Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Want to Know More About...

I want to know more about...

Have you ever thought that about some Biblical theme?  Maybe you had a discussion with a sister about giving, and she said something you never thought of before. Or perhaps you are teaching a class on the work women do in the church, and you need to study up on what the Bible says.  You aren't looking for a deep exhaustive study, just a general idea of the way the Bible addresses a specific theme.  I've been in similar situations countless times; if you have too, then this Bible study method is for you.

In the thematic method of Bible study, you will choose a specific theme or concept and perform a basic study.  For this method, you'll be picking a fairly narrow theme, and you'll want to stay focused on it to avoid being overwhelmed.  For instance, instead of choosing "giving" as a theme (there are over 500 verses in the Bible with the word "give"), you might choose giving in the New Testament. 

One way you can stay focused is to have a list of questions to answer based on the Bible verses that deal with that topic.  In our example of giving, you might ask:
  • When should we give?
  • To whom should we give?
  • How much should we give?
  • With what attitude should we give?
  • Why should we give?

In this kind of study, a Topical Bible may be of more use than a concordance, especially with commonly used words.  Not every instance of the word "give" will have anything to do with what you are trying to study. A hard copy of a topical Bible will have topics in alphabetical order, and under each topic will be a list of references or whole scriptures related to that theme.  Nave's Topical Bible is in the Public Domain, free to use on many bible study websites and in e-sword. In electronic form, there will be links to the related verses.  In Nave's, you can look up "giving," and you will see several references that speak of giving. There is also a short list of other words you can search for in the topical Bible that would apply, like "alms" and "liberality."

Once you have done a search in a topical Bible, you can make a list of all the verses you plan to read and study on your topic.  You can use these verses to answer the questions you have decided on.  Not every verse will answer every question, but taken together, you should be able to answer the questions that occurred to you while talking with your sister or preparing for your Bible class. 

Once again, studying for the sake of knowledge may be fun, but if you don't do anything more than answer questions about giving, you haven't learned giving yet.  The same is true for any Bible study, thematic or otherwise. 
But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  James 1:22
So the next time your brain explodes in Bible class (Helene?) or you are struck with the inspiration to learn more about the Lord's Supper or the tabernacle, pull out a topical Bible, make a list of questions, and see what the Bible has to say.  Then don't forget to apply it. Happy studying!


All methods of Bible study presented in this series come courtesy of Bill and Beverly Watkins, who teach the class at the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies.  It is shared by their permission with many thanks.

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