Tools for Topical Bible Study
A study Bible
An Exhaustive Concordance
A topical Bible
A set of studies
What is a Topical Bible Study?
Definition: Searching through the Bible to determine what the Bible teaches about a certain topic is called a topical Bible study. You can limit the scope of your topical Bible study to a single Book, to the works of a single author, to one testament, or you may extend it to the entire Bible. Here is what some Bible scholars say about a topical Bible study.
“I have found that subject analysis is the best way to learn the word of God” Dr. Tim Lahaye. (subject analysis is another name for topical bible study).
“It is perhaps the most fascinating if of all the methods. The only way to master any topic is to go through the Bible and find what is has to teach on that topic. Almost any great subject will take a remarkable hold upon the heart of a Christian, if you will time to go through the Bible, from Genesis to revelation, and note what it has to say on that topic. You will have a more full and more correct understanding of that topic than you ever had before.” Dr. R. A. Torrey
Advantages of using the Topical Bible Study Method.
– It alloys us to thoroughly study God’s word on a particular topic of choice.
Disadvantages of using the Topical Bible Study Method.
– You cannot get a thorough, well-rounded knowledge of the Bible by only using this method. There is really no single method that can offer you a well-rounded understanding of the Bible. So a good student of the Bible must use multiple methods. There is some abuse of this method by people who choose it to be the only method they use to study the Bible.
Things to do to carry out a good Topical Bible Study
1) Be thorough: Find every passage in the Bible that has something to say about the topic. A concordance, a Topical Bible, and searching for synonyms and antonyms will allow you find every passage in the Bible on that topic.
2) Pursue Accuracy: Seek to find the exact meaning of every passage. Remember that context is King in interpreting the Bible.
3) Be Organized: You may be working with a lot of passages. In order to be able to do good work, you must organize the information in a systematic and logical way. When you have collected the information and start reviewing it, you will see that some of the passages go together nicely. So group them together and arrange your work logically.
Procedure for doing a topical Bible Study.
Step 1. Chose a topic for study. Chose a topic that you are interested in or need more information on. Avoid only study topics that you particularly like. Try to be balance with your topics by also studying topics that you think are important to give you a comprehensive understanding of God’s word.
Step 2. Make a list of related words. Write down synonyms (and antonyms if any) of the word you want to study. E.g. If you want to study prayer, you will also list other forms of the word prayer such as pray, praying and also words like cry, ask, call, looked up to heaven, intercession, supplication etc. List antonyms if you can think of any. Be careful to list only words that are related to your topic.
Step 3. Look up Bible references to your topic. Use a concordance and a topical Bible to look up references to both your original word and all the related words you listed in step 2 above. Write down each verse or passage that you have looked up. Note that no topical Bible will have all the verses on a particular topic, so you need to use a concordance. Some of the words will be added to your list as you study.
Step 4. Read each passage over an over in a contemporary translation. Ask observational questions (5Ws , 1 H)
Step 5. Study Each Reference Carefully. Take the list of verses you have created above and carefully study each verse or passage in detail. Do a passage analysis on each of the passages. You will need to read each passage over and over. Please review the passage analysis method. Then make sure you understand each word in there. You cannot be sure that you understand the meaning of a verse unless you understand the meaning of each word in it. Remember to read every passage in context. If you have learned more about any passage that you need to do further cross-referencing, then do it.
Step 6. Write down your observations. Be sure that your observations are written accurately and reflect the context of the passages. Your observations could be a summary of the passage, the meaning of important words, or other insights about why the passage. Also write down questions on things you don’t understand about the passage. Then consult a commentary or other resource to get help on the questions.
Step 7. Categorize and Group. In this step, you need to group your scripture references under appropriate subtopics. You may be working with a lot of information. The key to doing good work is proper organization of your work. After studying and writing down your observations in steps 3 and 4, you will notice that some of the information belong together. Group these similar or related verses together in a logical fashion and make it a subtopic. Include several subtopics under the main topics. Each subtopic would contain the list of references to the verses that support that subtopic.
Step 8. Make an Outline. Proceed to make an outline with the information you categorized above. This could be used later in teaching or in sharing what you’ve learned with others.
Step 9. Summarize the outline. Condense what you have learned into a short passage. The outline is good in that it provides an overview of what you have learned but the summary helps you to be able to state what you have learned in a few words.
Step 10. Apply what you have learned. Write down several ways you can apply what you have learned to your self. Choose one of those ways and focus on it. Don’t try to bite too much by trying to make many changes at once.
Remember to “See one, Do one, Teach One”. That is, you learn something in the scriptures (see), then you start doing it yourself, then you teach others to do it. Jesus says a person who does both (doing and teaching) will be called great in the Kingdom of God.