To get you started reading the Bible one-to-one, what follows is a simple method of Bible study called the COMA method. COMA studies a Bible passage in four steps: Context, Observation, Meaning, and Application. To study a Bible passage in this way, simply ask and answer together a few questions corresponding to each step. Note that not all questions apply to every Bible passage, and that you don’t need to ask every one of these questions—even just one or two per step!
“Context” refers to the “surroundings” or background of the passage and the circumstances in which it was written. Context questions include queries like: Who wrote the passage? Why was it written, and to whom? What is the literary “genre” of the passage—history, poetry, a letter, law, etc., and how should we read it? What happens in the chapter or section immediately before, and after, the passage you’re reading? Are there any themes or ideas that connect the passage you’re reading to the rest of the book?
“Observation” means carefully examining the passage you’re reading. Observation questions include queries like: Is there any structure or arrangement to the passage? Is there any repetition or comparison or contrast? Are there key words or phrases in the text? Does anything surprise you or stick out somehow? Are there characters and what do they do or say? What theological terms used and what do they mean?
“Meaning” refers to the main point or idea that the original human author wanted his original audience to understand in a particular text. Meaning questions include queries like: How does the passage describe, point to, or refer back to Jesus Christ? What is the reader supposed to learn about God from the passage? If you could sum up the main point of the writer in a sentence, what would you say?
“Application” refers to how the reader is supposed to respond to the text. Application questions include queries like: Does this passage challenge or confirm my beliefs? Is there an attitude or assumption I must change? Are there any changes to my actions or the way I live being urged by the passage? Is there a promise that I should be believing or an attribute of God’s nature that I should be trusting?