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Anyone looking for a more in-depth way to study the Bible can benefit from a topical Bible study. This approach allows you to zero in on any topic of your choosing and dive deep into what God has to say about it. In just ten easy steps, you can be on your way to learning everything there is to know about any topic from the Bible!
The importance of studying the Bible cannot be overstated. Learning how to read and effectively apply what you’re learning is critical for your growth in faith and relationship with God, no matter which method or type, or type of study you choose! In addition, the topical Bible study allows you to grow in your knowledge of God’s plan for handling the circumstances you face.
You can also study with the topical Bible study if you are curious about what God says about a particular topic.
However, studying the bible with the topical Bible study method is an excellent way to focus on a particular subject. It allows you to align your heart with the Lord’s and truly understand the topic.
Keep reading for your complete guide to doing topical bible studies.
What are Topical Bible Studies?
We all experience different seasons in our lives, and it’s essential for us as believers to be consistent with studying the word of God. This consistency helps push into His heart when we need Him. Topical Bible studies will help you focus on questions and insights about God’s character and plans for our lives. A topical Bible study is the perfect way to focus on Him and His Word during these seasons of our lives.
What Does a “topical Bible study” mean?
Topical studies are a great way to get deeper into the Word of God. Topically studying different topics can help you apply what has been read and taught throughout scripture and open your mind up for new understanding! It involves meditating on scripture specific to a word, phrase, problem, or thought.
The most common way to start a topical bible study is by asking, “What does the Bible say about _____?” It is an excellent question because it leads even the newest believer on an exciting journey of studying and understanding God’s word. Any meaningful time spent studying scripture will be rewarding.
How to do a Topical Bible Study
Pray for Understanding What God is Telling You Through His Word
Preparing yourself beforehand is the best way to get the most out of your topical Bible study. The first step is to pray. Pray for guidance, understanding, clarity, and confessing sin. Prayer is essential to growing our knowledge and love for God. Prayer helps us connect with Him so that we can gain an understanding of His will for us. We need to pray not just for knowledge but for our obedience, too.
The Bible is a dynamic book with countless mysteries on each page. Prayer is imperative for understanding application. Pray before diving into any study of the Bible that you have the wisdom and insight to see truths hidden within God’s Word.
Prayer is the one simple yet critical thing you can do to make your bible study time more effective.
2. Select a Topic to Study
You are about to embark on a journey of discovery in His Word, so you must have an idea in mind before starting. Therefore, before you begin, ask God what He would have you study.
Interest often leads to a deeper study of the subject. For example, a sermon can spark interest in something that was never on your radar. Or, you might choose the topic for your topical Bible study based on circumstances in your life or because you want to learn what the Bible says about current events.
The options for your topical bible study are as limitless and diverse as the topics themselves. You can begin a topical Bible study with this simple technique. All you need to do is ask yourself, “What does scripture say about ____?”
Your topic can be as simple as faith, love, war, or knowledge.
What should you study? The hardest part about topical studies is deciding what to focus your topical Bible study on. Which one will you choose? There are so many good ones! To help get started, here is a partial list of topics.
3. Select a List of Verses to Study Surrounding Your Chosen Topic
When looking for a list of verses on the topic you are interested in, it is easy with a concordance or just by doing some Google searches. In addition, I publish a monthly Bible Reading/Writing plan each month that is focused on a different topic in the Bible.
The number of verses you use for your topical Bible study depends on the topic and your preference. However, a good starting point would be 10-20 Bible verses.
You may find yourself including additional bible verses when studying a particular subject. This will help you to get an understanding of what God says about that specific topic.
You’ve got a long list of verses you want to study, and pick the most important, appropriate ones for your topic. Then, you’ll spend time reading closely to learn and explore the context.
4. Gather Needed Reference Materials
The study of the Bible is about understanding God’s message and an opportunity for spiritual growth. So you’ll want something to write with and on, plus a Bible.
These supplies are designed to dive deeper into your study and understand what these words mean.
I use several other supplies. Some of my favorites are below.
- Bible concordance
- (I prefer Strong’s Concordance)
- Multiple Bible translations
- (You can use physical Bibles in different translations if you have them, or use an online tool such as Bible Gateway).
- Original Bible Language apps
- (such as Blue Letter Bible)
- Colored pencils
- (I color-code words and verses in my Bible or on my worksheet – below)
- A journal or notebook and/or the Topical Bible Study Worksheet
- (I use a journal as I like to take quite a few notes, verse map, and write out prayers based on my study).
