How to Study the Bible Verse by Verse

One of the easiest ways to start studying the Bible is one verse at a time. While there are many methods for studying the Bible verses by verse, this article will focus on the SOAP or SOAK Bible study method.  

How to Study the Bible Verse By VerseImage courtesy of Kingdom Bloggers

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SOAK Bible Study Method

So what can you do, 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. (The tendency to use them alternatively as they follow the same steps.)

SOAP means Scripture Observation Application Prayer, while SOAK means Scripture Observation Application.

Each word in the acronym gives us some instruction and is part of the process that we will follow while studying our Bibles. 

Studying the Bible Verses at Verses

Make sure you have 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. 

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 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 with the King James or New King James version. That's a personal preference but I'm sure you can use the word-for-word translation that resonates most with you.

Download the free SOAK Bible study method printable.

SOAK Bible Study 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.


Ask "Who", "Why", "What", "Where", "When" and "How" questions.

  • Is there a narrator? Who is it?
  • Who is the text written to?
  • Is there an 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?

If you'd rather, you can watch the YouTube video.

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 alternative translations. Make a note of any new understanding you receive.

Refer to the Bible Study Resources section for 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.

Step 7: Write a personal umbrella 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 umbrella is much longer than the original one. Instead, strive for clarity.

See Proverbs 4:23 for an example of a personal umbrella.

At the end of this process, you may feel as though you've wrung your poor fresh through. 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 that 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 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 fresh out of context. 

SOAK Bible Study Method: Kneel / Pray

So you've made your application, you've made your observation. Now it's time to pray about it. I recommend writing this prayer so that you can refer to it when you review your Bible study notes. This will also be a great opportunity to see how you interact 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.

The SOAK Bible Study Method is perfect for beginners as it allows you to get into one verse at a time. It's also useful for people 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:

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