A woman reading her Bible in a field with trees in the background.
Bible Study

Closer to Christ: 12 Dynamic Bible Study Methods 

Studying the Bible can feel a bit intimidating. After all, it’s a huge book with lots of pages. There are strange words and unfamiliar concepts. It was written in a time and culture very different from our own.  

And yet, studying the Bible is an important part of our walk with Christ.  

So, how do we go about studying the Bible when we feel so poorly equipped? When we feel overwhelmed and are unsure of where or even how to start? 

The first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and remember that God is willing to help us with this.  

And the second thing we need to do is realize there isn’t only one right way to do Bible study. In fact, there are many different methods for studying the Bible. 

Some are great for visual learners. And others for auditory learners. There are simple methods and creative methods. Some are great for beginners and others are great for those who want to go even deeper into God’s Word.

Just like there are many different kinds of people . . . there are many different kinds of Bible study methods.   

Because studying the Bible isn’t something reserved for pastors or Bible teachers. Anyone and everyone can and should study the Bible.  

Because that is how we grow closer to Christ.  

What should we NOT do in Bible study? 

Let’s start off by looking at what we should NOT do when we study the Bible. 

The worst thing we can do when we sit down to study the Bible is to try and get Scripture to conform to our preconceived ideas and notions. To try and cherry-pick verses to get the Bible to say what we want it to say.  

We are here to learn from God.  

So, we need to be open-minded to learning new things. And hearing what God has to say.  

The most effective way to study the Bible is to be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to show us. To be fully surrendered to Him. And willing to let Him renew our thoughts and transform our minds.  

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”  

-Psalm 119:18 ESV

What are some Bible study tools? 

Some great Bible study tools to have on hand are a good study Bible, a couple of different translations of the Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and some trustworthy commentaries.  

I know that sounds like a lot. And if you are like me, the cost of these things can be an issue.  

So, another option is to download an app that has all these features included in it.

(Check out the Blue Letter Bible App, Bible Hub App, Bible Strong App, Logos Bible App, or any other one you like.) 

Looking over the shoulder of a woman reading an open Bible. And the words, "Studying the Bible isn’t something reserved for pastors or Bible teachers. Anyone and everyone can and should study the Bible."

What are the different types of Bible study methods? 

There are many different ways to study the bible out there.

We will be taking a closer look at the following 12 dynamic Bible study methods, including the: 

  • Inductive Bible Study Method. 
  • SOAP Bible Study Method. 
  • Bible Verse Mapping Method. 
  • Book Bible Study Method. 
  • Topical Bible Study Method. 
  • Word Bible Study Method. 
  • Character Bible Study Method. 
  • Bible Study & Prayer Journaling Combination Method.  
  • Creative Bible Journaling Method. 
  • Chapter Analysis Bible Study Method. 
  • The HEAR Bible Study Method. 
  • The APPLE Bible Study Method. 

While this list doesn’t include all the Bible study methods out there, there is sure to be one that will help you get excited to dig into Scripture and learn more about God’s Word!

Read about them. Learn more about them. Try them out. And then figure out which ones work best for you.  

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

-2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
A woman praying over her Bible. And the words, "Studying the Bible can be a very rewarding experience. Because it’s how we get to know the God who passionately loves us."

1) Inductive Bible Study Method. 

The Inductive Bible Study method is one of the most effective bible study methods because it encourages you to learn and grow from Scripture.

Inductive learning encourages observation of Scripture rather than coming to the Bible with your own thoughts and ideas.  

There are three main steps to this method, including: 

  • Observation.  

Start by observing the passage. Then ask yourself: What do you notice as you read? Does anything jump out at you?  

  • Interpretation.  

After you observe the passage, then focus on interpreting it. Ask yourself, what does this passage mean? 

  • Application.  

After observing the passage and interpreting what it means, you then need to ask what does this passage mean for me?  

Is there a way you can apply this passage to your life? Is there something God is trying to tell you? Or is this simply a verse He wants you to hold onto? 

2) SOAP Bible Study Method. 

The SOAP Bible study method is one of the simplest bible study methods to learn. It involves remembering the SOAP acronym which stands for these easy but effective steps: 

  • Scripture.  

Pick out the Bible verse you want to study and write it out in a notebook or journal. 

  • Observation.  

Think about the verse and write down any thoughts or questions you have on it. Consider what this verse would’ve meant to the original audience. Listen to see if the Holy Spirit has anything He wants to reveal to you about this verse.  

  • Application.  

