Southwest College of Biblical Studies

An Inductive Approach


Anyone who wants to be a leader in the Christian community must be able to accurately dig out the truths from God’s Word, and be willing to apply these truths to their lives in the pursuit of personal holiness and integrity. This is what these studies are designed to do.
According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, God’s inspired and inerrant Word is useful for us. It is what we need. God teaches us the right thing to believe (doctrine), warns us about the wrong things to avoid (reproof), tells us the right things to do (correction), and guides us how to do the right things (training in righteousness). God uses His Word to do all this so that you and I will be adequately equipped for every good work that He puts before us to do.

According to 2 Timothy 2:15, we are to step forward eagerly and give ourselves to God, willing to be tested and proven for His service without shame or regrets, and actively learning how to accurately handle God’s “Word of Truth”. Obviously, the methods of Bible study will vary. One might be receiving of God’s Word through lectures, audio tapes, video presentations, and textbooks; another might be through inductive Bible study methods used during your own personal and disciplined study of Biblical text. This college uses both methods, but emphasizes the inductive approach at the beginning of our course of study.

A person will almost always refer to an instruction manual after buying an appliance from a store, yet that same person may rarely consult the “manual of life” (the Bible) when attempting to operate the life God constructed and gave to him to function in this fragmented, foreign, and hostile world. According to James 1:22-25, if we will intently look into the Word of God, and will honestly agree with God about the things in our lives that need to be changed, and if we will live out those changes in our words, actions, thoughts, and attitudes each day, God will bless our lives and produce results in what we do.

Bible Study Methods curriculum.

Bible Study Methods in Philippians (3)
Bible Study Methods in 1 Timothy (3)
Bible Study Methods in 2 Timothy (3)
Bible Study Methods in Colossians (3)
Bible Study Methods in James (3)
Advanced Bible Study Methods in Philippians (3)
Advanced Bible Study Methods in Colossians (3)

Attitudes: A Step to Real Success (1)
Healthy Relationships (1)
Equipping: Finding & Making Disciples (1)

Preparation For Leadership (3)
Preparation For Leadership (4)
Facilitator Skills (3)


All three parts of the program, the Bible Study Skills (21 units), the Character Development (3 units), and the Leadership Training (10 units) make up the Bible Study Methods Certificate Program (34 total units). A certificate of completion is issued when the student has successfully accomplished all 34 units.

Bible Study Skills Units: first five Bible studies methods courses.

The 19 Bible study methods are utilized in five of our courses using these books.

  • Philippians teaches “Successful Christian Living”,
  • 1 & 2 Timothy cover “Instructions for the Christian leader”
  • Colossians teaches “The Superiority & Sovereignty of Jesus Christ”
  • James teaches “Living the Faith You Claim to Have”.
What, How, and Why:

The best way to get the most out of any Biblical text is to understand: WHAT text was written, HOW the text was written, and WHY the text was written.

While these Bible study methods represent some ways to utilize an approach that excites and enables us to eagerly dig into the truths of the Bible; to understand the reasons why it was written and to willingly make those truths visible and alive through our behavior and integrity.

These are the 19 Bible study methods we will cover to provide guidance and structure to help in answering those three questions as you study the Biblical text.

What was Written

Bible Reading
Paragraph Titling
Theme Development
Paragraph Re-titleing
Book Structure Chart
Book Summary

How it was Written

Author Investication
Biographical Research
Geographical Research
Cultural Investication
Word Study
Connecting Words
Figures of Speech

Why it was Written

Recipient Investigation
Theological Research
Devotional Application

The Biblical text that was written, and the methods used to write that text, are both pointing to “why” the text was written. The authors wanted to show us two things: why the receivers of this letter needed to read or hear it, and what doctrinal truths did they need to know. We, the present-day readers, need to know the same things. The last two methods (Devotional Application and Essay) guide us into considering what this Biblical text has and can do in our personal lives.

Explanations of the 19 Methods of Inductive Bible Study
Your first method is ONE-SITTING READING.

Sit down and read the entire letter without getting up or stopping. Do this reading seven  (7) separate times.

Each time you read the Biblical text, try to use a different translation of the Bible.

Your second method is PARAPHRASING.

