Five Basic Questions to Help You Study the Bible

I’m coaching several young men and women on how to explore the bible for themselves as well as how to share biblical messages. It’s really part of discipleship. One of the key things we do is use are these five basic questions to help us understand the text we are studying. I call them diagnostic questions because they help us to diagnose the spiritual meaning behind the text. It’s important to note that these questions are not original with me, and I don’t know the original source.  (If you do know a quotable source, I’d like to know, so please comment below so I can give proper credit).

5 questions

Generally I’ll have someone read the passage out loud to the group. We will follow along in our own bibles. Then I’ll begin by asking these questions one at a time. We pause long enough after each question to answer. Our answers come from the scripture itself and if someone wants to know more about an individual’s answer they can ask, “Which verse did you pull that from?” This helps to keep the conversation on track and thoroughly centered on the scripture.

So here are the questions we ask:

  1. What does this passage teach about God?
  2. What does this passage teach about man?
  3. Is there a command to obey, an example to follow, or a promise to claim?
  4. Is there a sin to confess or avoid?
  5. How do I need to specifically apply this to my life?

The last question becomes a spring board into personal application. It’s where we move from the generalities to specific areas of application. When sharing in a group setting it is important that your group is comfortable enough with one another that they can share person struggles and desire to see God have victory in different areas of their life.

These five questions are helpful on most biblical passages. They are a great way to communicate about what the passage actually teaches and to come to some conclusions about personal application. I like that it is easy to model and easy to reproduce. I’ve had leaders pick up this model and use if for bible studies. Indeed, I picked it up along the way from someone else, whom I am sure picked it up from someone else, etc. There is no telling where it began (seriously, if you know tell me).

Philippians 3:17-19 (Devotional Thought)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Philippians 3:17-19 ESV)

When my wife and I were engaged and we knew we had about a year before we were going to get married we started making a list of couples we wanted to have dinner with and get to know. We picked a variety of couples to intentionally have influence in our lives. There was something in each couples marriage that we admired and wanted to have in our own marriage.

We also knew that the best way to learn from these couple was to be close to them, see them interact and even mimic what they did until it stuck in our own marriage. In essence, we realized that some things are better caught, than taught. Continue reading “Philippians 3:17-19 (Devotional Thought)”