the bible study framework

The Bible Study Framework (BSF) is a simple Bible study tool. Its goal is to aid the serious Bible student by following a repeatable process that ultimately supports a ‘Scripture interprets Scripture‘ approach, otherwise known as Sola Scriptoria. The BSF is not especially unique. Charlie Brackett, in his book “Bible Study for Joy and Profit” advocates something similar and develops it directly from the encounter between Jesus and the lawyer in Luke 10:25-28.

bible study simplified

Bible study can be hard and certain passages confusing. Understanding where to start and how to condense it down can be a challenge. The Bible Study Framework goes a long way to solving that difficulty. Adapted from the same technique that Jesus used with the lawyer in Luke 10 and with Satan in Matthew 4, it forms the basis for the exegesis of scripture on this site.

…enter the scripture-block

In a pattern used by Jesus, the Bible Study Framework simply asks three questions for any passage. After doing your best to honestly answer each question, you end up with what we call a ‘scripture-block’.

These are the literal building blocks that form every answer on this site. There are more than 750 passages currently exegeted in this way and applied to questions asked here.

Jesus acknowledged this first step in understanding Scripture.  “Have you not read?” is what He asked those challenging Him (

Matthew 19:4-5
) and it was his expectation of the lawyer (
Luke 10:25-26
).  We have to read what’s written!

For our scripture-blocks, we pull the text directly from the ESV and try to keep it to 1-2 verses or at least a complete sentence.

Somewhere between the two questions Jesus asked the lawyer (“What is written in the law?” and “How do you read it?”), was the need for the lawyer to understand what he had read (i.e. restate it). We try to be careful here not to inject any commentary or any “think-sos” but rather simply restate what the passage is saying.  Maybe it’s reorganizing it grammatically. Or maybe it’s using modern-day terminology. This is usually pretty simple, but sometimes can be tricky to simply state what it actually says without interpreting it.

This is implied in Jesus’ encounters with the lawyer and Satan.  It’s what the lawyer did right and Satan did wrong. Here we want to consider the immediate context of the passage. It may be accomplished with surrounding verses.  However, sometimes it’s necessary to consider the chapter, surrounding chapters, or maybe the entire book is important to consider for proper context. This may be the most critical part of getting to an accurate application.

When mulitple, applicable scripture-blocks are applied, we do our best to allow scripture to interpret scripture without scripture weighting.

Bible Study Applied

Once you have the relevant scripture-block(s), you’re ready to formulate a Bible-based answer to the question.

How does it inform? The passage was picked for a reason; we “thought” it applied. But based on the context, does it really and how? This can be the most dangerous part of getting to an accurate interpretation.

Does it apply? This is usually a simple “Yes” or a “No”. However, sometimes we can’t be sure of its application with just the passage alone. Therefore, it could be a “Somewhat” or “Not exactly” or “Possibly”. In these cases, we don’t want to jump to a conclusion and apply that passage without first weighing its applicability in light of the other passages. A good example of this is with prophecy, where an inspired writer has not interpreted for us. This is, yet again, Scripture interpreting Scripture in practice.

letting scripture interpret scripture

Together with scripture-blocks, following our “any, only, all” rule is the only way we know that a God-inspired interpretation of Scripture can happen. For any passage to be “in context” means we are looking at any Scripture, only Scripture and all the Scripture together.

You might be asking, “What could stand in the way of letting Scripture interpret Scripture?” Good question…

letting commentary interpret scripture

Man’s commentary, whether from internet posts or from published works (e.g. Barnes, Matthew Henry, etc.), should not be our source for interpretation. This includes the theology of our favorite pastor or preacher. These may be helpful at times, but “the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Pr 2:6).

letting culture interpret scripture

It seems for certain texts, particularly the Old Testament and in Paul’s letters, it’s popular to force a pre-requisite knowledge of “their time” in order to make an application. Sadly, this is used to marginalize or even remove completely any modern-day application. However, God’s word “endures forever” (Ps 119:160) and warns against anyone that “takes away” (Re 22:18-19).

letting vocabulary interpret scripture

Vocabulary is vital to communication. “Word-studies” and knowing words in their original Hebrew or Greek language can be helpful to understand a passage better. However, the ultimate definition belongs to God, not to man. “Words not taught by human wisdom” (1 Co 2:13). Scripture defines words like “joy”, “fear”, “glory”, “fellowship“, and “love” very differently from Webster or Vines.

letting think-sos interpret scripture

What we “think” can be shaped by lots of things including tradition and dogma/doctrine. In fact, tradition and doctrine form the very basis for what we believe and practice. It’s here where what we “think” (or “feel”) has no place…and this may be the hardest to decouple from letting scripture – and only scripture – shape our understanding of God’s will for us.

To be clear, none of these are wrong in and of themselves. Knowing the cultural norms in which Jesus lived can enrich our understanding of His walk on earth. Paul commends the Christians in Corinth for how they were, “maintain[ing] the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Co 11:2). However, drawing conclusions and making applications about Scripture based on any one of these is to do so without God’s authority and potentially to our own eternal peril.