Inductive Study Method: How to Study Inductively

Are you searching for a new way to study your Bible but not sure which method to use? While I have not studied methods such as S.O.A.P. or Bible Journaling, I have studied using the Inductive Study Method and absolutely love it! This post will tell you what is involved with this approach.

The Inductive Study Method has the tools you need to dig deep in the Word. You will learn the three main keys to truly seeing all there is in the book or chapter you are studying.

A previous post, The 5 W’s for Studying the Bible Inductively will give you the basics including the physical tools needed, such as colour pencils and markers. Another post, Inductive Study Will ++ Your Bible Knowledge, speaks of why I love it so much!

In this post, let’s look deeper at the components of the Inductive Approach.


Inductive Bible Study | Inductive Method | Bible Study | Inductive Study
Free Stock Photo: Aaron Burden with Unsplash



All Bible Study should begin with prayer. This is key to successfully learning the Word and hearing from God. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes of understanding so you may hear what the Spirit is saying to you. The Spirit is our Comforter, Counselor, and Teacher. Let Him teach you as you open the Word to study.



The Discovery process begins with Observation. We learn who the author is and who the author is writing to. Sometimes that is obvious within the first 5 verses or so while other times we are not told explicitly who the author is.

With inductive study, when we observe, we usually employ the questions known as the 5 W’s and H. That is, who-what-where-when-why and how.


Who is

  • the author writing to?
  • mentioned in the passage/chapter/book?
  • doing something?
  • not doing something?

What is

  • the reason(s) for writing?
  • happening or going to happen?
  • the author cautioning or warning them about?


  • are the recipients?
  • is the event(s) going to happen?
  • was it said?


  • will the event(s) happen?
  • did or will something happen to a particular person or place?


  • will this event happen?
  • did the author say this?
  • this particular person?
  • is this person singled out?


  • will this event happen?
  • is it to be done or completed?
  • did the author explain the event?

As you consciously ask yourself these questions, you will notice the little details that are so easily overlooked. Pay attention to these details and make note of them, your understanding of the Word has begun. Don’t be in a hurry to rush through this process, take your time to see what is there. Observing the answers to these questions as based on the Word itself, will lead to correct interpretation.


Geographic Locations

If the passage you are studying indicates any geographic locations, mark these distinctly. In my Bible, I can spot geographic locations by the double green underline under the city, mountain, valley, nation, or planet, ie earth.

When studying in the Old Testament, this is helpful to note as in the both the books of Kings, there is mention of Northern Kingdom, South Kingdom, nations and various locales. I underline them plus when trying to keep the Kings and their kingdoms matched, I use NK (Northern Kingdom) with the correct king.


Keywords and Key Phrases

Keywords may be a little hard to determine but if you remember that they are essential to the text, you should be able to spot them. Try this, if you remove the word you are thinking is key, does the whole meaning become void?

A keyword or key phrase, when removed leaves the passage meaningless. Often times keywords are repeated by the author as he emphasizes its importance. The repetition may be in the chapter or spaced throughout the book.

As you mark keywords, ask yourself the 5 W questions. An example of a keyword would be “sackcloth”. Ask yourself, Who is wearing sackcloth? Why is that person(s) wearing sackcloth? When will they start to wear the sackcloth?

You can mark the keywords and phrases by using the Master KeyWord List that is found in the Free Libraries under Study Material. This list is compiled of keywords that as you consistently mark your symbols on this list, it becomes your master list for each time you find keywords. In addition, the Study Material Library has a sample keyword list to illustrate symbols and markings that you may want to use or to give you ideas for designing your own symbols. This sample keyword list is by Kari King Dent.

You may also take advantage of the Inductive Bible Study Method Booklet to help you in your studies.

Inductive Bible Study | Inductive Study Booklet | Bible Study | Free Printable

Access to both Free Libraries is provided when you sign up to the Insiders Pod, a bi-weekly newsletter sent to your Inbox.


Make Lists

Lists play an important role as they often reveal truths for steps to take in completing an action. Some lists are simple while others can be longer and a little more involved. Write your lists in a notebook in addition to numbering them in the text.

Some lists are more topical and spread throughout the book. When following a keyword through the book, observe what is being said about that keyword. Make note of it in your notebook or if you have space in the margin of your Bible, you can condense it there.

Making lists will help you recall the truths you have learned from the keywords. When you need to remember it, you will have it at your fingertips.


Expressions of Time

Noticing when events happened or are going to happen, helps to keep the passage in focus. Expressions of time are spotted by the use of certain words, until, after, when, and then. It will be helpful to use the symbol of a clock in a specific colour so you can spot these expressions at a glance. I use a green Micron pen for my clock. Other words would be the obvious ones such as in the year of, at the feast of,  or during the reign of. Place your symbol in the margin to find them quickly.