Start by reading a complete thought in the Biblical text, and then re-writing that thought using your own words. Write the way you speak, but you try to retain the accurate meaning and intent of the Biblical text. Try to make sure you understand a passage before you attempt to paraphrase it.

Your third method is OBSERVATION.

Look through the letter, and find the significant words that are repeated five times or more. The best way to do this is to start reading the text at the beginning. For instance, in the first verse you might see the word “grace”. Read through the rest of the letter looking for the word “grace”.  This method helps us determine what is important to the author by noticing (“observing”) the frequency of certain words used throughout the entire text.

After you have concentrated on the main words (“grace”, “God”, “sin”, “confidence”, etc.), then go back and pay closer attention to three words that we usually skip over as being unimportant: ALL, IN, and WITH. Then, find a maximum of 20 places where the words are used. Write the verse and, then, how the word is used (“with the Lord”, “with joy”, etc.).

The fourth method is PARAGRAPH TITLING.

Cut the Biblical text up into parts based on subject matter. Read through the text and
give a title to each passage that changes the subject, as if you were outlining the book.

The fifth method is THEME DEVELOPMENT.

Now that you have read the Biblical text in excess of 25 times, it is time to decide what the overall subject of the entire book is. Pick four possible themes for the book, then select one as your best choice.

The sixth method is PARAGRAPH RE-TITLING.

This is a fine-tuning step. Since you have divided the book into topical parts and have determined a theme for the book, you should now polish or rename your original titles to match your theme.

The seventh method is BOOK STRUCTURE CHART.

Make a chart showing the outline structure of the Biblical text. It will be a picture of your “Paragraph Re-titling” method. It is like flying over the text and seeing the whole picture in one pass.

The eighth method is AUTHOR INVESTIGATION.

Look for any references in this Biblical text about the author. Mark all personal pronouns such as “I”, “me”, “my”, “us”, “we”, and “our”. Eliminate all personal pronoun references that do not refer to the author.

Then, use all the data you have gathered to write a one-page essay about the author of this book of the Bible.


You have two separate step to complete in this method; both involve studying the people who received, read, or heard this letter.

Read through the book and mark all personal pronouns such as “you”, “your”, “us”, “we”, “our”, etc. In this first step you are only looking for EXISTING QUALITIES (qualities that already existed in these people at the time of this letter). Use the data to write a one-page essay about the existing qualities of these people.

In the second step, you will read through the text looking for DESIRED QUALITIES (qualities that the people need). Then, write a one-page essay about what kind of people the author wants them to be.

Your tenth method is BIOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH.

Read through the text and make a note of every person who is mentioned. (You will not  note Jesus Christ or God in this step because you will be concentrating on them later.)

Choose one person from your list who you wish to study in more detail. Now, using a concordance, your course notebook, or other research tool, find all the references to this person in the entire New Testament. Using all the information you have gathered, write at least a one-page essay about this Biblical personality, writing as though we know nothing about him/her.

Your eleventh method is GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH.

Read through the text and note every geographical location that is mentioned. Choose one place from your list that you wish to study in more detail. Now, using a concordance, your course notebook, or other research tool, find all the references to this geographical location in the entire New Testament. Using all the information you have gathered, write at least a one-page essay about this Biblical geographical location, writing as though we know nothing about it.

Your twelfth method is CULTURAL INVESTIGATION.

In this method you will attempt to step into the lifestyle of that New Testament era. There are many customs, traditions, foods, etc. that those people lived with every day. It is important to know something about the aspects of their daily lives since the Biblical writers not only mentioned them, but also referred to them to teach Biblical truths. Examples of cultural references could be “the Law”, “slaves”, “sacrifices”, “Old Testament references”, “clothing”, “military life”, etc.

Read through the Biblical text and note any reference to something that the Jewish people of that day would understand clearly, but which you and I would not be familiar with in the same depth. From your own opinion, determine the importance of these cultural topics in this Biblical text you are studying. Then, select four (4) which you would like to study in more detail. Refer to your course notebook or any research materials to gather more information about these cultural references. The data you are gathering here is not your opinion, but rather is to be taken from historical Biblical scholars who have studied and written on these cultural subjects.

The thirteenth method is THEOLOGICAL RESEARCH.

