Bible Study Questions for Interpreting Old Testament Narrative


Old Testament narratives describe the creation and fall of man, the background of God’s chosen people, and anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Much of the Old Testament story is told as a story in narrative form–in fact over forty percent of the Old Testament is narrative.

While some passages are easier to interpret than others, other passages leave readers scratching their heads.

“What do Israel’s kings have to do with my life?” “How does the book of Nehemiah point us to Christ?” “Why should I care about the Hittites!?”

Questions like these abound and sadly cause many to skip reading the Old Testament. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, all of Scripture is God-breathed and useful. But just as we read novels differently than the newspaper, we should approach each biblical genre in a different way to best understand and apply them the way God desires.

In the appendix of the book One to One Bible Reading, David Helm shares the following basic questions for studying Old Testament narratives. We pray they would be a tool in your Bible reading tool box that can help you be transformed by the riches of God’s Word!

• What has happened so far in the narrative? Have there been any major events, characters or
• What has happened just prior to the section you are reading?

• What do you learn about the main characters in this section? How does the author describe
them? How do they describe themselves?
• Is time or place significant in the events that happen in the passage?
• Is there a conflict or high point in the passage?
• Do you think there is a main point or theme in this section of the story?
• What surprises are there?

• Are there any ‘editorial’ comments from the author about the events in the narrative? How do
these comments illuminate what is happening?
• Does someone in the narrative learn something or grow in some way? How? What does this
person learn?
• How does the passage point forward to what God is going to do in the future? Does it prophesy
or anticipate Jesus Christ in some way?
• How could you sum up the meaning of this passage in your own words?

• How does this passage challenge your understanding about who God is and what he is like?
• Is there some attitude or behavior you need to change?

Related Resource: Bible Study Questions for the Gospels and Acts

one-to-one-bible-reading-book-review-summary-questions-193x300Leadership Resources International seeks to train pastors and church leaders worldwide to study the Word of God in depth using a variety of hermeneutical principles. Learn more about our Training National Trainers Program or how you can help the worldwide spread of God’s Word!

Download a PDF of these questions and the rest of the COMA questions from the book One to One Bible Reading. Used with permission from Matthias Media.

Author: Kevin Halloran

Leadership Resources

Leadership Resources exists to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s word with God’s heart. Learn more about our work, our approach, and see how your church can make a worldwide difference with God's Word.