S.O.A.P.S. Bible Study Method
Reading the Bible can be challenging. The Bible books sometimes have funny names. Holding the most sacred book of all history can be intimidating. While the Bible is profound enough for scholarly commentary and academics to debate, it is also simple enough for a child to read and understand the love of Jesus.
A simple method for reading and studying the Bible is called the S.O.A.P.S. method. This acronym can help you in your faith journey for growing closer to God through Scripture.
Read the Bible passage. Typically, this is a few verses or paragraph, sometimes a full chapter. Sometimes you may read the passage multiple times for it to sink in meaningfully. You may consider writing in a journal or underlining a key verse that stands out to you.
If you are skeptic or just starting out in faith, start with one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). These books tell the true narration of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You’ll come face to face with the teachings of Jesus and see how His life is unique and can make a difference becoming one of His followers.
In reading a Bible passage, you’ll also want to have a good translation. There are many good versions and multiple translation theories, but in short a translation should be both accurate to the original language and clear in readability. Personally, I recommend the English Standard Version (ESV).
The observations are what stands out to understand the meaning of the passage. There may be key words or actions that stand out to you. You might ask all the questions of: who, what, when, where, why, how? What do you learn about God – His nature, character, actions? What do you learn about humanity, life, and faith? The observations can be as simple and straightforward, or as deep as you need. The goal is to be able to paraphrase in your own words the meaning of the passage.
Further, your observations may lead to questions. You can continue learning about the passage by exploring answers to your questions through study of the passage context, Bible study notes and commentaries, or discussion with other Christian believers.
This step is personalizing your observations. Think through the beliefs and behaviors that are to be formed in your life. Are there acts of commission or omission that need changed in your life? Again, you may consider writing this down in a journal.
Praying is conversation with God. Our prayers are further responses to God, asking for His grace to forgive and fuel you toward faith and obedience.
The last step is often neglected but is an important piece to spiritual growth. As you finish observations, personal application, and prayer to God, ask the Holy Spirit for who else you can share what you are learning. Sharing your insights and even questions becomes an opportunity not only for greater learning, but for greater impact. Each faith conversation is like a seed that grows, and the more it is shared the more fruit it blooms. You may never know how your faith conversations can encourage and change the lives of others.
The S.O.A.P.S. Bible Study method can take anywhere between 10-30+ minutes depending on your time investment. The aim is not to rush through a checklist but to grow in your relationship with God.