HOW TO DO A TOPICAL BIBLE STUDY
For those who enjoy hearing from God and knowing His word, deepening our personal studies can enrich our lives and bring stability to our walk and tremendous spiritual growth and keep us from being lewd astray. A topical study’s purpose is to find what God’s Word has to say regarding a specific topic. It is similar to a word study only far more comprehensive. The advantage of a topical study is that it gives the total picture of what the Word of God has to say on any particular subject. The advantage is to know God’s word more intimately and accurately on the subject matter.
1.. Look up every parallel and relative passage on the subject you are studying. There will be main references and secondary references. Every reference must be understood and analyzed within its context. This is a systematic way to gather all that Scripture has stated. This is different than a word study where you are looking up a particular word and find its tenses ands usage. In this you’re looking up statements. For example, if you were studying the dual nature of Christ, you would separate statements of him being the son of man (humanity) and the Son of God (deity) you would look for the peoples reaction to what is said and repetitive statements.
2. Have a literal, word for word translation of the Bible, a concordance, a dictionary to make sure it is the same word or a derivative of it.
3. Look up all the related words and concepts. Note what is first (primary meaning) and then secondary. Look up any contrasting passages. Consider any contrasting passages that may affect the conclusion. how often is a particular teaching or word repeated. Study each passage thoroughly, examining it to discover the author’s intended meaning, always check the context. Was it cultural, temporary for their time. Does it have a cultural meaning when it was stated. As you study each related passage, establish key verses from them. Look for qualifying statements that are definitive. Assemble your data as systematically as possible ( the pro’s or cons).
4. Always look for the passage and where the subject is first mentioned in the Bible and see if it has changed. See if there was any development in the doctrine. What has changed and what has stayed the same. Was it affected by another covenant. Determine the main points taught in the passage. When gathering the subject matter determine which passages are clear, and which unclear. Do not build doctrine on the unclear! If not understood wait until you have collected all that is written on the subject before making a conclusion.
5. Do not build your doctrine on tradition or extra-biblical sources. If a doctrine is important, or a core doctrine the Bible it will cover the subject thoroughly. Greater attention should be given to teachings in the New Testament on the subject over the teachings of the Old Testament; unless the subject matter is smaller. The New Testament is the completed revelation and should always be paid attention to over the Old Testament. For example the subject of the Law of Moses changed completely by the New covenant being established, and must be taken into account of how one interprets this once the New Covenant was in affect. One cannot reverse the emphasis to the Old Testament or they will come to the wrong conclusion on the law.
6. Application- Make sure you have put the emphasis where God puts the emphasis, after this you can then apply what you have learned to have its effect on your life. Know that not everything can be applied to us today, some are history. We can establish what is for us by what Jesus repeated and expanded under the new covenant.