21 Best Bible Study Methods


Bible Study Methods

Astonished is one way of describing my reaction when I saw all the different Bible study methods out there. I love studying the Bible, and I couldn’t resist trying new ways.

Most believers have their ways of studying the Bible, and they seldom experiment with other Bible study methods – nothing wrong with that. After all, it is about studying God’s Word prayerfully. 

The most effective Bible study method is the one that brings you closer to Jesus Christ, studying the Word with the help of the Holy Spirit.

There are tons of ideas in the article for those who want to explore new ways. Sometimes your Bible study time needs a fresh approach, and changing your Bible study method could help you delve deeper into God’s Word. It happened to me…

I wanted to study specific books of the Bible this coming year, but I wasn’t sure how to start. Topical studies and verse-by-verse were more familiar methods than studying entire books. During my research, I read the book How To Study The Bible Intentionally: Methods and Conditions for Effective Bible Study written by R. A. Torrey. His approach looked complicated and time-consuming, but I was intrigued; I’m so thankful I explored a new Bible study method.

I challenge you to dive deep into God’s Word; perhaps changing your learning style of studying God’s Word could help you achieve that. Here are several Bible study methods to get you going. Some Bible study methods are easy and only take a few minutes, while others are in-depth Bible Study methods that could last for days, weeks, and even months. You could combine methods as well.

You may even recognize your way of studying the Bible; perhaps you didn’t know it was a type of study method. If you have an effective Bible study method not mentioned here, please let us know about it to share it with our readers. 

Purpose Of Bible Study Methods

Although I’m challenging you to try a new method or learning process, I’m actually challenging you to delve deeper into God’s Word prayerfully and with the Holy Spirit as your guide and teacher.

Bible study methods are helpful when you are totally at a loss on how to study God’s Word; it’s useful when you need a nudge in the right direction.

Studying the Bible should be part of our daily routines. However, when you’re stuck in a routine and no longer spend quiet time with Jesus Christ – it’s another checkmark on your to-do list for the day – a fresh approach is necessary. A new Bible study method could help you appreciate that the Bible is not just a book, and Bible study is not gathering head knowledge but a fresh intimacy with the Lord, an essential part of your daily life. 

Lastly, my story is an excellent example of how changing your study technique can help you find biblical truths, answers you are searching for, and insight into applying it. Will this be my new study habit? It is now one of my personal Bible study methods but not my everyday go-to method. I’ll use this method whenever I study a single book, but most of the time, it’s not the way the Holy Spirit leads me to study the Word. 

Effective Scripture study is not about the Bible study method but about getting to know our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, by reading, praying, and meditating on His Word with the help of the Holy Spirit. If a Bible study method is just a technique and does not lead you to spiritual food, don’t use it. 

Grab your Bible, notebook, colored pencils, and a cup of coffee, and let’s discover the truths of Scripture in a meaningful way.

Various Bible Study Methods On Words Or Verses 

Studying one or two verses of the Word of God is familiar to most believers. However, there are different Bible study methods to study a single verse or word in the Bible.

Verse By Verse Bible Study Method

Verse-by-verse Bible study is extremely rewarding, especially when studying a Bible book. It is time-consuming but worth it.

  • Read the verse and copy it to your notebook.
  • Give it a title that describes the verse.
  • Break it down by defining each word in the verse. Make notes of what each word means; continue until there is nothing more to write.
  • Study the verbs of the verse.
  • If you are busy with a Bible character study, what does the verse reveal about his or her attitudes, faith, strengths, weaknesses, and relationship with God?
  • What does the verse teach? What is the lesson you’ve learned, and how can you apply it?

Verse Mapping Bible Study Method

Sometimes you read a passage, and you’re drawn to a specific verse. Verse mapping is excellent to break down that verse so that you can apply it in your life. The method helps you focus on God’s message; you’ll notice you’ll continue to meditate on that verse until the meaning becomes clear.

