Inductive Manuscript Bible Study

Inductive Manuscript Bible Study

Many people enjoy watching the Olympics. It’s thrilling to see world records broken as athletes perform better than anyone ever before. However, seeing a world record broken cannot compare to the athlete’s experience of setting a new world record. This is why we do manuscript Bible study. While it can be instructive, convicting, and intriguing to hear a lecture or read a book about a Bible passage, it doesn’t compare to the thrill of understanding a passage and being convicted by what we learn from our own study. As athletes work hard to train for competitions, we have to work to do manuscript study, but the fruit of those efforts makes worthwhile. So, what is inductive manuscript Bible study?

Group Study

Manuscript studies are group studies. God gifts people differently for the benefit of the group. My first manuscript study was discouraging. I had trouble making observations and asking questions. I sat and listened. Often at the end of the discussion, I would say, “So, are we saying…?” When I mentioned my frustration, the leader said not to worry about quietly listening. My gift was summarizing what we learned in the passage. I gained from the groups’ comments. They gained from me pulling it all together. Group study allows us to benefit from each other’s gifts and learn more together than we would alone.


Our manuscript studies are inductive. This means we look closely at the text to discover what it means, then we apply it to our lives. We intentionally use a particular thinking pattern to study. We label the steps and purposely walk through them slowly. The steps are simple. Everyone uses them daily: Observation, Interpretation and Application. Want to see a movie? You read the movie listings. (Observation) You consider your schedule, the movie schedule, what you want to see and you choose your movie. (Interpretation) Finally, you see the movie. (Application) In Bible study, we look at the text. What does it actually say? How does it say it? (Observation) Then, we ask questions about the text and decide what it is teaching us. (Interpretation) Finally, we think about how it applies to us today. (Application)


Manuscript study does take effort. However, the fruit is tremendous. First, we learn much more studying together. Second, it becomes normal for us to have spiritual conversations. Third, we gain confidence studying scripture. We begin to see how the Old and New Testaments are connected. Fourth, we use Bible resources to find answers to our questions. Fifth, we develop a hunger for God’s word. Finally, we grow individually and corporately as we regularly apply God’s word in our lives together.