Observation, Interpretation, Application
SELECT A PASSAGESelect 3-10 verses dealing with the same topic. Think about why you want to study this passage.
MAKE OBSERVATIONSOBSERVE THE PASSAGE BY ASKING QUESTIONS. All observations are valuable. Write them down. Use the following list of questions as a guide.
Summarize your observations on the Observation Worksheet.
INTERPRET THE PASSAGEWHAT IS THE "BIG IDEA" OF THE PASSAGE – YOUR THEME?
This can most readily be identified from the commands and the repeated words and ideas in the passage. Often there will be one command in the passage with several motivations.
In one phrase sum up the main thought of the passage. Make sure your theme is large enough in scope to include all the author is saying in the passage. It’s often the biggest point that is being made. It often requires you to step back and look at the passage as a whole.
ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU RAISED IN THE OBSERVATION STEP
Put your answers in the form of an outline. Take your main theme and break down the passage into sub points under the theme. These sub points form principles of life and ministry. A principle is defined as a timeless lesson in the way God works or is doing things in the world.
To develop each principle (each point in your outline) you will want to EXPLAIN IT (interpretation), ILLUSTRATE IT (from the Bible or personal examples of how this principle worked out both positively and negatively) and APPLY IT (not every point will have specific application). You may want to do this on a separate sheet of paper.
For example, you may be studying Luke 10:38-42, the passage about Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary. The passage is about choosing what is best for your spiritual life. The author is saying that sitting at the feet of Jesus is best. Now, how does each verse fit into the theme? This is where interpretation comes in. Martha is distracted by busyness. Busyness robs from our spiritual life. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. Sitting and listening to Jesus is always a priority in our spiritual lives. Jesus says make time to sit and listen.
STEPS TO INTERPRETING THE PASSAGE
To help you interpret the passage, answer like the ones listed below. Use as many or as few as you need to.
APPLY IT TO YOUR LIFE
This is where you purpose to do what God has taught you through bible study. (James1:21-25, Mt. 7:24-27) It is through applying the Word that God changes our lives. Application does not happen by osmosis, but by intent. God enlightens us from the Word, we enact the application with our wills, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry out these choices. It is usually best to concentrate on applying one principle at a time. The goal of all application is to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.
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