1. What did it mean to the original readers?
Before you start to apply, go back and understand what the passage meant to the original readers. Why is that important? Because Scripture can’t mean what it never meant. This will help wipe out a good portion of the wrong interpretations. If you start with today, you’re twenty centuries too late.
2. What’s the context?
If you’re studying a verse, read several verses before and after (or even a chapter) to understand the context of what you’re reading. Scripture without context makes no sense.
3. How does it show my sin and my Savior?
The painful message of the Law and the good news of the Gospel is woven throughout the Scriptures. Determine how these two messages of the Bible are communicated in the text. The purpose of the Bible is a twofold S.O.S. - to Show Our Sin and to Show Our Savior.
4. What timeless truths are there?
Since human nature never changes, God’s Word will always apply, because God’s Word is timeless. Once you establish the foundation of the original meaning and its context, you can begin to successfully pull out timeless truths that affect us in the 21st century. Since the Word doesn’t change it still matters today.
5. Where else in Scripture does it say this?
Better than a commentary or someone else’s opinion of what a verse means, spend some time looking at other Scripture to shed light and meaning on the Scripture passage you’re studying. Many study Bibles have cross-references already made for you. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.
6. How does it apply today?
This is where you take the timeless truths from question four and begin to apply them to your life. As Jesus tells us at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:24-27), it’s not just hearing the Word of God that counts but living it out. Information without application becomes stagnation.
7. How does it change the way I live in my community?
This question draws us back to the essential truth that our faith is a group faith. We are never called to worship God solely in isolation. Bible study will come alive when you study it and live it out within a community of believers. The Bible comes alive in me when I live it in my community.