If you’re new to Bible study, it can be really confusing. There are so many options available that it can get overwhelming fast. I grew up in church and became a Christian when I was just five, but I didn’t start seriously studying the Bible for myself until I was in high school. That’s when my faith really became the center of my life. Over the years, I’ve tried many different Bible study methods. Today I’m sharing my three favorites and why I love them. First, though, I want to explain a couple of things I feel really strongly about.
It’s so important to study the Bible in context. That’s why I love book-by-book studies. You need to understand the Scripture as a whole. If you just pull bits and pieces to study, it’s easy to be led astray. You can take something out of context and get it wrong, or you can take something true and emphasize it so much that it becomes twisted. I believe it’s important to study the big picture.
Also, it’s so important to study the Bible itself. Don’t just study what someone says about the Bible. Study the Word. Teachers are people, and people make mistakes. They can fall. They can be wrong. I’ve seen so many people over the years who followed one teacher or one minister. For many, that person’s word became more important and more valued than God’s Word, and those followers were sometimes led into false teachings. I’m not saying we shouldn’t read books or do studies written by someone we respect. I’m just saying the primary focus should be the Bible itself, and we shouldn’t get focused on one teacher only.
When I study, I mainly use one of three methods. Below I’ll break down each one and show some examples of each. Ephesians is one of my favorite books of the Bible, so I’m using it as an example.
The SOAP method is an easy Bible study method that anyone can follow. SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.
S – Scripture
I usually write down the reference for the verses I’m studying. I may also write out specific verses that really stand out to me.
O – Observation
What do you notice in these verses? Are there certain commands or certain events or certain people that stand out? Note anything that seems important about the passage.
A – Application
This is the step where we note how Scripture effects us and our life. How is this personal? What did I learn? What do I need to change in my own life? How does this apply to me?
P – Prayer
Pray about what you learned. Pray specific verses, or ask God to help you live out what you’ve read.
I love using the S.O.A.P. method when I do She Reads Truth studies. They offer great studies for free on their website, and they have now expanded to offer men’s and kids studies on their other sites. I mentioned that Ephesians is one of my favorite books – She Reads Truth will feature an Ephesians study next month.
If you’re a visual learner (like me), inductive Bible study may be perfect for you. Inductive study involves a deep Bible study where the Word speaks for itself. You read Scripture while observing key words and phrases and marking them, then answering who, what, when, when, where, why, and how. It can seem a little overwhelming at first, but Kay Arthur has a great free guide to starting. There’s also a free guide to symbols and colors you can use to mark your Bible from a different teacher.
If you do an inductive study, I recommend starting small. Start with a Psalm, or a short book like Galatians or Ephesians. Study slowly. Take your time and dig deep into the Word. I like to do a SOAP study on a book, then follow it with an inductive study or a verse mapping study.
3. Verse mapping
Verse mapping is new to me, but I really love this for digging deep into the Word. This month, I’m doing a study with Christian fiction author Kristy Cambron’s Facebook group.
Verse mapping adds a new level of depth to Bible study by digging deep into individual verses. It involves word studies, reading different translations of the same verse, and looking for repeated words and phrases. Check out Kristy Cambron’s website for tips and free downloads to get you started.
What Bible study method do you use most? Is there a new one you like to try?