How to Study the Bible by Subject?

One of the most effective ways of studying the Bible is by subject. The Bible is full of hundreds of subjects such as prayer, faith, love, hope, end times, prophecy, etc. I have listed below some valuable steps for studying the Bible by subject:

1. Choose a Subject. This is the most vital step. Consider praying about this. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is the best teacher. Let Him reveal to you what subject will help you the most for that particular frame of time in your life. Another very important point to consider on this step is to ponder on what subject is your weakness. It is always a good idea to focus on topics which you are not familiar with. This way you turn your weak subjects into your strengths, at times even becoming an expert on the particular subject matter after thorough study. I used to be weak in a lot of Bible subjects. Apart from reading and studying my Bible, I invested in buying good Christian Books written by trustworthy writers on those subjects. It will cost you money but believe me when I say this, it pays off to invest in Books. Currently I have over five hundred Christian Books in my Amazon Kindle which I reference all the time when studying different subjects.

2. Find the Chapters and Verses Related to the Subject. There are some very important points I want you to consider when selecting your chapters and verses. There are certain subjects where entire chapters are written on them. For example, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 is entirely based on the subject of Spiritual Gifts and Chapter 13 is based on Love. In these particular scenarios, it may be best just to study the entire chapter and break it down into multiple points as you do your study. Of course, there are other Chapters and Verses on this subjects in the Bible which you may consider including in the study. But please keep in mind that you do not want to flood yourself with too much information that you cannot thoroughly digest. I suggest that you study at a pace which works for you and if time allows, feel free to pull together other Chapters and Verses related to the subject and study them. The second important point I want to make for step 2 is that there are subjects where you will not find entire chapters on them but the information is scattered throughout the Bible. For example, when studying the names of God or the names of Jesus, you will notice that these subjects are progressive in nature as you read your Bible. God does not reveal a bunch of His names in one Book or Chapter but continues to give it one by one as the reader proceeds from one Book to the next. I like to call this progressive revelation. As a matter of fact, the Bible is definitely progressive revelation by nature. In this scenario, it is best to pull together the specific verses which relate to the subject, put them together on a page and study them one by one. Studying the Bible by subject takes time so be prepared to make time if you are serious on using this form of Bible Study.

3. Use Bible Study Tools. Invest in purchasing some Bible Study Tools which will greatly help you in studying the Bible by subject. I have listed below some of the Bible Study Tools I personally recommend and what it’s use is.

a. Parallel Bible – A Parallel version is a Bible that shows more than one translation side by side for comparison. The one I personally recommend is tilted, “Today’s Parallel Bible” which contains NIV, NASB, KJV and NLT translation side by side. The reason I recommend this Parallel Bible is because it contains three major forms of translation which are literal, dynamic and hybrid, giving the reader a balanced perspective on every verse.

b. Study Bible - A Study Bible is an edition of the Bible prepared for use by a serious student of the Bible. It provides scholarly information designed to help the reader gain a better understanding of and context for the text. There are two Study Bibles which I personally use and recommend. The first one is NIV Life Application Study Bible and the second is the HCSB Study Bible. I have found that the notes in these two versions are enlightening and also very practical.

c. Concordance – A Bible concordance is a concordance, or verbal index, to the Bible. A simple form lists Biblical words alphabetically, with indications to enable the inquirer to find the passages of the Bible where the words occur.

d. Bible Dictionary – A Bible dictionary is a reference work containing encyclopedic entries related to the Bible, typically concerning people, places, customs, doctrine and Biblical criticism. Bible dictionaries can be scholarly or popular in tone. I highly recommend you get a copy of the Vines Complete Expository Dictionary. This is one of the best Bible Dictionaries in the market.

e. Bible Commentary – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture. The most famous Bible Commentary is Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary. There are obviously new ones out there now which are more up to date with new insights. The new one that I am currently using is tilted, “The Preacher’s Commentary written by D. Stuart Briscoe”. Another one that I use as a reference every now and then is the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary put together by multiple Biblical Scholars.

f. Bible Handbook – A good Bible handbook is a simple and concise reference book that provides comprehensive information on all aspects of the Bible. The most widely used Bible Handbook is Halley’s Bible Handbook written by Hendry H. Halley. The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook is also very useful as a companion to Halley’s Bible Handbook.

g. The Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is the most complete, easy-to-use, and understandable concordance for studying the original languages of the Bible. Our English Bible is basically a translation of the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts put together by the Bible translators. What the reader needs to keep in mind is that whenever something is translated from one language to another, it may fail to either capture the full meaning or it may just not be possible to match the English words which are hundred percent accurate to the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic words. This is where Strong’s Concordance becomes the most valuable tool. Now I am in no way suggesting that you study every single word in the English Bible using Strong’s Concordance but what I am implying is that you pay close attention to the major words of the subject being studied, list them down, find the origin of those words from the concordance and write down the full meaning. You will be amazed at how helpful a concordance is when you study the Bible by subject. Let me give you a simple example to illustrate my point. If you were studying the topic of Salvation from Romans Chapter 10, you will find that the Greek word translated Salvation comes from “Soteria”. In simple words, we understand salvation as God saving us from the sins we have committed by pardoning (forgiving) them through faith in Jesus Christ. But if you looked at the original Greek word “Soteria” in the Strong’s Concordance, you will notice that “Soteria” is an entire Salvation Package. It includes safety, deliverance, health, protection, healing, preservation, etc. Now this puts a totally different perspective on the whole meaning of Salvation. Hopefully this example gives you a clear demonstration of how powerful and enlightening the use of Strong’s Concordance can be for your regular Bible Study.

4. Compile Everything Gathered in Order. You probably might be wondering how a person can align so much information in an order so that it flows in a progressively, connects to each other and is easy to understand. No problem. This process is not as complicated as you might think. Try the following format and see if it works for you. You can always switch some steps back and forth to fit your need.

a. Write Down the Name of the Subject with Definition.
b. List the Chapters & Verses.
c. List Down All Major Points Gathered Using the Bible Study Tools.
d. Recognize Patterns, Connections and Relations in the Information.
e. Create Diagrams to Illustrate Step D.
f. Discuss Your Research with Others and Keep an Open Mind.

That’s all for now folks. Feel free to leave comments and provide feedback. Enjoy the rest of your day!