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Bible Study Methods #4: The Thematic Study Method

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Based upon Rick Warren’s excellent book, Bible Study Methods, this presentation offers a simple way of deepening your Bible study by examining a specific theme within Scripture.

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Bible Study Methods #4: The Thematic Study Method

  1. 1. #4 The Thematic Method of Bible Study How to study a theme in the Bible
  2. 2. theme subject, topic, matter, issue, idea
  3. 3. This method relies on you asking good questions about a theme before you read your Bible.
  4. 4. I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. I send them over land and sea, I send them east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest.
  5. 5. I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men. But different folk have different views; I know a person small— She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all!
  6. 6. She sends'em abroad on her own affairs, From the second she opens her eyes— One million Hows, two million Wheres, And seven million Whys! The Elephant's Child, Rudyard Kipling
  7. 7. Who, What, Where, Where, Why, How
  8. 8. DEFINITION
  9. 9. The Thematic Method of Bible Study involves approaching a biblical theme with a set of not more than five predetermined [decided before] questions in mind.
  10. 10. You then study the theme in the Bible or a single book by asking only those questions, summarizing your conclusions, and writing out a personal application.
  11. 11. Note with a Topical Study, which we shall look at later, you have no restrictions. So you might study “Prayer” as a topic and study each verse related to that, and ask as many questions as you can think of.
  12. 12. But as themes within that you might look at, “The prayers of Jesus” or “Prayer in the NT Epistles” etc.
  13. 13. So thematic study makes the Bible study shorter and less tiring - good qualities for those starting out in this adventure.
  14. 14. Tools for this method
  15. 15. Only a few tools are needed: - Study Bible - Exhaustive concordance - Topical Bible
  16. 16. Advantages of this method
  17. 17. The limited resources required. Exhaustive concordance allows you to look up all the words relating to your theme. You then look at the verses and select the ones you specifically want to study on your theme.
  18. 18. It’s a good method if …you are limited for time …you don’t want to do a full topical study. …you want to preview a topic …you only want to answer certain questions about a theme
  19. 19. It’s a good method to make into a group discussion. It is simple…use with new believers, or with people who are only just discovering the joy of personal Bible study.
  20. 20. Tips to make the best use of this study method
  21. 21. 1. Don’t use too many questions. On a major thematic study ask 3-5 questions. Every theme within a topic could have hundreds of references to look up - you need to be very selective!
  22. 22. 2. Sometimes you only need to ask one question! e.g. What are things God hates?
  23. 23. According to the NT what things should we “endure”? As Christians what should we “consider”? According to Solomon in the book of Proverbs, what brings Poverty? What are the traits of a fool according to Proverbs?
  24. 24. 3. Many times you will not find the answer to all of your questions in one verse. If this happens leave a blank space on your form and go on to the next verse.
  25. 25. 4. If you are not finding any answers to your questions in the verses you need to change your questions!
  26. 26. Maybe you are asking the wrong questions! Read the verses, ask what God is really saying and change your questions to address that (not what you think it should say)
  27. 27. 5. If you want to know everything God has said about a subject you need to look it up in your exhaustive concordance—along with all other words related to the theme. This is a massive task!
  28. 28. Simple steps for doing a Thematic study
  29. 29. You need to create good questions before looking up references. For a study on “Anger in the book of Proverbs” what you might ask…?
  30. 30. What does an angry man act like, what are his characteristics? What causes anger? What are the results of anger? What is the cure for anger?
  31. 31. Step 1: Choose a theme to study
  32. 32. What are you interested in? Make sure it is short or small.
  33. 33. Step 2: List the verses you intend to study
  34. 34. Use your tools - and make a list of verses related to the chosen theme. Make sure you look at synonyms etc. Select the verses you think are most important (helpful)
  35. 35. Step 3: Decide on the questions you will ask
  36. 36. Write down the questions you are most interested in! What is it that you want to know about your theme? List no more than 5 questions. Write them on a blank sheet of paper, or the form.
  37. 37. Step 4: Ask your questions of each verse
  38. 38. Read through your references and the questions for each verse. Write down your answer in the appropriate place on your paper / form.
  39. 39. You will not necessarily be able to answer all questions from one verse—in fact it will be unusual if you can.
  40. 40. If you find a verse answers none of your questions just leave the space blank—but if this happens often look at your questions again to see if you might need to change them.
  41. 41. Step 5: Draw some conclusions from your study
  42. 42. After you have read the references and written out your answers summarise an answer for each of your questions.
  43. 43. You can organise your study into an outline by grouping similar verses together and turning your questions into the major divisions of the outline. This make it easy to use as a group study.
  44. 44. Step 6: Write out a personal application
  45. 45. Remember a personal application should be practical, possible and measurable (see devotional method if you have forgotten how to do this).
  46. 46. How to fill out the thematic study form
  47. 47. Produce your own form similar to the one shown. You can always add extra paper if you run out of space!
  48. 48. 1. Theme: Select the theme you want to research, being sure it is not too broad and is not a major topic.
  49. 49. 2. List of References: List as many Scripture references as you need for your study.
  50. 50. 3. Questions to be Asked: List the questions (not more than five) you will be asking of each Scripture reference.
  51. 51. 4. Answers to the Questions: Ask the questions of each reference and write the answers in the appropriate space under each reference.
  52. 52. (Question A in all the A slots, Question B in the B slots, and so on throughout). Use extra sheets of paper if there is not enough room on the form.
  53. 53. 5. Conclusions: Write out your conclusions and summaries of the verses studied.
  54. 54. 6. Application: Write out a personal, practical, possible, and measurable application.
  55. 55. Sample Filled Out Form
  56. 56. Assignment
  57. 57. Begin your thematic Bible studies with themes that are simple and have only a few Scripture references.
  58. 58. As you get better in this method, you can make your themes more complex and use more biblical passages.
  59. 59. 1. Theme to be studied: Knowing God’s will. (Look up the word will in a concordance, and find the references to God’s will, will of God, will of the Lord, the Lord’s will, and any other related words.)
  60. 60. Suggested questions: a. What specific things are God’s will? b. Why am I to do God’s will? (such things as motives and results)
  61. 61. c. How am I to do God’s will? (such things as attitudes and actions)
  62. 62. 2. Theme to be studied: Obedience. (Look up the words obey, obedience, keep, commandments, do, and many others like them.)
  63. 63. Suggested questions: a. Why is obedience important? b. What are the results of obedience? c. What are the results of disobedience? d. How am I to obey God?
  64. 64. 3. Theme to be studied: Praising the Lord in the Psalms. (Note how this theme has been shortened to just the book of Psalms. Look up words such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and joy.)
  65. 65. 3. Theme to be studied: Praising the Lord in the Psalms. (Note how this theme has been shortened to just the book of Psalms. Look up words such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and joy.) Suggested questions: a. Why should I praise the Lord? b. How can I praise the Lord? c. When should I praise the Lord? d. What are some results of praising the Lord?
  66. 66. Suggested questions: a. Why should I praise the Lord? b. How can I praise the Lord? c. When should I praise the Lord? d. What are some results of praising the Lord?
  67. 67. 4. Theme to be studied: The prayers of Jesus. (Note how this theme also has been shortened to one aspect of prayer. Look up this theme in a topical Bible and the words pray and prayer in a concordance, choosing only those found in the Gospels in which Jesus is praying.)
  68. 68. Suggested questions, but you should be able to write many others of your own choosing: a. How often should I pray? b. When did Jesus pray? c. Why should I pray as Jesus did? d. What did Jesus pray for? e. To whom should I pray?
  69. 69. The End

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