The S.O.A.P. Bible Study Method
The S.O.A.P. Bible Study Method is really helpful for beginners as it works in a sort of "checklist" format. There are four sections for you to focus on, and it's easy to expand those sections depending on how much time you have and how deep you want to get into the passage.
S.O.A.P. is an acronym that stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.
You can take these as far as you want, so we've suggested some levels of engagement for you in each section. Don't feel pressured to go all the way on everything. Take it as far as you can and allow the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding (James 1:5).
S – Scripture
- Level 1: After you read a chosen passage, select one verse or section to focus on for your study. Write it down, using the exact words, to help you begin focusing on this particular piece of God's Word.
- Level 2: Look at different translations of this verse and write down the translation that is most impactful to you. We really love BibleGateway.com for looking up verses!
- Level 3: Explore the original language used in your selected verse to really expand your understanding of the translation and prepare you for the next section. Use an interlinear Bible like the one found at BibleStudyTools.com.
O – Observation
- Level 1: Read the passage again and observe what's really happening here. Take into account the context of the verse. BibleRef.com is an excellent Bible commentary that provides the context of every verse of the Bible! Write down your observations.
- Level 2: Look up keywords, themes, or topics from this passage in a concordance, BibleRef.com, 412teens.org, and/or at GotQuestions.org to help expand your understanding of the passage. Add to your observations.
- Level 3: Using one of the above resources, read cross references to other places in the Bible to help support your observations and/or help you better understand what's happening.
A – Application
- Level 1: Consider how this passage affects your life and/or your understanding of the human experience. How can you use this new knowledge to change your life for the better? Write down your discoveries.
- Level 2: Consider how this passage points back to Jesus, God's character, and/or the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Add this to your application section.
- Level 3: Make a plan for making at least one beneficial change to your life, behavior, or ways of thinking as a result of what you have learned.
P – Prayer
- Level 1: Talk to God about what you have learned. Thank Him for helping you understand or ask for more clarity. Make requests for your own spiritual growth.
- Level 2: Write out your prayer to help slow down and to serve as a record of your own spiritual growth.
- Level 3: Return to this prayer in the future to evaluate how God worked in your life in response to your requests.
You don't really need anything but a Bible and access to the internet (preferably!). There are tons of resources online that you can use to help expand your research and enrich your discovery experience.
You can use a journal, the notes on your phone, or a doc on your computer, but it's important that you physically write/type your study. Slowing down enough to put words to thoughts can really help take what might be random ideas and solidify them into real ideas and discoveries.
Questions? Ask in the comments below!