|Series Theme: Bible Study Approaches|
Title: 8. How to Study a Topic
A page that explains a variety of approaches to Studying the Bible
This page introduces you to choosing a topic to study, and how to go about it.
Studying a Topic is similar to studying a Doctrine but is more general, so when you find yourself aware of something in Scripture that catches your interest you go looking to see what the whole Bible says about it.
Some people use the word 'doctrine' to mean some Biblical topic, but we would prefer to limit the use of the word doctrine to mean the specific teaching about an article of faith.
So, for Christians there may be doctrines about the person of Jesus Christ, say, and his atoning work, there are doctrines about justification by faith, or about sanctification.
A 'topic' however, may simply be an item of interest so, for example, we may study the role of kings of Israel , or of the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament. We may study the subject of martyrs in the Bible, or of say the mention of various mountains in the Bible and their significance. We might want to study the role of women in Old Testament times and how they changed with the coming of Jesus.
Doctrines we would consider, are important issues for all Christians. Topics are simply subjects of interest.
2. Starting to Study a Topic
As we have suggested above, your interest in a topic will probably come about as you read the Bible, and a particular point of interest arises.
You can go about studying it in two ways:
1. You purposefully study it
This means you do a study NOW , using either the cross references in your Bible, or a Concordance (which may either be in the back of your Bible if you have a study Bible, or be a separate book. 'Strong's' or 'Young's' are two older, big concordances for serious scholars.)
There are also plenty of software CDs available today which provide excellent concordance and study facilities.
2. You do it as a background study.
In this case you simply keep a small notebook handy and you jot down any references you come across in the Bible that pertain to your topic, so that over a longer period of time you build up data on your chosen topic.
So, the first stage is to collect Bible references to your topic.
The second stage is to see what they all say.
The third stage is to put them in a meaningful order or categorise them under headings that will clarify to you what they say in a memorable way.
3. An Example of a Topic Study
Below is an illustration of studying a topic in the Bible. It is obviously the result of much digging and much consideration, so don't expect to come up with something like this straight away!
Topic: THE BUILDING OF GOD
Observe: In the Old Testament, two literal buildings teach us about the spiritual building of which we, today, are part .-
1. The Tabernacle
a) Its function Exo 25:8 - a place where God's presence could be seen
b) Its formation Exo 25:2 - to be formed from the giving of willing hearts
c) Its features Exo 25:10-30,38 - details are God given
d) Its forerunner Exo 33:7 - Moses' tent, already a prototype picture of it
e) Its fabricators Exo 31:1-6 / 35:30-35 - the people making it were filled with the Holy Spirit
f) Its finish Exo 40:1,16 - its completion was according to God's timing
g) Its filling Exo 40:33-38 - on completion it was filled with God's visible presence
(NB. each one of the above comments can also be applied to the church!)
2. The Temple
a) David's proposal 1 Chron 17:1,2 to build a house for God
b) Nathan's prophecy 1 Chron 17:3-15 a household for ever
c) David's preparation 1 Chron 21:28 - 22:5 carefully considered
d) People's participation 1 Chron 29:9 whole-hearted giving
e) Solomon's purpose 2 Chron 2:1 a clear objective
f) People's praise 2 Chron 5: 13 obedient right relationship to God
g) God's presence 2 Chron 5: 13,14 the result: filled with God's visible presence
3. The Church
a) Us, God's Temple : 1 Cor 3:9 , 16,17 & 6:19 ,20 / 2 Cor 6:16 , 17
b) God's dwelling place Eph 2:19-22
c) The household of God 1 Tim 3:15
d) Living Stones 1 Pet 2:4,5
In the Old Testament we see two specific buildings built for the purpose of showing the presence of God visibly.
The design came from God and the buildings came about by the whole-hearted dedication of the people.
As the people followed the plans given by God, God came in and filled the place with His visible presence.
In the NT the picture is continued and the Church is called the dwelling place of God - the place where God makes His presence visible.
a) Do I realise that I am part of something much bigger than just me?
b) Do I realise that I am part of something specifically designed by God.
- to be formed in a specific way?
- to function in a specific way?
c) Is the building (group of people) in my locality
- put together according to God's direction?
- allowing His visible presence to be seen?
(think on Jn 17:23 in the light of this)
The temptation with this study, and perhaps some of the others as well, is simply to read it through on the page and leave it at that.
For a full appreciation of the Study it is ESSENTIAL that you go through your Bible and look up all the verses quoted here.
4. A Further Example of a Topic Study
The following is a further example of a topic study.
A continuing violent (in word and/or deed) opposition of the righteous by the unrighteous (especially to the word of God)
2. O.T. Examples
• King Saul of David 1 Sam 18:12-26:25
• Jeremiah Jer 18:18/20:2/26:7-11/32:3/37/11-15/38:4-13,28
3. N.T. Examples
• Jesus Lk 4:28 -30/ 5:30 /6:2,7,11? 9:22 / 11:53 ,54 etc. etc.
• Early church- general Acts 8:1-4/ 11:19 /12:1-5
• Early church - Paul Acts 13:45,50 / 14;2,5,19,22 / 16:19-24 / 17:5-14 / 18:12/ 19:23-41 / 20:3,4,23-25 / 21:27-end / 2 Cor 1:8-11
2 Tim 3:12 All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
Jn 15:20 If they persecute me they will persecute you.
1 Jn 4:4 / 1 Jn 3:8 / 1 Jn 5:4 / Jas 4:7 / Col 2:15 / 2 Cor 10:4 / Rev 12:11 / Heb 2:14 -15 / 1 Pet 5:8-9 / Rom 8:31 / Rom 8:37 / 1 Cor 15:57
6. What is happening?
- through deliverance - immediate or delayed
- through death
7. God Promises:
8. Our Reaction ?
9. Other examples
Joseph Gen Ch.37-50
Moses Ex 2:23-
Hezekiah Isa 36 & 37Daniel Dan Ch.6