In this method you are to locate within the Biblical text you are studying certain of the major doctrines of our Christian faith. These include the doctrines of Christ, God the Father, Holy Spirit, Angels, Man, Sin, Salvation, the Scriptures, the Church, Future Events.

You will be expected to research three (3) doctrines. The Doctrine of Christ is required. Select two (2) of the remaining doctrines that each have five or more references. NOTE: If you choose to do a doctrine that has fewer than five references, then you must pick a fourth doctrine to study as well.

Read through the text and mark every mention of Jesus Christ. He could be referred to by “Christ Jesus”, “Jesus Christ”, “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Lord Jesus Christ”, “Lord”, “He”, “Him”, “His”, etc. Feel free to combine the facts into groups, such as, His Nature, His Works, or His Attributes. Next, select the two other doctrines and find references to them in the Biblical text.

The fourteenth method is WORD STUDY.

You will be assigned a certain word in this Biblical text. Your overall objective is to see how the word is used throughout the New Testament, and then to consolidate your data into a good and accurate definition of that word.

  • The first step is to look in The Word Study New Testament. (A copy of the appropriate page has been included in your course notebook.) You will notice a small number under the word you are looking for. That number is the same number used for that word in the Strong’s Concordance.
  • Next, refer to The Word Study Concordance. (A copy of the appropriate page has been included in your course notebook.) Look for the same number that was under the word in the other book. This number is not the page number. The word number is in a column with a listing of Biblical verses under it. This listing of verses represents all the places in the New Testament where this very same Greek word is used. It is important that we study how the same Greek word was used by the different Biblical writers.
  • The third step is to write questions about this word using “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how”. The answers to the questions will come from the verses you have written out. For instance, if the word you were studying was “holy”, you would make questions like this: who is supposed to be holy, what is holiness, when are we to be holy, where are we to be holy, why should we be holy, how can we be holy? Your questions will vary from these.Then, Look through your list of verses and find the answers to these questions.
  • The forth step, look up the word meaning in The Strong’s Concordance, and Vine’s Expository Dictionary. (Copies of the appropriate pages are provided in your course notebook.)
  • Fifth, review all you have learned about the meaning of this word. Write all your findings, including a good definition.
The fifteenth method is CONNECTING WORDS.

The Greek connecting words you will study here are mostly the same as the conjunctions in English grammar. We will concentrate on the following Greek connectors:
 (“and”)
 (“but”)
 (“for” = explanation follows)
‘ (“so that” = purpose follows)
and  (“according to” = cause & effect).

Refer to The NKJV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament. (The appropriate pages have been included in your course notebook.) Start reading through those pages looking for & marking the “” connectors. Only look in chapters 1 & 2 of the Biblical text you are studying. When you find one, look at the word or phrase before the “”, and the word or phrase after it. Record that data. After you have completed your search and your recording, select one of the “”’s. Write an explanation on how this connecting word helped you better understand the meaning of this text.

Use the same procedure described above to find & analyze the remaining four Greek connectors.

The sixteenth method is FIGURES OF SPEECH.

There are a variety of figures of speech used by the Biblical writers when they used the Hebrew or the Greek languages. This study will only involve two comparative figures of speech, simile & metaphor as they appear in the New Testament.

Many times, it is necessary to compare something that is hard to understand with something that is well known. For instance, the author may choose to paint a picture of something difficult by using a comparative figure of speech to make it clearer or more powerful. If the text says, “God is strong”, we understand it, but it is a rather simple fact. If the text says, “God is like a rock” or “God is my rock”, that simple fact suddenly receives description and depth so it has more impact on us. That was what the author intended.

A simile is a comparison of two items using the words “as” or “like”. “God’s Word is as gold”, or “God is like a fortress”. Find all the similes you can find in the Biblical text, and record your findings. Pick one simile & explain how it helped you better understand the Biblical text.

A metaphor is a comparison of two items without using the words “as” or “like”. The author is still comparing two or more items, but he does not use the comparison words. Many times, there is just a form of the word “to be” in between the items being compared.

Metaphors could be “God’s Word is gold”, “God is my fortress”. “Jesus is my rock”, etc. Find all the metaphors you can find in the Biblical text, and record your findings (verse and phrase containing the comparison). Pick one metaphor and explain how it helped you better understand the Biblical text.