  • If you use different Bibles and Study Bibles, I recommend you note the Bible used for future reference; it’ll be easier to cross-reference your notes in your journal with those made in the Bible margins. Highlight the verse in your Bible and copy the verse into your journal. Make sure you add the name of the Bible book, chapter, verse number, and version.
  • Underline the words that stand out. Check cross-references and note the different terms used for the same meaning.
  • Ask what, when, why, where, and how questions and prayerfully search for the answers in the verse.
  • Always read and interpret a verse in context with the verses before and after it.
  • Paraphrase the verse. Make notes of the things you want to remember, what you’ve learned, and the promises of God.
  • Take action on how to apply the verse in your life.

Verse mapping doesn’t have to be in a structured order; you can use a mind map for Scripture verse mapping.

Write Out Verses Or Passage

Writing out a verse is one of the simplest ways of studying the Bible. By writing out a single verse or passage, you slow down, giving yourself time to meditate on the verse.

  • Read the verse and reread it aloud.
  • Notice the main verb in the verse and the subject the verse addresses.
  • How does the verse fit in context to the surrounding verses?
  • What stood out for you and why? What is your action plan?

Word Study Method

The word study method is an excellent method to study a specific word in the Bible, especially simple words essential to a believer, like faith, promises, prayer life, sacrifice, and more. You can trace the word back to its original root, or your word study can be basic by simply comparing Bible versions. Grab your Strongs Exhaustive concordance or Young’s, and let’s get started.

  • Select the word you want to study.
  • Define the word using a dictionary.
  • Find and list how many times the word occurs in the Bible.
  • Compare different Bibles to see how they use the word and which synonyms they use.
  • Use the concordance and Bible encyclopedia to discover the Hebrew or Aramaic meaning of Old Testament words and the Greek for New Testament words.
  • Summarize your findings and what it means to you.

Acronym Bible Study Methods

Here are a few simple step-by-step instructions for those of you who like acronyms. s. 

SOAP Bible Study Method

Many of you may be familiar with the SOAP Bible study method created by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. SOAP is an acronym for 

S – Scripture

Select the Scripture you want to read and study; it can be a verse, a passage, or an entire chapter. Read the Bible passage and note the key verse you want to study. 

O – Observation

Stop and think about the passage you’ve read. Asking questions help with careful observation of the relevant Scripture. Look up words unfamiliar to you or that you don’t understand. What do you notice? Are there words repeated? What stood out for you? Write everything that comes to mind while pondering on the verse. 

A – Application

How does it apply to you? Reread the passage. How does this verse change your life, and how should you apply it moving forward? 

P – Prayer

Pray the Bible verse and the things Jesus revealed to you. Ask the Lord to show you how to apply it in your daily life. Be grateful, praise the Lord, and thank Him for His goodness. Although you start the Bible study with prayer, you should always end your devotional time with prayer too. 

APPLE Bible Study Method

Arabah Joy‘s website came up with this acronym. As always, pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. 

A – Attributes Of God

Read the Bible passage or chapter. After the 1st reading, return to the passage. With the 2nd reading, search and find all the attributes of God in the Scriptural passages you’ve read. 

P – Promises From God

Go back to the passage for a 3rd reading. Search for all the promises of God. 

P – Principles For Life

Revisit the passage for a 4th reading and search for all the life principles. You’ll be amazed at the major principles you discover, things you could’ve missed if you just read the Bible passage once and moved on. 

L – Lessons Learned Or Sin To Avoid

Ask yourself what the Lord is showing you personally. What is God teaching you, revealing to you about something in your life? Should you repent of a sin? What strategy is God showing you to deal with a situation? 

E – Example To Follow

How can you be a doer of the Word by following the examples revealed to you in the passage? What examples of godliness did you see? How can you practically implement what you’ve learned in your life? 

