I didn’t have a clue as to what it was called or how to do it, but when I was 19 years old I did my first topical Bible study.
I had met a young man that I was interested in and wanted to know what the Bible had to say regarding his situation. If the Bible condoned his circumstances, then I would continue seeing him.
Do you ever wonder what the Bible says about your circumstances or a decision you need to make? Or maybe you just want to know more about God’s faithfulness, or some other subject.
That is where Topical Bible Studies come in. I want to take you through how I do this kind of Bible study step by step.
Why Topical Bible Study Is Important
There are many methods to study the Bible. All are important if we want to have a complete understanding of what the Bible teaches. Topical studies are part of that process and may be the next step beyond simple Bible reading.
The subjects that we need to know about are scattered throughout the Bible. Therefore, unless we have read all 66 books of the Bible and taken notes on the particular subject we want to know about, we could easily develop a biased opinion about it.
Furthermore, it is important to interpret Scripture with Scripture, meaning a verse in one part of the Bible helps us understand better what a verse in another part of the Bible means.
Together they give us a complete and balanced interpretation of different topics.
Topical Bible Study Template
Doing a topical Bible study requires looking at 10-20 different relevant verses and related words to understand a particular topic.
As I began doing more topical Bible studies, I realized I needed a tool or template to help me keep the information organized until I had completed my individual study.
I want to share that template with you to make your time in God’s word productive and spiritually profitable. You will need to print a double-sided sheet for each verse or passage about your chosen subject.
This Bible study template looks almost as nice in black and white as it does in color, so if colored ink is a concern, change your printer settings to black and white or grayscale.
The template is a free gift from the Creator’s Classroom, and no email is required. It also includes a completed example from my study of Philippians 4:13, a Bible verse that is often used out of context by many people.
This type of study helped me see the true meaning of this verse with the use of several free resources found online.
How To Do A Topical Bible Study
There are several steps in doing a topical Bible study. They include:
- Having the right Bible Study tools
- Setting aside some time each day
- Deciding on a topic you want to study
- Digging into God’s word
1. Topical Bible study tools
Just 10 years ago in order to do a topical Bible study, you would have needed to purchase a couple of different translations of the Bible, an exhaustive concordance, a Bible dictionary, and possibly a topical Bible.
Now all you need is your own personal Bible, a pen and paper, and a bit of technology.
When it comes to Bible study, technology is our friend. Nowadays there are many online tools and topical Bible study apps that make our learning easy. Almost everything we could need can be found on the internet. Even better is the fact that most of them are free.
These are the online tools that I like to use:
- The Parallel Bible– You can view 2 translations at a time of the same passage
- The Blue Letter Bible– you can get this topical Bible study app for your phone
- Open Bible– you can type in any topic and it will give you a list of Bible verses on that subject in the ESV (English Standard Version).
Other good reference materials are Nave’s Topical Bible, The John Macarthur Study Bible, Bible dictionaries, and any Bible concordance.
But truthfully, you can get by with the free resources found on the internet.
2. Time- How much do you need?
Typically, a topical study of the Bible will take about 20-30 minutes per day.
Focus on one verse or passage each day. Meditate on your findings until you study your next verse or passage.
3. Choosing a topic
The sky is the limit when it comes to choosing Biblical topics to study.
- Do you have an upcoming decision for which you need God’s direction?
- Are you having trouble with negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, bitterness, or insecurity?
- Or maybe you want to know more about the attributes of God.
- Maybe you need the Bible’s perspective on how to be a good parent.
If you are not sure what you want to study, here are some topical Bible study ideas.
This article from my friends at Kingdom Bloggers has an excellent list of topics that you can download. One or more should spark your interest and would be a good starting point.
4. Doing the topical Bible study
Are you ready to begin?
It will help if you print a copy of the Topical Bible Study Template above, but it isn’t 100% necessary
Step 1 – Gather your verses
After you have chosen your topic, the first step in doing a topical study is to go to the Open Bible Website and type in your topic.
