Want to get more out of your Bible study? Write down your observations.

How to Understand a Bible Passage

Are you ready?! Today we get to dig into the text!

This week we’ll learn how to comprehend a text, and then next week we’ll learn to interpret and then finally apply a text. Each day will build on the previous days’ skills, but don’t worry… we’re taking baby steps here.

Today we start with writing down our Bible study observations about the text.

Quite simply, ask yourself, “What does this passage say?” Start with the most obvious observations, get them down on paper and out of the way, and soon you’ll begin seeing deeper connections that weren’t visible at the surface.If you're trying to understand a Bible passage, try writing down your observations. This post explains exactly how to do that.

Personally, when I’m reading a longer chunk of Scripture, like a chapter or more, I like to pick out a shorter text–just a few verses–to focus my study on. That way I can go deeper than if I’d try to comprehend the entire chapter. It’s not cheating–as long as you’re engaging your mind and your heart in loving God, you’re on the right track.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Who’s mentioned in this passage?
  • What’s happening in the text?
  • When is this action taking place?
  • Where is the story happening? (Feel free to check a map for further observations.)
  • Why do the characters act the way they do?
  • What jumps out to you on the page?
  • What seems interesting or unusual about the text?
  • Is there a characteristic of God that stands out in this passage?
  • Does the text make several points in a row? What are they?
  • Are there any patterns in the passage?

This week you’ll begin engaging the text more than a casual reader would. Simply reading a passage gives you the birds-eye view of what’s going on. But when you stop and analyze the passage—ask questions, look for patterns, think about implications—you begin to see the passage differently, and things “pop out” at you like a pop-up book.

You’ll soon be making exciting discoveries and connections and wonder, “How did I not see that before?”

I’m so excited for you as you dig into Scripture yourself! Woo-hoo!!


Your Turn

  1. Start with prayer, thanking God for giving you access to a Bible in your own language. Praise Him for wanting to make Himself known to you personally.
  2. Read John 2.
  3. Using the questions above to guide you, write down at least 5 observations about the text. If 5 is easy, push yourself to write down 10 or 15. The more observations you write, the deeper you’ll get.
  4. Browse what you’ve written and mark the observation that stands out to you. Did you have an “aha” moment? Did you see a connection that you hadn’t noticed before? Did something hit home with you?
  5. Whatever you wrote down in #4, thank God for revealing that to you. Praise Him for His faithfulness and ask Him to grow your love toward Him.
  6. Share with us on Facebook what stood out to you the most! We’d love to hear from you!

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