Contrasts and Comparisons

Contrasts, such as, light/darkness, or children of God/children of the devil, are often used to emphasize a truth and its use makes it easier to remember what that truth is.

Comparisons are noted by words such as like, as, as it were. Mark the comparisons distinctly so you recognize it as a comparison versus a keyword.


Terms of Conclusion

As my former Pastor used to say, terms of conclusion such as therefore are “there for a reason.” Other terms are since, finally, wherefore, and for this reason. At this point, you can summarize the message in the preceding verses.



Based on what you learned while observing the text, you are ready to interpret the meaning. To interpret wisely you need to remember that context rules. The meaning of context is “that which goes with the text.” This means to keep in mind the surrounding verses as well as the book itself and the whole Word of God. Ask yourself if your interpretation is consistent with the purpose and theme of the book. Is it consistent with other passages? One thing you do not want to do is make the Word of God say whatever you want it to say by taking it out of context.

Another quote from my former Pastor is “the best interpretation of Scripture is Scripture.” The Bible contains all the truth you need and it is God-breathed and inspired. You can trust it, depend on it and as you saturate yourself in it, it will become a part of you so that you will recognize truth from partial truth and wrong doctrine.



At the end of the observation and interpretation, we come to application. Now it is time to apply what has been learned.

If we want to be doers of the Word as James said in chapter 1 v 22, then, we need to apply what we learned. Through the application, we allow God to change us to be more like His Son.

Not all Scripture passages can be applied today. There are a few things to keep in mind such as the time period. Cultural standards cannot be applied today but you can apply the biblical standards.

We need to be aware of not using Scripture erroneously to strengthen something we believe in. In this case, we need to submit to God and change our thinking to believe the Scriptures, not the other way around.

Sometimes God is showing us something new in His Word that we hadn’t seen before. Or maybe He is correctly a faulty belief we have. These are situations for us to correctly apply the Word of Truth.

Once we apply what we have learned, then we become transformed. Paul taught us that it is by the renewing of our mind that we are transformed. Let the Word transform you as you study it inductively!


I hope this has been of benefit to you and that you are looking for a challenge in your studies. This certainly will be that challenge for you as you learn this process. Are you up for it?

Please leave a comment, letting me know what you think about this. I’m waiting to hear from you!

Hugs and














About Cindy

Lovin' the Word of God - reading it - studying it - sharing it - living it!

16 thoughts on “Inductive Study Method: How to Study Inductively

  1. Great post on really approaching scripture in a helpful, long-term way. The ladies in my group are also well drilled at looking for the “Therefores” and “scripture interprets Scripture”. We haven’t ventured into any inductive study yet. The first time I did this with a group (nearly 20 years ago) my group dwindled until there were only 2 of us left :-(. I suspect I wasn’t quite ready to lead it. Maybe I need to discipline myself to try again with a group.

    1. Hi Ruth! So glad to hear from you again. Sounds like your ladies are part way there for studying inductively. Take a look at the new study booklet in my free study material library. You might like that format for your gals. It isn’t quite so intense and could be a good lead in to the more serious study.
      Thanks so much for your comment. So glad to could stop by today!

  2. I love, love, love inductive Bible studies!! I’m super excited to be leading one at my church this fall. Most of the ladies have never done one, so it’s going to be super intense and I can’t wait!

    1. Hi, Heather. I’m so glad you are starting an Inductive study group this fall. Are you designing your own material or using a book? One word of caution based on my experience of introducing the Inductive method to my DIG Gals (at church) is take it slow. Some gals may have trouble catching on so be patient with them. I would love to hear how it goes…keep in touch with me, please.

  3. Hey there, Cindy. I’m a fellow lover of the Word of God, visiting you from Salt and Light today. 🙂 Wow. Your list under the observation section is really good. So much there. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post with so much great info about studying the Bible! <3

    1. Thank you, Betsy, for stopping by today! I’m so glad that you found the Observation list helpful. Let me know if you ever decide to take the plunge in Inductive study as I would love to hear how you are doing. If you ever have any questions, be sure to get in touch with me. Have a blessed day!

    1. Hi Heather! I am so encouraged by your comment, thank you so much! Hope you have a chance to check out my 1 John series. You may enjoy them!

  4. This is so great! I’ve been using the inductive method for a while now and it’s always good to get a refresher. I especially find making lists and word diagrams has opened up deeper levels of God’s word for me!

    1. I’m so glad to learn that you love the inductive study method, Kathryn! Yes, making lists sure opens up the possibilities of ‘sermon messages’! Thanks for stopping by today.

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