Someone taught me a great way to study the Bible. It’s called TOPAD. It is an acrostic. Each letter stands for something, T – O – P – A – D, which I’ll explain.
I’m going to ask you to do this Bible study with a notebook and a pen. That’s right. You will write this out by hand, pen and paper. Why?
It slows you down.
It helps you notice what the Scripture really says.
It helps you learn, and possibly helps you memorize some verses.
Plus, it mentally and emotionally puts this in a special category, away from your normal work or method of communication that often requires typing. This is an intimate time between you and the Lord.
Having it in a notebook, you’ll be able to keep it by your bed, or near a favorite chair. Sometimes I don’t have 20 or 30 minutes to do a study. Sometimes I only have time (or energy) to read over what I already wrote down. This helps it sink it, and also gives you flexibility with your schedule.
Ok, so here’s what you do…
Take a few sentences or a few paragraphs of Scripture. You pick!
At the top of your paper, write down which section of Scripture this is, ex. Colossians 1:1-8. Then read through the verses slowly, two times.
Then go through these steps, writing down your answers:
T – Title: what title would you give to this Scripture section? Maybe grab a few words in the section, like “Word of truth, the gospel.”
O – Observation: in your own words, phrase by phrase, write out what it is saying.
P – Principles: write down the major principles it’s communicating – ex. “God wants us to pray and ask him, rather than worry.” or “Speak honestly with others, and be gracious.”
A- Application: Specifically, how does God want me to think or behave differently as a result of this?
D – Devotion: Talk to God about it. Thank him for his Word on this, ask for his power to work in you to build these qualities in your life. (DON’T think that you can go out on your own and be a “good” Christian and just do these. God wants us to not perform for Him, but rely on Him.) This Devotion part is how we talk to God about what we’ve studied and ask him to work in our lives.
You can start with a small book of the Bible – maybe Ephesians, or Colossians, or Philippians. Take a paragraph or two and try it. Next time, do the same thing with the next set of verses. And try going through it that way.
Then try teaching this to someone else!