Think about how you could apply this verse to your life. Is there a timeless truth God is trying to show you? Or is there something He wants you to change or start doing?   

  • Prayer.  

End your study time in prayer. Thank God for the gift of His Word and for helping you to study it.  

Looking over the shoulder of a woman reading her Bible with a pen in her hand. And the words, "What does God say about this?"

3) Bible Verse Mapping Method. 

This is a great way to learn how to study the bible verse by verse. It can be a very effective way to go deeper into God’s Word.

In this method, you take 1 to 2 verses and basically break them down to study the original meaning and context by following 5 steps. (Check out the video by Zondervan below to learn more.)

  • 1) Verse.

Pray first. Then pick out a verse and write it out in a notebook or journal.

  • 2) Design.

Compare it in 3-4 different translations. Consider what ideas, themes, or words stick out to you as you read. Highlight, circle, or underline them. Look up the cross references. Write down any questions you have.

  • 3) Develop.

Look up the definitions of words you don’t understand. Look up the original words and their meanings in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Consider synonyms of these words and the root words.

  • 4) Actions.

What actions are telling this story? Find some good commentaries and research the people, places, and context mentioned in this verse. Think about the questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? And how?

  • 5) Outcome.

Write a short summary of the verse and how it can be applied to your life today.

4) Book Bible Study Method. 

This Bible study method involves taking a book of the Bible and studying the whole thing.  

It’s very helpful to go to a site like Biblegateway.com and then print out the book of the Bible you want to study. This way you can highlight, circle, underline, scribble notes, and more as you try and figure out what the book is all about.  

Look for imperatives or commands. And see if you notice any words that are repeated throughout the book.  

Do you have any questions or concerns with what you read? Are there any practical or theological problems you run into?  

Write everything down. And then look for answers either through further study, good commentaries, or perhaps even asking a trusted Christian friend or your pastor.  

(Another great place to check out is gotquestions.org.) 

Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions of Scripture. God is not afraid of them! 

Let your questions, doubts, and concerns drive you closer to God as you pursue His truth. 

A woman wearing glasses and reading her Bible. And the words, "Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions of Scripture. God is not afraid of them! Let your questions, doubts, and concerns drive you closer to God as you pursue His truth."

5) Topical Bible Study Method. 

The topical Bible study method involves thinking about a topic you’re interested in learning more about and seeing what God has to say about it.  

A concordance is a great tool to have for this Bible study method. This tool lists words in alphabetical order and the passages of Scripture that address that particular topic. (You can also just Google the topic to find lists of verses about it.)

This is a great way to learn more about what God says about things like fear, worry, forgiveness, loving others, etc. 

Another fantastic idea is to take the verses you find in your topical study and use them in other Bible study methods.  

For example, you could take one verse a day on fear and then use the Inductive, SOAP, Bible Verse Map, or another method to study that verse even further. 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” 

-Psalm 119:105 ESV

6) Word Bible Study Method 

This is an awesome method for those who want to go even deeper in their study of God’s Word. 

In this method you look at one or two verses, finding words that stick out to you. Then you use an app like the Blue Letter Bible App to look up the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek words in those verses.  

It’s a fantastic way to discover the profound meaning of a word in a passage of Scripture. 

For example, the Bible has many verses about love. And yet there are three different Greek words used for the word “love”: eros, philos, and agape.  

By studying what these words mean in the original language we can discover a whole new and more accurate meaning to the verses we’re reading.  

A woman sitting in her bed while reading her Bible. And the words, "It isn’t just Bible study time . . . it’s our own special date night with Jesus!"

7) Character Bible Study Method 

By using the Character Bible study method, you get to know some of the people in the Bible very well. This method involves taking a deeper look at the life of someone like David, Abraham, Ruth, or Paul.  

Through studying what these people went through we can gain a better understanding of the God we serve. 

As we read about them, we see their struggles. And how God showed up in their lives.  

This study method helps us see that the people in the Bible were real people living very real and messy lives.  

So, if God can use them . . . then He most certainly can use us.  

A woman praying in the dark. And the words, "The people in the Bible were real people living very real and messy lives. So, if God can use them . . . then He most certainly can use us."

8) Bible Study & Prayer Journaling Combination Method.  

This method of Bible study involves reading a passage while writing down your thoughts, questions, and observations in a prayer journal. Then you write the verse out in your journal and use it as inspiration for writing out prayers to God. 

This method is perfect for helping you slow down and focus as you study and pray. And it can be a wonderful way to enjoy being in God’s Presence.  

