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Method 5 - The Biographical Method of Bible Study

Author's Bias: Interpretation: conservative
Inclination: dispensational
Seminary: Ontario Bible College (Tyndale)

Welcome to the Biographical Method. Please see my note, (Peter Rhebergen):

5.1 - Tools

5.1.1 - Bible

5.1.2 - Exhaustive and/or biographical concordance

5.1.3 - Topical Bible

5.1.4 - Bible dictionary or encyclopedia

5.2 - Hints

5.2.1 - Remember that the person will often be referred to by means other than his/her proper name in many passages.

5.3 - Steps

Step 1 - Choose an individual from the Bible for your study. See the list below for a selection of persons from the Bible.

Step 2 - List all references concerning that person. A concordance will help if the person is referred to in the Bible by their proper name, but you may also wish to look for ambiguous references to the person (ie: Pharaoh’s wife or the son of Zebedee).

Step 3 - Note your first impression of the person after your first reading of the passages.

Step 4 - Make a chronological outline of the person's life after your second reading.

Step 5 - Obtain some insights into the person after your third reading.

Step 6 - Identify some character qualities after your fourth reading.

Step 7 - Show how some other Bible truths are illustrated in this person's life.

Step 8 - Summarize the main lesson(s) you have learned.

Step 9 - Write out a personal application.

Step 10 - Make your study transferable.

Step 11 - Note someone with whom you will share the results of this study and commit yourself to doing this.

A Partial List of Biblical People

The three following lists include some of the major men of the Bible, the minor but important men of the Bible, and the prominent women of the Bible.

Major Men of the Bible

  1. Abraham
  2. Daniel
  3. David
  4. Elijah
  5. Elisha
  6. Ezekiel
  1. Ezra
  2. Isaiah
  3. Isaac
  4. Jacob
  5. Jeremiah
  6. Jesus
  1. John - apostle
  2. Joseph - OT
  3. Joshua
  4. Moses
  5. Nehemiah
  6. Paul
  1. Peter
  2. Pharoah
  3. Samson
  4. Samuel
  5. Saul - OT
  6. Solomon

Minor but Important Men of the Bible

  1. Aaron
  2. Abel
  3. Abimelech
  4. Abner
  5. Absalom
  6. Achan
  7. Adam
  8. Ahab
  9. Ahithophel
  10. Amos
  11. Ananias
  12. Andrew
  13. Apollos
  14. Apostles – any
  1. Aquila
  2. Asa
  3. Balaam
  4. Barnabas
  5. Barzillai
  6. Caiaphas
  7. Caleb
  8. Eli
  9. Esau
  10. Gehazi
  11. Gideon
  12. Habakkuk
  13. Haggai
  14. Haman
  1. Herod
  2. Hezekiah
  3. Hosea
  4. Jabez
  5. James
  6. Jehoshaphat
  7. Jeroboam
  8. Joab
  9. Job
  10. John the Baptist
  11. Jonah
  12. Jonathan
  13. Judas Iscariot
  14. Judges - any
  1. Kings – any
  2. Laban
  3. Lot
  4. Luke
  5. Mark
  6. Matthew
  7. Melchizedek
  8. Mephibosheth
  9. Mordecai
  10. Naaman
  11. Nathan
  12. Noah
  13. Philemon
  14. Philip
  1. Pontius Pilate
  2. Prophets – any
  3. Rehoboam
  4. Shamgar
  5. Silas
  6. Stephen
  7. Timothy
  8. Titus
  9. Tychicus
  10. Uzziah
  11. Zechariah
  12. Zedekiah
  13. Zephaniah
  14. Zerubbabel

Prominent Women of the Bible

  1. Abigail
  2. Abishag
  3. Anna
  4. Bathsheba
  5. Deborah
  6. Delilah
  7. Dinah
  8. Dorcas
  1. Elizabeth
  2. Esther
  3. Eunice
  4. Eve
  5. Hagar
  6. Hannah
  7. Jezebel
  8. Jochebed
  1. Leah
  2. Lydia
  3. Martha
  4. Mary – Jesus’ mother
  5. Mary Magdalene
  6. Mary of Bethany
  7. Michal
  8. Miriam
  1. Naaman’s maid
  2. Naomi
  3. Priscilla
  4. Queen of Sheba
  5. Rachel
  6. Rahab
  7. Rebecca
  8. Ruth
  1. Sapphira
  2. Sarah
  3. The Shunammite
  4. Vashti
  5. Zipporah

General Questions for a Biographical Study

Here is a list of seventy questions you can use in constructing a biographical study. You shouldn’t try to use every question listed here in a single study. Depending on the depth of your study and the time you have, select the questions you would like to have answered. The questions are categorized into seven major divisions for easier use. As you think of other questions, add them to this list.