5. Look up Verses Using a Concordance and Your Bible
Use any of the many available concordances (either physical or online), not just one found in your Bible. An exhaustive concordance will give you every occurrence of this word in scripture and its variations.
If you want to be really accurate, I suggest looking up your references in a literal translation, such as the King James Version or New American Standard Bible. The New King James Version or the English Standard Versions are also good choices. The Living Bible, The Message, and other more dynamic translations are suitable for studying, but you should use a literal one if your goal is to find useful passages.
Limiting your study to one book or section of Scripture can help you focus on the essential material. This will allow for more productive studying and less overwhelming in what could be an overwhelming experience. For example, consider studying the prophecies of Christ in Isaiah, miracles in the gospels, or praise in the Psalms.
This is where you take notes from the verses you have been studying. It’s important to note what each verse says because, for them to be most helpful, we need some context about how these passages can apply specifically to our lives!
Your goal is to get an idea of what each verse says to eliminate the less helpful verses and choose the most beneficial in the next step.
6. Study the Context of Each Bible Verse
To understand the passage better, it’s crucial to get an overview of where we are and what this whole chapter is about. The best way to understand the passage is by reading it in context by reading the surrounding scripture, paragraphs, or chapter.
The next step is to put people, places, and things connected with the verse in place. Then, you can ask yourself questions such as “who’s talking?” or “to whom are they speaking?”.
When we grasp the who, what and where of a verse in scripture, it can help us understand why God felt this was important enough to include within His Word. Understanding scripture without any prior beliefs or preferences ensures an unbiased approach.
7. Dive Into the Verse
Diving into the verse in question, it is important to break down each word and ensure you understand it. The best way to do this is by looking at the word in the original language.
What a great way to get into the heart of God’s word! I love using Blue Letter Bible because it lets me go word-for-word through every passage and see what Greek or Hebrew translation was used in the original text.
Reading the original text makes it easier for your mind to grasp hidden promises and understandings sometimes lost in a more recent translation.
8. Continue for Each Verse
The more you continue this process for each of the scriptures in your list, the more the themes and correlations between them will become clear. Make sure you take note of these connections because they will help when we start the final step in our topical bible study.
9. Ask Questions About the Verse
This is an essential step and will impact your study the most, so take some time here.
The questions need to be focused on what you want to know.
Consider who was speaking, to whom they were talking, and why they were saying what they were. How does this apply to you today?
You may also want to consider when they were speaking, what the main topic of the verse is about, and what was happening in Bible history during the time the verse was written.
Additionally, consider any changes you need to make related to this topic and if any of God’s promises are hidden in the verse.
10. Summarize your Findings on Your Topical Bible Study
There is no one right way to do this. You’ve studied the verses, asked the questions, and now summarize the meaning and lessons of the verse in a paragraph or two.
You may also wish to write a prayer to God related to the topical Bible study you have just completed.
I’ve created an easy one-sheet Topical Bible study worksheet to get you started today. Just click on the image below to download and print.
You may enjoy this video by The Beat by Alan Parr on HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE BY TOPIC | STEP-BY-STEP
Topical Bible Study Plans
When you’re looking for a way to get started, it’s helpful that there are topical Bible studies already prepared. These plans usually include lists of scriptures related to your selected topic, and they will give your study topics an easy start!
The Bible is a book that has been written with immense insight and wisdom. It’s not just an account or story but contains timeless messages that can be applied today in every aspect of life!
You can find topical studies by going on any number of sites online with topical Bible studies ready for you to offer helpful insights into what these passages mean specifically for your situation right now:
- Undoubted Grace
- Bible One
- The Creator’s Classroom
- Topical Bible Study Lessons
- Megan Allen Ministries
- Susan L Davis Ministries
- The Bible Project
I’ve also created a list to get you started. Just click on the image below to download and print topical Bible study ideas you can study today.
Topical bible studies will help you grow in so many ways. First, they give us confidence and understanding of what God has planned for our lives, leaving us with steps we can take immediately to make changes based on his word!
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So, what are topical Bible studies? A topical Bible study is a great way to dive deep into a specific topic using Scripture as your guide. This study can be done on your own or with a group of friends.
If you’re feeling adventurous, here are some ideas for topical Bible studies that might interest you: How does the Bible speak to current events? What does the book of Revelation say about the end times? How do I find hope in difficult times? Are there biblical principles for financial prosperity?
These are just a few examples – get creative and let the Scriptures lead you where they will! Have you tried doing a topical Bible study before? What was your experience like? Leave us a comment and let us know.