The Discipline of Bible Assimilation: Topical Study

Lesson 2001
Tags: Bible study
Excerpted from The Disciplines of the Christian Life
Related Resources: Bridging the Gap: Developing Tools for Better Bible Understanding The Discipline of Bible Study

Make a list of verses or passages that discuss the topic you want to study.

1.     You can use any of several methods to create your list.

a. Consult a reference work that analyzes the Bible topically.

Print tools
Baker Topical Guide to the Bible. Ed. Walter A. Elwell. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001. 864 pp. $29.99. ISBN: 080102255X.

On-line tools
Nave’s Topical Bible <>
Torrey’s New Topical Textbook

b. Consult a Bible concordance. Look for occurrences of one or more terms that relate to your topic. Be careful to look for varying forms of given word.

Print tools
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. By James Strong. Available in various editions at various prices. Extends the concordance function found in the back of many Bibles to every word in the Bible.

On-line tools < >
The Bible Gateway(TM) <>

c. Skim through a book looking for every reference to your topic, regardless of the terms used.

2. You can limit your study to the Old or New Testament, to a particular type of biblical literature (e.g., poetry, gospels, letters), to books by a specific author (e.g., John, Paul), or a single book.

Examples of topical studies
The Christian life as athletic competition (New Testament)
The duties of parents (Proverbs)
Thanksgiving (New Testament)
Meditation as a spiritual discipline (entire Bible)
Fasting (entire Bible)
The believer’s duty to the Word of God (Ps. 119)

Record what each verse or passage has to say about the topic.

Study each verse or passage in its context. Ask how it contributes to your understanding of the topic. Ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. While some verses or passages may yield very little, others will prove to be quite helpful.

Organize your findings according to an appropriate pattern.

Group together ideas that are similar or identical. Separate those that are distinct. Look for a pattern that allows you to arrange your findings in a logical way.