Bible Study Basics: Questions Are A Tool For Bible Study

Step 4 Observation Continued: The Role of Questions

Questions Lead To Observations

A man and his son were walking through a park. The boy asked, “Dad, why is the grass green?” The father said, “I don’t know.” They walked some more and the boy asked, “Why are rocks hard?” The father thought for a moment and said, “Hmm, I don’t know, son.” They walked a little farther, “Dad, why is the sky blue and clouds are white?” the boy asked. The father looked up then turned to his son, “I’ve never thought about that before. I don’t know.” Then the boy said, “Dad, do you mind that I ask so many questions?” The father quickly replied, “Of course not. How are you going to learn if you don’t ask questions?”

Questions to ask

Questions to ask

Questions are a key aspect of the observation step in Bible Study. It is easy to read something without giving it much attention. We use questions to give careful attention to the text. By asking and answering basic questions we will notice things we miss in a normal reading.  Here are some sample questions you can ask when making observations on a text.

Questions To Ask and Answer When Making Observations About A Text

Who?

  • Who is talking?
  • Who is being addressed?
  • Who else is involved in the passage?
  • Who is doing what?
  • Who are the antecedents for every pronoun in the passage?

What?

  • What is happening?
  • What events are described?
  • What is the order of events?
  • What is most important in the passage?
  • What are the responses of people in the passage?

When?

  • When did the action take place?
  • When was it written?
  • What time references are given in the passage?
  • What is the timeframe of the action, past, present or future?
  • Are there sequences of events?

Where?

  • Where are the events of the passage taking place?
  • Where is the author and the recipients?
  • What geographical locations are listed?
  • What is the relationship between the locations and the actions?
  • Are there descriptions of distance, height, or terrain?

Why?

  • Why was the passage written?
  • Why were the events in the passage taking place?
  • Why are the people mentioned?
  • Why are time references included?
  • Why are the events important?

How?

  • How does the author set the context for the passage?
  • How are people related to each other?
  • How did an event actually take place?
  • How does time relate to the event?
  • How do the people relate to each other and the event?

Making observations is not about determining meaning but seeing what the text says. It isn’t time to interpret things. Only write down things you see in the text. Don’t guess. A guess isn’t an observation.

Making observations can be tedious but it is like a miner digging for gold. There are wonderful nuggets of truth but sometimes it takes a bit of work to find them. If you want to do Bible study on your own, you have to learn how to make observations.

At the bottom of this post I’m going to give you my ten observations on Mark 1:1 that I asked you to do in yesterday’s post. Take a look at Mark 1:1 and at yours. How do they compare?

If you have a comment or question please post it in the comments section below.

Observations on Mark 1:1

  • The book of Mark starts at what He calls the beginning.
  • The beginning is about good news (gospel).
  • The beginning is about specific good news.
  • The specific good news is about Jesus.
  • Jesus has a title, Christ.
  • There is good news about Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus is a Son.
  • Jesus is not just a Son, He is the Son.
  • Jesus is the Son of God.
  • The good news is about the Son of God.

Making observations is about getting facts on paper. As we work through the study there are many observations that won’t affect the meaning. This process helps us see the things that do give us clarity with the meaning of the text.

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Marc

    I don’t fully understand the meaning of Christ translating as “the Anointed One”. “Messiah” I thought of as “Deliverer”.

  • Marc, this isn’t something you would get from your English translation. The word Christ which Χριστός in Greek literally means one who is anointed. The way to find that out is to look it up in a Greek English Dictionary which is called a Lexicon. The term Messiah and Christ at synonyms. If you see the word Christ by itself it means “the anointed one.” It is true that the Anointed on delivers us, but that is an interpretation or application of the word, not a translation.