Observations Are A Crucial Element Of Bible Study
Over the years I’ve heard many Bible teachers. Something that makes a Bible teacher stand out from the crowd is when he shows you something new from the Bible. This is especially true if it’s from a passage of Scripture you’ve previously studied. Has that ever happened to you? How is it the Bible teacher saw something you missed? It’s likely he discovered it by making observing the text.
Step 4 of Bible study is making observations. The goal of making observations is not to figure out what a text means. It is to notice what it says. If you skip this step in the process of Bible study you will end up making mistakes. One of the main reasons why there are so many different interpretations of the Bible is people don’t know what the text says. We will use observations to get to the meaning. It is a discipline that focuses on the text.
Here are guidelines to help you make observations of the Bible.
7 Guidelines For Making Observations
- An observation is a true, complete statement or thought from the text.
- An observation is a simple statement.
- An observation is only on one text or context.
- An observation is not speculation.
- An observation doesn’t say what the text leaves out.
- An observation isn’t meaningless trivia, e.g. numbers of words or letters.
- An observation doesn’t use personal pronouns, I, me, my, we, or us (that is application).
It’s now time for a story like your dad or grandpa used to tell. You know, like how he used to have to walk five miles to school, in the snow, barefoot or something like that! One of my first classes in seminary was Hermeneutics, a fancy name for Bible study methods. One assignment was to make two pages of observations of just a few verses. It seemed impossible but I was able to do it. The next assignment was to make two more pages of observation on the same verses! I thought it was impossible! Four pages of observation on just a few verses! But it wasn’t impossible. It took time and focus but I came up with another couple of pages of observations of the same verses.
Making observations is such an important step in Bible study that we’re going to take one more day to explain it fully. For now take a look at just Mark 1:1 and see if you can make ten, yes ten observations of it. Do this by answering the basic who, what, when, where, why and how questions about the verse. Tomorrow I’ll give you my observations. Also I’ll give you additional information on the observation step.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and work through this. Your reward will be the personal satisfaction of understanding what a Bible text means on your own. That will lead you to live it and also to be able to teach others.
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave questions or comments below.