HEAR Bible Study Method

I found the H.E.A.R. method on the Replicate website; he also stresses to pray that the Holy Spirit guides you with your Bible study. Use a journal and add the letter of the acronym as you use it. Start with the H. The acronym stands for 

H – Highlight

Read the Scripture passage and highlight each verse that stands out for you. Copy the Scripture verse to your Bible journal word for word. When you copy the verse, write the name of the Bible book, chapter, and verse (I like to add the Bible version too). Give the 10-20 verses a title to describe the passage. 

– Explain

Ask the Holy Spirit to explain the passage to you. Start meditating on these verses by asking a series of questions relating to the passage. For example, 

  • To whom was this written originally? 
  • Why are these passages in the Bible? 
  • How do these verses fit in context to the verses before and after them?
  • What is the Lord saying with these verses?
  • Write a short summary of what you understand these verses mean. 

– Apply

Apply these verses to you and your daily life by prayerfully asking the help of the Holy Spirit. 

  • How are these verses relevant today?
  • What do they mean to me, my circumstances, daily life? 
  • How can it help me?
  • What is God saying to me?  

R – Respond

Now it is your turn. How are you going to respond to what you’ve read and what the Holy Spirit revealed to you? Write your response. It could be an act of repentance, a revelation that changes you, a strategy or idea God gave you, a prayer, or all of these and more. 

WORD Bible Study Method

Love the idea of using the letters that spell “Word” as an acronym to study the Word of God. I found this acronym on A Symphony of Praise.

W – Write

After you’ve prayed, write the relevant verse in our journal. Remember to note the name of the book, chapter, and verse.

O – Observe

Observe shows you the context and how the verse fits in the Bible. Ask the who, what, where, when, and why questions. The “what” will relate to the type of genre, whether it’s an epistle, history, narrative, poetry, etc.

R – Relevant

What is the message for you? Did the passage encourage, instruct, or correct you? How are you going to apply it in your life?

D – Declare

Declare the promises and pray the passage over your life.

The Bible is full of people, what they did, should’ve done, and didn’t do. When studying a Bible character, you’ll probably associate his or her life with your own life, which is a perfect opportunity to learn from their mistakes and successes. Studying individuals are different Bible study methods than more familiar methods of studying a book, a chapter, or Bible passages; here, you are doing an in-depth study of a specific person’s life.

Biographical Bible Study Method

With the biographical Bible study method, you can step into someone’s shoes for a while to experience their life and learn from it. With over 3000 people in the Bible, you won’t run out of a biblical subject.

  • Choose a person in the Bible. It can be a familiar individual like Abraham, Joseph, Mary, or Jesus Christ, one of the prophets, or less familiar personalities.
  • Make a list of all the Bible passages where the person is mentioned. Use a dictionary, a Study Bible’s index, or concordance to find the Scriptures. You’ll need to do some detective work; some people may have the same name. For example, in Abraham’s time, Abimelech isn’t the same Abimelech as in his son’s time.
  • Create a timeline showing the major events in the person’s life.
  • What are the person’s character traits, strengths, and weaknesses? What is their relationship with God? Are there patterns or cycles in their life? What victories, trials, tests, or temptations do they go through, and how do they handle them?
  • How do you identify with this person? How can this individual’s life help you with your struggles and victories?

Questions God has an excellent article on Biographical Bible study methods.

Character Bible Study Method

When you study the Bible focusing on a character trait, you’ll discover Bible truths that can change your life.

  • Decide which character trait you want to know more about. Find a person in the Bible with that character trait to study. Alternatively, select a character trait of an individual for an advanced study. If you’ve already completed a biographical study, you can use that information to start your investigation.
  • Before you start to study God’s Word, make a note of the definition of that character trait and the opposite traits. For insight, use an English dictionary and a Bible dictionary for the biblical perspective.
  • Note how this character trait influences the person and their life.
  • Find other people in the Bible with the same characteristic and notice how they handled similar situations.
  • How does this characteristic affect the person’s spiritual growth?
  • How can you apply what you’ve learned in your life?