This will give you a collection of verses to study. You can then choose 10-20 verses that resonate with you.
Step 2 – Choose one verse or passage
Read the verse(s) in your own personal Bible as well as in a couple of other translations. If you use the Parallel Bible Website, you can choose from many different translations.
For the kind of study we are doing, a word-by-word translation such as the NAS (New American Standard Bible) or ESV (English Standard Version) are the best to use.
Step 3 – Begin your study
Write out your verse(s). Circle any key words that stand out or that you want to know more about.
Learn the context of the verse. Who wrote it? Who was it written to? What were the circumstances when it was written? Most Bibles have this information at the beginning of each book.
Continue exploring the context by looking at the verses above and below. Do they tell you more about what this verse is about? If so circle words that stand out to you.
Step 4 – Find the original meaning of the words you circled
You are now going to do some “word studies.” This is where technology gets exciting. You must no longer be a seminary student or professor to do this step.
The Blue Letter Bible has some great features. The initial screen allows you to choose your Scripture reference, as well as the Bible translation that you want to use.
I chose Philippians 4:13, which is the first verse pictured below. When you hover your cursor over “tools” to the left (red arrow), you will get a drop-down box. You want to select “interlinear” (yellow arrow).
You will now find your verse broken down by single words or phrases. The phrase “I can do” (red arrow) is followed by the assigned Strong’s number (yellow arrow). You want to select the “Strong’s number”.
At this point, you will see a lot of information, but what you are looking for is the Greek (or Hebrew) meaning of the word or phrase in the original language.
Scroll down to a section that reads “Strong’s Definitions”. In this example, you see that the word comes from G2479- and that is the definition you are looking for. Select that number.
Record your findings in your journal or Template. I list just a few of the definitions if they are all very similar.
When you consider the meanings of all the words you chose, along with the context, you will gain new understandings of what your Bible verse is really talking about.
Many people think that Philippians 4:13 means that they can be successful at whatever they want or choose to do.
However, this verse is talking about something different. It is about being content in any situation you find yourself in.
It is important to understand the meaning of particular words in the original language. The Blue Letter Bible helps you do that.
Even in reading the Bible, we can expect spiritual warfare. Satan wants us to interpret Scripture in erroneous ways. It is our personal responsibility to use Scripture correctly.
Step 5 – Draw conclusions and make applications
This is our final step because studying the Bible is of little value unless we make personal applications from what we read. This is where spiritual growth takes place.
Scripture was given to us for “instruction in righteousness” ( 2 Timothy 3:16), which means that it is to help us become the people God created us to be.
To draw conclusions or make applications, first, we need to know if what we studied says anything about God. This helps us get to know Him better. Asking this question increases our knowledge of God.
Second, we need to know if it says anything about ourselves or mankind in general. These observations will help us make personal applications.
Finally, we need to ask what God is wanting us to know personally. Does He give us any warnings? Is He asking us to do something? This is the whole purpose of Bible Study, a change in us.
It is important to make a note of these connections. It is good Biblical stewardship.
Now that you have completed your study on one verse, repeat steps 2 through 5 for the next verse or passage.
By the time you have completed 10 to 20 verses, you will have a good understanding of what the Bible says about your given topic.
Topical Bible Study is part of a well-rounded Christian life and is an excellent way to gain a solid foundation on the issues that matter most.
When we are struggling with negative emotions, it can help redirect our thoughts leading to more joy in the journey.
If we have important decisions to make, topical Bible study can give us direction and confidence that we are headed the right way.
An untiring study of the word of God can also help us get to know God better and strengthen our relationship with Him.
What topic do you want to study? We would love to know what subjects are important to you. Would you leave a comment below so we can better serve this community?
I trust that you will try this approach with an open mind and heart. Your soul will be blessed while you are learning new things to enrich your Bible study time.
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