Wednesday, June 3, 2020

S.O.A.P. Method of Bible Study

The Clean, Easy Way to Study the Bible

The Big Idea: The S.O.A.P. method of Bible study is a very easy way to remember how to study the Bible, in a basic inductive manner. 

Have you ever found an easy way to remember something like a name, or the order of the planets? It is often a method of word or letter association like K.I.S.S. "Keep it Simple, Silly!" 

If you want to dig into the Bible on your own on a regular basis, this acronym, S.O.A.P., is very useful. This formula will get you into the word, simply. It will keep your mind on task and let you apply it to your life. And you will remember it day to day, even without a cheat sheet! If you want something to help you get started, you can use my downloadable worksheet here

Free downloadable S.O.A.P. worksheet
So let's go over the basics.

  • Scripture
  • Observation
  • Application
  • Prayer

Gather your Essentials

It is helpful to have several items to begin your time of study.  This is a very low budget method.

  • A Bible (can be a book that is a Bible, or you can use an electronic version).
  • A notebook or binder for regular note taking.  Paper in the notebook, or printouts like this.
  • A pen or a pencil.
  • A quiet place to think and pray, and a few minutes to yourself.

Put your text at the top of the page, and the date as well. It will be interesting as you study God's Word to go back and look at what you have learned over time.

Pray Before you Begin

Prayer is listed at the end, but prayer should be our first and our last work. We pray and invite the Lord to bless our time in His Word. We examine our self for any barrier of sinfulness that might poison our time with the Lord. We pray for an open heart. We ask for the Holy Spirit to guide and reveal to us what He has for us in the Bible text.


Rather than choosing random passages or verses, it is often good to begin at the start with a book of the Bible.  If you are completely new to Bible study I would recommend the Gospel of John, or a shorter epistle of the New Testament such as Philippians.

Whenever you start a new book, on the first day, you may want to look at an introduction of that book. Many Study Bibles have an introduction. If you use, you will find the NIV Bible and the Good News Bible there have an introduction at the start of each book. 

It is good to note who was the author, when was it written, who was the intended audience, check for an outline, key verse and theme. It might be good to read the book in the entirety the first time to get a sense of the book before you study it in greater detail.

After that, you may wish to start lessons by chapter or by 1-2 paragraphs at a time.


The interrogative questions are always a good place to begin. Who? What? When? Where? Why, and How?  Observe if there are any names mentioned. Check for locations such as towns and countries. Is there a time reference? Is there a phrase or a word that is repeated or said in a fresh way a second time? Is there an unusual word you want to look up in the dictionary? Often an English dictionary is a useful tool for this. You may want to summarize what is being talked about in a sentence. By looking at these various facets of the verses you will find yourself reading the passage more than once. You will slow down and notice things you have not noticed before. This is a good and useful habit to acquire.


This is the "so what" phase. It is beyond what does it mean to what does it matter for my life today? Is there a promise of God to embrace? Is there a warning about sin or bad habits? Is there an admonition or encouragement that will help us live the Christian life? Is there a good example to follow? What might you learn about human nature? About yourself?  What about God? What do you see about God in this passage? And how is this beneficial for your today? Is there something for you to let go? Is there something you should do or an attitude adjustment that needs to be made based on this Bible passage?


So finally, talk to God as your friend. Tell him what you have learned in His Word and ask for His help to renew your mind. Ask Him to help you do what you need to do. In all of this you will draw closer to Him and He will draw closer to you and give you strength for this day. 

End Note

It is always good to share what you have learned with someone else. Talking about it will help to reinforce what you are learning in your study of the Bible.

In inductive Bible study, a valuable part is interpretation. There are steps to follow to discern this. They include another set of questions, consulting with parallel passages, Biblical themes, word studies, using other Bible tools, and so on.  Some of this you will find yourself doing using S.O.A.P, in the observation and application phases. There is a place for interpretation and we will cover it in more detail in another blog soon. However, this simple method using S.O.A.P. gets you into the Word on a regular basis, even if some days your time is limited. It is a very satisfying process. Just as soap is what we use to keep our bodies clean, the S.O.A.P. method gets us into the Word to keep our mind and our soul clean and fit.

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