There are so many different Bible study methods to study a book of the Bible. It may take longer, but it is one of the most effective Bible study methods to understand the context of the Bible book and its contribution to the Bible. Some Bible students enjoy using all these different methods together for an in-depth study of a book, while others prefer to use each method as separate Bible studies.

Book Background Method

The background of a Bible book gives you insight into the historical and cultural context of the book. It enriches your experience in studying the Word of God. Knowing the background helps you understand the content better, and then it is easier to see the relevance in today’s world. You can apply the book background method to a book of the Bible, a person, or a topic.

  • Select a book in the Old Testament or NewTestemant and read it a few times to get an overall idea of what the book is about.
  • The book introduction found in Study Bibles contains some information about the background.
  • Before you use a Bible handbook, atlas, map, or commentary, be the detective and find clues by reading the Word of God.
  • Answer the what, when, where, why, and how questions to gather background information. Who wrote the book and why? When and where was the book written? What were the circumstances, and why was the book written? How does the book contribute to the Bible?
  • Investigate the historical events leading up to the story, the geographical setting, political and cultural context.
  • Write a personal paraphrase summing up the book’s background.

Book Survey Method

Studying the Bible using the survey Bible study method is an excellent way to understand a book in the Bible. Study Bibles have book introductions that help with the overall picture of the book. Ask yourself questions like who was inspired to write the book, when, where, and for whom?

  • Note basic information about the book, for example, the number of chapters, verses, genre, and writing style?
  • The background is one part of the book survey method. If you’ve already done a book background study, use that for the background.
  • What are the key verse, key chapter, and critical statement?
  • What is the central theme, the major points? Who are the main characters?
  • Create a timeline as a basic outline of important events.
  • Note a descriptive title for sections and subsections.

Chapter Summary Method

Bible studies using the chapter summary method lets you focus on one chapter at a time. Reading through the chapter and then summarizing the significant points makes you ponder what you’ve read.

Read the chapter a few times before writing the summary in your own words. Include how this chapter is relevant today and in your life in the summary.

  • Start with a descriptive title and subheadings.
  • Create a basic outline of significant events.
  • List the prominent people, events, and places.
  • Cross-reference the chapter with other passages in the Bible.
  • Note the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the chapter.
  • What are the significant teachings? What do you understand or have questions for further study?
  • How is this chapter relevant in your life?

Chapter Analysis Method

The chapter analysis method of Bible study starts with reading the selected book of the Bible. You can read one chapter a day, sections of a chapter, or the book in one sitting. Then start analyzing each chapter to discover the Biblical message. What does it say, mean, and how can it change me.

You can also use the chapter analysis method to study a specific chapter and not necessarily the entire book.

  • Use the chapter survey you’ve completed and expand the outline.
  • Paraphrase the chapter.
  • Put on your detective hat and find the keywords, spiritual principles, commands, warnings, comparison, contrasts, quotes, etc.

Book Synthesis Method

Synthesis means combining elements to make a whole, and that is what you will be doing when you study the Bible using the book synthesis method. The goal is a complete overview of the book so that you can delve deeper into a verse by verse study.

  • If you’ve already completed some of the previous book study methods, use those notes as a starting point.
  • Before studying the Bible book, read the book a couple of times to familiarize yourself with it. You’ll be surprised what you notice after the 5th reading.
  • Proceed without using a Bible commentary or any other Bible study tool. After you’ve exhausted what you can find, expand with Bible study resources.
  • Create a detailed outline giving each section a heading, subheadings, and a short description of what that section is about. Use descriptive titles that tell you at a glance what to expect.
  • Summarize in your own words the major themes and events, minor themes, main ideas, and purpose of the book.
  • What insights and lessons did you learn, and how will you apply them in your life? What practical steps will you take in your spiritual growth?

If you want to delve even deeper, you can proceed by studying each verse of the book.

