I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. Someone asks you what you think about a controversial topic, and you’re not sure how to respond. Perhaps, you haven’t thought about it too much but since it was brought up, you really want to know what to say. However, you want your answers to be grounded in God’s truth, not in your thoughts or the opinions of others. While there are many wonderful Christian creators out there who can give you wonderful answers, it’s better to go directly to the source and hear from God himself. This is where a topical Bible Study can be really helpful. You don’t have to be a Biblical expert or theologian to do one. It’s pretty easy to do and you can learn so much from it.
What is a topical Bible Study?
A topical Bible Study is simply a study of the Bible by topic. Let’s say you want to know what the Bible says about healing. Instead of just studying one passage and coming to a conclusion, you can study what God has to say about healing across the entire Bible. A topical Bible Study dives deeper and gives you a fuller understanding based on all of scripture, instead of just one passage.
Why choose to study the Bible by topic?
It is important to know that the things we believe about God and our faith is rooted in scripture. It’s so easy to run with an idea because you’ve heard it before or because its popular among Christian culture. Instead, it’s better to search the scripture and see what God has to say about it. That’s why a topical Bible Study is great. You can get deeper clarity about God’s stance on a topic you find interesting.
Related: How to Study the Bible for Beginners
How to study the Bible by topic
1. Choose a topic that interests you
First, choose a topic that you find interesting. Find something that you have questions about or would like to learn more about. Recently, I did a topical Bible Study on salvation. While I do understand salvation, I wanted to explore what the Bible said about it more deeply. I also wanted to be sure that if I was sharing about salvation with someone who didn’t understand the concept, I could properly share Biblical truth and not just someone else’s theological opinion.
2. Search your word or phrase in a Bible Concordance
Next, search your word or phrase in a Bible Concordance. A concordance is simply an alphabetical index of words used in the Bible with their corresponding references. I personally prefer to use an online concordance for topical Bible Studies since it populates the list automatically. Simply enter the word or phrase into the search box and it will pull up all related scripture. I personally use Bible Study Tools (pictured above) and find it really helpful.
3. Gather your findings into a word document
After searching your topic, gather all of the related verses and put them into a word document. A good tip would be to choose a narrow topic so that you don’t have to go through hundreds of verses. Topical Bible Studies can get pretty long if you’re studying a lot of material.
However, if you want to study a wider topic, you can select verses from each section of the Bible to study instead of studying all of them. While you won’t be studying all of the verses for that topic, you’ll still be covering all the basis.
4. Remove duplicate verses
This is especially applicable if you’re studying a topic in the New Testament. The Gospels may have verses that sound almost identical since they are all written about the same account.
Once you have all the verses in a word document, you can help to narrow things down by removing duplicate verses that include identical content.
However, if you’re up for a challenge, you can keep those near identical verses and compare them for differences and similarities.
5. Write down all your questions
Chances are, if you’re doing a topical Bible Study, you probably have specific questions about the topic. Write all of them down before you begin studying. As you study, you will find answers to your questions.
Be sure to approach this with an open mind. Don’t bring any preconceived ideas. Just be open to what scripture has to say.
6. Study each verse in context
Now go through each verse and read in context. Read a few verses above and a few verses below so that you understand what its saying. Then ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Who is it about?
What is it about
When did it happen?
Why did it happen?
How did it happen?
Also make a note of important people, places, or symbolism. Define words you don’t understand. Pay attention to anything that stands out. You may find that you have more questions as you study. Write them down as you go.
Once you’re done going through each verse, try to answer the questions you wrote down according to what you gathered from scripture. Here’s an example from my study of salvation.
Remember, if you don’t have an answer, keep digging. If you’ve exhausted all your resources and you still don’t understand, that’s okay. Make a note of your question and anything you learned. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom concerning it. He may reveal the answer to you in the future.
You may also want to consider looking into commentaries from various theologians at this point. Now that you understand what the scripture actually says, you can look to theologians to help further discern what the scripture means. Don’t just look into a theologian whose research you agree with. Look into all angles and keep asking questions. As you read commentaries, look back into the scripture to see if the commentaries make sense to what you’ve learned about the passage so far.
This part of the study is usually the longest and it can feel a little messy as you go back and forth between scriptures and questions. However, keep going because the more you dig, the more you’ll find.
Studying the Bible by topic is amazing. It encourages you to dig deeper into scripture and learn about topics you may have been curious about. It’s not wrong to look it up on google or look to your favorite Christian site. However, it’s so much better to consult the word directly and let the Spirit lead you into truth. Even though you may not find all the answers to your questions, you’ll learn a lot. As you hunger and thirst for God’s word, he will fill you with knowledge and understanding.
Have you studied the Bible topically before? What are your thoughts? Did you like or dislike it?