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Active Bible Study

Active Bible Study is the study of scripture from a literary standpoint. It is an

active participation from the learner.

The following is an outline of how to be an Active Bible Study student.

1.Saturation - be like a sponge

2.Analysis - be like a microscope
3.Synthesis - be like a telescope
4.Interface (application) - electrical plug adapter

The first thing that you need to do is read the text at least 10 times, then read the
chapter that the text is in at least 10 times, and finally read the book that the text
is in at least 10 times. All of this reading is for you to get an understanding of
God’s Word. Remember what goes into your heart is what comes out of your

I. Saturation (Observation) - Be like a sponge. A sponge has the following

characteristics: (1) It will absorb whatever it comes in contact and whatever it is
exposed to. It does not matter if it has absorbed the same thing many times
before. It does not prejudge what it is exposed to. (2) A sponge will keep on
absorbing until it is saturated. It will seek to soak up whatever it is exposed to
until it can hold no more. Likewise we are to observe the particulars in the same
way. (3) A sponge is usually “rung out” before it is used to soak up something. By
prayer we ask God to empty us of what would keep us from receiving His truth.
We pray to receive and obey what God teaches in His Word. We pray for openness
and humility.
A. Have an open mind, be ready to receive what God will teach.
B. Have a humble heart, be ready to obey what God will teach.
C. Pray
D. Get the setting of the portion you are beginning to study. Read before
and after the section.
E. Ask questions to yourself, pick up key words, meanings and ideas. Work
these over in your mind as you read the text.
F. Make a chart with three columns: (1) Observations (2) Scripture
Passage(3) Questions.
1. Observations
a. Summary Statements
b. Identification of connectives and their function: use the
following list to identify the connectives in your text.
Note the function of each connective.
1) Temporal or Chronological connectives: after, as, before,
now, then until, when, while

2) Local or geographical connectives: where
3) Logical Connectives:
a) Reason - because, for, since
b) Result - so, then, therefore
c) Purpose - in order that, so that
d) Contrast - although, but, much more,
nevertheless, otherwise, yet, though
e) Comparison - also, as, as so, just as so, likewise,
so also
f) Series of Facts - and, first of all, last of all, or
g) Condition – if
4) Emphatic Connectives: indeed, only
2. Things that can be observed
a. Key Words - Repetition of words will sometimes give you a
clue as to which are the key words. Also write down the
words that you either do not understand or you are not
clear on the meaning of the word.
b. Reasons or Results of doing things - Does the writer give
reasons for his advice? Does the author see forth a
cause and effect relationship?
c. Contrast, Comparisons, Illustrations - Comparison is the
association of things that are similar. Contrast is the
association of things that are opposite, often introduced
with “but”
d. Repetition and progression of ideas - Repetition will often give
you a clue as to the author’s purpose. Compare the
items in a list and see if there is any significance in the
order. Do ideas progress toward a climax?
3. Scripture Passage - write down the text that you are studying and
group the verses, phrases, or clauses according to subject,
content, or function. Then use graphic aids to show
relationships: arrows, stars, circles, colors, underlining.
a. Questions - As you observe the text write down questions that
you have. Also at this time avoid personal application at this
point and remember to focus on the original writer
and readers. Here are some guidelines on the types of
questions to ask.
1) Use these stems:
a) why did the author say...
b) what is the meaning of...
c) what is the significance of...
d) what is the relationship between...
e) what is the implication of...
f) why is this said here...
2) Write out questions to parts of the text that you do not

G. Try to discover the author’s purpose. What truths is the author trying to
convey to his readers? The author's purpose will determine: the
content of the text, the structure of the text, the arrangement of
the text. If one knows an author’s purpose then one will better
understand his writing. Also if we study the content, structure, and arrangement
of an author's writing we will better see and understand his purpose.
H. Discover the content, this can be done by the use of a chart. The chart
can include six sections: (1) Key Words, (2) Main Ideas, (3)
Grammatical structure, (4) Contrasts, Comparisons, & Illustrations,
(5) Connectives, (6) Advice and Promises. This is an extension of (F),
as illustrated above. During this step the student is concerned with the
content and the way the author writes, whereas in F the student is only
making general observations.
1. Key Words - Note the words that are repeated.
2. Main Ideas - Note ideas that are repeated.
3. Grammatical structure
a. Note verb tenses, nouns, pronouns, prepositions.
b. Note subjects, objects of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and
how they describe other words.
c. Note who, when, where, what, why and how.
4. Contrasts, Comparisons, & Illustrations - How are things compared,
illustrated, or what examples are given? How are things
contrasted? Note generalizations, a general statement
explained with an example or illustration. Or the author may
list a series of ideas then summarize them with a general statement. Note
progressions in thought: (1) Lists of items- compare the first and
last items in the series and see if there is a significant difference. (2)
Note if one idea grows out from another and then builds to a
climax. Note the use of questions by the author. He may use
questions to introduce a problem or summarize a challenge.
5. Connectives - tell what the connectives are and what they are for
(see the connectives list above in F).
6. Advice and Promises - Note how commands, advice, and warnings
are many times backed-up with reasons, purposes, proofs, or
results. Note the cause and effect . An example of this is giving a
warning then showing effects of heeding or not heeding.

You note that some of the steps are repeated but that is because there is a
different focus each time around. But once a person becomes acquainted with the
methods than you can then start to combine steps. Remember however that
before shortcuts can be taken you must travel the long route several times.

