Monday, September 27, 2021

IBS-16 What is a Word Study?


Big Idea: What is a word study and why it is important to conduct one.

Why do a Word Study?

Books have words and words have meaning. Many have a spectrum of meaning often with several usages. The context assits to discover any shades of meaning.

The Bible was written in predominately Hebrew and Greek. Bible versions vary depending on whether the translators choose to be more literal (word for word), or portray the idea (thought for thought).

A word study is valuable to the interpreting phase of Inductive Bible Study. Look at the word usage in your passage, other parts of the Bible, and in the original language. There are helpful tools available so you don’t need to know Hebrew or Greek for a word study.

Steps to a useful word study

To get to the bottom of the word meaning try these steps.

1. Look at the context and theme  

Each word is used in a sentence, belonging to a paragraph, a chapter, and a book of the Bible. What is the book about? What is the author discussing in a particular chapter?

2. Examine the word meaning in your language

Some Biblical words aren’t used every day. Start with its dictionary definition in your language. You cannot assume this definition is its sure meaning. Some English words have multiple meanings and nuance. Context is key.

3. Look at other English versions of the same verse

At Bible Gateway the verse can be viewed how it’s expressed in other English translations. It may be translated the same or it might vary. Those other variations give insight.

4. Discover word frequency and location

a. In your English Bible. You can search word frequency through your Bible app or in a concordance. The back of some Study Bibles have a limited concordance. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance covers every word occurrence in English in KJV including “the.”

b. In the original language. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance indicates the original language word used with an index in back. Future posts present using Strong’s Concordance and online searching.

5. Analysis

  • How is the word used in the book you are studying, and books by the same author (like Paul). Word studies are often done because of frequent occurrence.
  • Do other passages use that word?
  • Some different passages translate it differently so ask yourself why translators may put it the way they did.
  • What impact does this word have on your passage and your understanding of the verse?

6. Pray and apply 

Ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Try to rewrite the verse in your own words. Ask yourself why this word matters to the Christian life.


This is the sixteenth in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
Previous post: Resources in your Study Bible
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1. Have you told a story finding you kept repeating a word? Was it intentional or natural? Why do you think a word is used a lot by an author in a Bible passage?

2. Has a pastor or Bible teacher ever given you word insight that has unlocked the meaning of a verse for you?

3. What might be a word you’d like to examine? Is it from your recent study of the Word or is it a verse that has troubled you for years?

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