How to Study the Bible Verse By Verse
Bible study can be overwhelming. One of the easiest ways to start studying the Bible is one verse at a time. If you want to learn how to study the Bible verse by verse using the SOAP or SOAK Bible study method, keep reading.
If this is your first time here, you may want to start with the post: Bible Study Tips for Beginners and work your way through the series.
SOAK Bible Study Method
So you may be wondering, what is the SOAK method for Bible study and how do I use it? The first thing you need to know is that SOAP or SOAK is an acronym. (I tend to use them alternately as they follow the same steps.) The SOAP Bible study method introduces you to the inductive method of Bible study where effort is placed on observing what the text says before attempting to make an application.
SOAP means Scripture Observation Application Prayer, whereas SOAK means Scripture Observation Application Kneel.
Each word in the acronym gives us some instruction and is a part of the process that we’ll follow while studying our Bibles.
Studying the Bible Verse by Verse
Make sure you have identified what you will study so that when you sit down to your Bible study time you have a plan. If you haven’t read it already, check out Bible Study Tips for Beginners to learn more about preparing for Bible study.
Before we make any attempt to study the Bible, we should begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Guide and Teacher as you begin the intricate process of studying God’s Word.Before we make any attempt to study the Bible, we should begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Guide and Teacher. #biblestudymethod #hebrews12endurance #biblestudytip Click To Tweet
SOAK Bible Study Method: Scripture
Read the entire chapter surrounding the verse you’ve decided to study. It’s always best to read the surrounding verses for context so that your observations will be based on the text and not personal experiences or biases. We’re going to the text seeking a revelation from God, not trying to confirm a hypothesis or a theory.
On a sheet of paper or in a notebook, write the verse you have decided to study. I like to do this using the King James or New King James version. That’s a personal preference but I encourage you to use the word-for-word translation that resonates most with you.
Download the free SOAK Bible study method printable.
SOAK Bible Study Method: Observation
This is the stage of your Bible study where you get to be a detective (or at least an inquisitive reporter). Step 1: Examine the text and make note of what stands out for you. Are there words that are repeated? Is there a word that stands out or seems out of place? Mark the words that stand out to you or that you want to learn more about.
If you’d rather, you can watch the YouTube video here:
Step 2: Ask “Who”, “Why”, “What”, “Where”, “When” and “How” questions.
- Is there a narrator? Who is it?
- Who is the text written to?
- Is there any indication of why it was written?
- Are there any places or landmarks mentioned?
- Are there people, places or things mentioned in the verse? What are they?
- Are there references to time in the verse?
- What type of literature is it? (For example, is the verse you’re studying historical, prophetic, or part of an epistle, etc.?)
- What’s happening in the text? What action is mentioned or taking place?
- What new things did you learn about God the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?
Step 3: Use a dictionary to look up the meanings of unfamiliar words. A Bible dictionary is useful in this step but you can use a regular dictionary as well.
Step 4: Use a Bible Concordance to research the words you highlighted in step 1.
Step 5: Read the verse you’re studying in alternate translations. Make note of any new understanding you receive.
Refer to the Bible Study Resources section of the Bible Study Tips for Beginners post for additional details on Bibles dictionaries, concordances, and alternate translations.
Step 6: Read the entire chapter again. Is there anything in the chapter that sheds light on your verse? Make note of those things.Are you using these 7 observation steps in your Bible study time? #hebrews12endurance #biblestudymethod #biblestudycommunity Click To Tweet
Step 7: Write a personal paraphrase of the verse. Be sure to use expansions based on the research of the original language or dictionary definitions. Don’t be worried if your paraphrase is much longer than the original verse. Instead, strive for clarity.
See Proverbs 4:23 for an example of a personal paraphrase.
At the end of this process, you may feel as though you’ve wrung your poor verse through a wringer. But don’t worry, it’s stronger for it and you have a better understanding of what the Bible was saying about the topic.
SOAK Bible Study Method: Application
Now we get to the fun part! What does this verse have to say about your life?
A note of caution: before making a personal application, apply the text in its original context. Try to understand how it applied to the people it was written to first.
What did it mean at the time it was written? Then, you can bring it across the centuries and apply it to your life.
We do not want to rob God’s Word of its context as that can sometimes lead to us making an interpretation that is not based on the Bible. The Bible tends to repeat itself so whatever application you make based on one text will have other references in Scripture. Be wary of drawing “unique” conclusions as this may be a sign that you have taken a verse out of context.
SOAK Bible Study Method: Kneel/Pray
So, you’ve done your observation, you’ve made your application. Now it’s time to pray about it. I recommend writing this prayer so that you can refer to it whenever you review your Bible study notes. This will also be a great opportunity to see how you’ve grown as you spend time interacting with God’s Word.
A written prayer is a great way to document how God answers your requests. Just be sure to go back and note the date God answers your prayer. I like to date my studies so I can keep track of what I’m learning and when.Don't forget to pray. A written prayer is a great way to document how God answers your requests. #biblestudymethod #hebrews12endurance #biblestudycommunity Click To Tweet
The SOAK Bible Study Method is perfect for beginners as it allows you to dig into one verse at a time. It’s also useful for persons with more experience studying their Bibles because it can lead to a deeper understanding of what God has to say. I hope you try the verse by verse Bible study method and that God blesses the time you spend with Him.
If you’ve missed the rest of the series, check out the posts here: