needs.


Verify Your Conclusions


Relate the text and its theology to the overall message of the Bible.

The following questions will help us here:

  • Is the theology of the text before us unique, in that it deals with a particular culture or specific situations in the life of ancient Israel or the early Christian church?
  • Do we find parallel expressions elsewhere in the book in which the text is located?
  • Is the theology of the text consistent with the overall theological teachings of the Bible?
  • Do we find clarifications or expansions of the theology of the text elsewhere in the Old Testament?
  • Does the New Testament interpret,clarify,or modify the Old Testament text?

Life Application


Your goal in using the inductive method is to discover a timeless biblical truth that can be applied to everyday life.  This timeless truth should be both theologically sound and culturally relevant. 


Now that you have done the hard work of investigation, you have the even more difficult task of life application. 


1. Begin the process by stating the simple truth revealed in the passage you have chosen.

2. How does this central truth apply to your group? Take into consideration language, cultural norms, life circumstances, knowledge of the Bible, family, etc.

4. Bring the passage to life.  What methods can you use to relay the message? --Art, music, special projects or activities, group discussion, multi-media presentations.  Don't be afraid to use your imagination.