II. Analysis (Observation) - Be like a Microscope. A microscope is used to see the

small, minute details. In Active Bible Study we want to examine the underlying
parts, relationships, and definitions that may not always be obvious on the

A. Pray and meditate - ask that the Holy Spirit might reveal the truths of God
to you. Remember that a Bible student has both an open
heart, and a spirit of receptivity.
B. Discern which questions you will follow up on. The questions asked in
observation reveal areas where there is a special need for
thought. A question that can be answered by a yes or no may
not be an effective question. Answering the question is not the end we
are pointing to, but it is only a helpful way in gaining insight into the
C. Define key words using the common dictionary and make a note of their
origin and usage. Choose the definition that best fits the context.
What insight into this section do these definitions give? Write a
short summary statement. The characteristics of the key words summary
statement are:
1. Avoid personal application.
2. Refer to the original readers and writer - use their point of view.
3. Express your understanding and insight as a result of defining your
key words.
D. Translations, compare many different translations of the section. Write
out the phrase you want to compare and below it write out the
same phrase only using the words the different translation gives.
Write a short statement of your findings, compare the different
words that are used in the translation. What insight does this give you in
understanding the text?
1. Avoid personal application.
2. Compare the differing words and phrases of the translations.
3. Express any insights gained by comparing the translations.
E. Investigation, begin to look for explanations for what is written in the text.
It may also be helpful to use a concordance to look up cross
references. Write short notes as to how the reference relates to your
F. Consultation, see the following “helps” to investigate further. Write
summary notes or charts to record your findings, Give the title of the
reference book, the author, and the page numbers.
1. Bible dictionary
2. Bible history book
3. Bible atlas
4. Bible map
5. Bible commentary
III. Synthesis (Observation) - Be like a telescope to see the whole. A telescope
helps us to see the whole from a distance. In Active Bible Study we want to see
how the parts of a text fit together into the whole. We want to note their
relationships. To do this we will want to summarize by using one of the following
methods: a brief statement, Paraphrasing the passage, outline, or a diagram.
A. Book chart
1. Horizontal chart

2. Block off space for each chapter
3. Title each chapter
4. Group the chapters according to content
5. Title these divisions
6. List the main teachings and characteristics
B. Chapter chart
1. May be horizontal or vertical
2. Title each paragraph
3. After study give an interpretative title
4. List the main teachings
C. Paragraph chart
1. May be a diagram
2. Include the main teachings
D. Topical chart
1. The chart must show the various aspect of the topic
E. Outline
1. List main and subordinate points in a logical or topical outline
a. Logical outline
1) Points are listed in a natural sequence
2) One point is built on a previous point
3) Series or steps lead to ultimate conclusions
b. Topical outline
1) Points are equal
2) Points reveal parallel aspects of one topic
3) Points may be compared to a wheel in which each
statement is a spoke pointing toward the hub or
main idea
G. A brief statement
1. Must contain the author’s purpose
2. Must contain the author’s content
I. A paraphrase
1. Must follow the text
2. Must be in the language of today.
IV. Interface - Be like an electrical plug adapter. An electrical plug adapter allows
electricity to flow between two connections that are different. The idea for Active
Bible Study is that of taking a text from the Scriptures which was written hundreds
or thousands of years ago and understand its meaning and then apply its
message to today’s situation and culture. In other words allow the message to
flow to today’s time which is very different from the time when it was first written.
There are two steps to this process and they are the time tunnel and
A. Time Tunnel (Interpretation)
1. What was the author’s purpose?
a. Content
b. Structure
c. Arrangement

2. Did the author accomplish his purpose? How?
3. We must evaluate the worth of a passage with the author’s purpose
in mind
4. For whom was the text written?
a. We must understand:
1). the setting
2). the time period
3). the location
4). the historical circumstances
a). immediate background - preceding paragraphs or
sections of the books in which the passage
b) general - relevant literary materials from any
previous time.
5). the peoples’ experiences, customs, needs, and
5. What are the general truths and what are the local truths stated?
a. Are the truths applicable to certain periods of history only? If
they are, they are local truths. List them.
b. Are the truths applicable to any age? if they are it is a general
truth. List them.
c. Behind every local truth there is a principle that can be
applied to every age, What is that principle in this case?
d. What is the relation of truths found in certain passages to the
whole message of the Bible?
e. Consider truths in context and in relation to the whole.
f. Write a paragraph addressing these questions.
B. Harmonization (Application) - The process of harmonization attempts to
relate Scripture to one’s view of life, thus one comes to see life as
the Scripture presents it. In order to do this we must ask certain
1. Faith - what does the text teach me about personal faith?
a. What do I learn about...
1). God
2). Jesus Christ
3). Holy Spirit
4). Man
2. What truths should I believe and why?
3. What do I learn about attitudes:
a. Good ones and the results
b. Bad ones and the results
c. How can I change negative attitudes?
4. Is there any help suggested for release from destructive emotions
such as fear, worry, anxieties, hates, or resentments?
5. Actions
a. What should be my actions?

b. Are there errors to avoid?
6. Sins
a. What sins are pointed out in my life?
b. Are there some that I need to confess to God or my
7. Examples
a. What examples should I follow?
b. Are there some not to follow? Why?
8. Challenges
a. Are there some admonitions which I should make my own?
b. Can I follow these admonitions at home, school, work, with
friends, and others that I meet?
9. Promises
a. What promises should I claim as my own?
b. Are there some conditions which I must meet to claim these
10. Meditate: read the section aloud first.
11. Reflect
a. What does God want me to believe?
b. What does God want me to do?
c. What does God promise he will do?
12. Pray
a. Prayers of petition
b. Prayers of intercession
c. Prayers of thanksgiving
13. Recreate
a. The author’s feelings and concerns
b. Imagine the author were sitting and talking with you.
c. Imagine Christ were saying the words to you.
d. Consider: If I really took the words in this section seriously,
what difference would it make in my life?