Book By Book Bible Study Method

Book by book Bible study is another way to spend time in God’s presence. You can study the entire Word of God one book at a time. If the above methods are too intricate, you’ll enjoy this method. However, how much detail and depth is up to you.

  • Select the book you want to study. If you have a couple of books to choose from, make a list of each book of the Bible you’re interested in and prioritize them. Then you’ll know which book of the Bible to study next, and you don’t jump back and forth between books because you can’t make up your mind.
  • Read the entire book of the Bible and identify the theme of the book.
  • With the second reading, highlight or underline keywords and phrases.
  • Create an outline of the Bible book noting the key events.
  • Work through the book chapter by chapter. Note the spiritual truth principles and how it applies to you.

And More Effective Bible Study Methods

These Bible study methods are different from the above because they aren’t necessarily chaptered or book related.

Topical Bible Study Method

The Topical Bible Study Method focuses on a specific topic, for example, prayer, faith, life. Unlike a thematic study, the topical study is a more in-depth Bible study; it is not restricted to the key-words but branches out into subtopics. For example, when studying trials, you may need to look at persecutions and testing.

  • Decide the subject for your topical study.
  • Make a list of related subtopics. A biblical dictionary may give you ideas.
  • Your Bible concordance gives you all the verses related to the topic. Collect Bible references about the subject.
  • When studying a Bible subject, be thorough and systematically work through the entire Bible. Study each verse related to the topic.

You can combine the topical method with other Bible study methods like verse mapping.

Theme Bible Study Method

The thematic method of Bible study is less intensive than the topical method.

  • Select the Bible theme for your Bible studies.
  • Create a list of Bible passages you want to study. Use Bible Study tools when making a list. Bible reference books, an exhaustive concordance, a topical Bible, or your favorite Study Bible are excellent Bible study resources for thematic study.
  • Select the key verses relevant to the theme.
  • Make a list of five questions to help you learn what the Bible teaches on this theme. Ask these questions with each Bible verse you study.
  • Summarize what you’ve learned in your words.
  • How will you apply what you’ve learned in your own life? Always pray to find the deeper meaning in Scripture.

Inductive Bible Study Method

The Inductive Bible study method is simple but one of the most effective Bible study methods. If you want to learn valuable lessons and not just read the Bible passage for the day, then the inductive bible study method is a great way to study the Bible and learn more about our Lord Jesus Christ. Although not an acronym, the inductive method of Bible study consists of three sections.

  • Observation. Read the selected Bible verses with a notebook next to you. Write what you observe about the author, the audience, and the message. The inductive Bible study method helps study the Bible verses and not just read with a wandering mind.
  • Interpretation. Interpret the Bible passage. Ask yourself what the Scriptures mean; what is God’s Word saying. Your observation notes should help you.
  • Application. Studying the Bible helps you get to know the Lord Jesus Christ and allows you to apply the Bible teachings in your everyday life.

Bible Journaling 

Bible journaling is a creative way of studying Scripture; it is an immensely rewarding way to study the Bible. You don’t have to be an artist or a Bible student with artistic skills. If you like using highlighters, colored pens, doodling, or coloring books, you should try Bible journaling.

Combine Bible journaling with any of the other effective Bible study methods. Alternatively, you can study the Bible by illustrating a passage of Scripture and meditating on it. There is no right or wrong approach; use any tools from colored pens, stickers, stamps, scrapbook techniques, or mixed media to study the Bible.

Devotional Method

The devotional method of Bible study is prayerfully reading and meditating on God’s Word while waiting on the Lord to reveal and guide you. The study can be a verse, a passage of Scripture, or an entire chapter.

There are many different ways to study the Bible, but God’s way is the most crucial. The devotional approach is the foundation of all Bible study methods – praying, reading, and meditating on God’s Word with Him.


About Retha Groenewald

Retha Groenewald loves to study the Word of God. She is a Christian online writer for Christian-owned businesses, ministries, and professionals. Retha lives in beautiful South Africa.

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