Thursday, November 9, 2023

6 - Topical Bible Study Method

Big Idea: Introduction to the Topical Bible study method which details a Biblical topic through the study of pertinent verses, cataloging their uses and drawing life application from the observations.

Series note: We are taking 12 weeks to feature summaries of the 12 Bible Study Methods featured in the book by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life

My Pet Topic 

Do you know someone with a pet topic? They bring it up no matter what the conversation is about.

One of my favorite topics in the Bible is peace. The peace that is beyond comprehension that comes from God (Philippians 4:7).

The Topical Bible Study Method

The Topical Bible Study Method is like the Thematic (Themes) study from 2 weeks ago about verses related to a subject. You gather understanding by asking questions.

But the Topical Bible Study and the Thematic Bible study are different in a couple ways. The topical study is broader, and takes longer. All the verses are looked at and the questions are not limited. Each verse is examined for all their insights and compared.

Since the topic may be so broad it would take months to finish, you may want to limit your particular observations to a single book of the Bible, or just the Old Testament or the New Testament.

The importance of topical study 

Rick Warren's Bible Study Methods: Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God's Word . Zondervan.

1. It enables us to study the Word of God systematically, logically, and in an orderly manner.

2. It gives us a proper perspective and balance regarding biblical truth. We get to see the whole of a biblical teaching.

3. It allows us to study subjects that are of particular interest to us.

4. It enables us to study the great doctrines of the Bible.

5. It lends itself to good and lively discussions. The results of a topical study are always easy to share with others.

6. It allows us variety in our lifetime commitment to personal Bible study. The number of topics in the Bible that we can study is almost limitless.

Tools needed:

A study Bible                           (Scripture Spy blogpost:   Resources in your Study Bible)
An exhaustive concordance     (Scripture Spy blogpost: How to use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
Topical Bible

A note on specialized topical Bibles: The Thompson Chain Reference Bible was written over 100 years ago. It remains tried and true for discovering Bible themes.

Advice from R.A. Torrey, How to Study the Bible, Witaker House.  The kindle version of this book is currently free at 

1. Be systematic
2. Be thorough
3. Be exact

Simple steps on doing a topical study

1. Compile a list of all the worlds related to the topic. Think of synonyms and antonyms, phrases and events.

2. Collect all the references. Use your reference tools to gather all the verses you can find on the topics. Use a concordance or the search feature in an online Bible.

3. Consider each verse individually. Use a comparison chart to look up, read and study each reference, writing down highlights and insights. Check the surrounding verses for context. Ask yourself lots of questions.

4. Compare and group the references with one another. You will find there are multiple verses that go together or are used in the same manner.

5. Condense your finding into an outline. Logically arrange your main divisions as you put together an outline. Group related ideas by their logical pattern.

6. Conclude by summarizing and applying the topic. Try to summarize your findings into brief paragraphs. Then meditate on them and write out practical application you see for your life.

Making a Form

Chart 1: For steps 1 and 2. Place topic on top, then words related in the next slot. Next list all the Bible References you find.

Chart 2: For steps 3 and 4. Make a comparison chart. Have 3 columns labeled reference, cross-references, and observations/insights. The third column should be the widest for more room to write.

Chart 3: For step 5. Make your outline here.

Chart 4: For step 6. Summary and application

Helpful resources

The webpage has a page on Warren’s Topical Method.  A form is also available here.

Here is an online PDF of the book by Rick Warren, Bible Study Methods: 12 ways you can unlock God's Word


Previous: Biographical Method of Bible Study
Up next: Word Study Method of Bible Study


1. What topic would you like to study? Why?

2. How do you think the Word of God can speak to you through a topical study?

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