The seventeenth method is DEVOTIONAL.

APPLICATION: This activity is a daily devotional exercise using this same Biblical text. Read two verses each day. Your objective is two-fold: determine the interpretation (actual meaning & content) of those verses, and then apply the usefulness of these verses to your own life.

Record your devotional activity. Allow enough time during the course to do this. You should either start this method at the beginning of the course, or begin it in excess of 30 days before the end of the course. DO NOT wait until the last minute and miss out on the benefits of this method in God’s Word.

The eighteenth method is BOOK SUMMARY.

All the previous seventeen methods must be completed before you can fill in the two summary charts that will be provided. An abridged version of all the research you have done in this course with this Biblical text will now be recorded. You will be able to see the variety of facts that you have learned and researched in this book of the Bible.


The nineteenth, and final method, is the ESSAY.

Write a 3-5 page essay covering the following two points:

    • How has the study of this book enhanced my walk with the Lord and improved my personal integrity
    • How has the study of this book equipped me to effectively minister to other people. Be Honest!

All five of these courses are required to complete the Bible Study Methods Certificate Program. They represent 15 units of college credit.

Advanced Bible Study Methods:

After all five Bible Study Methods courses mentioned above are completed, along with some other character development courses, two Advanced Bible Study Methods courses are required.

These courses are done in Philippians, and Colossians and involve more book outlining and translation comparisons, focusing on word studies. Ten Bible study methods are utilized. After 60 individual word studies are done, they paraphrase the entire book in their own words.

These two courses represent 6 units of college credit.

Character, Integrity and Leadership development courses

There are five courses required that concentrate on personal character & integrity, and on leadership preparation.

Attitudes: A Step to Real Success.

This course covers two topics: what to do with failure, and what factors affect our attitudes.

They teach us to look at our mistakes as temporary and in the past, and not as a lifetime indictment of worthlessness. The goal is to begin the journey of learning to like ourselves, starting where we are.

This is a 1 unit course.

Healthy Relationships.

There are four relationships that men need to concentrate on:

  • Their families of origin,
  • Other men
  • Wives or the women in their lives
  • Their children.

Many of our past relationships have failed or experienced severe and unresolved pain. This course provides strategies to deal with or repair those broken relationships.

The course also covers the need to promote current healthy friendships with those that are involved in our lives right now. Unresolved relationship pain or current relationship strain affect our ability to function from day to day, and restrict our abilities to lead others.

This is a 1 unit course.

Equipping: Finding & Making Disciples.

Find an individual not already a student with the college, and asked them to join in studying together for 11 weeks. This course comes after completion of a minimum of two Bible study methods courses and either Attitudes or Healthy Relationships.

The contents of the course involves:

  • Performing 10 Bible study methods in the letter of 2 John
  • Participating in an presentation about the Doctrine of the Scriptures (student teaches the new-comer)
  • Learning how to present your personal Christian testimony in writing as well as orally.

This is good old-fashioned “disciplining. Many of these new-comers choose to enroll in our college after completing this “Equipping” course.

This is worth 1 unit of college credit.

Leadership preparation:

  • Preparation For Leadership 1 ( 3 units, 11 week course)
  • Preparation For Leadership 2, (4 units, up to 24 week course)
  • Facilitator Skills (3 units, up to six month course)
Preparation For Leadership 1
  • Covers the ten major doctrines of our Christian faith
  • the development of the student’s personal testimony in writing and orally
  • The analysis and understanding of spiritual gifts.
Preparation For Leadership 2
  • Moral Purity – A Biblical Investigation
  • The Battles Every Man Faces
  • Freedom From Sexual Strongholds
  • Dealing With Shame.
Facilitator Skills
  • Teaching other men the purpose and workings of the entire Bible study methods curriculum (either 4 men in a small group or an entire class).
  • Methods teaching; explaining each of the 19 methods to other men (either 4 men in a small group or an entire class).
  • Church participation activity requires the students to be actively involved in their church programming, and to document their attendance and participation.
  • Homiletics project requires the students to give three additional 15-minute oral devotionals before an audience on the following three subjects: your personal testimony, a biographical sketch, and the plan of salvation.

These three classes are worth 10 units of credit