Reputation

1. Who wrote what we know about this person?

2. What did people say about him / her?

3. What did his enemies say about him / her?

4. What did his / her family (wife / husband, children, brothers, sisters, parents) say about him / her?

5. What did God say about him / her?

6. Why do you think God allowed this person to be mentioned in the Bible?

Tests of Character

1. What were his / her aims and motives?

2. What was he / she like in his home?

3. How did he / she respond to failure? Did he / she get discouraged easily?

4. How did he / she respond to adversity? Did he / she handle criticism well?

5. How did he / she respond to success? Did he / she get proud when praised?

6. How did he / she respond to the trivial and mundane things in life? Was he / she faithful in the little things?

7. How quickly did he / she praise God for the good/bad things that happened to him / her?

8. How quickly did he / she obey God when told to do something?

Background

1. What can you discover about his / her family and ancestry?

2. What does his / her name mean? Why was he / she given that name? Was it ever changed?

3. What was his / her home life like? How was he / she raised? Where was he / she raised?

4. What were the characteristics of his / her parents? Did they influence him / her?

5. Was there anything special about his / her birth?

6. Where did he / she live? What was his / her everyday life like?

7. Was he / she exposed to other cultures? Did they affect him/her in any way?

8. What was the condition of his / her country - politically and spiritually - during his / her lifetime?

9. What kind of training did he / she have? Did he / she have any schooling?

10. What was his / her occupation?

11. How long did he / she live? Where did he / she die? How did he / she die?

Significant Events

1. Was there any great crisis in his / her life? How did he / she handle it?

2. What are the great accomplishments for which he / she is remembered?

3. Did he / she experience a divine ‘call?’ How did he / she respond to it?

4. What crucial decisions did he / she have to make? How did they affect him / her? Others?

5. Did any recurring problem keep coming up in his / her life?

6. Where did he / she succeed? Where did he / she fail? Why?

7. How did the environment and circumstances affect him / her?

8. What part did he / she play in the history of God’s plan?

9. Did he / she believe in the sovereignty of God (God’s control over all events)?

Relationships

1. How did he / she get along with other people? Was he / she a loner? Was he / she a team person?

2. How did he / she treat other people? Did he / she use them of serve them?

3. What was his / her wife / husband like? How did she / he influence him/her / her?

4. What were his / her children like? How did they influence him / her?

5. Who were his / her close companions? What were they like? How did they influence him / her?

6. Who were his / her enemies? What were they like? How did they influence him / her?

7. What influence did he / she have on others? On his nation? On other nations?

8. Did he / she take care of his family? How did his / her children turn out?

9. Did his / her friends and family help or hinder him / her in serving the Lord?

10. Did he / she train anyone to take his place? Did he / she leave a "Timothy" (disciple) behind?

Personality

1. What type of person was he / she? What made him / her the way he / she was?

2. Was his / her temperament choleric, melancholic, sanguine, or phlegmatic?

3. What were the outstanding strengths in his/her character? What traits did he/she have?

4. Did his / her life show any development of character as time passed? Was there growth and progression there?

5. What were his / her particular faults and weaknesses?

6. What were his / her particular sins? What steps led to those sins?

7. In what area was his / her greatest battle: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, or pride of life, etc.?

8. What were the results of his / her sins and weaknesses?

9. Did he / she ever get the victory over his particular sins and weaknesses?

10. What qualities made him / her a success or failure?

A List of Positive Character Qualities to Find

  1. A Servant
  2. Agreeableness
  3. Balance
  4. Boldness
  5. Bravery
  6. Calmness
  7. Carefulness
  8. Cautiousness
  9. Characterized by the Beatitudes
  10. Chasteness
  11. Cheerfulness
  12. Cleanliness
  13. Compassionate
  14. Confidence
  15. Consideration
  16. Contentedness
  17. Courageousness
  1. Courteousness
  2. Creativity
  3. Dedication
  4. Deference
  5. Dependability
  6. Determinate
  7. Diligence
  8. Discernment
  9. Discipline
  10. Discreetness
  11. Durableness
  12. Earnestness
  13. Energy
  14. Enthusiasm
  15. Fairness
  16. Faithfulness
  17. Flexibleness
  1. Forgiveness
  2. Generosity
  3. Gentleness
  4. Good Stewardship
  5. Gratefulness
  6. Honesty
  7. Humbleness
  8. Independence
  9. Industry
  10. Integrity
  11. Kindness
  12. Lovingness
  13. Loyalty
  14. Man of faith
  15. Meekness
  16. Mercifulness
  17. Moderateness
  1. Modesty
  2. Obedienc
  3. Observer
  4. Optimism
  5. Orderliness
  6. Patience
  7. Peacemaking
  8. Perspective
  9. Positiveness
  10. Pureness
  11. Quietness
  12. Resourcefulness
  13. Respectfulness
  14. Reverence
  15. Righteousness
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Self-control
  1. Self-denying
  2. Self-giving
  3. Sense of Humor
  4. Sensitivity
  5. Sincerity
  6. Stableness
  7. Submissiveness
  8. Sympathy
  9. Thankfulness
  10. Thriftiness
  11. Tolerance
  12. Trustworthiness
  13. Uncomplaining
  14. Uncompromising
  15. Wholeheartedness
  16. Wisdom
  17. Zealousness

