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Hebrew and Greek Word Studies Part 1

Meet your Inductive Bible Study Instructor

Joan Davis

Review of the Inductive Study Process:

Observation – we read the text over and over to see what it says. At this point we will have more questions than answers!

Interpretation – We do the work needed to understand the meaning of the text. This is where word studies come in to help us.

Application – This is where we allow the Holy Spirit to show us how the truth, which we learned in the Observation and Interpretation work we did, applies to our lives.

In every part of Inductive Bible Study, context rules in interpretation. We cannot accurately handle God’s Word if we are lifting a verse here and a verse there out of context and trying to apply it to our lives.

Also be aware that Observation, Interpretation and Application are not really separate steps, but rather a flowing process where all three can be happening at the same time. There are different tools that help with each part. Marking key words for example, help us with observation, as does doing a structural analysis of the text. Word studies, cross references and commentaries help us with interpretation. Application happens as we keep asking God to show us how the text that we’ve observed and interpreted applies to our lives.


Words are the building blocks of language and communication. We use them to express meaning in writing and in conversation. It is important to be aware that words rarely have a precise meaning – rather they have a range of meaning depending on the context. Words also change meaning over time so it can be very helpful to understand what a word meant in the time in which it was used. For example, the King James translation uses the term “bowels” very differently than we would.

In Song of Solomon 5:4 the KJV says “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.”

In the NASB it says “My beloved extended his hand through the opening,
And my feelings were aroused for him.”

That one completely cracks me up (sorry, we nurses see funny in strange ways). Very different meaning because of how language and word meanings change over time. But if you were to interpret the KJV based on modern English, you would completely misunderstand that passage.

So before we begin looking at individual words in a passage, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, we must establish the context in which those words are used. That is where doing the initial work of observation is important. We need to see the context or setting of the entire book by doing an overview. Then we narrow our focus to understanding the context of a chapter and then a paragraph. At that level, we are ready to begin doing our word studies.

Coming up in the next post will be some dangers and cautions we need to be aware of in doing word studies.


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