Method 5 - Biographical
Select a Bible character and research all the verses about that person in order to study his life and characteristics. Make notes on his/her attitudes, strengths, and weaknesses. Then apply what you have learned to your own life. With the Biographical Method of Bible Study, you select a biblical person and research the Scriptures to study his or her life and character. You try to become thoroughly acquainted with that person’s inner life and find out what made it a spiritual success or failure. Ask God to help you think and feel with him or her so that your study becomes a life-changing experience.
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 do 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
| || || || |
Minor but Important Men of the Bible
| || || || || |
Prominent Women of the Bible
| || || || ||Sapphira |
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.
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/ he 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?
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?
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)?
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 serving them?
3. What was his/her wife/husband like? How did she/he influence him/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? In 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?
1. What type of person was he/she? What made him/her the way he/she was?
2. Was his/her temperament, bad-tempered, depressed, optimistic, positive, unemotional, calm?
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: the lust of the flesh, the 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
| || || || || |
A List of Negative Character Qualities to Find
| || || || || |
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):