Inductive Bible Study
The Green Arrow
(Inductive Bible Study: A Visual Summary)
The three steps:
…but many find those words and concepts cumbersome. I wanted something visual to encapsulate inductive study (moving from small, observable details to big-picture conclusions). For my visual: a green arrow.
1. ARROW IN FRONT (Observation)
First, what does it say? The green arrow points to the words themselves. This is the face value of the words—the straight facts, and nothing more.
Two example statements (the first is not in the Bible ~smile~):
The mother cooked chicken because her baby needed protein.
Example from the Bible:
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7)
Arrow-in-front observations (for the first example):
- The mother cooked chicken.
- She did this because her baby needed protein.
Arrow-in-front observations (for the Genesis 22 example):
- Abraham is Isaac’s father.
- Isaac asked about the lamb for the burnt offering.
2. ARROW BEHIND (Interpretation)
Now, what does it mean? This is between-the-lines information. The green arrow points behind because this is the meaning behind and within the words, yet not stated explicitly. Step 2 should always be based on Step 1. Interpretations must be grounded in observations of the text. (Otherwise, we’re just making it up, or relying on faulty memory, or quoting from an inaccurate Bible story book we read decades ago, or…)
Possible Arrow-Behind Interpretations (for the first example):
- Chicken has protein.
- The baby is able to eat solid foods.
- The mother will eventually feed her baby chicken.
- (And, my favorite…) The mother cares for her baby.
Possible Arrow-Behind Interpretations (for the Genesis 22 example):
- Isaac and Abraham did not have a lamb with them.
- A lamb is required for burnt offerings.
- Isaac knew about the burnt offering procedure, possibly by observing his father, or being taught by his father, or both.
Note that the interpretations are not explicity stated in the example (it doesn’t actually say that chicken has protein) but can be reasonably concluded. Step 2 should always be based on Step 1.
3. ARROW TO ME (Application)
Bible reading is not an end in itself. It is a vehicle to move us to greater intimacy with God. We read God’s Word to know Him better and live like He wants us to live…and we fall more deeply in love.
We want to know not only what His Word says and what it means, but, most importantly, what do I do with it? What does it mean to me? How does He want me to live? This is application.
Possible Arrow-to-Me Applications:
- My children learn both from what I teach them and from how I live. Teach them about God, about His Word, about worship, and they will know.
- What do my children know about God and His Word? This is a reflection of how I have lived and what I have taught them.
(If the green arrow doesn’t do it for you, here’s a handout I made.)