The Topical Method of Bible Study – One of the most exciting ways to study Scripture is by examining topics. This is kind of the verse I use for writing these devotionals. For example now we are looking at ‘Living like Jesus’, so we start with that as our main topic but like most topical studies you will find several themes running through it, i.e. Jesus prayed, faster, knew scripture etc. In a thematic study you only study one theme, in a topical study we examine a topic without predetermined guidelines and record all the insight we discover adding new themes along the way. Cross referencing is an important part of the study method.
This method of Bible study is important because it:
- Enables us to study the Bible systematically, logically and in an orderly manner.
- Gives us a proper perspective and balance regarding biblical truth. We get to see what the whole Bible says about a topic.
- Allow us to study subjects important to us
- Enables us to study doctrine.
- Lends itself to good and lively discussion.
A very good book on this method of Bible study was written by Dr. R. A, Torrey in his book (How to study the Bible). He gives us three helpful suggestions. 1) Be systematic, 2) Be thorough, 3)Be exact.
Helpful steps for a Topical study.
- Chose your topic – What is it you want to look at? For example if your studying suffering, make a list of words which relate such as affliction, anger, grief, pain, sorrow etc
- Collect references – Start using reference tools to collect verses on each of the words you have listed above.
- Consider each verse individually – look at each verse and see what it says. Allow each verse to speak for itself. If you discover any new themes, just write them down and go back to the last step.
- Compare and Group – Compare and group your references, you should find that they fir naturally together. I find mind-maps work great for this method of study.
- Outline – you can now make a outline using the categories of themes you have developed in the last point.
- Conclude – when you finish your study try to write a conclusion. Again application is key, write a plan to help apply these truths to your life.