Tools for chapter overview

A study Bible with cross-references.
Contemporary translations.

The chapter overview involves reading a chapter repeatedly and applying the inductive Bible study approach of Observation, Interpretation, and Application to the chapter to obtain a summary of the chapter’s message and contents. With chapter overview, you don’t go as deep into the study as you would with chapter analysis.


Step 1. Observation

1. Choose a chapter that you would like to study. Our advice is that you study the Bible systematically and not randomly. So choose your chapter carefully. You could gradually apply this method to the entire book.

2. Read the chapter repeated without stopping. We advise reading it at least 8 times.

Read the first two times in your usual study Bible. We find the NASB and NKJV, word for word translations to be good for study.

Read the subsequent times in different contemporary translations. We find the NLT, Amplified, NIV, and other thought-for-thought translations to be helpful.

Read the last two times using your usual study Bible.

Some of the times,  you should read aloud so that your understanding may be enhanced by hearing.

Do not take notes when you read for the first few times. Also avoid using a bible that has notes written in it for this study because it may distract you and cause you to focus on the view point you had written in the past and not open yourself up for new revelation. We encourage people to make notes in a journal, not in the Bible.

Ask the basic observational questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how as you read through the text. This would help you be more thorough in your observation.

3.  When you read, observe and write answers to the following:

A key verse or sentence in the Chapter that summarizes the contents of the chapter.

What are the major characters in the chapter?

Write down any keywords (repeated words that are critical to the meaning of the chapter–If you take them out the chapter loses meaning).

We have said in other parts of this book that Christ is the subject of the entire Bible. From Genesis to revelation, the Bible is a revelation of Jesus Christ. So as you read, look for Christ, his character, his nature, his love in the pages of the Bible.

4.  Summarize the contents chapter. You can summarize by:

Outlining, or
Write down a bullet list of the major points of the chapter.

5. Give the chapter a brief descriptive tittle.

Step 2. Interpretation

1. Remember to read the passage in context.

2. Use your study Bible’s cross-reference to read up other passages of scriptures that are cross-referenced in your chapter.

3. Write down a bullet list of the major lessons of the chapter.

4. Write down any difficulties that you have encountered with the passage. You may consult a commentary for help later.

Step 3. Application

Select one of the lessons of the chapter and make it a SMART goal that you will apply to your self. SMART is an acrostic for making a goal that means
Specific: Your goal should be specific.
Measurable: You should be able to measure it and see if you have accomplished it.
Attainable: It should be something you can accomplish with God’s help.
Relevant: The goal should be personal and relevant to you.
Time-Bound: You should have a time attached to it so that you can check to see if you succeeded.