9) Creative Bible Journaling Method. 

This method motivates us to sit still before the Lord. It’s also one of the great Bible study methods for beginners or those who are visual learners.  

The Creative Bible Journaling Method combines art and Bible study together. You learn, reflect, and study a passage by painting, coloring, drawing, or scrapbooking in your Bible.  

This can also help you meditate on a verse. To really think about it and ponder its meaning.  

You can use an art sketchbook, notebook, or even one of the many journaling Bibles that are available.  

These Bibles often feature thicker pages, wider margins with space for writing, beautiful artwork, and some even include their own decorative designs for you to color in like this one.

A woman praying with flowers in the background. And the words, "As we study God’s Word and get to know Him, we find the peace our souls have been longing for. And the love our hearts have been aching for."

10) Chapter Analysis Bible Study Method. 

In this Bible study method, you analyze one chapter of the Bible at a time. This helps you to slow down and really dig in. 

As you read, focus on the meaning of what you’re reading. Think about what the author is saying. And how you could apply it.  

Consider reading through the chapter several times. Because you’ll notice more things the second or third time through. And one of those times try reading it out loud. (This is great for auditory learners.)  

In general, people tend to scan things quickly when they read. So, reading out loud forces you to slow down and helps you notice things you may have missed when you first read the passage.  

Plus, Scripture was written with the intention of being read to others. This is why reading out loud is a great way to connect with God’s Word in a whole new way.   

When you’re done reading, take out your notebook or journal and write down any thoughts you have. And then try to summarize the chapter in a short paragraph.  

This can help you better retain what you just learned.  

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds.”  

-Deuternomy 11:18 NIV

11) The HEAR Bible Study Method 

This Bible study method is similar to the inductive and SOAP methods. It involves reading a passage and focusing on 4 things: 

  • H – Highlight. 

Go through the passage and highlight (or underline) what sticks out to you.  

  • E – Explain. 

Think about what the passage means and then try to explain it. Summarize what you think the original author was trying to say.  

  • A – Apply. 

Consider how you could apply this passage to your life.  

  • R – Respond. 

Respond to God in prayer at the end of your study time. Thank Him for who He is, what He has done, and all He has revealed to you today.  

12) The APPLE Bible Study Method. 

The APPLE Bible study method was one I just recently learned about, and I found it very intriguing. This method is taught by Arabah Joy.

What’s nice about this method is that it really gets you to think about God. To look in Scripture to see His attributes, promises, and principles for living.  

The other great thing about this method is that it encourages you to go over a passage of Scripture multiple times.

By doing this we notice more things, remember more, and grow in our understanding of God’s Word.  

  • A – Attributes of God. 

After reading a passage, think about an attribute of God the passage reveals such as His love, mercy, holiness, goodness, etc.  

  • P – Promises. 

Skim the passage again and look for any of God’s promises to you in there.  

  • P – Principles for Living. 

Review the passage again and ask yourself if there are any principles for living in there. Are there any truths God is trying to show you? 

  • L – Lessons Learned or Sins to Avoid. 

Read the passage again and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any lessons He wants you to learn from it. Or any sins He wants you to avoid.  

Is God asking you to take action in a certain area of your life? What is a practical way you can implement what you’ve learned? 

  • E – Example to follow. 

After reading over the text one last time, consider if there are any examples you found in this passage you could follow.

Is there an example of ungodliness you could learn to avoid? Is there an example of godliness you could learn to emulate? 

A woman reading her Bible in a field with trees in the background. And the words, "Closer to Christ: 12 Dynamic Bible Study Methods."

Why Should I Study the Bible? 

Now, you know 12 different types of Bible study methods. So, you really have no excuse for not studying the Bible. (LOL.) 

But you may still wonder, “Why should I study the Bible?” 

After all, it may seem like it takes a lot of work, effort, and time. You may wonder how you could ever practically learn to fit something like Bible study into your life. 

But the truth is just like with almost everything in life, it gets easier with time. And the hardest things in life, end up having the most rewarding benefits. 

As we get to know God, we find the peace our souls have been longing for. And the love our hearts have been aching for.  

So spend time soaking in God’s Word, because studying the Bible can be a very rewarding experience. Because it’s how we get to know the God who passionately loves us. 

And after a while, we realize it isn’t just Bible study time . . . it’s like our own special date night . . . with Jesus. 

If you found this helpful, then please share it so it can help others!

And don’t miss out on these fantastic reads:

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