A List of Negative Character Qualities to Find

  1. A Busybody
  2. A Cop out
  3. A Doubter
  4. A Drunkard
  5. A Liar
  6. A Sluggard
  7. A Worrier
  8. Adulterous
  9. Angry Without Cause
  10. Annoying
  11. Apathetic
  12. Apostate
  13. Argumentative
  14. Arrogant
  15. Ashamed of Christ
  16. Backbiter
  17. Bigoted
  18. Bitter
  19. Blasphemous
  20. Boastful
  21. Callous
  22. Careless
  1. Coarse
  2. Complaining
  3. Compromising
  4. Conceited
  5. Covetous
  6. Cowardly
  7. Crafty / Sly
  8. Cruel
  9. Deceitful
  10. Dishones
  11. Disobedient
  12. Disrespectful
  13. Doctrinally Off
  14. Dogmatic
  15. Double-minded
  16. Envious
  17. Fears Men
  18. Fickle
  19. Flatterer
  20. Foolish
  21. Forgets God
  22. Fornicator
  23. Friend of the World
  1. Gluttonous
  2. Gossiper
  3. Greedy
  4. Grudging
  5. Halfhearted
  6. Harsh
  7. Headstrong
  8. Humorless
  9. Hypocritical
  10. Idle
  11. Idolatrous
  12. Immodest
  13. Imoral
  14. Impolite
  15. Impulsive
  16. Independent spirit
  17. Indifferent
  18. Inhuman
  19. Insensitive
  20. Insulting
  21. Irritating
  22. Jealous
  1. Lazy
  2. Legalistic
  3. Libelous
  4. Loves Men's Praise
  5. Lukewarm
  6. Lusts for Power
  7. Malicious
  8. Manipulative
  9. Murmurer
  10. Negligent
  11. Prejudiced
  12. Presumptuous
  13. Procrastinator
  14. Profane
  15. Proud
  16. Rebellious
  17. Rejoices in Evil
  18. Reprobate
  19. Rude / Gross
  20. Sarcastic
  21. Scornful
  22. Selfish
  1. Sensual
  2. Shallow
  3. Shortsighted
  4. Slanderer
  5. Stingy
  6. Stubborn
  7. Talkative
  8. Tyrannical
  9. Unclean
  10. Undisciplined
  11. Unfair
  12. Unfaithful
  13. Unforgiving
  14. Ungrateful
  15. Unkind
  16. Unreliable
  17. Unsociable
  18. Vain
  19. Violent
  20. Wasteful
  21. Wavering
  22. Self-righteous
  23. Worldly

Chart for the Biographical Method of Bible study

1. Name of Bible Personality:

2. Scripture References:



4. Chronology (second reading):







3. First Impressions (first reading):



5. General Insights (third reading):



6. Character Qualities (fourth reading):



7. Illustrated Bible Truths:



8. Summary of Lessons Learned:



9. Personal Application/Evaluation:



10. Transferability Concepts:



11. Person to Share this Study with (and why):



Peter Rhebergen, was raised in a Christian home and currently attends Westney Heights Baptist Church with his family. He is a volunteer in several of its ministries and has served as assistant pastor, youth leader, adult Sunday School teacher and as pulpit supply at various churches and Bible Camps in Southern Ontario. He has been married since 1989 and together with his wife has three wonderful children who have introduced them to horses, hermit crabs and numerous other creatures they would not otherwise have met. He is an avid photographer and poet and has held a life-long interest in astronomy thanks to Psalm 19 and an uncle. You can visit's Peters website at www.EachNewDay.com.

Please ignore the copyright below that is generated automatically on each page. This material can be freely used by anyone desiring to bring honour to our God - Peter Rhebergen



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Series: Examples of Bible study methods (P. Rhebergen)
Chart 6 - The Topical Method of Bible Study

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Related subject:

Topical Index: Bible>Hermeneutics

Tools: Bible Hermeneutics

What is this reference: Bible Hermeneutics?

By author:

Author Index: Rhebergen, P


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