Observation

Top  Previous  Next

Read the passage being studied several times in order to get a good feel for the details. Act as though you are reading this passage for the first time and observe all the facts. Ask questions of the passage:

1.Who is involved?
2.What are they doing?
3.Where are they? Where are they going?
4.When did this happen, what happened before, what will happen afterwards.
5.Why is this happening, what happened to lead up to this event?
6.Had this been foretold?

More questions may be found in the section on the Chapter Analysis Method of Bible study. Observation is crucial in obtaining a good understanding of any given Bible passage, in order for it to be effective we must learn to avoid the following traps:

1.Speed reading. Often, either through familiarity, boredom, or lack of time, we tend to rush through a passage. We must learn to take our time, extracting from the text every detail.
2.Trusting our memory. Too seldom do we actually write down what we are seeing in the Bible’s pages, our memory for detail will be greatly enhanced once we start to take notes during the observation process.
3.Giving up. Just because we have already studied a given text does not mean that we know all there is to know about it. Simply because we have not studied the Bible in a classroom environment, or have not gone to Bible college, does not mean that our Bible study will be ineffective. It is God who rewards the student, as we gain experience in Bible study we will still need to rely on His guiding hand, our mind will simply be better at doing the work of Bible study.
4.Immediate application. Many passages of Scripture may seem to be easily understood, especially to those who read the Bible frequently. In some cases this may not be out of place but in general the point of Bible study is to put off application until we fully understand what we have been studying. The danger of immediate application is that we tend to apply what the passage means to us personally rather than what the author intended the passage to mean to all.

Some of these questions will lead to the next step of interpretation but that is not the goal during the observation step, what you are attempting here is to get a good understanding of the flow of the passage, its surrounding events, its characters – you are in short looking for every detail you can find. Take your time through this stage as it is foundational to the overall impact of the study.